Checking In: Anastasia Exercises
“I control what I can, my physical being”
By Raoul Hernandez,
10:10AM, Tue. Nov. 17, 2020
“Austin’s small but formidable cadre of soul singers refuses to accept assigned gender/racial roles, fighting against the tendency for non-Black, non-POC, cisgender, straight-identifying persons to ‘other’ black women into provisional submissiveness,” wrote Kahron Spearman in a 2017 cover story that included Anastasia, who stood out then as now.
Austin Chronicle: Where are you sheltering and under what circumstances? Who else is there and how’s that going?
Anastasia: My sons, my dog, and I moved from a crowded apartment complex in the city to a single-family home in the suburbs about a month before things got odd. It was really fortunate timing, because we’ve been able to isolate comfortably. And of course the Honey Bear loves having her own yard.
AC: At what point did C-19 shut down operations for you, and what went down with the ship, so to speak, both personally & professionally?
A: My team had a show scheduled at Flamingo Cantina on March 16. We had created and named the event, conceptualized and booked it, reached out and promoted it. It should have been a recurring event.
I stayed in close contact with Angela [Tharp], the owner of the venue, over the weekend prior. She kept saying, “Things are getting weird.” I think she was waiting for me to call it, and I was waiting for her to call it.
On her end, there was pressure from the city. On my end, there was pressure not to let my fans down. It was the same with every other gig I had planned through the Spring.
My calendar suddenly dried right up.
AC: As a global culture, people employ music for every purpose imaginable, obviously spanning religion to entertainment and everything in between. What happens to communities like ours when people can no longer access it in person?
A: For me, live music is itself a form of worship. It’s cathartic and cleansing for the performer and the witness. When you’re in the room where the music is happening in real time, there’s an energy exchange. The “listener” doesn’t just hear the music; they see it, smell it and literally feel it.
It’s unlike any other experience in life. It can’t be replicated on our devices. When we can’t physically assemble for this kind of exchange, we lose out not only on a revenue stream, but an important part of who we are and how we live and breathe.
AC: Everyone’s had to shift or drastically alter their work situation. What does that look like for you?
AH: Staying home has never presented an issue for me. I work from home and usually only step out for the rare event. The biggest change for me was opening myself up to the camera.
Overnight, we all had a captive audience. Content became king. So to remain relevant, I had to take to social media more often.
To perform, to express, to speak directly to my friends and supporters, I had to get comfortable with the immediacy and informality of it.
AC: What’s your soundtrack for the apocalypse and what role does music play for you as a fan and scholar of it in times of hardship?
AH: If my world ends, it will be to the glorious sounds of the Eighties training montage. Think Rocky, The Karate Kid, Bloodsport.
Heavy circumstances can leave us feeling not in control. So I control what I can, my physical being. Exercise is a big part of that. When I jog the trails, pushing myself and breathing beautiful fresh air, those songs make me feel unstoppable!
Check out the entire Checking In series.