We had the good fortune of connecting with Anji Kaizen and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Anji, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
To be perfectly honest, being an artist and creative entrepreneur just makes the most sense to me. Having constant new challenges and endless opportunities for creative expression is the most stimulating work I’ve ever done. Whether it’s music or modeling, vocal coaching, photography or design, social media management or creating content, I love that I’m on a constantly changing cycle of projects and working with new people. When I’ve tried working in more corporate settings in the past, it’s always felt very suffocating and limiting to me. I felt caught in a rut of always trying to please a boss or keep up with other people’s expectations and that just proved to be very difficult for my creative spirit. And unfortunately, for a long time I thought that I had to work for somebody else or secure a high paying job to be “successful”, but actually I’ve found that success is all about enjoying your life and how you spend your time. And I am happiest when I am writing songs, designing merch, mentoring other musicians and creating content for my community. So I guess I’m an artist and a creative just out of pure force of love for creating and self-sufficiency. It’s honestly just what I love to do and my favorite way of being.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
This year I have embraced a new artist name: Anji Kaizen (pronounced: awh-nee / k-eye-zen) which means “a gift given with both hands” (Anji) in Sanskrit and “good change” in Japanese (Kaizen). For me, this name embodies who I want to be artistically and what I want to offer to the world: a gift of good changes, given with both of my hands. It’s also a very unique name that my followers can use to find me easier than when my artist name was just “Anji” (there were 18 other Anjis on Spotify) which is, of course. very important as an independent artist. This year I’m working with a new management company “Evolved Artists”, who connects DJs & producers all over the world with songwriters and top-line vocalist, so there are lots of new opportunities for collaborations through them. It’s mind-blowing that I am getting paid to write songs for people and sing over their tracks for a living. Since the pandemic started I’ve been designing and building a home studio, where I have been recording and also plan to start live-streaming on a weekly basis this month (find me on Twitch or YouTube for the live-stream launch!). I’ve also been teaching online lessons in singing, songwriting and artist development through my music business “Kaizen Music Studio” to give back to the community and teach others what I’ve learned so far on my journey into the music industry. Has it been easy to shift into these changes? Absolutely not, it took me almost four months to build up to a sustainable income again after quitting my job! And getting my distributor to change artist name, updating all channels, all paperowrk, trademarks and copyrights has been a massive headache. But was it worth it? I’d say, definitely. Being able to refocus my energy on my art full-time this year has been such a blessing and I don’t want to take this unique opportunity to do so for granted. So far, I’ve recorded over 20 unreleased demos of songs in my home studio and am planning to start releasing those as singles along with lots of covers and acoustic versions of songs on my YouTube channel. Many may not know this, but I also have two incredible musicians in my backing band who collaborate and perform with me on most of my projects: Nik Marshall on drums and Jory Marshall, on guitar. These brothers have such incredible musical chemistry together and its an honor to get to work with them both so much. So the band and I have decided that we are moving in a more pop punk / alternative pop direction lately, with lots of production and electronic elements (think PVRIS / Halsey) with our producer Aaron Pace, so I’m really excited to keep experimenting and see where the music takes us. My songwriting has been a lot more personal lately too. Overcoming trauma and toxic relationships, very confessional and stream of consciousness style of writing, pushing for more honesty in my art. We’ve all had a difficult time on a global scale with the pandemic this year (obviously), sao it’s really important to be honest with where we’re all at. That way we can know how to best connect with each other and move forward after so much time apart. For me personally, these months of quarantine have given a lot of time for reflection to work through and process things. No lie, the last decade was very difficult, with lots of lost relationships, new starts and growing pains. But I’ve been finding solace in my art lately and re-structuring what I want my life to look like for the next decade on a very fundamental level (getting outside everyday, yoga, meditating, living from a place of love) so I look forward to sharing what I’ve been creating and learning with everyone this year. It is my sincere hope that others will find solace and inspiration in these new songs and creations I’m working on, and that hopefully by being honest and sharing my stories and my journey, I can inspire others to step forward in their own honest and vulnerable ways to make art and share it with the world. Because what we all need, and what the earth needs right now, are more artists and creatives. That’s how we’re going to imagine a new future together – where everyone is thriving – and build a better and healthier world that we can all believe in. One that’s more sustainable and beautiful and inclusive, than a lot of the outdated models that society keeps trying to force down people’s throats. And for us to get to that better place, we are going to have to imagine it, manifest it and co-create it together. One day at a time. One person at a time. One piece of art, one story, one song, at a time.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh wow, are we pretending this is post-pandemic or right now? If my best friend came over right now, we would absolutely go out for a hike together at a state park, bring a picnic and chill in our hammocks together for the day. Get some good “fun in the sun” (that’s my motto for 2021, ha). And Georgia has so many beautiful parks and outdoor areas to plan little getaways with friends that are safe outside. I’d probably take them to Providence Canyon, or Chattahoochee Bend State Park. Maybe Callaway. Somewhere we can sit around and be goofy and explore cool spots together but also take some badass photos. Win win. You can easily support state parks and also get some good Vitamin D to boost your mood, even during a pandemic! Highly recommend. But if we’re talking post pandemic, then I would take my bestie to get some delicious sushi at Garlic Thai (favorite restaurant in Newnan) and hit up a music festival in Atlanta (Midtown, maybe?) with thousands of other happy, sweaty people and just be in pure, utter BLISS. God, I miss music festivals…

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate my Shoutout to some of my own incredible mentors who have always nurtured and encouraged my creative spirit, and continue to do so for multitudes of other musicians and creatives. All of my thanks and appreciation to: Pat Patten (JamGood), Doug Kees (Musicology), Steve Dancz (Recording Academy), Courtney Cutchins (SeaDragon Songhouse), Femke Reynolds, Lee Johnson (LaGrange College), and Dave Zaboski (Art Temple) for their long-standing leadership, friendship and support. Also shoutout to my band: Jory Marshall (guitar) and Nik Marshall (drums). It has been an honor to know and to work with each and every one of you!

Website: https://anjikaizen.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/anjikaizen/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anjikaizen

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anjikaizen

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/anjikaizen

Other: Bandcamp: https://anjikaizen.bandcamp.com/

Image Credits
photos by Ryan Harville, edits by Anji Kaizen

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