15 Minutes With Anna Mernieks of BEAMS

Toronto-based band Beams release their new album, Teach Me To Love, next week. Led by Anna Mernieks (and her banjo) this latest album is catchy-as-hell and full of nostalgia.

Prior to creating it, Mernieks suffered through a mental illness that wreaked havoc on her personal and artistic life. This spiral led to Anna cancelling her wedding with bandmate Mike Duffield, but the crisis encouraged her to deal with her depression while simultaneously sparking the concept of the next record. “The lyrics are sad,” she sings on the final track, “but the music is sweet.” 

We caught up with Mernieks this week. 

SDTC: What’s at the top of your bucket list?

AM: I would really like to experience the tundra up in the Territories. For the band, I would love for us to play Massey Hall!

What’s your go-to song for getting things done?

“Boss Lady” by the Detroit Cobras, but I usually get distracted and dance around.

What advice would you give your fourteen-year-old self?

If anything, I’d go back in time and give her a pat on the back. She handled what she had to handle perfectly.

Who has made a big impact on your life recently, and how?

I lucked out a year or so ago and found an awesome therapist. The skills she’s helped me to cultivate have improved my outlook on life, making it more enjoyable and less exhausting.

What does your ideal Saturday look like?

I could make up a lot of different fantastic Saturdays, but my favourite Saturdays are when I get to sleep in and have a nice breakfast with Mike, maybe do some work in the yard, bike around, have a nice dinner and go to a great show, possibly a band that we’re putting up, who we then get to hang out with. If I can fit a bath into that list somewhere, I’m on cloud nine.

What’s the best part of being your current age?

I don’t know if there’s anything too special about being twenty-eight. When I was younger I felt like I had the edge, like I still had tons of time to accomplish the things that I wanted to accomplish, that I could do anything, but somehow now I feel more limited by the reality of my situation in life. It’s not a great mindset, but it’s where I’m at right now. I don’t even know how age came into it for me! I seem to be resisting the flow of time. Sounds like something I should talk to that aforementioned therapist about.

What is your favourite quality in your best friend?

I have a few best friends, and with all of them I love how we can really connect on a spiritual level about our goals and our fears. I love how curious they are about life, how creative they are, and how well they can cook.

What/who is currently inspiring you?

My buddy Lee. She is always coming up with a new song, or something to do or make. I admire her creativity and drive, and I am inspired by how enthusiastic she is about the work and those of us who choose to work with her.

What art work would you love to have in your space/on your walls, and why?

Our space is a bit small, so I feel like my choices are limited, but anything that makes me feel closer to nature is nice. Country art like wooden carvings and stained glass appeal to me. I do like what’s in our current space, though. We have a couple of big Matt Durant pieces and a lot of show posters!

Fave rainy day comfort food or activity?

If I’m at home, it would hands down be cozy’d up, sleeping in while I listen to the rain. If I’m at the cottage though, I make myself a cup of something warm, sit in the screened-in porch and watch the storm on the lake, provided it doesn’t blow in sideways at me.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Well, first I wanted to be a country singer, then a racehorse jockey, and finally I settled on being a vet. That dream was alive and well in me for like ten years, until I realized how much school I would have to do if I wanted to be a vet. I decided to work on plants instead.

What was your favourite game or toy as a child?

It’s hard to pick; I loved my toys. I was obsessed with my toy horses, but if I was at the cottage it was all about the Barbies and the frogs. The real frogs, and I know it’s wrong to think of them as toys, but we really did love them like toys. We made them habitats and everything. For video games, it was Crash Bandicoot all the way.

What adult task would you like to get better at?

Hmm. Taxes.

 If you could spend a year studying something, what would it be?

Aerial silks! If that doesn’t count, then maybe world religion. It would be interesting to learn more about the histories of different religions and how they intermingle.

Catch the Beams’ album release at Smiling Buddha with L Con and CATL on February 23rd.

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