Anya Marina is a huge fan of “Portlandia,” the zany Oregon-set sketch comedy from Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. But the singer-songwriter — who recently moved to Portland from Los Angeles — thinks the hit IFC show barely scratches the eccentric surface of the city, which inspired “Felony Flats,” her new self-produced CD.
“I love to walk, and you can walk Portland all day and just be in the most adorable neighborhoods,” says the former drive-time radio DJ, who penned sonically adventurous material such as “Flinty” and “Heart Stops” there. “You can find naturopaths, acupuncturists, chiropractors — it’s really a city of wellness.”
You have said “Felony Flats” chronicles “a time of profound loss.” How so? Well, we had some deaths in and around the family. My uncle passed away and my grandmother had died a few years before that, and I was really close with her. And there was a lot of personal loss I was going through after touring pretty hard. I was kind of losing my way, losing my rudder, and questioning what the purpose of everything was. So yeah, I had some pretty dark nights.
How did you sense something was amiss? I think you know when your days just start becoming … well, too difficult to get through. When just the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other seems too daunting. I must’ve been struggling through depression, because I got to the point where I wasn’t motivated to do much of anything. So I got out of town and went to Portland to write, and I fell in love with it and didn’t want to leave.
Did you seek therapy? I had been in therapy for a long time, so I think I just made wellness a bigger priority, and instead of phoning it in, I really buckled down. So I took time off to figure out if I was truly doing what I wanted to do, and it turned out I was. I just had to find some enjoyment in music again, and luckily, it was like an infinite well of happiness for me, so I was able to just dive into songwriting in Portland.
Was it easy to produce yourself? Back to that putting one foot in front of the other thing, I realized that I could do it, that it wasn’t as insurmountable as I thought. And I had a great engineer in Gregg Williams, who helped me realize everything. I’d say, “I want this to sound spacey here” or, “Can we do some weird backwards-masking thing here? And can you make the drums sound more dead?” And he facilitated all of that.
Where: Hotel Utah, 500 Fourth St., San Francisco
When: 9 p.m. today
Contact: (415) 546-6300, www.ticketfly.com