Interview: ANN@LISE Walking a Tightrope Between Social Media & Real Life

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ANN@LISE has a fire within her, that simply won’t extinguish.  Her fuel is partly the haters, and more importantly the fans who are supporting her in unusual ways.

We spoke to ANN@LISE about her new single Tightrope, her origin story, the Annimalises, the tragic violent loss of a friend/mentor and we play the very first round of Fantasy Karaoke.

Origin Story

ANN@LISE was born in California, but eventually, her parents moved back to Canada so she could learn French in Quebec and be close to family.

She considers Montreal her home, being “the longest place I’ve lived in.”  

ANN@LISE’s childhood home was filled with all kinds of music.  In fact, as you went from one room to another, a different song could be heard. 

“My name was almost Sarah, funny enough, because of Sarah McLachlan.”  

Sarah McLachlan and Alanis Morissette were constant features in the house.  

“I’ve been raised on the greats of Canada.”  

ANN@LISE was also exposed to another Canadian legend, Shania Twain.

The genres would alternate between Alternative, Singer/Songwriter,  Rock,  and Blues, specifically Buddy Guy.

Musical Heritage

The family piano is part of ANN@LISE’s heritage, but her musical heritage also includes her family singing in church and at family gatherings.

Being in a French Canadian family, music is at the center of festivities, as members gather around the organ to sing.  

Her 5th great uncle, once removed on her mom’s side, approximately, was Franz Schubert, the composer of Ave Maria.

In California, you can see toddler ANN@LISE sitting at a mini piano, already dreaming of her future in music.

Later, when she started taking piano lessons, it was discovered that she had a voice to match her talents at the keys.

TopKnott Records

On January 14th, 2020, ANN@LISE officially founded her own record label.

“I learnt that I didn’t want anybody to tell me what to do.  I wanted to have full control of my vision as a musician.”

ANN@LISE was ready to define what being marketable meant to her, not some corporate suit.

“I wanted to be the female Jay-Z.”


To write vulnerable songs, you first need to conquer self-doubt and self-worth, which is something many people only get to do in their late 40s or early 50s, if ever.

What helped her conquer that at such a young age?

“I stopped caring about what people thought about me.  When you surround yourself with good people, that’s the reflection of who you are.”

After feeling the effects of bullying, partly because of dyslexia, she was motivated to end the cycle and used music as a form of therapy, not only for herself but in order to help others.

As ANN@LISE gains popularity because of her music, some of these former bullies try to reach out.

Her mental response?  

“Are you OK?  Did someone drop you on your head?  You were horrible to me!”

She simply doesn’t give them the time of day.

“Haters are my motivators.  I like to prove people wrong.  Say NO one more time and I will show you up!”

As she was graduating high school, she would constantly hear that she would not succeed in music.

“I knew that was a lie.  I knew I was going to make it.  I had to do leaps, jumps and bounds to get where I am today, in a position to make music full time at 21 years old.”

All the haters became fuel to allow her to keep her gas tank full.  

A Moment of Complete Exuberance

It was May 5th, 2021, when ANN@LISE heard her song on FM radio for the first time.  

She was at her boyfriend’s house, along with his family when she suddenly yelled: “Everybody, get in the van!”

As they all ran and packed into the van, ANN@LISE turns the volume up to maximum, overpowering those poor speakers almost to the breaking point. 

“I was screaming.  I just couldn’t believe it.  It was the most surreal moment of my life because I was on livestream and people were commenting, sending videos of them singing the song.  I got some of my high school teachers, funny enough, sending me videos of them with their husbands at home listening to it.  What is going on?”

Afterwards, it was almost like disbelief: “Did that just happen?”

Just under a year since starting this project, she could see the progress and trajectory of her career path after hitting the milestone of having one of her songs played on the radio.

With 60,000 songs uploaded to Spotify every day…to swim to the top and get noticed takes effort and fuel.

“You push yourself in the things you love doing.”  

The Annimalises

A childhood nickname, given by her mom, became the term applied to her fans:  Annimalises.

It started because of celebrating a little too hard on a livestream.

As she pops the champagne, the words burst forth, like the bubbles: “I love you Annimalises!”  

“They are quite wild, actually.  They are the best support system.  I don’t even have to say anything, and they literally run full force at Spotify.”

Annimalises come from different countries and will show their support in unexpected ways.

It may be a picture of one of them, walking the streets of London, UK, sporting an ANN@LISE t-shirt.

It could be someone at a Washington Wizards basketball game, wearing the shirt, on the jumbotron!

“What is going on?  This is so crazy?”


After initial cyberbullying, ANN@LISE was off social media during high school.  “I was terrified of it.”

One of the lyrics from the new song is: “Perfection isn’t all you need.”

The pressure to be perfect, an unattainable goal, is of serious concern.

“I took my own fear and channelled it into a song.  It’s about how scary the internet is and how you feel you are walking on a tightrope.  You say something wrong, you are automatically cancelled.  You say something you believe in, you might get cancelled because someone else has a different view.”

Her advice?  Own it.  Be yourself.  Don’t care about what people think about you.   

ANN@LISE confesses succumbing to the bending of the alternative reality on Instagram.  

It could be thinking about adding a filter or editing something, based on the comparisons one makes as they see the highlight reels of others.

“It’s unhealthy and unrealistic.  We put a face to the world that we want everyone to see, but no one knows what’s really going on.  A lot of people probably think my life is so perfect.  NO…it is not.  It’s far from perfect.  There is a lot going on that most people don’t know about my life.”

Not only is social media battling against our wellbeing, but our own inner voices can join forces, exponentially escalating the self-harm.

What allowed ANN@LISE to mute those voices while allowing her true voice to roar?

We again go back to the power of: “I stopped caring.  I’m going to live my life and if I’m happy, that’s all that matters right now.  Sometimes you have to put yourself first with your mental health.”

Not only did she do that, but she lets that inner fire turn a negative into a positive, by creating music for herself and others.

“When I was a kid, my happy place was concerts.”

To this day, her concert buddy is her dad, who still takes her to concerts.

“For example, Taylor Swift brings to the show the experience.  It’s not only her singing the songs and telling you the stories you relate to….it’s an experience.”

Her payback?  “The energy you get from helping people.  The smile you put on people’s faces when you perform.  Maybe they are too quiet to say something, but there is someone on that stage is screaming what they wish they could have said.”

ANN@LISE will put into words, what her fans are feeling, and wraps it around a dance beat that makes it a pill easier to swallow.

Speaking of Tightrope: “It’s a really good cardio song.  You have to scream it.”

Violence Against Women

ANN@LISE lost a dear friend and mentor, Christina Grimmie.  

Christina was signing autographs for fans, after her performance at The Plaza Live in Orlando, Florida when a deranged fan shot her 4 times.

“It gives me the chills as we speak about it.  It’s hard to believe that that happened.”  

ANN@LISE says that what may have prevented this tragedy is security checkpoints at the venue and security for the artists.  She also supports some gun violence laws to limit these tragic events.

“She only had her brother.  You don’t have a chance.  You never thought someone would pull a gun on you.  Especially when they are someone so kind, caring and open.”

ANN@LISE goes on to explain that Christina was somewhat of an introvert, so to put herself out there, and meet the fans was a sacrifice.

“I think in certain ways, the reason I am in music is Christina.  I feel like she watches over me, sometimes.”

When she the question comes up, if she is making the right decision to continue music, she feels Christina in her corner saying:  “Yep, you are doing the right thing.”  


We then think of the recent Astroworld tragedy, another major lack of security at an event that went terribly wrong, for so many.

“It was sad that they were not prepared and so many people lost their lives. I saw Astroworld the tour, in Montreal.  I remember how crazy the crowd was.”

Fantasy Karaoke

Imagine the stakes are high, you have to choose a song, and another artist (dead or alive) to sing with, for this ultimate Karaoke challenge.  What song will you choose and who will you sing it with.

NOTE:  You can’t sing each other’s songs.

The Song:  Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now (Hairspray) or Suddenly Seymour (Little Shop of Horror)

The Partner:  Ariana Grande


The day ANN@LISE quit caring what other people thought of her, was the day she started living.

Since then, she has put blood, sweat and tears into her musical career, and has reached amazing milestones in just one year.

From her Karaoke choices, we can see that she won’t do what one might expect, but that’s OK. In fact, that’s her signature, crafting her own path to success.

With her army of Annimalises, it will be interesting to see the needle move forward because ANN@LISE still has a full tank.

Connect with ANN@LISE


Writer: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music.  You can follow him on InstagramTwitter and YouTube. His Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their day jobs with out-of-the-box advice from Ted Talk Speakers, Best Selling Authors and other interesting Entrepreneurs and Creatives. He created the Rock Star Today MasterMind Experience for musicians. Randal also is a collector of signed vinyl.

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