In an awe-inspiring, provocative, and genre-bending listening experience with inspirations taken from both physical and literal surroundings, Los Angeles-based artist ASTRINA released her debut album entitled Between The Mirror.
We caught up with her, to learn more about how the album came about.
T.H.E – Hey ASTRINA! Welcome to T.H.E. – Music Essentials. How has it been for you, with the entire lockdown and everything?
ASTRINA – Hey, thank you so much for having me!
I think I’ve been relatively fortunate as far as the way the lockdown has affected me. It’s been difficult not performing – that’s probably the biggest change to my lifestyle. I miss being able to share music with people directly because there’s really nothing like live music. But it’s been really nice to have more time in the studio. During this time, I’ve moved my bedroom studio into my garage. And for the first time, I have a dedicated creative space. It’s been absolutely incredible and has really helped me to take advantage of all this alone time creatively.
T.H.E – Love your debut album – Between The Mirror. What does the title signify?
ASTRINA – Thank you! The album is a concept piece about my experience learning to live with mental illness. It’s title “Between The Mirror” because throughout the album, my perspective is constantly changing, and perspective is the only thing that lies between you and a mirror. What you see in yourself and the world determines the way you experience reality. The album art depicts me in white seeing a distorted reflection of myself in black. What I am seeing is constantly being distorted by my state of mind, but ultimately there is something constant – I am the same person the whole time, the same constant consciousness going through all these different experiences. I just have to learn to accept what I see and do my best to stay centered.
T.H.E – How did it come about, and what made you decide on choosing to release your first ever album during the lockdown?
ASTRINA – I’ve been writing songs that fit the concept of “Between The Mirror” since 2015 when my bipolar disorder began to manifest. It’s taken me a long time to learn to ride the ups and downs of my condition with grace, and I certainly am not done learning to do so. But for several years, it was so difficult for me that it was all I could write about.
During the lockdown, I’ve had a lot of time to myself and have been able to reflect on my experiences. I’ve been fortunate enough to be consistently stable for the past two years, so I’ve had enough peace of mind to process it all.
I’ve started writing about other aspects of life again, and I think finishing this album is representative of me accepting mental illness as part of my experience and moving on to learn about myself and the world in new ways. I felt ready to close this chapter, and it feels really nice to have all that work out in the world.
T.H.E – Were there any artists or sounds that inspired your creative process?
ASTRINA – I’m definitely inspired by other artists and other music. But, if I’m being honest, my writing and production process isn’t heavily influenced by other songs or other sounds. For better or worse, my sound is what it is without trying to be anything in particular. I’ve never intended for my music to sound a certain way. I just write and arrange whatever instinctively comes to mind.
T.H.E – The productions were inspired by your physical and literal surroundings. Could you elaborate on this, and tell us a bit more about how your physical surroundings inspired the album?
ASTRINA – That aspect of my writing isn’t specific to the album, it’s just a part of my process. As I said before, most of what I write is a product of instinct. But when nothing is coming naturally, I begin to look around me for inspiration or listen to my body. Maybe I notice a blank wall in front of me and I become inspired to write about the uncertainty of the future. Maybe I realize my bed isn’t made and come to the conclusion that I’m feeling messy and out of control. One time I found myself pacing in circles and I started writing about the way patterns always seem to repeat themselves. I think our surroundings tend to be representative of our state of mind and the situations we’re experiencing. I don’t think life is that different from a book with themes and symbolism, and I always find synchronicity when I’m looking out for it.
T.H.E – Incredibly difficult, but if you had to choose your favourite songs on the album, which ones would they be and why?
ASTRINA – I think I’d have to choose the last two songs – “Ride This Wave” and “I’m Still Here”, because they’re on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum of the album. The lyrics of “Ride This Wave” came to me slowly over a long period of time. The words are made up of random thoughts I had and wrote down during my psychotic episodes. The guitar part is the foundational piece of the arrangement, and I wrote that when I was depressed. The song is all about my fear that I’ll never come back to a consistent reality. My lack of control over my experience, and the conclusion that all I can do is ride it out.
“I’m Still Here” is its polar opposite in many ways. While “Ride This Wave” is the first song I wrote for the album, “I’m Still Here” was the last. “Ride This Wave” took years to finish, while the majority of the work on “I’m Still Here” was done in a single day. While the latter was about my lack of control, writing “I’m Still Here” helped me come to the conclusion that I’ve persevered through everything and can continue to do so. “I’m Still Here” is the most upbeat, danciest song on the album while “Ride This Wave” is by far the slowest. I just really like that constant. I cut most of the songs I wrote about depression from the album, but I’m glad I kept at least one melancholy piece because I think it gives the album a lot more depth.
T.H.E – Lastly, what does the rest of 2020 look like for you?
ASTRINA – I am taking 2020 day by day. I’ll definitely be in my studio most days and I’m already working on my concept for my next album. I also plan on branching out and starting to work with other artists more. I’d like to start producing for other artists, and I’d love to topline for other producers. I guess I just want to make as much music as I can. In as many ways as possible.