Singer/songwriter (and actress) extraordinaire, Akira Galaxy, reflects on her Seattle upbringing, lifelong infatuation with performance art, and moments of self-discovery on her dazzling debut EP, ‘What’s Inside You.’
Stream: ‘What’s Inside You’ – Akira Galaxy
There’s something otherworldly about Akira Galaxy, and it’s not just her name.
Unlike the Milky Way or Andromeda, Akira Galaxy is not lightyears away, literally or figuratively; she dials in from Los Angeles, donning a yellow raglan tee and silver chain with a macramé wall hanging behind her. She’s as down to earth as any of us, focused on and grounded in the present moment. It’s a sunny Friday afternoon and Akira is zealous as ever, eagerly coming prepared with written notes in light of our conversation. Though, for the most part, these go unused, as she hardly hesitates to answer each question with confidence, grace, and sincerity.
But similarly to outer space, her music is boundless and immaterial, with a vastness greater than the Earth and stars put into one. Akira Galaxy’s debut EP, What’s Inside You, released January 26, 2024 via Bright Antenna Records, finds the singer-songwriter at the intersection of the cosmic and corporeal, shining light in the midst of darkness and drawing from the world within.
“Everyone has a lot of opinions, we all have one,” she says on her struggles in the creative process. “It’s about being able to know what you want, and knowing when it’s time to stop on a project – realizing that the imperfect is usually the best, because it’s the rawest and most relatable.”
Teeming with wistfulness, whimsy, and warmth, What’s Inside You firmly establishes the sound and persona of Akira Galaxy.
A piece of art in every sense of the word, passion and soul bleed into every note, lyric, and movement. Extraterrestrial in its eerie synths and psychedelic guitars, but so viscerally human in its exploration of love, light, and loss, the EP proves Akira Galaxy not just a rising star, but a supernova on the brink of explosion. Yet, no matter how far she travels or how high she soars, there’s always a force pulling her back to the place from once she came.
For the 24-year-old, it may be Los Angeles now, but it’s Seattle forever. Born Akira Galaxy Ament, she grew up fronting a number of high school bands, volunteering at a local music venue, and elbow-deep in record bins at her part-time job. The city holds more than just memories for Ament – it holds her stardust, it’s where her heart, soul, and artistry lie. Retreating back to her hometown during the height of the pandemic, she was able to conceptualize, and consequently birth, What’s Inside You.
“When I go back to Seattle, I feel like I can breathe again,” she gestures a deep breath. “I land, and the air is so fresh, the nature, it all just puts me at ease. It’s absolutely comforting… the further I’ve gone into my music career, I keep getting pulled back to my roots.”
Early in her career as she may be, Ament impresses with her candid insight on art, life, and disillusionment.
“I realize that there’s a lot of pain, suffering, and a lot of scared shitless moments,” she reveals. “Usually, those are the most rewarding… the most rewarding moments are where you make it out to the other side. I think I’ve learned, or I’m still trying to learn, to be present in those moments”
Ahead the release of her debut EP, Akira Galaxy lets Atwood Magazine into her universe, revealing the story behind her name, fond childhood memories, and what’s inside What’s Inside You.
Stream: “Virtual Eyes” – Akira Galaxy
A CONVERSATION WITH AKIRA GALAXY
ATWOOD MAGAZINE: CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR FIRST PROJECT EVER! TELL ME ABOUT HOW YOU CONCEPTUALIZED THIS EP AND HOW IT CAME TO BE.
Akira Galaxy: During a time when the world was kind of at a standstill, I decided to go back to Seattle. I feel like I went through a quarter life crisis; there was depression, since I get a lot of my fuel from social interaction with people and social connection. I went through a moment where I felt like I needed to create something good out of that dark time, so I ordered a stack of poetry books, bought my first acoustic guitar, learned a ton of covers, learned how to do vibrato with my voice, and watched probably over a hundred films. That just sparked some creativity to write the first songs off of the EP and birthed What’s Inside You!
WHAT WERE SOME LEARNING CURVES OR UNEXPECTED THINGS THAT YOU ENCOUNTERED IN THE PROCESS?
Akira Galaxy: A big one was balancing the idea of letting go, but also following your gut and listening to it in the process. Everyone has a lot of opinions, we all have one. It’s about being able to know what you want, and knowing when it’s time to stop on a project – realizing that the imperfect is usually the best, because it’s the rawest and most relatable. It was a lot of trial and error, for sure. I feel like poetry and just constantly listening to new music was my crutch in that. But, after “What’s Inside You,” the first song that came to be, it really just flowed out.
YOUR NAME AND MUSIC SEEM TO GO HAND IN HAND - BOTH HAVE A VERY OTHERWORLDLY, SPACEY, ETHEREAL QUALITY. WAS THIS AN INTENTIONAL THING, AND DID YOU ALWAYS WANT THIS TO BE THE REPRESENTATION OF YOUR ARTISTRY?
Akira Galaxy: It’s my birth name. My mom gave me that name, and she was like, “Alright, I’m gonna nudge her by giving her this name today.” It’d be hard to have this name, then go off and be an accountant or something! So naturally, I kind of grew into into that name along with the sounds I’m most drawn to. I’ve always been drawn to warm, spacey sounds mixed with some bright elements. Maybe it’s just from my subconscious.
I was kind of embarrassed about it when I was younger. I actually didn’t like it because it was so different, so I didn’t I didn’t tell people my middle name ever. I liked Akira in school because I was always one of the first people to be called on due to the order of the alphabet. As I started getting more into my creative outlets, my name became something that I appreciated a lot more, and now, obviously, is very handy.
ON THE TOPIC OF THIS WHOLE CELESTIAL, SPACEY VIBE, YOU’RE A LEO! YOUR STAGE PRESENCE IS SO CAPTIVATING, AND IT LITERALLY FEELS LIKE YOU WERE BORN TO BE A PERFORMER GIVEN THAT ON TOP OF THE FACT THAT YOU’RE A LEO. THE OPENER OF THE EP “WANNA BE A STAR” IS ALMOST THE ANTITHESIS OF THE LEO ARCHETYPE OF THAT KIND OF FAME HUNGRY ENTERTAINER - IT REJECTS THE IDEA OF MINDLESSLY CHASING STARDOM. WHAT INSPIRED THAT SONG, AND DO YOU HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH ASTROLOGY OR YOUR STAR SIGN?
Akira Galaxy: Yeah! I’ve never really followed along with astrology, but I am really interested in all things space related because of my name and upbringing! To me, “Wanna Be A Star” and performance are two separate things. “Wanna Be A Star” is more so about my first experience of coming to LA from Seattle. Being around a lot of people who wanted the fame side of things, whether that’s being in a magazine, or signing autographs, and whatnot. To me, the performance is a pure creative act. That’s something that’s always been at the front of my mind. Coming from Seattle and being put into that was a bit of a culture shock. The creative process, doing the work, writing, and performing is the end-all-be-all in my world.
OF COURSE, YOU’RE NOW BASED IN LA LIKE A LOT OF MUSICIANS, BUT YOU ALSO GO BACK TO SEATTLE TO WRITE AND NURTURE YOUR CREATIVITY. HOW HAS GROWING UP IN SEATTLE SHAPED YOUR MUSICAL IDENTITY, AND WHAT MAKES THE CITY SO SPECIAL TO YOU?
Akira Galaxy: When I go back to Seattle, I feel like I can breathe again. I land, and the air is so fresh, the nature, it all just puts me at ease. It’s absolutely comforting. I went to an all-girls’ Catholic high school, and that pushed me to venture elsewhere in order to find my creative people and a creative outlet. I started volunteering at this music venue called The Vera Project, and being there every single night and discovering new bands just infused music into my mind.
From there, I started working at a record store called Easy Street Records, and that was probably one of the most profound moments in my entire life when it comes to music knowledge. Every single day, there were all different genres of music I would discover and so many different people with different tastes, and my coworkers are still some of my closest friends in Seattle to this day. We keep in touch very consistently. Also, it’s funny, because I feel like the further I’ve gone into my music career, I keep getting pulled back to my roots. My guitarist is based in Seattle, and I’ve played probably just as many shows in Seattle as I have in LA. It’s funny how that works, you know?
GROWING UP WITH A MUSIC LOVING FAMILY, WORKING AT EASY STREET, AND LATER PERFORMING WITH DIFFERENT BANDS THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY WAS YOUR MUSICAL EPIPHANY THAT MADE YOU CONSIDER THIS AS A CAREER?
Akira Galaxy: I think there were a lot of small epiphanies. I started playing guitar when I was 10, and then I officially started practicing consistently when I was 15. In high school, I was in a couple of bands, and the first band I was in was put together with my classmates. We’d get together during break and rehearse together. My guitar teacher at the school brought in the choir teacher when we were deciding who wanted to sing in the band. Because I’d mentioned I was willing to try singing, she was like, “Yeah, you can do it! You’re pretty decent, you’re pretty good!” Hearing that from an external source that wasn’t like family was really validating. It pushed me to head in that direction.
SOMETHING I NOTICED WAS THE MAJOR DAVID BOWIE INSPIRATION IN BOTH YOUR AESTHETIC AND HOW YOU CARRY YOURSELF/PERFORM ONSTAGE. WHY BOWIE?
Akira Galaxy: He’s always been someone that I’ve admired, really. He’s always been an idol of mine, but I think it went up to the next level when I started looking into his mime work. I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine in the UK a few years ago, and we were talking about the intention behind performance and how important it is to bring something else to the performance – something that’s different than just standing there. Playing the guitar, bringing intention in every single movement. We were talking about Kate Bush, Bowie, etc. Soon after that, I was like, “Man, I’m gonna start playing some shows soon. I really, really want it to be intentional.” I looked up mime classes in Los Angeles, and I found this guy, Lorin Salm, who I later found out was taught by Marcel Marceau, who’s the biggest mimer of all time. Crazy! We’ve been working together for over two years, and we’ve probably done 40 classes together. He’s been a guiding light in my performance for sure. I don’t know where I am, or what I’d be doing without him, and I’m really, really grateful for that. And for Bowie, for leading me in that direction.
I LOVE HOW UNIQUE YOUR VOICE IS; IT WORKS INCREDIBLY WELL WITH THE TYPE OF MUSIC YOU MAKE AND THERE AREN’T VERY MANY MUSICIANS WITH THIS SOUND AND VOCAL COLOUR. HAVE YOU ALWAYS EMBRACED IT, OR WAS THERE A TIME WHERE YOU STRUGGLED TO EMBRACE YOUR DEEPER VOICE AS A MUSICIAN AND A WOMAN?
Akira Galaxy: It was something that I never really even realized. I never paid attention to the fact that I had a lower voice. There was a period of time where I was jamming in a friend’s basement, and his dad ended up later telling me that when he first heard what was going going on in the basement, he thought it was some 40-year-old woman! That’s pretty funny, but I took it as flattery! As I started recording and performing more consistently, that came up more often, so I kind of got used to it. I wouldn’t say it was anything I ever struggled with, but it was something that I wasn’t so aware of. It was just my singing voice.
HOW DO YOU THINK ABOUT BLENDING THE CONTEMPORARY WITH THE TRADITIONAL IN YOUR MUSIC?
Akira Galaxy: I think it’s really important, and naturally, that happens, because every day I’m listening to all different eras of music, whether that’s like Spacemen 3 and Broadcast, or Paul Simon, Neil Young, and Fleetwood Mac – especially the Future Games record, even before Stevie Nicks joined the band, when Peter Green was in it. Top tier. I think naturally those blend together, and subconsciously kind of feed into the music that I’m making. It’s important to be knowledgeable on all different eras of music.
WHAT WAS IT ABOUT “WHAT’S INSIDE YOU” THAT MADE IT STAND OUT TO YOU AS THE LEAD SINGLE?
Akira Galaxy: It was the first song on the record that I ever recorded, and it was the first time I felt like I figured out my sound. It feels like my firstborn child. I feel like the lyrics and the title of the song really encapsulated that time of reflection. It came out easier than the others.
YOU NOTED THAT THE WIZARD OF OZ WAS A BIG PART OF YOUR LIFE GROWING UP AND PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN SHAPING “SILVER SHOES.” WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THAT FILM AND WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S STUCK WITH YOU FOR SO LONG?
Akira Galaxy: Everything about it. I’m in love with the colouring, the set design, the character traits. The Tin Man was always a big favourite of mine because of the theme of love, his heart, searching for that, and always having it. I probably watched it 500 times as a kid between the ages of two and five. When I was three years old, there was a production happening in Seattle, so I went to audition for it. I went in and sang, “Somewheeree over the rainbooww” and I got it immediately. I did about 50 plays with this production, so I think that that helped me be even more connected to the film. I think as I get older I’m always trying to channel my younger self’s interests. When I watch that film these days, it makes me tear up, because it brings me back to that exact place.
ON THE TOPIC OF FILM, I WAS SCROLLING THROUGH YOUR INSTAGRAM AND SAW THAT YOU PLAYED A ROLE IN THE MOVIE THE FRINGE CLASS A FEW YEARS BACK! YOU KIND OF DO A BIT OF EVERYTHING. TELL ME A LITTLE MORE ABOUT HOW ACTING WAS FOR YOU, AND WOULD YOU SAY ACTING AND MAKING MUSIC INTERSECT?
Akira Galaxy: That’s funny! There was a period of time where I was deeply considering going into that avenue. But for me, music has always been my first love. Acting and music both take up a lot of energy, and you have to give it absolutely everything that you have. It wasn’t even really on the table to focus on acting, because I wanted to put all my eggs into the basket of music, and I feel like I’ve kind of utilized some of those skills, even when I’m performing. The mime class is pretty much acting. Being on stage, it’s really important to have a different persona, in my opinion. We’ll see, maybe it all I’ll circle back to that at some point, but music is number one, always.
DO YOU HAVE DIFFERENT PERSONAS WHEN YOU PERFORM EACH NIGHT?
Akira Galaxy: I haven’t gotten there, and I don’t know if I’m going to get there. I think I like to keep it pretty consistent. It all comes from a place of deep emotion. I’m pretty much just acting out all my different feelings towards each individual song. It’s more so just coming from a toolkit, taking pieces there, and just getting so comfortable in my body that I can take this little piece, that little piece, and that little piece from the toolkit.
I ALSO LOVE YOUR AESTHETIC! HOW DID YOU COME TO DEVELOP THAT OVER THE YEARS?
Akira Galaxy: It just happened really naturally with the films that I watched, watching other musicians do their thing, channeling things from my childhood, and being around the friends that I’m around – being around other creatives and constantly having discussions about about music, film, and poetry. It just happened in a really natural way there. There was nothing in particular that was like, “Okay, that’s what I want to be, and that’s what’s gonna happen.”
I’ve always been into sparkly things too. I’ve had a dream of creating a silver bodysuit the past few years, so I reached out to a few friends about designing this outfit, because that was always my absolute dream look that I felt like really encapsulated myself. My friends ended up being like, “Okay, we can let’s design this together. We’ll get a manufacturer, this and that.” To me, that was the perfect opportunity. I feel like I’ve kind of always been this way.
OVERCOMING THE TREND CYCLE!
Akira Galaxy: It’s really funny, though, because I started “Silver Shoes” in 2020. Then it came out at this time when silver shoes got really popular. They’re everywhere now! It was a really weird timing – very, very, very strange. Life works sometimes like that, you know?
YOU LEARN SO MUCH ABOUT YOURSELF AND ARGUABLY GO THROUGH THE MOST PERSONAL CHANGE IN YOUR EARLY 20S - WHAT HAS CHANGED THE MOST ABOUT YOUR OUTLOOK ON ART AND LIFE, HAVING GONE FROM BEING RAISED AS A MUSIC FAN WITH 60+ JUSTIN BIEBER POSTERS AT TEN YEARS OLD, TO NOW BEING A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN?
Akira Galaxy: That’s not something I’m necessarily proud of! But, you know, when I was 10 years old, in that zone of having those posters on my wall, looking at Justin and his life, it looked so glamorous, amazing, and easy. I think the further I go into my music career, I realize that there’s a lot of pain, suffering, and a lot of scared shitless moments. Usually, those are the most rewarding. I mean, 99.9% of the time, the most rewarding moments are where you make it out to the other side. I think I’ve learned, or I’m still trying to learn, to be present in those moments. Even before I go on stage, I have to just stay there and just conserve my energy. I’m just here, thinking about the songs and thinking about what I’m going to do for each movement. Then when I go up, it’s easy. I go up on stage, and it flows really naturally. But before, I’m like a disaster. After, I feel like, “Yeah, I’m gonna go up there again, put me back up there!” I’m ready for the next, let’s go!
WHAT ARE SOME PRE-SHOW RITUALS YOU HAVE?
Akira Galaxy: I hardly say a word. I just sit with my thoughts, have a whiskey with some honey. It’s really funny, because I never really got into whiskey, and then I eventually like realized that it’s really the only alcohol that can warm up my voice. Recently, I was asking for a little bit of whiskey and I said, “Oh, do you have anything that’ll be good for the voice, maybe a little honey essence or something?” They filled like half the glass with honey. I’ll only have a couple sips, really.
YOU STRIKE ME AS A VERY NOSTALGIC AND SENTIMENTAL PERSON, SO TO CLOSE, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF, AND WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR YOUNGER SELF WOULD SAY TO YOU NOW?
Akira Galaxy: Like I’ve come to speak about, I always try to channel that person in any way that I can, because I think the intention behind your younger self is very pure and honest. I’d like to think that she’d be proud and happy. I would tell her, “Enjoy your youth.”
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© Silken Weinberg, Angela Ricciardi
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