Addison Agen is a 17-year-old folk singer/songwriter from Fort Wayne, Indiana, who placed second on Season 13 of The Voice. I got in touch with her to discuss her musical beginnings, The Voice and new music.
Brianna Vacca: How did you get started with music?
Addison Agen: My mom and dad have both been musicians their entire lives. My mom is a music therapist and my dad owns a record store. So, music was always around in my household. I always sung with my mom leading worship and that’s how I learned harmony, as well as how to become confident with my voice. Then, at 9, I started messing around with the guitar and started songwriting, so that’s where it all started to bloom and blossom. Later, The Voice happened and that made me realize music isn’t something that has to just be a hobby.
BV: What would’ve happened if you weren’t musical considering it’s in your family’s blood? Your family is big, isn’t it?
AA: Haha, I don’t know! It would be so out of the ordinary. I’m not sure what they would think if I went into something that wasn’t creative at all. I’m also really into visual artist so I thought about becoming a tattoo artist if it wasn’t for music and that’s creative in itself, but I’m not sure. And yes, I have three adopted siblings from Kenya , who aren’t musical. I also have a brother who is two years older than me, a sister who is two, and five half sisters.
BV: Can you tell me about your dad’s record store?
AA: My dad’s record store, Neat Neat Records, opened about 8/9 years ago. It is a spot here in Fort Wayne that everybody knows, and it’s a great local spot to hang out and watch shows that local artists play as well as a few out of town artists play. It definitely opened my eyes to new artists that I got to grow up listening to.
BV: So, you actually released music prior to being on The Voice, correct? Can you tell me a little about that?
AA: I was 13 when I started recording, New Places. I’ve done a lot of growing since then, but they were all songs that I had written. A bunch of my friends are on the album, and, everybody on it is under the age of 18 and all from my hometown. It was a lot of fun and a really good learning experience.
BV: How did you find out about The Voice?
AA: I had definitely dreamed out it but I never would’ve gone for it myself because I always had pictured it as being a cheater way to get into the music industry by getting on a TV show. But, my Spanish teacher heard me sing the National Anthem for a volleyball game at my high school and she emailed my mom saying, “Hey, there’s one slot left in the Chicago open call audition for The Voice, can I sign your daughter up? And, also, it’s in two days.” My mom said yes without even asking me and told me the day before. She told me I could still say no, but that they had signed me up for the Chicago audition. I took a leap of faith and went.
BV: What did you tell everybody at school you were doing?
AA: I told everybody that I was at a summer camp. I was 15 at the time of the open calls, and 16 during the blind audition so it worked out. I also had a tutor there so I was able to still continue schooling.
BV: Were your parents excited to experience this with you?
AA: My mom went and stayed out with me. We were lucky to have an amazing support team in Fort Wayne that helped. The nice thing about having so many siblings is that they could all help raise my youngest sister. We also had a babysitter, but the whole community in Fort Wayne got together to help us including helping us financially since my mom wasn’t able to work. It was incredible. My parents loved the experience. My mom actually told me last night how special of a time it was.
BV: What is your writing process and what would you consider to be your favorite songs to write?
AA: My writing process has changed a lot over the past year but my favorite songs that I’ve written, are typically the most recent ones that I’ve written because that feeling of, “Ah! I just finished a song,” is still there and you still get very excited about it. But my writing process consists of a lot of questions before I even start writing, and then it typically starts with one line that pops in my head, whether I’m driving, in the shower, typically the most inconvenient places. Then I try to do the best storytelling I can do.
BV: Who are your songwriting influences?
AA: Brandi Carlile. I grew up on her first album. Joni Mitchell, and Ani DeFranco. I actually got a tattoo based off of Ani.
BV: Who do you look up to as a female empowerment figure? What is female empowerment to you?
AA: I know this isn’t recent but Joni Mitchell is like the start of it all, for me, with female empowerment of being like, “Hey I can do this. I can be a songwriter, that writes my own songs, that sings them AND performs.” She just really stands out for me as someone who really promotes women knowing what they want because we do. She was really good at politely taking control and being a leader. Female empowerment is, to me, supporting each other and encouraging everyone, both men and women, to recognize that female thoughts are valid, and truthful, and not made up. Not just in music, but in everything.
BV: Have you experienced situations where you felt you were being treated as less of an artist because of your gender?
AA: Definitely. There has definitely been a lot of, you know, middle aged men who have looked down on me because I am female and young, and with those two factors together, they assume I just have no idea what I want. They think I don’t know which side of the road to drive on. I have had to learn over the past year to stand firm in what I believe and not be swayed by what people think of me and not conform to their ideas of me because I would think very little of myself. Even in band circumstances, being the only female in the band, I will remind myself that my ideas are important and that I play a huge part in the band. I think every female in this industry has had experiences like this.
BV: Where’s a place that music has taken you that you never thought you’d be able to go?
AA: Definitely with The Voice, LA. I have never been anywhere out that far. I also spent some time in Nashville which was really cool. Maybe it would have happened, maybe not but they were huge to me.
BV: What’s coming up for you?
AA: So last year there wasn’t a lot of movement that outside people could see. I just got signed with a management team up in Detroit and we’re working on finishing up the album and getting it out as soon as possible while making it the best quality as possible. Hopefully that’ll be released in the summer and then possibly a tour in the fall.
BV: Can you give a little album teaser?
AA: The songs are a lot about people, I love people, I’m a people watcher. Some of the stories are about that it was like in LA with all those people. Another song is about finding who I am even when there’s literally 15 million people watching you every week and judging you. This is my introductory album. The genre is hard to put into words but it’s a mix of Americana, Folk, Alternative.. Call it what you want. It’s what my brain is sounds like.
BV: I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for you!
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