When Anouschka’s mother called to say she’d bought a vacation home in Kenya, Anouschka had no idea how profoundly that would affect her own music. The Berlin-based, Swedish-American singer/songwriter was no stranger to international influences, having grown up around the world in a military family. But the energy in Kenya was palpable, and in no time Anouschka was penning inspirational songs like her new single “Shine,” even singing in Kishwahili.
“I don’t write music that comes from any specific faith. What I’ve found is that the songs created in Kenya come from a place of faith because of the energy there,” she says. Working with her mother’s foundation which pays school fees for impoverished children, Anouschka got to know a diverse range of locals. She also met a producer who loved the easy, hopeful feel of her music. “The fifth year I was there I met a producer and he invited me to come work with him in Nairobi. He was a gospel producer, and I was the only non-gospel artist he worked with.” Anouschka remembers the recording experience in a studio in a ghetto area outside Nairobi. “Some days we had electricity, some days we didn’t. One day, main sewer had broken in the street below. We couldn’t do anything for hours because it smelled so bad. There were goats walking by. The village drunks were sitting outside drinking whiskey and grunting and having arguments all day. It was not my ideal recording environment, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
The singer/songwriter has always been curious about other cultures, believing that people are more alike than different. “I was trying to write songs that would appeal to a Muslim or a Christian or any other faith. I wanted it to be family-friendly since everything is so hyper-sexualized. And I just wanted it to be positive,” she says. “Shine” is one such song, an up-tempo number. It is dedicated to unseen heroes and delivered with an audible smile. Anouschka’s optimism is palpable as is her love for the Kenyan community that took her in. “I wrote these songs in Kiswhaili because I wanted to honor the people,” she says of her choice to write bilingual songs.
The new “Shine” was produced by House of Dillie. Anouschka did a media tour for “Shine” in Kenya in 2019 and has performed the song at Canadian and French festivals. She’s promoting the single in the United States now because that’s where she “felt it needed to go.” The song’s message of hope has never been more timely. “I looked at all the horror stories around me and I realized it was because people weren’t shining. When you shine, you’re generous. You’re benevolent. You’re compassionate. We’ve come so far from compassion, I knew that was where the song needed to be.”
She hopes her music will resonate with everyone who’s struggling, whether they’re in Kenya or the United States or anywhere else at all. Not because she wants the acclaim but because she feels a need to contribute positivity to the world. “My songs from Kenya are not just written for me, they are written for the world. I hope this song tugs at people’s heartstrings and makes them open up a little more,” Anouschka says.