“Pop music is pure freedom:” Any Girl talks new single ‘Underachiever’

Late last month, we caught you up to speed with the dreamy pop stylings of Any Girl. 

Serving as a showcase of the Australian musician’s transition from EDM to lo-fi bedroom pop, her latest single Underachiever blends 60s nostalgia with country flairs and diaristic storytelling. 

Underachiever marked Any Girl’s sophomore single following Into The Black, but the Coomalbidgup-born singer shows no signs of slowing down.

Any Girl interview 'Underachiever'

Earlier this week, she debuted the official music video for Underachiever co-directed by herself and Saxon Ames, and today, she stops by Happy Mag to dish on the new single, Terminator 2, and the multiple times she’s considered quitting music altogether.

Catch Any Girl’s full interview with Happy Mag below, and scroll down to watch the music video her new single Underachiever. 

HAPPY: What are you up to today?

ANY GIRL: Today is my admin day (how exciting I know) – so that means all the backend stuff no artist likes doing such as emails, PR, content creation, invoices, and the list goes on!

HAPPY: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the scene like in your neck of the woods?

ANY GIRL: I’m from Perth and although from the outside it seems pretty sleepy here, we actually  have a really good indie music scene. 

Some Perth artists I’m obsessed with at the moment include Angie Colman, Little Guilt, Ghost Care, Humble Armada and Joan and the Giants. 

Any Girl interview 'Underachiever'

HAPPY: Describe an average day? 

ANY GIRL: In the life of Any Girl? Probably not that exciting as I actually work a day job most days! 1. Wake up very tired from staying up too late and never learning my lesson.

2. A chaotic scramble of showering, making coffee and taking my ADHD meds and then shooting out the door with a true crime podcast queued on Spotify for my drive.

3. Work at the Rusty Clothing warehouse, chatting sh*t with my amazing workmates and boss (who are all musicians too), and (without spacing on my actual work duties too much) doing any music work I can get done on my phone

4. At lunch I’m either working on music or we do a lunch time jam session on the grass outside with the work crew

5. After work it’s either pole-dancing or straight home to continue working on music for most of the night!

Any Girl interview 'Underachiever'

HAPPY: What did you listen to growing up that fuelled your passion for music?

ANY GIRL: Oh man, there’s a lot… I’m from a family of musicians so music was a huge part of my childhood. 

But I’d say the most inspiring stuff for me was probably Pink Floyd, Concrete Blonde and The Police which my parents blasted every day, and Coldplay which my brother introduced me to when I was a wee 12 year old.

I’ve been a massive fan of Coldplay ever since and am probably more influenced by Chris Martin’s lyrics than I even know. 

The way he is able to describe such emotional subject matter in a really succinct yet poignant manner is, in my opinion, pure genius.

Any Girl interview 'Underachiever'

HAPPY: “Underachiever” has this wonderful blend of vintage pop vibes and dreamy pop goodness. Can you share a bit about what inspired this unique sound and direction for the song?

ANY GIRL: It all started with the drum beat. 

I always wanted to make a song with the same drum pattern as ‘Joey’ by Concrete Blonde, and then Jesse and I were also listening to a lot of Sharon Van Etten at the time – specifically ’Every Time The Sun Comes Up’ which also uses that classic beat. 

When it comes to guitar and synth sounds, I’m always  a sucker for anything that sounds nostalgic. I was born in the wrong decade and my music usually reflects that.

Any Girl interview 'Underachiever'

HAPPY: You’ve transitioned from being an EDM vocalist to exploring dreamy pop. What motivated this shift, and how has your musical journey influenced your current style?

ANY GIRL: I’m definitely thankful for my years in studios working with EDM producers because they taught me so much production-wise that I now use in my solo work. 

But I was only 19 when I recorded my first topline for a Muscles remix, and after that it all took off so quickly that I never really got a chance to think about what kind of music I would make if I had a solo project! 

Any Girl interview 'Underachiever'

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realised I needed a clean slate in order to make music that was deeply meaningful to me. 

Drum n Bass can definitely have emotional elements (especially if I topline on it haha), but there is always an expectation for it to hit a certain production level and to do its job on the dance floor. 

With the music I’m making now, it feels limitless – I can have raw vocals and it’s a stylistic choice as opposed to a production flaw. I can make music at any bpm, any structure, etc. Pop music is pure freedom.

HAPPY: The track “Underachiever” seems to evoke a sense of 60s nostalgia with a fresh twist. What was the creative process like in achieving this distinctive sound?

ANY GIRL: I actually don’t listen to much 60s music, that part must come from Jesse! His guitar tone lends the most beautiful twee vibe to the song which I just love. 

Jesse also had an original Juno 106 in his studio at the time so we just went nuts on that, I’m pretty sure every synth sound in the track came from that Juno. 

When it came to the drums I knew the exact sound I wanted – that classic gated reverb snare gets me every time and takes me back to my childhood. It came together so easily and naturally.

Any Girl interview 'Underachiever'

HAPPY: Can you tell us about your collaboration with Jesse Pattinson from The Delta Riggs in creating “Underachiever”? What was it like crafting a song that delves into your inner struggles and emotions?

ANY GIRL: Easier than you’d think. We had already worked on another track before this – so we weren’t strangers. 

But honestly we clicked pretty instantly in our first session, to the point where I decided I want to write most of my album with him and ended up flying back to Melbourne several times to write more tracks together. 

I’ve done enough co-write sessions to know when you stumble upon a good writing dynamic – and Jesse was one of them.

Any Girl interview 'Underachiever'

HAPPY: You’ve already achieved 40 million streams and performed at notable festivals. How has your journey in the music industry shaped your perspective on creating genuine emotion through your music?

ANY GIRL: I’ve been to hell and back with my mental health in the past, tried quitting music (more than once), before I finally did the inner work and came out on the other side for the better. 

I’m now at a point where I make music because it feeds my soul – whether I get a million streams or a thousand streams. 

I spent a really long time pinning my happiness & self worth on external outcomes and how ‘successful’ I was and it was really miserable – even when I did have millions of streams – because it’s something that’s out of your control. 

Any Girl interview 'Underachiever'

What I do have control over is what I create and the perspective I choose to have on my career. 

I don’t care what others think or what’s expected of me as Reija Lee, and I’m okay with my music not being everyone’s cup of tea. Not caring anymore is a pretty powerful place to be.

Any Girl interview 'Underachiever'

HAPPY: “Underachiever” is described as an open letter to anyone who’s faced imposter syndrome. What personal experiences or feelings inspired you to write this reassuring and relatable song?

ANY GIRL: As someone who does a lot of topline work, I used to think my entire career was pretty much riding on other people’s coat-tails. 

But after everything I described above, I just stopped giving a shit and thought it would be funny to make fun of myself. 

After having a full mental breakdown you just get to a point where you snap and go “okay, well, what now?” And you write another song. 

There are literally no lies in Underachiever. I got denied when I applied for a credit card, I have bailed on countless parties to stay at home watching Terminator 2 (my favourite movie), and I often still feel like I don’t belong. But I’m okay with that.

HAPPY: You mentioned infusing a bit of country into “Underachiever.” What drew you to explore this genre, and how do you see it connecting with your personal background?

ANY GIRL: Writing a country-esque song is definitely not what was expected of me, but I’ve always had a soft spot for country. 

I was born in a tiny place called Coomalbidjup (population 7 back then, now a whopping 136) but my parents moved to Perth when I was two.

I felt a bit robbed of a regional upbringing and constantly begged my parents to move back to the country! (They never did). 

I feel sometimes country music gets a bad rap in Australia, when the reality is that there’s a little bit of country inside all of us. So it’s nice to be able to showcase that side of myself and lean into it fully.

Any Girl interview 'Underachiever'

HAPPY: As an artist who’s constantly evolving and embracing unexpected twists, what can your fans look forward to in your future music endeavours?

ANY GIRL: More single launches, more crazy videos, more indie pop, electronic pop, and an album!

HAPPY: What makes you happy?

ANY GIRL: MUSIC! (Probably what everyone says but it’s really really true!)