Anna Mariko Seymour of Seattle-based rock outfits The Morning After and Destination Unknown is a multi-hyphenate — producer, vocalist, Berklee graduate, drummer. Now she can add solo act to that list as she enters the newest phase of her career under the moniker Prismia, making ethereal synthrock paeans — think Lykke Li and Santigold with a dash of Pixies — that tell nuanced stories of conflict, pain, love, and self-empowerment from a young woman’s perspective.
Upon the release of her debut EP Amongst the Emerald Mind, A Grrrl’s Two Sound Cents sat down with Prismia to discuss the importance of prioritizing inclusion in the arts, embracing an exploratory approach to music, and telling women’s stories on their own terms.
What is your mission statement as an artist?
To encourage inclusion and inspire limitless creativity through the power of music.
Who was the first musician you discovered on your own who you thought was genuinely really cool?
The first I can remember is Avril Lavigne. I just loved her music and her aesthetic. When I saw the music video for “Sk8er Boi” I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen and I fully wanted to be her. It’s incredible how many people she’s influenced.
What did you study at Berklee and what was the most valuable skill you learned there?
I studied contemporary writing and production, but beyond that I would say that the people skills I developed were the most valuable takeaway from it. The interpersonal relationships I built there really strengthened me personally and professionally.
You’re both a drummer and vocalist. What are the biggest benefits and challenges of that balance?
I was a drummer first before I started singing. The physicality of it is probably the most challenging part, especially when you’re playing a stationary instrument and having to connect with a live audience. But for me the benefits always outweigh the challenges, because I get to do what I love. I was mostly in rock bands before I went solo, and everyone’s influences are normally combined. You get different sounds with every combination which I really love.
Are there any specific references you would compare your other bands to?
I formed a band called Destination Unknown back in the day which started as a blues rock band. As members came and went the sound would always change based on what we were listening to. For example, a new bassist might join who was really into funk or certain members might be metalheads, which would lead to the band adopting more of a hard rock sound. I was also in an all-female band called The Morning After and we were really inspired by riot grrrl bands.
Your latest single “Blameshifter” is very sonically diverse. Were there any conscious inspirations for that song?
Not really. I know it’s a more fun answer to have a specific reference or inspiration, but it just kind of happened organically. When I first wrote it I wanted to add a more electronic-based sounds to my music. I’m always wondering what little flourishes I can add, whether it be a flute or a zany synthesizer. I added a lot of little vocal chops to accentuate the biting sassiness of the song. I have a friend on my team who’s also my mixing engineer. He played guitar on the song and totally killed it.
Are there any bands you loved as a kid who you still love now?
Nostalgia is real. I grew up on pop punk, so I still love most of Blink-182’s discography and that one Panic! album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. I loved how dynamic sounding it was, while still fitting into the guitar pop realm.
An important part of your mission as an artist is inclusion and intersectional feminism. For you personally, what is the most important part of telling stories from that perspective?
Women’s stories are important and need to be shared on their own terms. I’ll never claim to speak for all women, but as a woman, I’m always conscious of the content of my music and the image that I’m projecting. It touches all of my artistic endeavors. I’m also mixed Asian-American and I want to explore my own relationship to my identity through the art that I create.
What are you listening to right now that you would recommend to everybody?
There’s a rapper from Seattle named Xxngel Baby and a duo called babe.wav who have been helping me with live shows. My mix engineer Michael has an awesome psychedelic rock project called The Meltdown Committee. He produced my EP Amongst the Emerald Mind as well, so any rock artists from Seattle who are looking for a producer, I would obviously recommend him cause he’ll make you sound amazing!
Your new EP is called Amongst the Emerald Mind. What do Emeralds signify to you?
I wanted to go in a really green direction with this album because green represents growth and rebirth, which I really wanted to incorporate into my output.
Do you have anything else coming up that you’d like to plug?
I have a lot of songs that I’ve been sitting on since the beginning of the pandemic that I’m excited to return to. I’ve been setting goals to share as many of them as possible, and I hope that people can connect with how I’m feeling. That’s what music is meant to do!
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