Ann Annie Makes Music Out of Subtle Exploration of Universes

The artist’s forthcoming record, “The Wind,” blends classical presence and country influence.

Ann Annie (Samantha Klopp)

3. Ann Annie

Sounds like: A subtle exploration of universes

The music of Ann Annie, a solo project moniker for Eli Goldberg, 24, isn’t something that can be rushed. The nearly exclusively instrumental music takes many shapes—some slightly reminiscent of classical, some wide and open like ambient—but the thing that continues to surface over and over in these delicate sounds is the feeling of wandering.

By the time he was 5, Goldberg (raised here in Portland) was already interested in music, particularly movie scores. After a babysitter taught Goldberg a few standout themes on piano from films and video games, like The Legend of Zelda, he was hooked. “I was really into fantasy movies that had really big universes that I could completely dive into and pretend,” Goldberg says.

Scores led to an interest in classical, and then a line of musical projects. First, there was a stint in an indie-rock band in high school, then synth-heavy solo music in college, some dabbling in techno, and then, finally, Ann Annie.

The name Ann Annie is a nod to Annapurna, Goldberg’s favorite mountain range in Nepal, but it also represented a distant place within Goldberg himself, and a chance to realize it.

“I wanted to choose a name that was super far away from who I was as a person, and how people knew me,” Goldberg says. “At a very deep level, being an adopted person has definitely affected my sense of identity and who I think I’m appearing as to other people. It was kind of this moment where I could be the idealistic version of myself that I wanted to explore.”

That self-exploration first materialized as a modular synth heavy sound, with Goldberg building songs on the spot through slow manipulations. The process was becoming too much of an undertaking to perform live—and then the world shut down live music for a while.

The break led Goldberg to try writing for piano, an instrument he hadn’t touched in eight years. Then he picked up the cello and clarinet and began finding what songs lived in each sound. “Oftentimes I have my eyes closed, just feeling—there’s a certain ‘this is right’ that I’ve come to know.”

That rightness can be found on Ann Annie’s forthcoming record, The Wind, which arrives June 7. The songs are a kind of culmination of influences—a classical presence interwoven with pedal steel and old folk and a country influence that Goldberg loves. On songs like “Cottonwood,” it feels like you’re moving alongside Goldberg on the piano, taking soft, curious steps, never rushing toward the end of the track. It just arrives.

Goldberg’s still exploring other sounds outside Ann Annie. His band, 2023 Best New Band Jonny’s Day Out, founded with fellow 2024 Best New Band nominee Amos Heart, is mostly on hiatus but still together. Goldberg’s hoping to eventually expand into playing in orchestras, his ultimate dream. “I don’t read or write music very well, so it’s a far off thing,” Goldberg says. “But whatever walls there are, I’m gonna figure out my own way around them.”

See Ann Annie play live at our Best New Bands Showcase on 4/10 at Mississippi Studios. Buy your tickets here.

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