Muazana Ana Golja
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Muazana — the Toronto actress Ana Golja, who starred in Degrassi and dozens of other TV and films — is launching her music career with Zana Records/Orange Media and a rich, sultry, cool R&B-pop sound not unlike her inspirations, Adele, pop powerhouse Christina Aguilera, and Canadian peers Alessia Cara and Jessie Reyez.
The EP, Epilogue, will be released in the new year, but pairs of songs will drop before then, starting with “Replay” and “Sorry It’s Not You,” then “People” and “Never Want to See You Again.”
“I always intended to do both music and acting,” says Muazana. “I fell into acting and that became a steady job for me at the age of 9. I didn’t consider diving into music until my second year on Degrassi. I was 16 or 17. I started going through things and needed an outlet to express everything. That’s where I found my sanity — with music.”
The recordings were co-written and produced by two teams. Brett Ryan Kruger (Eminem, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj) and Justin Tyler (Down with Webster), as well as the second team: The Kuya Brothers — with additional collaborations with Boi-1da, DZL, Tyler Williams— Muazana presented lyrical ideas from her own experiences.
“Replay” is “my little rant/Dr. Phil therapy session” about regrets; “Sorry It’s Not You” is a tough situation with her childhood best friend whose romantic feelings she did not reciprocate; “People” is about “how we’re all human,” stemming from an unproductive Saturday night writing session, and “Never Want To See You Again” is “honest to a fault,” she says. “I call it the drunken song.”
“The reason the album is called Epilogue,” Muazana explains. “I was going through a lot of changes as an emotionally intelligent human being. It took four years to write and it documents every step along the way, from good times to times I was in bed crying. At the end, I was in a different state than when I started, and as I listened through the songs it felt like I was looking back on an integral part of my life — an epilogue.”
Muazana was drawn to the arts since she was a child. Born in Canada to Albanian parents, who left the then-communist country in 1991, she started dancing at age 5, acting at age 9, and singing and playing guitar at 10. A year later, she landed her first feature role in White Christmas, a Walter Bobbie Broadway Production at Toronto’s Sony Centre. At 12, she took up piano “because it’s more my style” and enrolled at the Royal Conservatory.
Fluent in Albanian, and “very involved” with the local Albanian community, as a child people unfamiliar with her given name began calling her “Ana,” which she adopted for her acting career. “When I started writing music, I thought I should be 100 percent true to myself, as I am with my music, and release under my legal name.”
Through her leading role as Zoe Rivas on Degrassi: The Next Generation from 2013-2015 and Degrassi: Next Class from 2016-2017, she met Aubrey Winfield of Orange Media through Orange chairman Stephen Stohn. Aubrey set her up with Justin and Brett to co-write. “Prior to meeting Aubrey, I had been writing for three years, but never really found that chemistry with any other writer or producer. They didn’t understand the type of artist that I wanted to be. They didn’t understand my vision.”
What is her vision?
“I wanted to merge jazz and soul with mainstream pop music and even some slightly urban music and make my own sound,” she says. “That was a really difficult thing for producers to understand. I also wasn’t the best at communicating it, so it was a learning curve. But the first session I had with Justin and Brett, and then with The Kuya Brothers, we just started writing; it happened so organically and they really understood.”
Muazana has never performed her music live in clubs, but says, “I want to be on stage and feel that rush and exhilarating feeling and connect with fans.” She is still taking the odd acting job — she just shot Crazy for the Boys, due out in 2018, and is producing a feature about music.
“There are countless people that have been able to do both — Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Hailee Steinfeld, Jennifer Lopez. I want to follow that path, even if it’s difficult. I’m excited for the fans to finally hear what I’ve been working on. This album is me in the purest form and it took a lot out of me because I’m generally a very private person; opening this side and being very vulnerable with the music was incredibly daunting.”