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Breaking: Anya Marina

January 21, 2009 1:04 PM ET

Who: Anya Marina, a pixie-ish Michigan-born California gal who ditched a sputtering film career (100 Girls, anyone?) to become a local disc jockey. Honing her songwriting chops by immersing herself in music all day allowed her to claim the San Diego local open-mike crown; a song on the *Grey's Anatomy* soundtrack called "Miss Halfway" scored her a national audience.

Sounds Like: The dozen songs on Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II are a mixture of Liz Phair sex appeal and Boswell Sisters cabaret with a dash of Jung. "You can have a side to you that's overt and raw, but usually it's reserved for the bedroom or your innermost thoughts of your mind," she tells Rolling Stone. "Some artists are used to going there and that's part of their shtick. I didn't want to put on airs." She credits the intensity of her singing on "Afterparty At Jimmy's" to turning out the lights in the studio and taking her shirt off. "It was fun; it was nice."

Vital Stats:

• Marina's father is a Jungian psychologist who, instead of asking how her homework was coming along, would probe her about how her relationships were developing. If he were to ask her that question today, the answer would apparently be: slowly. Marina was recently on her fifth date with a guy who was trying to talk through why things weren't working out between them. "It was a fucking three-hour long conversation," she says. "I'm thinking 'dude, you've never even tried to kiss me and we're talking about why we're not dating.' Sometimes you can't talk it out. Just shut the fuck up and throw me on the bed."

Phase II was produced in tandem by Britt Daniel, of Spoon, and Brian Karscig, of Louis XIV, both of whom she met in her travels as a local radio jock. "Brian and I did 10 songs in San Diego together," she says. "He pushed me to yell and do stuff I hadn't done before. Working with Britt was like working with myself. I think both of us are songwriters that are used to woodshedding alone so working together was pretty illuminating. We did a few songs together up in his house. It was the ideal workday: he totally gave me that space which is great, I'd wake, fry up an egg, make some tea, go to the basement for a while, break for lunch, do normal life stuff, come back home and finish up some stuff. He made me laugh so hard. I'd order him around, we'd laugh some more. Then we'd go out and see a show at night."

• Marina comes from a long line of musicians. Her grandfather, she says, was a saxophonist who auditioned for Benny Goodman's orchestra — but didn't get in because he couldn't read music. Her grandmother was a professional pianist in jazz and Dixieland bands. Her dad, a Miles Davis and Nina Simone fan, plays trumpet and piano; her mother, a Russian, favors dark, Gypsy folk in minor keys. "Music to go through the cold winters to," she says. "Then, of course, we had Barbra Streisand and Liza Minelli."

Hear It Now: Marina will be on the road through April, which is the next time any poor sap can expect a date with her. In the meantime, catch an exclusive acoustic performance of "All the Same to Me."

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