If there ever was a time of reset for Anna Clendening, it is now.
The rising pop singer with the soaring, yet somewhat aching voice has a new single (“Get Me”) and a new record label (Atlantic Records) and a new realization as to just who she is as a songwriter and as an artist and as a person.
But some things never change.
“I think me and my boyfriend just broke up,” she says matter-of-factly during a recent interview with American Songwriter from her home in Los Angeles. “I just got a text from him a couple of hours ago. He says he’s breaking up with me. I mean, nice timing.”
She laughs, somewhat harder than someone who possibly just got dumped probably should. But for the self-proclaimed serial dater, Clendening says she is at a point in her life where she is learning to take things a bit more in stride.
“Normally I would be devastated and trying to get things back,” she says, allowing her voice to trail away into the distance.
Because God knows, Clendening been through a lot worse.
Take the night she went into the bathroom to do the unthinkable.
It happened in 2019. Clendening found herself in an inferno of a relationship with a guy in the Navy who claimed to love her. For a span of a month, their relationship moved quickly. They even got tattoos together. And then, the week before Valentine’s Day, they broke up.
“I was in such a bad place,” recalls Clendening of the breakup, which occurred while she was on a songwriting trip in Nashville just two years after hitting it big with her RIAA-certified Gold single “Boys Like You”. “I remember walking into the bathroom and thinking about cutting that tattoo straight out of my arm. I was not in a good place.”
But there was more to the story. In the same year that she would ride high on the success of her debut EP Waves, Clendening would also find out that she was suffering with a Borderline personality disorder, and all of the clinginess and anxiety that she had felt in that particular relationship and so many others throughout the years had a true cause, a true root, a true reason.
And it was this breakthrough that led to a song.
“We were at a songwriting session in August 2019 with Emily (Haber) and Jon (Buscema) and Jon started playing this folky, indie thing on the guitar and started singing and we just started working on this idea that ‘you didn’t get me then and didn’t understand me, so you don’t get me now,” she recalls about the creation of her new single “Get Me.”. “At first, I looked at it as an empowerment song, but then it became a way for me to deal with my Borderline personality disorder. To know that I wasn’t crazy for all those years and I could now work on it and get help with it was just a huge breakthrough.”
And as 2020 crawls to its somewhat cruel mid-point, Clendening is crawling towards continued change in her life. But she still experiences her share of growing pains. For example, she’s not writing much on Zoom right now (‘a lot of my songwriting energy comes from the energy in the room,’) and she beats herself up for it.
“Every part of me wants to be so productive with this down time and try to save the world, but the other part of me realizes that I need to be realistic,” says Clendening, who admits that it has taken a healthy does of medication to get her through this turbulent time. “There is a lot of anxiety and chaos in the world, and I feel like all of it continues to subconsciously seep into my daily life. I feel sad. I feel like a bad person. But, that’s my reality.”
And then she stops, and silently corrects herself.
“It doesn’t have to be my reality,” she says. “I’m working with a therapist. And when I say I’m working, I’m really working. She is showing me how to be better. And I’m better now than I once was. I’d go through all of it all over again just for the chance to grow from it. And I’m still growing.”