Our emerging artist program, Big Break, is back! We’ll be regularly featuring rising talent taking the live music world by storm and climbing the Bandsintown charts. From the stories behind their sound to their big plans for the future, get to know the next wave of must-hear musicians before they break.
Annie DiRusso is earnestly honest, and she is ready to let the world in on her secrets. “I'm always waiting on my fall from grace / Not even 22, but I think it’s coming soon,” she sings. Throughout her work, she strings together truths about her early adulthood experience in ways that are deeply personal, yet undoubtedly relatable. The singer-songwriter’s “Coming Soon,” “Nine Months,” and the viral hit “20” are about growing up and breaking up, and all are laced with her signature catchy hooks and a captivating DIY-rock sound.
DiRusso, who was born in Westchester, New York, moved to Nashville to study at Belmont University. It was there, she said, that she found her footing as an artist. She has the straight-to-the-heart lyricism of Lucy Dacus and Claud, paired with the bouncy guitar tones of Courtney Barnett. Her voice is gentle, but she has a punky scream that commands attention (just check out “20,” you’ll hear it). After one listen, you will know DiRusso was meant to be a rockstar.
As of late, the “Jonathan” singer has been busy crafting bops and building an impressive online cult following ahead of her upcoming tours with Sara Kays and Samia. She recently surpassed 47k followers on TikTok, where she posts performance clips, covers, and allows viewers to witness her songwriting process. In some of her biggest videos, she gives fans a sneak peek of new material before it hits streaming platforms so you can learn all the words before she hits the stage in a city near you.
The rising indie rock artist also recently collaborated with the music content creators and curators at OurVinyl for a special performance of her 2018 single "Don't Swerve". We’re pumped to be premiering the live session here today, which was filmed and recorded from the neon glow-filled skating rink at Adventure Alley, an amusement center just outside of Nashville, TN.
Be sure to check it out, then read on for our interview with DiRusso, where we tackle everything from her upcoming gigs to her hopes for the future post-graduation.
You’re about to embark on your first tour ever with Sara Kays! How are you preparing? What aspect of touring are you looking forward to most?
I’m so excited and nervous! I’ve been rehearsing the set with my guitarist Daniel Nunnelee, we are doing stripped back versions of my songs because it’s just gonna be us two on this tour (no drums or bass). We’ve had so much fun reimagining these songs just on guitars for this tour (which is how I wrote them). I am most looking forward to meeting the lovely people who are coming out to the shows! I also can’t wait to watch Sara’s show each night, she’s so incredible.
You posted a TikTok saying you are aiming to graduate in December. First of all, congratulations! Second of all, how are you going to balance going to school and being on tour at the same time?
HAHA I guess we will find out.
Speaking of TikTok, you have over 47k followers on there. What drew you to the app? How has it influenced your career overall?
I was drawn to the app at the beginning of quarantine just as a way to fill my time. As soon as my FYP got me I was hooked for a while. I feel like Tik Tok (at least for me) speaks to the universality of the human experience and that’s what initially drew me to the content. I didn’t think my music would catch on at all on there but Daniel encouraged me to make a video singing “20” in August of last year and it randomly did really well. In the year since I started posting on the app, I have been able to reach so many people who are into the music I release and it has been so cool and sweet.
You moved to Nashville for college. How has the music scene there shaped your sound? If someone was looking to move to Nashville to pursue music, what advice would you give them?
I think the focus on songwriting in Nashville has had a big impact on my music. Being around and hearing the work of so many great songwriters (across all genres) that live here has been so inspiring. I would tell anyone moving here to pursue music that it is a good idea! The music community here is unlike any other :)
Your cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now” is so fun! Why did you decide to cover that song?
My brother always shares his music with me and he has much cooler music recommendations than I do. He made me a playlist with this Tiffany’s version of “I Think We’re Alone Now” and it quickly became one of my favorite songs. When I decided I wanted to release a cover, this song immediately came to mind. I think the lyrics are so good that it works across all different genres.
Samia recently tweeted a reference to your song “Coming Soon.” Are we going to be seeing a collaboration between you two? What songs of hers inspire you?
Hmmmmm. Hahaha yes. By the time this interview comes out it will have been announced that I’m OPENING FOR HER NORTH AMERICAN TOUR in January/February. I have been such a big fan of Samia for so many years, I literally can’t believe this is happening. Her entire discography inspires me! The Baby was my top record of 2020 and “As You Are” and “Show Up” will no doubt be on my top songs this year. I initially found her music with the song “Someone Tell The Boys” and have been listening ever since. I could go on and on…. She’s the coolest and kindest around.
Who would you love to go on tour with in the future?
Nine Months” is a powerful breakup song, it really reminds me of “Night Shift” by Lucy Dacus How are you feeling about performing it live every night? Is it intimidating to play a brutally honest song to a room of strangers?
First of all, thank you for that comparison wowwie!! I wrote “Nine Months” when live shows were not happening and I didn’t have a chance to play it for a live audience for almost an entire year. When we started rehearsing for the first show back it felt crazy to play that song with the band, it was so much more emotionally draining than any other song I’d ever rehearsed. But when I played it live for the first time (at The Basement East in August) it was the most cathartic experience I think I’ve ever had. The song felt emotional but so empowering and so many people in the audience were singing along… It was so beautiful. That being said, I think it will be a little hard to play every night but so worth it.
Besides your upcoming tour and graduation, what does the rest of your 2021 look like for you?
Hopefully spending the time that I am not doing music or homework with the people I love!!!!
What are your biggest music goals? Where do you see yourself in five years?
I want to write music that I am really proud of and continue to experiment with songwriting and production. I would love to play some shows in different countries and to do a headline tour in the next few years. Hopefully in five years I will have 2 records that I am proud of out in the world and I will have toured all over the place :)