TORONTO – Getting fired might end up being the best career move that Canadian singer-songwriter Anjulie ever made.
It was years ago that the now 25-year-old – real name Anjulie Persaud – was on a high-school internship at a Toronto recording studio, cleaning consoles and making coffee, when former Philosopher King Jon Levine walked through the door.
Immediately, she says, she realized she was in the presence of a big-time producer.
“We started talking, he invited me out for lunch, and I left with him for lunch. And I ended up getting fired,” says Anjulie, who’s now living in Los Angeles.
“It turned out to be a good thing – although who knows, I might have ended up being a really good studio engineer!”
That lunch date blossomed into a long-term friendship and on Aug. 4, Anjulie’s self-titled album-the majority of which was co-produced and co-written with Levine – comes out both on Universal Music and Hear Music, the record label for coffee chain Starbucks.
The first single from the album, the slinky, gritty “Boom,” has already taken off. It got major exposure on MTV in June and its video was blogged about by none other than Kanye West.
Three of her songs have been featured on faux-reality show “The Hills.” She recently wrapped up a tour with pop star Jesse McCartney, and in June she sold out her first-ever shows as a headliner.
Her parents are originally from Guyana, and Anjulie says she spent a lot of time as a child digging through their collection of calypso, reggae, and South American music.
“They had a lot of music that they were bringing into the house that was completely foreign to everybody else and all of my friends, which I definitely picked up on,” says Anjulie.
Growing up in Oakville, Ont., a “predominantly white” suburban area west of Toronto, also gave her the challenge and strength to pursue her own musical vision, she says.
She’s not surprised that she’s already been compared to Nelly Furtado, another Canadian female pop act who crossed genres and challenged ideas about what songs could succeed on mainstream radio.
“I think that’s what she was doing with her first record – it was something different and not necessarily radio friendly,” says Anjulie.
“People related to her because it was this eclectic thing, this hybrid thing, coming from Canada. And I’m also that.”
As for whether she’s nervous at all about releasing her first full-length album (“Boom” originally came out on a three-song EP in 2008) Anjulie seems fairly confident.
After all, she says, the album has already passed the most stringent test of all: it gained the approval of Levine, whom she jokingly calls the “dark angel” because of his criticism.
“To actually impress him takes a lot,” she says. “So I knew I was doing something good when he was feeling what I was writing.”