At Capacity

Anna Shoemaker releases 'Silver Cowboy Boots'

Words by Shauna Hilferty

We’ve all been there. Those nights where you watch Dirty Dancing for the 30th time and cry into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. The days where you find their shampoo bottle in your shower and spend hours contemplating whether or not to get rid of it. The times you have to remember to forget. The quiet moments when you find the courage to let it go. 

Some nights, it all comes back in waves and you second guess the decision you made however long ago. It’s so easy to look at the positive aspects of a relationship and get lost in what once was. Scrolling through Instagram and letting curiosity get the best of us, we wonder “What are they up to? How have they been?” 

“Silver Cowboy Boots” by Philly native, Anna Shoemaker is a song that embodies the very distraction of retail therapy needed to get and grow through a breakup. The R&B pop ballad is a testament to those of us who know all too well how an impulse purchase might feel good in the moment, but won’t last long - much like a relationship on the rocks. 

Along with the song, the “Silver Cowboy Boots” video follows the story of Anna, who had previously gone through a breakup. Reflecting on what is left of her relationship, lounging in a dim motel room, we see that the boots shine. Underneath it all however, is the longing for a thing of the past.

1. Can you tell us what your initial thought process was when writing “Silver Cowboy Boots”? 

For me, I had just got into the studio with my producer who I work with, his name is Will Baker, he goes by Invisible Will and he’s actually featured on the song. He that deep, darker voice. I was in studio with him and I was wearing - I remember that day I was wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt but I said “fuck it, I’m gonna wear my silver cowboy boots,” cause I just like to jazz it up sometimes in quarantine. And I had initially bought the boots when I was going through a breakup and they made me feel pretty happy for a while then I just started to miss my ex. I was just like “damn like, this isn’t going away,” this feeling. So I was talking about that with Will and I started to write it and I wrote this whole thing about how I’m trying to get over you. If I’m being honest, I felt like, for him, it was very easy and he moved on quick and did his thing. For me, I felt like I was trying everything and nothing was working. And I think that’s a very relatable thing that I talk about with my friends a lot in a breakup, that perspective. Because you don’t talk to someone you dated anymore, all you see is the Instagram stuff. You don’t see if they’re struggling or not. They don’t see if you’re struggling or not. So he probably thought I was fine too you know, but it’s like I was buying these expensive boots so I was trying to do anything I could. I was working at this restaurant and I felt like I was just working on the weekend and he was out clubbing every weekend. I was just really having a hard time so I let it all pour out of me in the studio with Will.

2. Has your songwriting process changed or altered since the pandemic? 

For a little bit there, there wasn’t as much to write about cause my life felt like it was on pause. But I think I’ve just kind of been adapting, finding new ways to write about things. I think that that’s the one thing that is the most comforting is being in the studio during the pandemic is that not a lot has changed in there. It’s still kind of my safe place to go, especially with Will. So that’s been one of my huge saving graces besides coffee.

3. You mention “the city” in the first verse of the song. Seeing that you are New York based, but Philadelphia born, which city is the city that you’re referring to? 

I really like this question! When I write songs, I feel like a lot of them I mention my roof a lot. And on my roof in Brooklyn, I can see Manhattan from my roof. So a lot of times when I visualize that I can kind of see that. And for this one I kind of visualized being on my roof and like, my ex, he lived in the city in Manhattan not Brooklyn. So it was the idea that looking at the city and wondering if someone’s there. You can see exactly the outline of the city whereas if you’re in Brooklyn, and you’re looking at Brooklyn you can’t really see the outline. Whatever your interpretation is. Whatever it means to you. But for me it’s Manhattan.

4. You mentioned that the boots “make you look good and stand tall and confident, and that’s really all you can ask for from a relationship.” What is another thing that makes you feel the way the boots do? 

Writing a good song honestly makes me feel really confident. There’s nothing really that actually makes me feel better than writing a song. Any song. Even bad. Cause it’s just like such a release. It’s just my thing, and it always has been my thing so for me. I think everyone needs to find what they’re into and for me just writing music and singing is what that is for me. 

5. Being a creative is hard, but especially now more than ever because of the pandemic. What is something that has kept you motivated to keep making music during this time? 

It’s hard for me to stay motivated. I think it’s hard for everyone to stay motivated. But the one thing I’ve been doing to keep myself accountable is that I will go into the studio with my producer. I’ll write music and work on some stuff by myself but that’s mostly just me like spitballing ideas. But when I go into the studio that’s when I’m really like “Okay you’re here, you’re out of the house, you are now going to write a song or do something productive.” Letting myself do my thing in my own space and just honestly, the most important thing for me is letting myself be lazy. And letting myself not do what I’m supposed to do so then when it’s time for me to actually buckle down and do something I’m gonna do it cause I’m not always stressed. 

6. Your other single, “Feels Like” is heavy on the ukulele, while “Silver Cowboy Boots” takes inspiration from R&B and pop. What inspired this change of pace? 

I know it seems like it is a change of pace, but I would say about 40 songs that Will and I have made together and they are all different genres. I think one of the reasons him and I work so well together is because we don’t really pay attention to that kind of stuff. We make music off of what our mood is and how we’re feeling. So it’s like “we’re feeling moody today” we’ve made something like “Feels Like” with some sad ukulele and a slide guitar whereas “Silver Cowboy Boots” we were feeling a little more upbeat. It’s not necessarily like we’re trying to go for a particular sound as much as we’re really doing it based off of mood and the vibe and what I want to write about.

7. What is your favorite lyric in “Silver Cowboy Boots?” 

“I’m trying to get better at being alone” because I really do be trying to get better at being alone. It’s hard because I think that the most important thing is to be able to be alone and to know who you are and to do things for yourself and only for yourself and when you’re in a shitty relationship, you can kinda lose that. You start doing things for someone else and that becomes your personality and I think it’s like, I have found that over the past year or so that it’s been so important for me to literally do things only for me. I’ve been learning a lot about myself and who I am just on my own as a person. I think that’s been really important for me.

8. What was your favorite scene to shoot in the music video? 

So we went back and we shot all of the scenes. The director and I just went back to the motel to do some reshoots of the more lo-fi parts, just the camcorder and that was probably the most fun. Because it was just Ava and I kind of dancing around the motel room and just being able to be fun and eat fast food and drink Coke and just hang out the two of us and do my shots.

9. What can fans expect from you next? 

I’m working on a lot of new music which I’ll be putting out in the next year. I’m still gonna be mixing it up and doing a ton of new stuff and just trying out new stuff, new genres. Definitely a lot of new music. That’s what's up. 

Check out the “Silver Cowboy Boots” video below! 

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