Columbia College Chicago Audio Arts major Aniyah “Ani” Dillard, also known by her musical name of Ani Hastings, was born in Burnsville, Minnesota, and her circuitous route to Columbia included moving to various towns in the northern suburbs of Illinois, and graduating from Bloom High School in Chicago Heights in the southern suburbs of Illinois.
Her creative spark started at a very early stage as Ani relates, “As a young girl I would always write. I would write poems, stories, and little sayings. My head is filled with words all the time and I have to write them down or type them out in order to think clearly. As I got older, I started to turn the poems into songs. When I got to high school, around junior year I met a guy who is my friend to this day. He made music and he came across my writings and suggested I go into the field. I was nervous at first but once I got into the studio, I knew I was hooked.”
Drawing from influences such as the late Amy Winehouse, as well as American rapper, singer, and actress, Eve, Ani’s music tells relatable stories that dive into relationships, love, and the goodness of others, while leaving plenty of room for one’s own interpretation as a listener. These attributes were on display during her amazing performance on this week’s Sessions @ 33. As she explains, “I wanted to show a different side of myself, and I think that is definitely shown through the music selection. I tend to have super-fast paced music and ‘interesting’ lyrics, but I think this is a wholesome performance all the way through, and I think y’all will definitely enjoy it.”
Ani’s enthusiasm for performing during Sessions @ 33, has now resulted in her involvement as an audio engineer for future sessions. “Sessions @33 is hands down one of the most amazing things offered at Columbia. I love how inclusive it is and how it offers opportunities for not only the artist, but for other majors/parties as well. I think the best part about it, and the part that differs from the classroom setting, would have to be how there are no limitations and it's just chill vibes all the way around. I really like how Sessions @33 show the rawness of an artist. It's something about live performances that, at least for me, makes me feel closer to an artist. You get to really hear someone's voice and instruments pop out at you. It feels a lot more natural and organic. I am really thankful that I was selected and got a chance to rock out for you all.”
As an Audio major she is continuing to hone her craft, which in turn has increased Ani’s confidence and aptitude. “The biggest takeaway from my courses would have to be my growing knowledge of sound engineering and audio. I think the creation of sound and the mixing/manipulating of all elements together to make something amazing is super cool to me.”
In the midst of recording new music, performing, and now being part of the team for Sessions @33, Ani is heavily involved with a brand-new student organization, Columbiagency. “I am head of talent scouting, and it is my job to seek talent out and help them join the club so they can be connected to someone who can help progress their career forward. The best place to get information to join would be our Instagram @columbiagency. It has all the basic sign-up info and is the best place to reach out to us with any questions.”
In terms of future plans, Ani has plenty of creative ideas ready for release. “Currently I am working on getting some music videos done. I want to have at least one, if not all, out before the end of the year. I’m always writing, so new music is being created almost daily. I am also planning on releasing the lost files for A1 Nostalgia at the end of the year.”
Sessions @33 is a brand-new series featuring Columbia College Chicago music artists performing a 4-song set in an intimate performance space at WCRXFM, Columbia’s very own radio station. In addition to the artists getting exposure, students from various departments . Please support these fantastic up-n-coming artists, as well as the collaborative efforts of the students involved behind the scenes, by watching sessions on YouTube, as well as listening to the podcast version on either Apple, Spotify, or Stitcher.