Daneshevskaya is the songwriting project of New York City’s Anna Daneshevskaya Beckerman. Her artist’s name, also her great-grandmother’s last name, is a call back to her Russian-Jewish familial roots from her home base in New York. The name conjures a world of romance and unknowns, and as Daneshevskaya, Beckerman crafts artful, haunting songs that only ever reveal themselves halfway before she spins the wheel again.
Music has never been a solitary pursuit for Beckerman. She grew up in New York State, the youngest child in a family that pursued music as both a profession and a personal obsession. Her father was a pianist and musicologist, her mother an opera singer. “Every family gathering was very musical,” she says. “We were always playing music together in a way that felt very safe. I learned to trust other people and have fun with it.” Similarly, her grandmother, a poet, encouraged her literary pursuits. “She was very involved in my life, and I was obsessed with her. She was like a celebrity to me. She was so creative, always sending me poetry she had written.”
Beckerman wrote songs in her bedroom as a teenager and kept writing after she moved to Brooklyn, finding inspiration in artists like Patsy Cline, who sings sad songs with gusto. It took a while before she realized that other people might actually want to hear her compositions. “I had no goals with music at all. My friend Maddy Leshner was one of the first people I ever showed my songs to. We would get together and play music all night, just the two of us, not even recording it. We were just doing this fun thing together as friends.” When Beckerman decided to post music on Bandcamp, she used her Russian-Jewish middle name—Daneshevskaya—as a tribute to her family.
Writing and playing with friends, she developed a very idiosyncratic lyrical style that drew on the poetry of her grandmother but filtered through her own perspective—her own heartaches, her own jokes, her own observations about life, and the wonder of children. Trained as a social worker, Beckerman works at a preschool school in Brooklyn where she interacts with children every day. The children’s sense of creativity and wide-eyed outlook has undoubtedly influenced the songs of Daneshevskaya.
On “Somewhere In The Middle” the debut single for her new label home, Winspear, Beckerman approaches identity with a child-like curiosity. Backed by the production team of Model/Actriz’s Ruben Radlauer (drums, synths) and Hayden Ticehurst (guitar, synths), plus co-producer Artur Szerejko (bass) and Black Country, New Road’s Lewis Evans (saxophone), she delicately dissects the ways we often see ourselves and others in the harsh contrast of black and white. Anna elaborates on the song’s concept, sharing, “My grandma had two sisters and her parents would say 'Anita has the looks, Miriam has the books, and Gloria has the charm.' I used to think about which one I would want to be. I never questioned having to choose.”