MANZANITA — Music was never supposed to be Anica Stemper’s career.
Whenever she had a free moment growing up, she was most likely singing, playing around on the piano or plucking at her guitar. She has always loved music, but figured her songwriting would always stay a hobby.
So it’s surreal for the Manzanita resident to hear her own music on television shows.
“It’s really cool, honestly,” Stemper said. “There’s a sense of accomplishment, for sure, knowing I’ve gotten this far.”
But before entering the entertainment industry, the Southern California native was set to follow her other passion at San Diego State University: writing.
“I thought I’d get sick of (music) if I pursued it as a career,” she said.
After earning her English degree, Stemper sought a change of pace — and cooler weather — and decided to make the journey to Portland. She took a job with Welocalize, where she would listen to transcripts of requests people would make and then correct their grammar to help develop Siri’s language skills.
“The hardest ones to listen to were the ones about breakups or relationship issues,” she said.
While entertaining, Stemper couldn’t help but feel restless and unfulfilled at a desk job. So she quit and decided to head west, driving up and down the Oregon Coast handing out resumes until she landed a job at Pelican Brewing Co. in Cannon Beach.
She had made the decision to make music her career, “but bills needed to be paid,” she joked.
She started recording and sharing new songs and covers aimed for television shows on the music platform SoundCloud. She describes her music as cinematic and ethereal, and draws inspiration from her own life and the characters of TV shows she enjoys.
“I love writing in other people’s shoes. It’s my way of exploring other emotions,” she said. “At first I thought about just producing and pitching an album, but there’s something fun about being a part of another piece of art.”
About a year ago she signed up with Crucial Music, a label that represents artists and pitches their work to television networks. Soon after, she received the news her song “Wilderness” was going to be featured on “The Fosters” and “Once Upon a Time,” two TV shows on the ABC network.
Since then, her work has been featured on “The Shannara Chronicles” on Spike TV, “You Me Her” on the Audience Network, and “Love Island,” a British reality TV show.
“That’s when I realized I can really do this,” she said.
With her songs streaming on platforms, Stemper can now pay for about half her living expenses with royalty checks, she said. Her profile is slowly rising on the music scene, and she’s not entirely sure where it will take her.
What Stemper does know is fame is not the end goal.
“I just want to make enough money to do what I love,” she said. “I just want to do this thing that I love for the rest of my life, however I need to make that happen.”