International Musician Thrives from Peru to US
McGRATHPR.com – Born abroad to Peruvian parents Olga and Andelo on June 3, 2000, in Lima, Anika Mladineo Franco enjoyed a wonderful childhood and family life. She and her younger brother, Angelo, born close in age, were inspired to create many memories together. Though Anika’s father passed when she was just 12 years old, both of her parents, especially her father, encouraged her to dedicate her life to a career that filled her with happiness, inspiring Anika’s commitment to pursue a career in music.
Despite being raised in a non-musical family, Anika’s interest in guitar began at a very early age. As a child, her father’s taste in music influenced her own interests, as they explored legendary classic rock music created by Aerosmith, AD/DC, Journey and Andelo’s favorite band, INXS. She was astounded as she watched guitarist Orianthi’s unforgettable performance in the movie “This is It,” documenting “King of Pop” music legend Michael Jackson’s journey to stardom. Celebrity influence grew with famed guitarist Joe Perry’s appearances in the “Guitar Hero Aerosmith” video game, inspiring Anika’s commitment to pick up guitar as her core musical instrument, making her the first musician among her immediate relations.
At age 11, Anika began acoustic guitar lessons, learning some favorite artists’ songs of her youth (AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Poison, Aerosmith, Warrant, Bon Jovi, Winger). At age 12, she owned her first electric guitar, a Gibson SG, which she dubbed “Scarlett”. Fast forward to age 14, and Anika joined her first band, performing at school events and spanning Lima’s vibrant club scene. The group Frozen Hell performed cover tunes by idol artists, including Slash, Guns N’ Roses, and Metallica. They also performed as opening act for Crazy Dizzy, a Peruvian AC/DC tribute band. Anika continued to join other bands, performing in regional favorite venues, including Nirvana and Zipango, eventually rising to bandleader in Latin rock band Blackbirds.
Grateful for private lessons, Anika thrived musically, despite the lack of available public music education programs. She increasingly became focused on graduating with a goal to pursue secondary music education, improving her ear training, theory, and devoting more time to guitar practice. As a high school senior, she was responsible for selecting repertoire, booking high school gigs, and venues like Nebula and Hard Rock Café. Upon graduation, she received an “Excellence in Music” award, and pivoted to focus on earning her future as a professional guitarist. She refocused to hone her craft, develop technique, and master music theory at a local music institute in Lima, where she became familiar with the works of virtuoso guitarist Steve Vai, her music career inspiration to this day.
Realizing that education opportunities were limited for Peruvian musicians, Anika aspired to study abroad, auditioning for Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA in 2018. Accepted into the program, her goals of exploring diverse music genres became a reality. Berklee’s international musician community, and commitment to world-class faculty, empowered Anika to fine tune her rock music skills and study in the same institution as many of her music idols, like Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Steve Vai. Berklee enabled Anika to transform into a truly professional guitarist, thanks to the tutelage of professors David Tronzo and Joe Stump, and other educators. Her dedication to theory, technique, practice routines, shredding skills, growth, and discipline paid off, and she thrived as both a student and college employee.
In 2020, the pandemic rerouted Anika to return to Lima, reconnecting her Peruvian roots. She was featured in “Instajam,” a virtual worldwide shred guitar collaboration, performing in a broadcast of a work by renowned Peruvian guitarist Charlie Parra del Riego. The alliance featured 60 international guitar artists. Dampened by pandemic impact, and facing minimal guitar performance growth opportunities, Anika passed the time producing virtual music videos with her new international connections.
As pandemic restrictions lifted in 2021, Anika returned to Boston, where she immersed herself in every discovered performance opportunity. Berklee’s Voice Department hired her as a guitar accompanist, expanding performance possibilities to college-produced shows and Berklee’s Anime Club. She continued engaging with fellow recognized artists, performing with Aashna Gupta, Amelia Rolland, Aarya Ganesan, Mahima Sheikhawat, and is retained as guitarist for pop recording artist, composer, and producer Jessica Woodlee.
Since graduating in 2022, Anika has served as songwriter/artist Remy Roskin’s guitarist performing in professional gigs. Late last year, she formed the cover band Walhalla, performing classic rock and j-pop/rock genres, her favorite music forms. Walhalla features Anika as guitarist, bandleader and founder; Victoria Xu, vocals, June Redmer, bass, Christopher Salinas, keys, and Chris Beller, drums, performing from Greater Boston to Upstate New York, at national conventions including Anime Boston, soon to appear at ConnectiCon, and across the Northeast’s rich variety of night clubs.
Currently Anika serves Berklee’s Guitar Department’s full-time coordinator, supervising student employees, assisting with exam administration and course registration, creating content for the department’s social media platforms, and collaboratively presenting performance major information sessions. She assists department administrators with Berklee’s Solo/Duo Faculty Concerts and helps manage work study candidates. In addition to her role at Berklee, immediate career plans include growing Walhalla’s presence in the nightlife scene, growing her community of fellow professional performing artists, and continued dedication to perfecting her guitar craft to achieve the technique and musicality of her guitar idols Steve Vai and Joe Satriani.
With an impressive roster of distinguished performance venues already under her belt, and honored as an endorsed Ernie Ball artist, Anika is soon scheduled to appear with Remy Roskin at Southbridge’s Alt Together Fest, at ConnectiCon (Connecticut’s pop culture convention), and at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City. Future aspirations include composing music in the instrumental rock genre, and to develop her skills as a classical guitarist, currently studying with Latin Grammy® Award winner, Berta Rojas. As a performing artist, her primary genre is rock, but versatility enables her to comfortably tour with peer artists, serve as a session musician to celebrity artists, while growing her visibility at mainstream performance venues as headliner.
♦ A n i k a ♦ M l a d i n e o ♦
Summer 2023 Performance Schedule:
6/2: with Remy Roskin at Alt Together Fest, Starlite Gallery & Bar, Southbridge, MA
6/13: Walhalla, Union Tavern, Somerville, MA
7/1: with Jessica Woodlee, opening for Kipani, Heaven Can Wait, New York, NY
7/2: with Jessica Woodlee, Rockwood Music Hall, New York, NY
7/20: Walhalla, at ConnectiCon, Hartford, CT
7/25: Walhalla, Berklee College of Music’s Oliver Colvin Recital Hall, Boston, MA
By Michelle McGrath, McGrath PR | Media Relations, a public relations agency providing visibility for clients in the arts, non-profit and small business sectors since 2010. mcgrathpr.com