Coming in hot with her self-titled EP full of ’80s beats and heartbreak anthems.
We’ve been playing VIAA’s debut EP on repeat since it released a few weeks ago! We met her through Instagram a while back, but we were stoked to learn that she is a kickass musician in addition to being major style goals. The Dayton, Ohio-born, Los Angeles-based musician hopped on a call with us to chat about her new project, what brought her to this point in her career, and how she maintains her peace while working her butt off to make her dreams come true. Check out her EP below and spot a few a her favorite Nasty Gal pieces!
When did you first move away from home?
I moved to Los Angeles when I was 21. Originally I came out to Los Angeles just to go to school, and I wasn’t really doing music at the time. I found music in Ohio but I wasn’t really vibing with what I was making because I was just a kid and hadn’t really found my voice yet or developed my sound. When I graduated from college, one of my musician friends was like, “my producer friend is looking for a backup singer, do you want to do it?” So I did it and that’s how I organically got back into music.
When did you first start singing?
I’ve been singing my whole life, but publicly since middle school. I would sing in competitions and stuff and I was in choir. When I was 17, my dad really wanted me to do American Idol so I did it for him and made it to the top 50. It’s a funny story but it definitely sparked me to play with a band. So I started to write my own music and working with a producer and got it going.
How did your latest EP VIAA come to fruition?
When I started backup singing for Doja Cat, I met Yeti who is a producer and we started to make music together. He’s really good at developing artists so we started making stuff in the meantime when I was playing shows with Doja. We started to realize that the music I really like was very ‘80s and ‘90s driven, so we went with that and started to develop that out. When I was home from tour and gigs we would just flush everything out.
You mentioned you also toured with Anderson Paak? That’s dope!
In 2016 we went on a whole run of festivals like Coachella and cross country stuff. It was definitely a boys club when we toured for them. We had to figure out our place and do our thing while they did their rockstar dude thing. But probably the biggest takeaway for me was how hard he works. It was a big eye-opener for me to see how consistently hard you have to work until people start to recognize you.
“Everything is going to take ten times longer than you expect it to…you just have to never stop.”
How do you stay motivated when you have to continue to prove yourself? How do you keep pushing forward and stay healthy and happy?
There are a few different ways that I have to tackle that. Yeti told me from the beginning of this project that everything is going to take ten times longer than you expect it to. It takes so long and you just have to never stop. That was a good lesson to know from the get-go. Being in the entertainment industry is already pretty masochistic, but you have to be aware that you’re going to constantly get rejected. One of the best qualities I think I’ve always had is resilience. I think that’s a really valuable quality to have, really with anything in life but especially in entertainment because you just have to be able to bounce back. When I do get down, I remind myself of how grateful I am of the people around me who are by my side when I’m not up.
What advice would you give to young women who are looking to go into entertainment or business and how they can stay professional and nurture long term working relationships?
That’s something I’m still learning and adjusting to. Keep reminding yourself that you’re talented and you’re worthy. Since it is a boys club a lot of the time when you’re working in a studio, you can tend to second guess yourself and think that they know better, but really you’re enough just by yourself. Value your own opinion and value your own talent. For professionalism, you should have a big picture lens on. If you’re just looking right in front of you, it might be like appealing to dabble in relationships in the industry or something like that. You just have to remember what the big picture is and there are bigger things beyond this moment. Honestly, it’s usually never worth it to get into more personal things. It’s great to nurture friendships in your industry because it’s nice to have a buddy, but it’s really healthy to create boundaries with people.
“You just have to remember what the big picture is and that there are bigger things beyond this moment.”
You said you love a lot of 80s music, and you can definitely hear that sound on your EP. What was your inspiration when you were choosing what songs you wanted to put on the project, and also your writing process for these songs?
My inspirations at the time were Sade, Meshell Ndegeocello, Dev Hynes, and Prince. I’ve always loved female singers who have deeper voices so I listened to Sting’s daughter, Eliot Sumner–I love that androgynous sound. When I was writing the music it stemmed from the relationship I was in at the time, I didn’t even realize how much I needed to get out of me, and how stressed and unhappy I was. It really all translated into a song. A lot of the songs started with that and took on other meanings. In addition to that, it was the trouble of being a female in the industry and turning into a woman in general. I was starting to really feel the effects of being in this patriarchal society. I really wasn’t getting respected like some of my male counterparts. It was that eye-opening experience for me and transitioning out of a bad relationship as well.
Do you feel like the female voice is important right now in music?
I think women’s voices are so important in music right now. Especially in music because we have such great momentum going with speaking out and telling our truth and empowering other women. I think it’s super important to continue that momentum and really show that we’re not going anywhere. This is a new movement that women really are going to take over the world and everyone is just going to have to deal with it.
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