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Neon Limelight’s New Artist Week Featured Interview: VV Brown

VV Brown - Alex Lake/Capitol Records

New Artist Week here at Neon Limelight couldn’t have a better newbie kicking off the festivities. VV Brown is everything we want this week to stand for. The British chanteuse excites us with her perfectly crafted pop concoctions, her colorful voice, and her bold sense of style. Speaking with her, we learned she’s also confident and intelligent — and hilarious!

VV is currently promoting her mesmerizing debut album, Travelling Like The Light, and we made sure to chat all about the album, her fashion favorites, growing up in England, her Los Angeles blues, and lots more!

Neon Limelight: Your sound is really cool — kinda retro and throwback. What do you listen to to cultivate that sound?

VV Brown: I’m one of those people that throw themselves into anything I love. I never — I hate to be boxed, but I hate to be in a “scene” of any kind. I listen to everything, really. I know that sounds a bit cliche, but I do. I was kind of listening to 50s music. From Ruth Brown to Ella Fitzgerald. Then it kind of moved to the 80s, like David Bowie and Grace Jones. Then I got really obsessed with punk music. I think all of those influences just kinda make this cocktail of this record that I’m really proud of.

NL: Nice! What was the first album you ever listened to? Can you remember back that far?

VV: Yeah. The first record I ever listened to was probably… it was a Beethoven record, because I remember taking classical piano lessons and my piano teacher telling me to have a listen to the composer Beethoven. That was sorta my first album. But the very first record I actually ever bought was this hip-hop group Kris Kross. They used to wear their jeans backwards and that was the first record I ever bought. It went, “Jump, jump! Kris Kross will make ya jump, jump. Uh huh. Uh huh.”

NL: Oh gosh! [laughs] I remember.

VV: [laughs]

NL: Would you say wearing your jeans backwards was the biggest fashion mistake you ever made?

VV: Noooo!!! I thought it was so cool! Even til this day when I used to wear my jeans and jackets the wrong way around, I thought it was dope! [laughs]

NL: That is hilarious! So, we all know you’re a singer, but you’re also a songwriter. What’s the easiest kind of song for you to write?

VV: Woo! That’s a really, really, really hard question because it’s difficult to define the song, you know? Each song has a different spirit. I think that every song that you write is a different animal. Not one is easier than the other. Sometimes it’s just about a moment and place in your head and how you’re feeling. You can spend ages and ages writing a song — and it’s the most simplest song — but for some reason the process is difficult to get through. Then you can write the most complex piece and it could take me 10 minutes to come because I just have to be in that place, that mindset. That’s a really tough question to answer.

NL: That was a good answer, though. Do you ever make songs that you just know are never going to make an album, but you just had to get it off of your chest?

VV: Absolutely! I have so many song like that. I’m also a producer, so I spend a lot of time in my own studio writing music, and sometimes I don’t want that — when you’re signed to a major label or you’re trying to, obviously, get your music out there, there’s an element of — an understanding of what the commercial market wants. For me, I would love to do experimental music like Bjork. Have no chorus, no structure. Just a field of symphonies and mad Indian instruments, but I know that’s not going to get on the radio at this present time in my career. So, sometimes when I want to have a break from trying to find that melodic pop hook, I just want to go off on a tangent and do something that’s completely crazy. I’ve got so many songs, and I think that they’ll come through as my career evolves and people get to know me as an artist. I’ll be able to bring out those more crazy tracks.

NL: Are you ever frustrated with the state of music where everything kinda has to have that sound for radio?

VV: I’m not frustrated because I love pop music. If I didn’t love pop music and I was doing it, then there would be a frustration. I do enjoy writing those three-minute, twenty-second pieces of pop, you know? I like doing it. I find it very interesting and intriguing. I think that it’s frustrating in a sense sometimes how everyone follows each other. When there is an artist that is massive, they’re trying to find the next new that rather than letting artists just be themselves. But I’m not frustrated because I love composing pop music. It’s fun.

NL: What do you think of the music in the last decade?

VV: I think that music has been very interesting in the sense that because of the internet, it has allowed a lot of truthful music to come back again. We’re no longer told what to buy like it was before. People can get on the internet and search for artists they like and download music they like without being thrashed. To me, the last decade has been an interesting evolution of getting eclectic artists again. It feels kind of like the 80s were, especially in the UK, to me. It feels like artists are artists again and real music is coming through. I think the last decade was exciting.

NL: Definitely. Let’s get to know a little bit more about you and how you grew up. What was it like in your hometown? What kind of kid were you?

VV: I was a freak. [laughs] I kinda was like the loner at school. I was just never happy with an answer that an adult gave me at the time. It was just like, “Why are you patronizing me? Why, why, why, why?” I was one of those ones that go, “Why? Why? Why? Why?” But I loved growing up in England. It was a very eclectic mix of different cultures. I like the tradition of England. I love the fact that we have pubs. I love the fact that we have the royal family. I love that fact that people get drunk everyday most of the time. [laughs] I love the different accents from the different parts of the country. I love our music and our art and our architecture. Growing up in England was cool — a very cool experience. I’m a proud Brit to this day.

NL: And you’re currently living in LA, correct?

VV: Yes. I miss my little cottage.

NL: Aww! Well, what did you think of Los Angeles when you first moved? Was it harder to live there than you thought, or easier?

VV: Well, I lived in LA for two years before this when I was going through my process of trying to chase after the dream. I moved to LA when I was 19, and I didn’t have a very good time at all there. In fact, it was hell for me because LA is a town where there are so many people pursuing their dreams that I really missed having the balance of London or New York or something, where you can have a conversation with a nurse or a builder or a brick layer.

NL: Everyone’s an actress or a singer there.

VV: Yeah. It’s so saturated with people in the entertainment business that it just feels there’s no soul sometimes and there’s no reality. But now that I’ve grown up and now know exactly who I am as a person, it’s made me realize that with LA, it’s about the group of people that you have that is so important. You can make your own scene. You have to make your own scene in LA to survive and be happy. In New York or London, everyone walks on the street — there’s just a vibe naturally. You don’t necessarily have to create a vibe. It’s already one because there’s so much energy. I must admit, I’m moving to Brooklyn in March.

NL: Awesome!

VV: New York is way more suited for me. I can’t wait to move.

NL: You’re also very big on fashion. How do you think fashion and music mix together to create one cohesive unit?

VV: For me, I think I just try not to over-think anything. I don’t over-think my music, and I don’t over-think my fashion. I just try to exist and be myself. Whatever clothes I pick up, it’s just very simple. It’s just what I like, and because it’s what I like it just naturally becomes an extension of who I am. I’ve lived by that motto since finding myself as an artist. When you’re yourself, that’s when it connects because everything about it feels honest. I love fashion, and I just be me. Even if it’s the craziest hat with birds and fruit in it, I don’t care what anyone thinks. If I like it, I wear it.

NL: Who is your favorite fashionable singer?

VV: There’s so many. I love Gwen Stefani. I love what she was doing when she was in No Doubt. I love Grace Jones.

NL: If you could create your dream tour, who would be a part of it?

VV: If I could have a dream tour it would be the Gorillaz, Grace Jones, a composer called Ryuichi Sakamoto, he’s a Japanese film composer, and probably Common the hip-hop artist.

NL: That’s quite a tour!

VV: Yeah. It’s giving you sort of everything. It’s giving you the alternative sort of music with the Gorillaz, you got me with my sort of alternative-soul, you got the film music so it can be nice and mellow and classical, then you got Grace Jones and she’ll bring the party to the place, then you got the hip-hop with Common.

NL: What’s the best song on your album to listen to on a rainy day?

VV: I think it would be the track “I Love You.” It’s a ballad, and it’s just really dreamy. I can just imagine listening to it with socks and a cup of hot tomato soup while looking out the window.

NL: What about a sunny day?

VV: A sunny day would be “Shark In The Water.” It’s got a really summer vibe to it. It’s got kind of a reggae thing going on. Any time reggae music is played the sun just miraculously comes out.


Listen: Shark In The Water

More on VV: http://www.myspace.com/vvbrown http://www.twitter.com/vvbrown

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  1. ok ok..imma listen to her..


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