Interview with musician VVBrown
VV BROWN’S LIFE post ‘Crying Blood’ is evolving. “It’s what I always wanted,” she says. “I never got into it expecting to be the kind of artist that would have the big massive hit straight away and would get on the radio straight away.” Her vinyl and digital-only single was not entered into the official chart but the video still received a great deal of airplay.
“I always wanted it to be something that was growing and for people to discover it themselves.”
VV Brown’s musical career has spanned a few years, which involved her uprooting to LA for her then-boyfriend. She was signed before going it alone, and wrote songs for the popplastictastic likes of Pussycat Dolls under the psuedonym ‘Geeki’.
VVBrown discusses songwriting
“The songwriting thing is expressive, but it’s definitely a financial thing. I think when you’re a song writer, you hide behind the artist so you’re not necessarily going to be scrutinised completely, which is why I love writing for other artists because there’s so many different kinds of songs that I’ve written. Indie stuff, rock stuff, pop stuff, classical stuff…”
Although that’s not to say VV Brown’s solo work does not take a little from these genres. On her how she feels about her brave new direction in music, of which she says: “now I’m doing my own stuff and I’m more vulnerable…I want it to be done properly.”
“It was really nice to do a gig with Little Boots,” she says of her previous Manchester performance. “We’re always doing gigs together all the time, we’re kind of watching each other grow and evolve together, she’s a really nice girl.”
Vanessa Brown is quite possibly the funkiest living entity to emerge from Northampton. Other ex-residents include the lovely soppy-popstar James Morrison, whilst V for Vendetta writer Alan Moore is probably the strangest / most genius-like Northamptonite and according to Wikipedia, Faye Tozer from Steps comes from there too…digression.
Backstage with VV Brown
Backstage at Manchester’s Apollo, VV Brown fills the dressing room with her lime green T-shirt and shiny leggings that hug her perfect pins. When she’s not writing songs or gigging, she models, having been spotted by a scout from Select Model Management. Right now her hair is tied back beneath a large, towering furry white hat which only adds to her statuesque physique but later it will be styled as if she were off to an old American prom.
“I bring a roll for my hair. It kind of looks like a penis which I always carry in my bag (for her trademark, flat fifties-girl fringe) and it falls out, and it kind of looks like something else. I guess that’s weird.”
VV Brown’s biggest influence, she confesses, is “old-school rock and roll singer” and R&B pioneer Ruth Brown (advocate of musicians’ rights who died late 2006). It’s clear to see the link between the jump blues shuffle of ‘Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean’ and a very similar doo-wop vibe laced throughout VV’s Brown’s debut album ‘Travelling Like The Light’.
Combining vintage 50s sounds with hip hop
“I think it’s an exploration of the lindy-hop movement and swing and music that was quite uplifting and people would dance to,” she says of her album. “I think the general heartbeat of the album is that, but I didn’t want it to be pastiche record that was just completely ’50s/approaching the ’60s.”
“I experimented with more punk and indie stuff like on Crying Blood. And the electronic sounds on top, like the Nintendo samples, come from my love of video games.”
Nerdy, geeki…and a child genius, apparently. Her parents co-founded a private school and as a result of her education, her parents allowed her to take everything a year early. “So my mum and dad said i could have a year to do whatever i wanted.”
Having aced her A-Levels, she won places at prestigious universities including Oxford and London School of Economics. But she turned all the offers down to pursue her dream. “I decided to live a life of being on the road and in dressing rooms.”
“I think I just tried to get into those universities because I knew I could.” Brown then decided to go through with music sans the BA (hons).
“If I’m being honest….I didn’t want to do a music degree because I didn’t really see the point of doing a music degree, because I didn’t want to become a classical musician. And I don’t think you need a music degree to do music. I’ve always believed that eventually something would happen. ”
Musical Entrepreneur VV! Both of VV’s parents own businesses, and she says that they keep her grounded and look at the music industry from “a very business point of view. My mum’s like (talking about being told she was performing at Glastonbury and a very good stage indeed) you know, remember it’s not about those things, it’s about what the statistics say. She could be my manager.”
It’s clear that VV has had a fantastic upbringing, which is why she seems wonderfully level-headed, and is not at all star nor famestruck. “I know even now, if my career fucks up, I can spend 6 months at home with them whilst I get my feet on the ground again.
“That safety net really helps you when you’re following something that’s not predictable. If I was broke I think I would have to go to university, or get a job.” VV’s entrepreneurial spirit would soon quash any fear of bankruptcy, however. Keen on following up her fashion career, she recently set up an online boutique called vvvintage.com.
Does this mean she would like to be known as entrepreneurial popstar?
“Absolutely! I want to be like a spider, have my hands in everything in a creative way and do something that people enjoy. I wouldn’t do the clichéd perfume, I would much rather have a line of eclectic hats. Or a collection of polaroids, like an art book -” She pauses, stares and then says: “Ah, actually, that’s a really good idea!”
As with many female musicians, life on the road is lonely (unless you’re Lady Gaga and make out with the band instead…eek). VV Brown is currently single.
“I need the right guy, I’ve had enough arseholes! What I’m finding is that the more I get in the industry, the harder it is to find genuine people. I can’t understand how people can be pretentious like that. I want to find someone now, and we’ll ride it together up the road, and then we’ll be performing at the O2 arena…I’m such a romantic”.
//interview conducted in Feb 2009. VV Brown embarked on Damon Albarn’s Africa Express, and supported The Ting Tings with Ladyhawke in early 2009 before heading out onto the festival circuit, including Glasto and Camp Bestival. Her album ‘Travelling Like The Light’ was released on Island Records on 13th July this year.