Could Vandetta become Singapore's most iconic soul and R&B singer?
After spending last year in Los Angeles to work on her music, Vandetta (or Vanessa Fernandez as she's known when DJ-ing for Lush 99.5FM) recently returned and launched her eponymous five-track debut EP.
Each track is composed using just her vocals and while mainstream music fans may be unaware of the 32-year-old virtuoso, international media has come knocking.
So far, she has been featured in award-winning US alternative paper LA Weekly, and music sites Pitchfork, The Fader and MTV's cutting-edge website Iggy. Fernandez could put Singapore on the world map for something cool.
Well, it's a change from being known for chicken rice, cleanliness and Changi Airport - not bad things to be known for in themselves but not high with the cool quotient.
I spoke with Vandetta over Twitter. To see the full interview, check out #tnpvandetta.
ZA: All five tracks on your EP were composed purely from your vocals. Why take that direction?
V: It made sense since people either knew me as a radio presenter or singer. My real message is that everyone has a voice - if you have something to say, do it beautifully. Otherwise you are just noise.
ZA: Where was your head at when making the EP?
V: I wanted something that represented me as a person and as an artist. The songs deal with my frustrations as a SG musician and finding love.
ZA: You were in LA for about a year in 2012. How important was that?
V: I think it's good for any artist to find space to create. LA was that place for me. I felt free. That's tough here. ZA: What are some of the obstacles you faced here as an artist?
V: Making original music, making a living as an artist - it's difficult. To make ends meet, your art takes a backseat.
It's like that everywhere. We all have to hustle, but in LA, the scene is more developed so you feel inspired and enabled.
ZA: The music video for Fly was shot at the Salton Sea in California. I thought it was you dancing, but it was someone else. How good are you as a dancer?
V: That was Aye Hasegawa. She's incredible. When I think no one's watching, I get dirty or act like a raver. Sorry to all who witness the latter.
ZA: Your EP didn't only resonate with local artists but international press as well. V: I felt super grateful to get featured... Very awesomesauce. SG represent!
ZA: Yeah. S'poreans like Inch Chua, Kevin Lester, Sam Willows and Xhin are performing globally. Where do you think Singapore's music is at these days?
V: I'm more supportive of SG artists because I'm biased. But I'm probably also more critical than most. We're good and I know it... All you have to do is go to any one of those artists' gigs and you'll see I'm not the only one who thinks so.
ZA: Do you think it should be more about appreciating good music as opposed to where it's made?
V: I think people who support SG music do so because they care and they already think it is good...
People who are "good" got that way be because they kept doing it. Creating is cathartic, engages your soul. Getting better is a bonus. ZA: For your fans, where and when can they hear you "live" next?
V: OPENING FOR @FourTet AT ZOUK ON 28th NOV! #dreamcometrue
ZA: For those starting out what advice would you offer?
V: Don't give up, don't get complacent. Challenge yourself. Stay connected. Care about the community. Ignore haters.
The local music industry on Vandetta
Vandetta's voice oozes soul! It's impossible to not move to her groove whether she is collaborating or on her own material.
- Mr Graham Perkins, president of The Music Society, Singapore (SGMUSO)
I feel that Vandetta is the result of her adventures into a foreign land to explore her craft. Just as much as she is an artist, she is a great supporter and advocate of music made in Singapore.
She has raised the bar for her peers.
- Mr Shahid Isahak, vice-president of SGMUSO
Her minimalistic approach with a touch of electro and amazing soul vocals makes her new EP incredibly honest and personal.
- Ms Dona Inthaxoum, head of label relations for Asia & Oceania at Deezer
Once in a while, you meet someone that you know has something special to share and Vandetta is definitely one of those. Inspiring would be an understatement.
- Mr Jonathan Kiat, co-founder of music label Syndicate
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