- Words Aimee Phillips
Viji is the new Dirty Hit signee mixing alt-pop with lo-fi indie and grunge to create a potent sonic cocktail.
Based in London, Austrian-Brazilian artist Vanilla Jenner (AKA Viji) is not another member of the Kardashian clan, but one of Dirty Hit’s new signees – the cult label created by The 1975.
Bursting on to the scene just this year, Viji’s debut single “Cherry” made a splash, and she gained momentum by following it up with sophomore tune “Unfair”. Closing off the year, the budding artist shared the EP, ‘Are You In My Head’, a 5-track opus juxtaposing buoyant rock with gritty indie, lifted by luminous synths and packaged in a lo-fi softness. It marks an exciting beginning for the nascent star.
Co-producing all her own music, Viji lets us in on her creative process, which she usually demos as she goes, playing with the instrumentals before building in the vocals.
Drawing inspiration from an array of sources – namely The Strokes to Clairo and Grimes – Viji tells us that as soon as she heard Avril Lavigne, “all I wanted to do is play power chords and write songs!”
We caught up with Viji about the story behind her moniker, her love of 90s music, and what we can expect from her in 2021.
Ty!! Feels really great to be part of a label like Dirty Hit. I’ve met some of the crew at shows, and you can feel how stoked they are on music. Seeing all the roster and new signings from this year was really inspiring. I knew if they’d wanna work with me it was a no brainer.
I think there’s all kinds of artists, so I wouldn’t say that it’s a necessity for everyone. For me, producing opens up another level of creativity which is awesome. There are so many cool plug-ins and things in the arrangement that can make the song better. It’s definitely shaped my sound because whatever idea I have in my head I can put down and use interesting processing to put my stamp on it. It’s all pretty nerdy but I like that.
I usually demo it as I go. Either I write some chords or make a beat that I like and record it. I’ll have an idea of the vocals but mostly write them while playing back the instrumentals. The demos are pretty solid, but the producer I work with is great. He really gets it and pushes my ideas to be the best they can be.
There’s definitely a surge of grunge guitars coming back. My influences are all over the place, and there’s as many modern artists as there are older ones. What I like best about 90’s stuff is the rawness of it.
Phew, there’s so many. It’s somewhere in between Blood Orange, The Strokes, Clairo, The Breeders, Frank Ocean, Elliot Smith, Grimes and so on. They always change.
Haha, it sounds so much more intriguing when you say it like that. My dad’s an instrument builder so there was always something lying about the house you could play with. Guitar’s been my main one though and really considering how many lessons I got growing up, I should be much better at it than I am. But I heard Avril Lavigne and all I wanted to do is play power chords and write songs!
I wanted something that was short and personal to my name, so I would never get sick of it. My initials are VJ and just added the ‘i’s cos I thought that sounded cute.
Ohh man I don’t even know where to start. It’s so crazy to think that out of any year, this year would kick start my career. There was so much heavy and important stuff going on, that it almost feels silly to talk about my personal progress. I am super lucky and stoked to have brought out my first EP ‘Are You In My Head’.
What can we expect from Viji in 2021?
2021 will be a lot of new music, maybe some collabs, and I’m dying to play some shows that would be sick.
Make music and lick faces.