- Words Isabelle Cassidy
Darlington-born Viia is only eighteen but her new album 'Am I Ready Yet?’ has confidence in its convictions: tackling heartbreak, rejection, and social issues with technology.
Discovered at the age of just 12, Viia’s musical journey started younger than most. A childhood love of poetry influenced her ability to depict her own lived experience: a skill evident in the emerging artist’s upcoming EP release ‘Am I Ready Yet?’.
The EP includes five songs that take the listener on an emotional journey, from the strong and pulsing “Falling” to more vulnerable tracks like “Exit Wound”. Though she may still be a teenager, Viia is not afraid to tackle some big topics, such the track “Filters” that discusses the social issues associated with technology and the negative effects of social media. About her EP, Viia describes “going a bit off the rails in my teens while searching for validation.” For her, the EP is “a response to being told over and over that I was ‘too young’ or that I ‘wasn’t ready’ to release music.” And what a powerful response it is.
Having recently played the Notting Hill Arts Club and joined the Northern Takeover BBC Introducing night at The Lexington, we expect to see more live shows on the cards for Viia this year. We caught up with the artist to find out more about her EP, where she gets her fearlessness, and how she feels about validation.
What got you into making music?
I’ve been writing since I was very young. My mum found my songwriting book under my bed when I was 9! I’ve always been very creative and I’ve loved writing ever since I was little – I used to sing little melodies and write songs about films I was watching! As a 9 year old you don’t have much experience at all, so I had to improvise and write about other people’s experiences. I then started teaching myself guitar and utilising that to make music too!
What do you hope this debut EP communicates about you as an artist?
I hope my debut EP shows people that it’s okay to make the music you want to make. You don’t need to stick to what you think other people may like. This EP is parts of my story so far, growing up in my teens, and how I dealt with that.
What did the influences of Arctic Monkeys and Florence and the Machine mean to you?
Growing up I constantly consumed music like Arctic Monkeys and Florence and the Machine. I instantly took a liking to them… I’ve always been in awe of Alex Turner’s lyrics, and how amazing he is melodically, and how he presents rock music so well in a way that’s also commercial. It was, and still is, really interesting to me! My parents always played Florence when I was growing up and I’ve been obsessed with her since. Her voice is INCREDIBLE! She’s so versatile whilst also staying true to herself. She’s so honest in her lyrics and her music is insane.
Why did social media feel like such a pertinent theme for you to explore?
Social media has always been part of my life and I’ve noticed that through the years it has made me, and those around me, more insecure and anxious. We’re all very aware that social media is toxic, however, because it has become such a massive part of our lives, it’s very hard to get rid of the effects it has had. We constantly see ‘perfect people’ and ‘perfect lives’ online and it’s really hard to remind yourself that what you see isn’t real, and to not let it make you feel bad about your own life. That was the inspiration for ‘Filters’.
How was the experience of playing the BBC Introducing show in December?
ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!! I miss live shows so much! That show brought the live music scene back to life for me and really did remind me why I do what I do. It was so amazing and to do a show with fellow northerners too! Frankie Beetlestone and English Teacher were incredible!!! During and after lockdown I had such a hunger for live music and that show really meant so much to me. I had the best time and it felt so incredible to be able to show people who I am as an artist and the type of music I want to perform!
How have you tried to work your love of poetry into your music?
I think songwriting and poetry are so similar. I really love poetic lyrics (Alex Turner’s lyrics for example) and I really love visually beautiful lyrics too. So, when writing music, I always love to make my lyrics very poetic and always making sure the lyrics tell my story. When I write poetry I also love to turn them into songs too!
Do you think there’s such a thing as ‘too young’ to succeed?
Absolutely not. I guess you could become a novelty act if you’re very young, but I don’t think you can be too young to succeed at all. I’ve faced a lot of difficulty because of my age, but it’s never stopped me. It’s made me fight harder!
You’ve talked about the idea of validation as really important to you. How has music given you that opportunity to feel validated?
Validation isn’t important to me, but I used to think it was. I used to crave validation from people and I’ve talked about that a lot in my music. I’m much more comfortable with myself, and who I am, now.
What’s inspiring you creatively at the moment?
Definitely listening to new music and being around so many talented people too! I’m listening to loads of The Mysterines, Nothing But Thieves and Royal Blood and that’s definitely getting me very excited to write!! I’ve been in the studio working on some new bits, so the inspiration is definitely there right now! There’s lots of new things happening in my life too, with loads of new emotions, so I’m getting my creative inspiration there too!
What are you manifesting for 2022?