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INTERVIEW: Vanda

Hi Michelle, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thank you! I’ve been wonderful! Thank you guys so much for having me! ☺

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Young For Life”?

Absolutely! I wrote Young For Life about two years ago. I initially wrote the song as a mid-tempo, organic piano/guitar tune. After sitting on it for a bit, I decided I wanted to change it up stylistically and started looking for new producer (who is now my very dear friend, Brad Dollar) to bring that vision to life. I knew I wanted to change gears and move into the pop-electro scene and thought Young For Life was a good fit to debut my new sound. Brad and I decided right from the beginning we wanted our listeners to feel like they are driving down the Pacific Coast Highway without a care in the world.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

I tend to write a lot about love. And, of course, other things, but if you look at my catalog, you will notice that about 70% of my music has romantic themes to them. I like dissecting relationships and putting myself in different shoes when I write. For instance, Young For Life is about being in love and invincible. I think that you are capable of that nostalgic feeling at any age. When you meet the right person, you are often reminded of your first love all over again. I really wanted to tell that story.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Actually, YES! We are shooting the music video next weekend which will be co-directed by Victoria Innocenzi and Hunter Gulan. They are both fantastic young directors with stunning aesthetics! I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for that process. It will be my first time shooting with a crew and on different locations, I am so stoked! That should be released beginning of October!

How was the recording and writing process?

This recording process was hands down my favorite recording experience to date. Brad drove down to LA from San Francisco for the weekend. We rented out an Airbnb in Hollywood Hills and recorded 2 songs for 3 days straight on basically no sleep many coffee and whiskey runs. There is something special about immersing yourself completely in a project with the people you are working with that makes it unforgettable. I am still surprised with some of the amazing sounds we tracked in that short amount of time. We were definitely in the zone.

What was it like to work with Brad Dollar and how did that relationship develop?

Brad is such an impressive person. Not only is he extremely gifted, but he has the biggest heart out of anyone I’ve ever worked with. Brad is the Music Operations Chief and Producer for Oakland’s nonprofit music residency program, Zoo Labs. I had the privilege of visiting when I drove up to Oakland to meet Brad for the first time. I was blown away by the community Brad and Zoo Labs offer. I immediately felt comfortable and welcomed. Brad and I became fast friends and wrote a song together the first day of meeting.

How much did he get to influence the album?

He definitely had a major influence on the sound. He has the ability to create unique atmospheric sounds that nobody has heard before, it’s insane. After meeting with Brad and discussing the record, I distinctly remember him saying “We can make a singer-songwriter record, but I think you have more offer than that. I want the sound to be big and epic. Let’s create something unique!’ I am so thankful for that.

Now playing music under a new moniker – has your sound also change?

Oh totally. I think that was the reason I decided to drop my first name and go by Vanda. I wanted to make the distinction between the singer/songwriter, Michelle Vanda and the pop-electro artist, Vanda. Vanda knows who she is and what she wants. Michelle is still in there but Vanda is ready to make a statement! lol

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

Yes! I will be releasing a second track next week. We are also in the studio working on new material now.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

‘Feet First’ which happens to be the song Brad and I co-wrote together the first day we met, will be released September 16th and we are shooting to have the full album out by Christmas!

Would all songs deal with bad relations?

A good majority of my songs are about relationships, the good bad and ugly. I also write about mental illness. I am a big advocator for mental health awareness. 43.8 million people in the US alone suffer from a mental illness and are too ashamed to seek help. I, myself, have suffered with anxiety and depression in my teens and adulthood, but found music as my main outlet. I am hoping to help others by spreading awareness through my music.

Any plans to hit the road?

Hitting the road is definitely in the works. I plan to be touring by Spring 17’!

What else is happening next in Vanda’s world?

Well, I plan to release this album and get on tour as soon as possible! I am working on some cool collaborations with other LA artists that I am super stoked about in between my own project. From there I just plan to continue writing and putting music out in hopes people will connect and drive some sort of inspiration from it!

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, play guitar, music geek, movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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