INTERVIEW: Victoria Reed

Photo Credit: Andres Navarro

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

Doing okay, considering! It’s obviously a topsy-turvy and heartbreaking time to be a human. But I’m fortunate enough to be doing alright in the midst of it all….

Can you talk to us more about your latest album ‘Aquamadre’? what’s the story behind the title?
The name “Aquamadre” was inspired by a few symbols of guidance that for me, really represented my intent for this record and also the headspace I was in while making it. It’s a name that’s part astrology (the sign of Aquarius), part tarot (the Queen of Cups) and part feminist ode to my piscerian-italian mother and grandmother. It also happens to be derivative of my first ever screen name “Aquagurlz” shared between my sister and I circa 1997 in honor of the band ‘Aqua’. Which felt totally appropriate considering some of the sonic inspiration for this record. While my songwriting style is more informed by the 70’s classics, a lot of what I find myself referencing in the studio is full on 90’s.

Did any event, in particular, inspire you to write “Life 2 Be Adored”?

This song is an expansion on a daily meditation I do, that I adapted from a tool I picked up in therapy. Part of the meditation involves conjuring up the felt sense of a peaceful place, a common visualization practice that I always found a bit too abstract to be helpful. Until one day, I realized that my peaceful place didn’t have to be a disembodied open field or gentle stream of some sort, but instead, that it could be something more personal and an actual lived experience. I found myself often visualizing Miami Beach circa 1997, or hunting for snails in the woods behind a friends house growing up, or even crying in a living room watching MTV news the day Geri Halliwell announced that she was quitting the Spice Girls (which was actually very sad, but there’s still something strangely comforting about it in a simpler-time kind of way). With enough practice, I learned that I could pretty easily conjure the energy of those peaceful places in a very real way in a matter of seconds, no matter how anxious, depressed, or otherwise awful I was feeling. And as someone who has at times struggled with feeling fully at ease in the world, it honestly feels like a superpower.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video of “Life 2 Be Adored”?

I enlisted the help of two of my best friends to join me in bringing some of that imagery from my visualizations to life. We filmed it on one of my favorite beaches in Oaxaca, which proved to be both super magical and also pretty challenging. I had visited once before, and knew that it could make a great video location because of how remote it was, but in retrospect it actually ended up being a pretty difficult place to film. The earth is incredibly beautiful there, but on this trip it proved to be pretty wild as well. So our mission was sort of this crazy interplay between these really magical moments of pure joy and freedom, followed by full on intensity. It was almost psychedelic and I definitely left with a whole new layer of respect for how powerful the land is there. We came across poisonous spiders, snakes and giant wasps, battled extreme waves and extreme heat, and even ended up in a hospital one night after my poor sweet friend was stung by a scorpion! She ended up being okay but it was pretty intense to say the least, and she was such a trooper, I really owe her one!

How was the recording and writing process?

Writing was the same as always for me. Solo, at the piano, usually late at night, and only when I’m feeling something so intensely that I just have to write a song!

And the recording process was a dream! I recorded the album almost entirely at home with Autre Ne Veut producing and my husband Erik Deutsch playing keyboard, piano, synths and even some guitar. Working with Autre Ne Veut really helped me to hone in on a sound that felt both totally exciting and totally true. He’s kind of this avant-garde experimental guy in his own music, but also has a deep appreciation and knowledge of pop music. The combination of those sensibilities really lent itself to the type of record I wanted to make.

Working in a home studio for the first time allowed me to grow, learn and stretch out on the job in really amazing ways. There’s so much pressure that comes along with recording in a studio, that in the past, often left me feeling a bit hurried and wishing that I had more time just to try things, experiment, and work some stuff out— without the constraints of time and budget staring you down. But with this project, if we went to work on things and it didn’t feel totally right, we could just go for a walk, or take a nap and try again later. For me that was a game changer!

What role did Mexico City play on the writing of this album?

Moving to this city has been such an inspiration. It has this totally frenetic, creative energy, and yet there’s a notable laid-backness to the culture and lifestyle here in spite of its notoriously dense population. The vibe has been incredibly supportive to making music. And being afforded the space to make a home studio has been a dream come true.

What aspect of the astrological sign of Aquarius did you get to explore on this record?

While writing this album, I had recently become totally obsessed with a significant point that we all have in our charts called the north and south nodes. The North Node points to the direction of our highest good in this lifetime, or  what we are meant to embrace and embody to feel fulfilled and fully realized. The South Node indicates where we’re coming from (maybe in past lives even), what our comfort zone is, and what we’re meant to release in this lifetime. Whatever sign it’s in will indicate our natural gifts in life, but we’re essentially being asked to be really conscious about releasing any lower or more negative expressions of that particular sign. For me, overly simplified, that’s a journey from the image conscious, praise driven and adoration seeking sign of Leo, to the humanitarian leaning, bringer of the new age, embrace-your-freak-flag sign of Aquarius. I got really into what that meant for me in my life and as an artist, and it definitely informed a lot of what I was writing about at the time of making this record, and the style in which I was processing things and creating.

What made you want to keep within the theme of astrology?

I’ve looked at myself and the world through the lens of astrology to some degree since the age of 13, when I had my birth chart read for the first time. I’ve always been impressed by the potential to use it as a tool of self reflection, and the ways in which it can be helpful in relating to others and the world around me. A few years ago, after years of being the unofficial astrologer to my friends and family, a few people started requesting readings in a more official capacity. I did an initial free trial kind of period and found it to be so incredibly rewarding that I’ve been offering birth chart readings ever since. There’s a lot of bad (read: scary, fatalistic) information out there on astrology, so it means a lot to me to be able to reframe it for people in a positive and empowering way that includes the element of free will.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

I was also deeply inspired by the experience I’ve had with EMDR therapy and some other tools I’ve picked up along the way for learning how to heal from trauma and feel at ease with myself and in the world. It all inevitably makes its way into what I write about, and I’ve always been moved by the idea of being able to share some of that with the world through my music, crystalizing and embodying important growth and life lessons in my songs.

What else is happening next in Victoria Reed’s world?

It’s really hard to say! So much depends on how and when the world manages to put itself back together. For the moment it’s lot’s of live streams and continuing to record music at home! I’ve also been sitting on a huge pile of recorded and unrecorded songs in the time between putting out this record and my first release 4 years back. So I’m definitely planning on finding more opportunities to just put more music out now that I’ve sort of broken the seal!

WATCH HERE

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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