VIAA sings with sultry soul
VIAA, the Los Angeles-based musician whose catalogue you should probably get to know now, is easy to relate to. She’s inspired by 2013 Kanye (not 2018 Kanye), practices self-care and gratitude to maintain her sanity, and has an adorable black pug named Rex. We’re great admirers of her personal style for its ease and casual ‘80s flourishes and even bigger fans of her sultry brand of R&B-tinged soul. VIAA produces, writes, and sings, but she took a break to speak to WestwoodWestwood about her history, her routines, and why she’s learning to make music for herself first.
Where did you grow up?
My parents were both in the Air Force, so I grew up in Germany on base, then we moved to Ohio, then I moved on my own to LA.
What is your family like?
They’re very modern. I’m biracial — my parents are black and white, and I have an older sister who still lives in Ohio near my mom. My parents are divorced and I have a stepmom, a 17 year old step-sister and a one year old half-sister who all live in Hawaii. We all genuinely get along and spend holidays together.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue music?
I was always passionate about singing and writing but I didn’t realize I wanted to make music my life until I went to the Yeezus concert. Please keep in mind the Yeezus tour was 2013 Kanye, not 2018 Kanye! But his words and performance at that concert really inspired me to believe in myself and not limit myself, that’s the honest truth.)
How has your approach to music evolved since then?
It’s evolved a lot. When I started writing music as a teenager, I was writing what I thought people would want to hear from me. Now I make music that I want to make and hear, and accept that it might not be for everybody.
What other artists or elements inspire you?
I’m inspired by female energy and support. I’m inspired that music has the power to connect me to people in ways I wouldn’t know how to otherwise. Aside from the contemporary female artists who continuously push creative boundaries, the core inspirations for me are Sade, Fleetwood Mac, Dev Hynes, Toro Y Moi, and Haim.
How has your music changed over the past year?
I used to write stories from the outside looking in, sort of hypothetical situations. Now, I’ve infused a bit more of my own personal story as I’m trying to connect more to my own emotions.
Who are you communicating with when you’re producing, writing, or singing?
I feel vulnerable and nostalgic. I’m communicating with myself in a cathartic way, and attempting to communicate ‘who I am’ to everybody else because I have a hard time communicating through everyday conversation.
How has your personal style evolved to where it is now?
My personal style is more relaxed and comfortable than it ever was. I feel most sexy in pants. I infuse touches of the ‘80s, like shoulder pads and trouser pant suits, because it’s an era of style I really resonate with.
Why do you think it’s important to champion women in your music?
It’s important to champion women in my music because I want to show that women can support, love and succeed together. There’s room for everybody at the top, not just one. Society still promotes pitting women against each other and that our ultimate goal should be to win a man’s affection or attention. Women are way too complex and powerful to be reduced to that.
How do you deal with the stress of the political climate?
I tune it out for a few days at a time to be honest. I also combat negativity by supporting organizations and people that are still doing good in the community like Planned Parenthood or The Model Behavior which was founded by my friend Chandra Anderson and provides free feminine hygiene products to women in need.
How do you practice self-care?
I practice self care through rituals like tending to my plants, writing and listening to music, and taking time to go outside with my dog. I try to practice gratitude as well to help maintain my sanity. It’s something I was never taught had to be ‘practiced’ so that’s been a real game changer.
What are 5 things you can’t live without?
My black pug Rex