music morsels The Band Mates Network Sept 2007


Valencia Vas

ARTIST NAME: Valencia Vas
MUSICAL GENRE: Classically-influenced pop
BIRTHPLACE: East Stroudsburg, PA
FAN BASE: 1000 +

MM: You started out primarily a classically trained performer. What is it that made you want to do something a bit different?

VV: I had this little epiphany that I wasn’t really listening to classical music that frequently. I was driving up to Boston - I was living in Rhode Island at the time - and I was doing these performances and doing real well, getting some nice acclaim for doing early and classical music. I realized that one thing that was unfortunate is that sometimes at a performance there would be more people on stage than there were in the audience. I also started to realize that I was at a point where I could have cultivated a career specifically in early and classical music or I could make a change. At that point I decided that I didn’t really want to pigeonhole myself in that way and restrict myself in one genre. I wanted to be able to sing wherever I wanted to sing; however I wanted to sing it, and kind of break free from all the restrictions and rules of performing classical music. There were all these rules and standards involving it and I didn’t want to be confined by someone else's idea of what I should be doing. I wanted to do it my own way.

MM: Was writing original music another impetus for you wanting to go your own way?

VV: Certainly. I started to really cultivate my writing at that time. Before then, I didn’t really have much music to write in my head, and now writing feels like it is turning on a valve. On my disc “Reflections”, I worked with a collaborator who did a lot of the composing. I suggested a lot of material for the arranging and helped with the arrangements, but he did a lot of the original music with me as well, including the lyrics. Opening up myself as a writer has been a completely new experience for me.

MM: What affects your lyric writing? Is it emotionally driven or does it come from life experiences?

VV: I have a big background in acting, and I have an understanding of how you form a character, get into a character, and try to experience what life would be like for that particular person. So it was kind of a hybrid of working as an actor and channeling different experiences combined with my own life experiences. We call the CD “Reflections” because there is a lot of looking back at things that I have experienced myself, and things that have touched me where I wanted to explore what that emotion would feel like to those who experienced it. One example is the track “Remembrance” which was written on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. I was listening to a tribute where people were hearing cell phone calls where they were leaving messages that would be the last things they would say to the people they loved so much. I listened to that and kind of ruminated over it and a little while later, I had a song about it.

MM: Once you got the album recorded, were you able to get it out to fans from your classical days, or did you have to cultivate a whole new fan base?

VV: I basically had to cultivate a whole new fan base. In many ways when you are a classical artist and you step out of that arena, especially if you take music with you because there are a couple Handel arias on my album. That sort of thing can actually aggravate some people because it’s not a purist version of how it is "supposed to be done". When you take that music that people in the academic world are so comfortable with out of the context, you can alienate your original fan base, and that is what sort of happened to me. I realized I was going to have that challenge and I understand the mindset because I am from the academic world myself.

MM: What did you do to reach out to a new fan base?

VV: It has been building slowly and slowly. Meeting new people and doing a lot of performing and generally doing it in a grassroots way. Going on the web and doing everything I could to just get the word out.

MM: What sort of feedback do you get as to what your fans like the most about your music?

VV: It’s really interesting because many of them enjoy the classical underpinnings of it. The fact that it is very accessible makes it more comfortable for a larger and broader audience. What I loved about singing classical music was not the overall experience of classical music, but every once in a while you would find a pearl. A melody that would just keep going around in your head, but it was crammed in with so many other things and it was hard to get to that one spot. I wanted to pick out the pearls and make an album and make sure that I was cultivating those experiences in that genre. Also I wanted to pay homage to the fact that my voice is not just a classical voice. I am able to move and use my voice in ways that are not classical at all. I wanted to be able to use my instrument in whatever way I could and explore the range that I had. Kind of like a study in different colors.

MM: I know it is early in the new direction of your career, but do you already feel more comfortable with it?

VV: I feel at home now. It is such a nice thing to really want to get into the studio and sing, and not have it feel like work. There was a point when singing classical music, I felt like I was working, and once music turns into a job in that sense, it looses the passion and vitality. This has been two and a half years since I started this transition in my career and I still feel very excited about everything. I love to go do shows, am motivated to perform for people, and give everything I have to give and give the best performance possible. Just to really express myself and open up is a much more soulful experience for me.

MM: Beyond being able to do more with your voice, will you do more exploration with your songwriting as well?

VV: Absolutely. One little bit of a quandary of what I am doing now is that it is hard to tell what direction to go in. My album has so many genres meshed into it, it is hard to know what direction to go in next. I could go into four or five different directions, because there are several international influences in there. And I always have songs going around in my head. Eventually, they will all get out there.

MM: Since you are basically starting over, what level of success would you like to see with your career, and what do you think it will take to get there?

VV: I really feel like I am building some momentum here, and am comfortable with what we are doing now. One of my short term goals is to take it to the European market, because that market is much more comfortable with the crossover genre. You see all these people like Il Divo and Sarah Brightman having great success in Europe, but only moderate success in the States. That is what we are looking at next and I am very confident in the direction we are going. I have high hopes of where this can take us. We still do a lot of grass roots things, and eventually, it wouldn’t be bad to have a major label involved so we don’t have to do all the work ourselves. My goal really is to be able to perform steadily. To feel like I have a real career with something I did that is myself.
Division of Serge Entertainment Group