The Rise of An Icon : VNSSA

Meet VNSSA, a music sensation that is taking the EDM world by storm. Originally from Newport, Orange County, she grew up playing cello and clarinet, taking piano lessons all throughout middle school. She played in a band in high school, practicing drums until her band went on tour and played local shows for their community out of Santa Barbara and around Orange County. She decided to take the instruments into her own hands, and headed for a solo career. Falling in love with DJ-ing is what brought her to this point in time. She credits her success to all the artists that have raised her and her infinite love for music. Here’s the story of how an Icon is born, VNSSA.

How did you go from a full band to a solo artist now DJ-ing?

“I was already writing the drum parts and the keyboard and some of the bass parts as well. I thought, “I kind of just want to do it myself and not have to deal with all the other band members.” There’s small drama here and there. Getting along with five other people on a daily basis is kind of a lot sometimes. I started going to DJ shows and fell in love with DJ-ing. I started learning and I started getting shows. I decided I wanted to play festivals because I saw what the other DJs were doing and they weren’t playing other people’s music during festivals, they were playing their own music.

So it kind of went backwards for you in a sense? First, festivals, then producing.

I just fell into DJ-ing. I had to start making my own music to take it further, and that’s how I got into producing. I got tips here and there from collaborating with people, but I mostly learned through YouTube.

I definitely have a lot of drive. If I want something, I’m going to get it.

Where do you get that innate confidence of, “I got it, it’s mine.”

Growing up, I always wanted to do what the boys wanted to do. In high school, I was the goalie on the boy’s lacrosse team. I was on the surf team. I played the drums. It was people and guys telling me I couldn’t do it and not believing in me. Them rolling their eyes at me throughout my life pushed me to have more drive to prove people wrong and to prove those who believed in me right.

What would you call your genre of music?

I would say house, but it’s a lot of different sub-genres from there too. I guess the core house. I make a lot of breakbeats and tech-house. Everything has a disco influence. I like to take a lot of influence from early 90s rave and house music.

Who is an artist that you would like to collaborate with, now or on a future song?

Any vocalist. I really like working with big vocalists. I‘m working with a vocalist right now on a summer track that I’m excited about. I like working with other producers too. I like working with Walker & Royce, they’re really fun to work with. I want to work with more women too. I have a really good friend, she’s also a producer and a DJ. Her name is J. Worra. I’m working on some music with her right now. I would like to make some music with Anna Lunoe or even people in other genres too. There’s a huge list of people I want to work with. I’m going to work with this girl called Nala. She just popped up on the scene recently and she’s just killing it. Also, this other girl called LP Giobbi. She does live piano when she DJs, it’s really cool.

What is a big goal of yours that you would like to achieve in the next five years?

 I would say, besides the regular goals of playing bigger festivals and better set times, I think eventually I want to start something like a collective for women. It’s a hard industry for women to become involved with. It’s heavily male influenced. There are a lot of guys who make it hard for you to get your foot in the door. You get scourged in the beginning because there’s a lot of pressure and there aren’t that many girls. You feel like you have to do really well or else it isn’t going to matter. I definitely want to start a label at some point. I want to start a radio show. I want to start some sort of women’s collective, like a production tutorial collective where it’s all women giving advice to each other. I haven’t figured out how I’m going to start it yet. I think I’m going to start with a discord. I’ve just started thinking about it so I don’t have any huge plans for it, but definitely in the next five years.

Now that there are more emerging women coming out in the big music festivals, do you think that there’s also going to be some behind the scenes, producing them or making them come to life?

I could definitely see it. Right now is an important time for women because we’re actually getting a lot of recognition that we deserve. A lot of guys are now seeing that it isn’t easier for women. We have to do it twice as hard as them to get recognition. A lot of guys are becoming aware of that. A lot of them are becoming really good allies for women, helping them and promoting them. I think in five years it will be even better. The more women we get in right now, the more women will join at the end. It’s all about welcoming them in.

What is advice you would give a woman artist who would want to do music festivals one day?

Don’t give up. It takes a lot of hard work. You might get burned a few times with promoters or whatever, but it’s a rollercoaster ride. There are a lot of ups and a lot of downs and you just have to stay on the ride until the end.

Can you walk me through the process of what it takes to get into a music festival?

I don’t know too much because my agent mostly books for me. I wasn’t booking any music festivals or really big club shows until I got an agent or a manager.

 Is that an industry standard?

Yes. You shouldn’t really seek out an agent or a manager unless you feel that you have a lot of stuff that you can’t o on your own. Most of the time, when you start playing shows and making music, they seek you out. Once they do, you will start getting onto bigger shows. It’s really hard to book festivals and bigger shows if you are a touring DJ and not a local DJ. If you are a local DJ you would probably get some openings at times on local festivals and stuff like that. I started opening for other DJs. I never headlined myself, I just opened at all the regular places and started making music. You have to do these things in order to get the wheels in motion.

What you were saying before about different time slots at music festivals, the last one is the most attractive to be?

They usually put the local DJs on the bottom. The later the set time, the bigger the DJ usually. A lot of times (and I still do) I still play the first slots on the festivals where there aren’t too many people there because everyone’s still trying to get into the festival and stuff. You’re kind of the buffer, welcoming DJ. Every time you do something like that you learn about what songs you should play and what songs work. It’s a learning process to get in the groove and learn everything you need to in the music industry. It kind of all falls into place, you just have to be really patient. The main thing is to be patient. A lot of people see these big DJs blowing up and they think they blew up overnight. What they don’t see is all the hard work and the hustle that went into it for ten years previous. You have to be patient to get there.

Are you releasing any new tracks? What is a big thing that is coming up?

I’m going to be doing an LA show on July 11 at Academy. They call it Day Trip, it’s their daytime party show. I’m really excited about that. There are a bunch of festivals this month that are happening too, it’s going to be really fun.

Is it the first time that you’ve started festivals since COVID?

Yeah. I played one show in October 2020. It was in New York and they did two-tier testing, where you get tested two weeks before and then you get a rapid test before you go in. Masks were required. It was a small show. I also played a drive-in show, too. Those were the only ones I did during COVID because I wanted to be as safe as possible. I got the vaccine now and the states are opening. There are a lot of festivals coming up this month and next month.

What inspires you?

Music mostly. Other than that, when other people tell me they’re inspired by me, it inspires me more. A lot of people tell me that I inspired them to DJ or to get back into house music, and that is really inspiring to me.

Listen to the latest on SoundCloud and Spotify.

Follow VNSSA on Instagram, to get updates on her shows and latest tunes : @VNSSA 

All Photo Credits Including Cover : Matt Doheny 

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