* indicates required
Okayplayer News

To continue reading

Create a free account or sign in to unlock more free articles.

Already have an account?

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Vw gucci highres 1
Vw gucci highres 1

First Look Friday: Breeze Through The Wilderness With Vanessa White

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY. Photo of Vanessa White taken by Stephanie Sian-Smith.

Moments in life are stories told in chapters, and no one understands this better than this week's First Look Friday subject, Vanessa White. Most audiophiles are familiar with the sultry London singer-songwriter when she was a member of UK girl band The Saturdays at only 17-years-old. Now, in her mid-twenties, she has lived enough for three lifetimes and funneled her experiences through the lens of her two EPs, Chapter One and Chapter Two.

The latter, which features soul / hip-hop artist Illa J on the cut, "Good Good," helps to reinforce the notion that Vanessa White oozes a special kind of sex appeal that hypnotizes the listener. She's blunt, open, raw to the vein, sensitive and sincere, while being uninhibited by what the larger public would say or think about her. An authentic personality is one that we look for in this industry because so many artists are afraid to learn who they truly are.

This is not a problem for Vanessa White.

For this Somerset born-and-raised talent, self-discovery served as a true measuring stick to how far she has come, not only as an artist, but as a woman of the 21st century. With that in mind, Vanessa White expresses a hint of mystery with every lyric, a wry smile behind every dark twist of phrase and as a solo artist she is in full control of which direction her career goes.

A career we here at Okayplayer hope is fruitful and able to multiply in creative and varying ways. Admittedly, we fell under the English and Filipino woman's strong and empowered gaze, which encouraged us to place the spotlight on this rapidly rising star. So, allow us to introduce you to Vanessa White, an artist tired of presenting a narrative not her own. We spend some time with her as she talks to us about her range of influences, becoming more open with herself and obstacles she's overcome in her career. Plus, we have the video of "Good Good" for you to check out below. Enjoy!


Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact. What is it that those in music game are seeing and hearing that the rest of the world has yet to discover?

Vanessa White: My music has a sensual and sultry vibe. It is real and comes from the heart. It is a mix of, I guess, what you would call future-R&B, blended in with my love for older school R&B [music] from the '90s and '00s.

OKP: For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are your most cherished influences in music and why?

VW: I have so many. They range from Janet Jackson, TLC, Destiny's Child to Kehlani, Bryson Tiller, Anderson .Paak and Syd. I actually have that new Syd album on constant repeat at the minute. It is my go to when I am getting ready and in the car when I'm on my way out. I love it!

OKP: Can you talk about how your life was while developing as an artist? How did you react to your first bits of press?

VW: That is an interesting one for me as that was over 10 years ago when I was in the band. I was only 16, 17-years-old starting out. I remember it being really exciting to first see press with my name and picture on it. It was exciting but also quite weird at the same time. I don't think anyone can prepare you for anything like that actually. But, even now, seeing press on my project is so amazing and I take it as such a compliment that people are appreciating what I am doing and putting it out there.

The reaction to my EP, Chapter One, was so positive and encouraging as that was the first taster I gave of my solo music so it was great to see even more of that when I dropped "Low Key" last year and then "Good Good" this month, which is the first track to be taken from my new EP, Chapter Two, which is out next month. I am so happy that people have been connecting with it so much and have said how they can hear the growth in it and recognize how it is evolved from what I put out last year.

In terms of developing as an artist, I feel like I am doing that all of the time, especially with launching my solo career, creating and releasing music I'm so passionate about, and [making it] really represent me and what I am about. And, of course, as people we're always changing and evolving with new experiences — we never stay the same so as an artist it is great if your music can grow and develop with you.

OKP: With incidents involving people of color, police and racist occurring almost on a daily basis around the globe ― how can your music (and/or others) help to relieve the trauma that is being experienced by the masses?

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY. Photo of Vanessa White taken by Daniel Sachon.

VW: It can be a crazy world and what's going on right now is particularly crazy and scary, so what I hope my music helps to do is to provide some escapism for people who listen to it. Some relief to help to take people to a different place, even if that is for the four minutes of a song or the duration of the EP. It is great to see so many people speaking out about what is going on as our voices are needed. At the same time, it is so important to take some time out to chill and spread some good vibes. As some of my new music is about exploring your sexuality and not being afraid to express that side, the phrase "make love, no war," definitely comes to mind.

OKP: What have been the most definitive obstacles that you’ve overcome in your career thus far?

VM: I feel like I face obstacles everyday with being an artist and also there's a lot that goes on in life. For an artist, a lot of this happens "behind the scenes," so somethings you do think if only people knew what does happen, but everyone has to go through these obstacles no matter what kind of artist you are and actually it is just a part of life. Being more specific, one of the obstacles for me has been people's perceptions around my music and the initial expectations around my solo material as some people had their own thoughts and judgments on how it would sound, with me coming from a group that was very pop at the time, but I couldn't be more than happy with the reaction to the music so far.

I am putting out music that's 100% me. I have always been a huge fan of hip-hop, R&B and soul, so while it might have been a surprise to some people that I was taking this route with my solo stuff, this was the only way I was ever going to go with it. I was a bit more conscious of people's perceptions of my solo material when I first put it out there but I have learned to not care about what people have to say or let other peoples opinions affect me or my creativity.

OKP: Can you also talk about the importance of the music industry scene as how you’ve experienced it? How do you see it evolving in the next five years?

VW: Of course, everything is online now, but that will continue to grow without a doubt. I can see it leading to even more collaborations between artists who would never have collaborated before or maybe even been aware of each other. I think it will also lead to a lot more experimenting, so the genres will become even more blurred and a lot of artists won't stick to just one type of music. The industry will become more fluid which will be exciting to see.

OKP: What are some things that you’ve learned about yourself that comes out in your music?

VW: My new EP is my most honest music so far. I really drew on my own experiences with love, relationships and even the music industry: being a female artist, how that can be and having to be assertive. In the past, I have been afraid to be so honest in my music even though as a person I am so honest and say it how it is. Being so honest and open in the studio has helped me to really grow, not only as an artist, but as a songwriter too. On "Chapter Two," you'll definitely hear how I am exploring sexuality and generally just being yourself and not being afraid to say what's on your mind and express who you are.

OKP: What were some moments from your recent travels that will forever stick with you? Why?

VW: The Philippines will always stick with me. I'm biased as I'm from here, my mum is Filipino, and I have been there so many times, but my recent trip was epic and I can't wait to go back. It is just such a beautiful place and Filipinos are such kind and warm people. The vibe there is sick and it has definitely inspired me creatively and aesthetically. There's often a nod to my Filipino heritage when I'm working on creatives for visuals and even outfits and make-up sometimes, even if I use it as a starting point for something or only I know it's there.

OKP: How can your music speak truth to power in an age where people are so quickly digesting sounds and disposing of artists in a nanosecond?

VW: My music really comes from the heart and particularly with the new EP being honest, I feel that people are always going to connect with something that's more authentic and has your own stamp on it rather than just trying to copy a sound that's popular at the time. I also hope that it helps to inspire some people to just be themselves and go for what they want.

OKP: Collaboration is uniquely a key to the success of certain creative individuals who wish to change the game. Who would you want to work with this year going into the next and why?

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY. Photo of Vanessa White taken by Daniel Sachon.

VW: In an ideal world, my dream collaborations would be with someone like Future or Ty Dolla $ign. I think the combination of sounds would be dope. I love working with new talent too. I worked with a London producer Mkulu on "Good Good" and loved what we created there. I had Illa J on "Low Key," and [I] loved what he brought to the track and also on the Chapter One EP, I had a couple of British rappers on the project, Wretch 32 and Kojey Radical. I'd love to work with a female rapper something to switch things up a bit. We have some great female MCs coming out of the UK at the minute such as Stefflon DonLittle SimzMs. Banks and Nadia Rose. I love what those guys are doing and bringing to the scene.

OKP: What is the overall message that Vanessa White is trying to present in her music?

VW: Just to be honest and true to who you are. It’s so important, especially in light of what is happening around the world.

OKP: Can you break down the inspiration behind a song that you created but never put out?

VW: There is one that's not out yet, but is about to come out. I have a song called "Running Wild," which will be the next single coming from the new EP. I'm really excited for people to hear. It happened by accident, just by chance. It's basically when your mind is going into overdrive and you're thinking of situations that could potentially happen. It's quite a sexual track, but then it hasn't actually happened, so it is almost like having a license to say anything you want about this scenario.

OKP: How do you see yourself changing the music industry for the better versus all of the bad stuff that goes on within it?

VW: I don’t aim to change the music industry but just to continue to put out music that comes from a real place that people can connect with. I feel like there are so many people out there doing that which can only be a good thing. Music should be about creativity and expressing that.

OKP: How do you get over any anxiety before hitting the stage to perform live? What are some lessons or tips that you’ve learned from others about doing a stage show?

VW: I definitely have a few sips of whiskey. Also the more shows you do, probably the less anxiety you’ll get, although right now my anxiety is going through the roof as I’m actually doing this interview right before a show I have where I’ll be performing some new music I haven’t performed yet. There’ll be a new track in there from the EP.

OKP: If the reader’s learned one thing from this First Look Friday chat with Vanessa White ― what would it be?

VW: Just my journey to expressing my honesty through my music and hopefully people can connect with that.

Be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for more from Vanessa White (and us!) by following her on Twitter @VanessaWhite.