The musicians I meet online are a constant source of inspiration to me - so it was very exciting to have the opportunity to interview Vze, who has just released a new album which is one of my favourites of the year so far. It really showcases Vze as a producer and features collaborations with an amazing range of vocalists in the pop and hip hop realm. It’s truly something unique! Thank you so much to Vze for all your thoughtful answers to all my questions!
AQ: I am loving Vzepop, Vol. 2! It’s one of my favourite albums of the year so far. It really shows off your diverse talents as a producer and you have worked with an equally diverse range of artists. The resulting songs are great. How did you get started as a producer? I know this is your second album.
V: When I was an early teenager, I honestly did not plan on pursuing a career in producing, I wanted to make films, especially horror. I am still a big fan of film but I realized that to make music you don’t actually have to leave your home, and that appealed to me because I guess you could say I’m an introvert. I practiced on free beat making websites like Soundation and Club Create. I’m not sure if those are still online, but they helped me understand music programming and I moved onto GarageBand and started creating sounds from scratch and borrowing samples from whatever websites I could find.
AQ: Was there a particular song which started Vzepop, Vol.2 for you? P.M.S was the first single and I know I was immediately hooked after hearing that and couldn’t wait to hear more! There are so many highlights.
V: I knew I wanted to do a follow up record because I felt like Vol. 1 was just me putting my name out there, and it didn’t exactly attract a lot of attention. I started planning it immediately after Vol. 1 was released, and after going through a break-up and healing from that I focused on the record more. Eventually, the first song I completed was Dish It Out. A Crest is an online friend of mine that inspired me through his freestyles that he would post on social media. I was happy with what he delivered but realized the song was leaning heavily towards a trap-influenced genre. Thats where I got the idea that I wanted the album to be a blend of Pop and Hip-Hop. PMS was the second song completed actually, I reached out to Ayesha when she was offering to do verses and I held onto it for quite a few months until I could find a second feature for it. I had a couple people in mind, but when me and Popgoth were joking around about her freestyling a verse for it, what she came up with was actually really exciting and matched Ayesha’s energy so I asked her to record it for me. We continue to work together because we have really good and natural chemistry when it comes to creating music. And Ayesha was excellent to work with, she sent me her verse literally the same day I paid her, she’s a godsend.
AQ: I love how the album is almost an album of two halves but still feels really cohesive. You have the pop feel of the first half and then the rap based songs of the second half. I’m guessing these different moods and styles are equally important to you?
V: Yes! They are very, very important to me and I am glad you picked up on that! I feel that the best way to show my artistry is to make the genre’s that I listen to on a daily basis. With these two different styles done from the first two tracks I completed I knew I wanted to make a cohesive bridge where those two genres can connect without trying to exploit either of them.
When producing, I always start with the idea that I want to make the music I want to hear, because I honestly love hearing my own music. I don’t mean that in a narcissistic way, but I think the biggest reward in making music is making something in your head that you actually would listen to if someone else made it. That’s also part of why I prefer to have guests on my songs, I feel like it’s a shared creation and I am still able to enjoy the awesome things they did with the beat just like a fan would.
As for the genres, female rap is very important to me, I have always supported females in a male dominated industry because I feel that women and non-binary artists have more interesting things to say, I do stan male artists as well, but not as equally. I reached out to some artists that I already knew and was a fan of, and I was beyond pleased at their responses and trusting me with their vocals. But I also grew up worshipping women in pop, such as Kesha, Ellie Goulding, Charli XCX, Robyn, Rihanna, and the band Chvrches. I wanted to attempt a strong synth-pop sound on Vol. 2 because it was sort of missing in Vol. 1.
AQ: How did you meet your collaborators? I wouldn’t have come across you and your music as a listener if it hadn’t been for the internet but I’m guessing you have a mixture of people you have met online and work with in person on the album?
V: I actually did not work with a single person in person for this album, I did all of them over email and file exchanging. The people I did work with were just as much in control as I was, and I was happy that they saw my vision because believe it or not it is actually really hard to convince an artist to feature on a track with someone who does not do vocals themselves. You are asking them for a lot to carry the whole track by themselves (unless I reach out to two people for the same song) and I feel that everyone I reached out to delivered.
AQ: Is there a scene for you locally? I know it’s an album by and for the LGBT+ community.
V: I think my scene is strictly on the internet, I don’t play my music live or even spread it locally. There are a few real life friends that support my music though, I love them because I know my music isn’t exactly the genre they usually listen to. But making an album for the LGBT+ community with aggressive bass and straight forward pop was my goal, I wanted to make something that wasn’t afraid to be feminine and abrasive at the same time. That’s why I think my music doesn’t really appeal to my locals so I am surprised when they tell me they enjoy it! I hope to put them onto the people that are on my album and the genres the album is influenced by.
AQ: Could you expand on how a song comes together with a collaborator? What is the process like for you?
V: Most of the time, I make beats from ideas that come together in my head and then I shop them out to the people I made them specifically for. What I will do is usually make 3 beats so they have a variety to choose from. I feel one wrong beat can ruin a potentially amazing collaboration so I like to offer options. And even then, I redo beats quite a lot, I listen to them over and over and end up wanting to fix little things until I hate it again. I guess you never really know when a song is finished but you kind of just have to guess that there’s nothing more you can add or take away that will benefit the track. With VZEPOP Vol. 2 I found myself content with a lot of the beats you hear on the record. If I don’t have a specific sound in mind for the collaboration though, I will offer a catalog of non-specific beats to that person and they can choose what vibe they want to go with. I think what is really exciting about collaborating is that it is a chance to step out of your comfort zone and do something you aren’t accustomed to. Like for instance, I think it’s really cool when pop singers like Elsa Vendella agree to do a trap influenced beat with me. It doesn’t always have to be trap, but I think VZEPOP is all about combining genres so I specifically go for those ideas.
AQ: Can you give us an insight into your beat making process? Do you use Ableton or another DAW?
V: I actually always start with the beat pattern first, chord progressions aren’t my strong suit and they usually come after I have laid down the backbone of the song. I use Logic Pro for all of my music.
AQ: Who are some of the artists and producers who inspire you? What are your other inspirations outside of music which inspire your music?
V: There are so many, I would have to say other producers like Calvin Harris, XXYYXX, Charlie Heat, and Clams Casino inspired me to do an album with a producer as the main artist. I feel like producers who can make a collective album with features are often overlooked.
Bali Baby is a huge inspiration to me, her beat selection and lyrical content is a beautiful juxtaposition. I wanted VZEPOP to have heavy, blaring bass from the jump and Bali Baby, Rico Nasty, Tommy Genesis, and other underground Soundcloud artists with aggressive bass inspired me to use that in my beats. Peaches is also a huge inspiration, and I think you can tell throughout the album especially on PMS. Chiptune and Electroclash are a huge ingredient to some of these songs I think. I would like to add that while I did feature hip-hop on both volumes, I don’t claim trap as my genre because I feel trap is a genre with specific lyrical content that was created with black roots. I think it’s important to start appreciating today’s “mumble rap” and current hip-hop producers because they are ahead of their time sonically and aesthetically.
I think out of music, aesthetically, Gaspar Noe is a great influence, I love his use of vibrant colors in his films. I always thought a strobe light was the prettiest thing you could do in a movie. I try to use neon colors and pastels in most of my visuals.
AQ: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
V: I think a big part of why I went into beat making would do with the fact that my Dad was a drummer in a band before he had me. I don’t think it’s crazy to think rhythm is literally in my blood! I have a great relationship with him and I’m thankful for his advice on the music industry.
Also, I plan on dropping an EP at the end of the year. It will also have features and I am excited to finish it!