Today, I am with Antonia Vai for another Q&A Session. She is a Swedish / Hungarian singer and songwriter – in her own words. Now, without further ado…
Lady Obscure: Hello Antonia. Could you tell me about yourself, how your journey started?
Antonia Vai: I would say my journey started when I was a kid. Even back then, I wrote and sang and played on the piano we had at home. It was obvious for me that music is my way of expression, even in my earliest years. And I kept on writing throughout my childhood. But I guess the journey started professionally when I turned eighteen and graduated from school. I bought my own recording equipment and spent one year in London, writing and documenting my songs. After returning back to Stockholm I gathered musicians and had some kind of “welcome-home-gig” held for myself, playing all the songs I had written the last year. After that it just started spreading. I’ve played with lots of different musicians. Sometimes with a full-band, doing more of a show, at big clubs. And sometimes really stripped down, with just a guitar and harmonies.
LO: So, how do you describe your music? Is there a conscious choice of genre?
AV: I never consciously chose the singer-songwriter-genre, I guess. It was just the way it developed. When I want to write a song quickly, to get my emotions out, it’s easy to pick up the guitar and sing. And as a lonely girl with a guitar – you’ll automatically be a singer-songwriter. Although, that genre is very stereotypical. I’m a lot into soul, trip-hop, folk music and “world” music, like flamenco or Balkan tunes. I’m sure that comes across in my songs.
LO: You mentioned a lot of gigs with different musicians and doing different things. It sounds like a rich experience! So, are you happy with your music? Everything you have accomplished so far?
AV: Yeah, I’m happy with what I’ve done. Self-criticism is a recurring voice, it’s a part of it, but so is the pride, the love for it. I write to express myself and every time I can sing or play something without reflecting or overanalysing it, I always get that rush of satisfaction afterwards. It’s cleansing. And it’s so much fun! The thrill of a great gig can last for weeks after. I think I’ve nailed my own uniqueness. Since I’ve been writing and doing it my whole life, I’ve found a little musical-sphere, which I dare to call my own. And improvement, well, everything can improve. That’s the charm of it. I keep improving non-stop, since I keep writing and recording myself non-stop. I get more aware of the possibilities, especially when it comes to producing and mixing. But that can also be a curse at times. Knowing too much about your tools and instruments, I mean. I still think some of my best songs were written in my earliest years.
LO: I bet the fans are loving your music as well! How has the reception been?
AV: Good. Surprisingly good! The first gigs I had, or the first times I started uploading my stuff on the net, I had no expectations. But I got encouraged and people kept spreading what I had done. It was an great boost. I would’ve done music regardless, but knowing that others, but myself, get something out of it is just… amazing. And in September 2012 I released two albums, “Dirt From When The Earth Was Flat” and “Lovers And Prophets”, which got nice reviews as well. It’s all really exciting! It’s hard to be objective about it, I’m happy others can do it for me.
LO: Two albums in one year… Cool. So, what’s next? Another album maybe? An international tour?
AV: I’ve got upcoming gigs booked in Stockholm at the moment, but my next mission is to get abroad again. I’d love to play in new cities! I’m slightly addicted to travelling and discovering, so that’s what I’m focusing on. And meanwhile, recording and writing, of course.
LO: Future is looking bright then? With more recording and more gigs on the way…
AV: I don’t have a grandiose vision. I keep taking one month at a time. Honestly, it works for me. It makes me feel less pressured. And it keeps me free. I try to enjoy every little step forward and slowly, slowly, see where it takes me.
LO: You said you loved travelling. So, being on the road is your favourite? Or do you like the thrill of the studio work and composing better?
AV: I love both. Combined! The studio is the place where it begins, the first ideas come out and grasp for air – and on the road you actually face what you’ve done, face the people who want to listen and have fun with it.
LO: Back to your music, do you write everything? Or are there other musicians involved?
AV: I’m composing and writing everything myself.
LO: Do you have specific themes you focus on when you’re writing the lyrics?
AV: My ideas generally pop out of nowhere. Or everywhere. I can’t tell you I have a concept I focus on. I just write about my experiences and my dreams. There’s a lot of love, melancholy and hopefulness in my songs. And storytelling. Either true stories or fictional ones. The line is thin.
LO: So, the motivation – do you prefer to make music for its own sake or do you strive to cater for the audience?
AV: I always make music for my own sake, to begin with. There are times when I start writing something, and become too focused on the result and what people will think of it. That’s the fastest way to writers block. I always try to do it just for the sake of expressing myself. And I believe that if it’s honest and sincere, the audience will feel it and appreciate it, for that reason.
LO: When you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
AV: Maybe the release of my two albums this autumn. It’s something I wanted to do my whole life. But everything that led up to it is just as crucially important and accomplishing.
LO: Thank you Antonia!
Here is a song from her official YouTube channel folks. Enjoy!
And if to find out more about Antonia and her music, here are some links.