Singer-songwriter Vega Victoria gets tagged as an “Indie-Americana” artist, but it’s a little more complicated than that.
Born in Stockholm, she splits her time between the Mojave desert and the Bay Area, where she rubs shoulders with such contemporaries as Jacob Aranda and Paula Frazer. These artists all sound different from one another, but in a just universe, they would get classified as “country” artists without people thinking that means they sound like Jason Aldean.
Her debut EP, The Long Embrace, was released earlier this year, and at just five songs and 21 minutes, it leaves you wanting more. But until the full-length album she wants to make comes to fruition, it’s going to have to do.
We caught up with her and asked her five questions, one for every song on her EP. She answered them and she also made us a playlist, which appears at the bottom of the interview.
TZR: When did you first start playing music and who were your earliest influences?
VV: My mother is an opera singer, so I grew up listening to a lot of classical music, jazz and gospel, as well as folk music from all over the world. Cat Stevens and Kate Bush were very early influences; later electronic music, dark pop, and American singer-songwriters like Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan.
I played in bands as a teenager, did some songwriting in my 20s, but then I went to school for writing in New York and focused on writing fiction for many years. I’m excited to have found my way back to music, because I love it so much.
TZR: What brought you from Stockholm to the United States?
VV: I always knew I needed to get out of Stockholm. I never really felt like I fit in, and not just because both my parents are immigrants. There was some other kind of restlessness. As soon as I was old enough to make money, I started traveling. I was hungry for a kind of education, adventure and experience I knew couldn’t be had in Sweden. I dreamed about the American southwest, about going to college in the desert.
One summer, I met an American poet on a small Greek island. He was living in New Orleans at the time. We spent a week together and then one day he showed up on my doorstep in Stockholm. That’s how I ended up studying in Louisiana. It was the swamp, not the desert, but a very interesting time nonetheless.
TZR: What are you working on now?
VV: I’m writing songs for a full-length album and hope to find a way to record it next year. I’m thinking about it like a story collection, where each song is different from the rest, but there’s an overall theme and coherency. I’m obsessed with the concept of love, not just romantic love, all sorts of love, so that’ll most likely be the theme. Love as a purpose and energy. As an antidote to all the violence and suffering around us. It’s all very mysterious to me, so I’m trying to write about it as a way of understanding.
TZR: Do you like the “Americana” tag or do you feel like it limits you in some way? Is there something about the tag that makes people expect things from you stylistically that you don’t really do?
VV: Genres are tricky, because within each one there is so much variation. I love bluegrass and country, which is probably what most people associate with Americana, but my music is probably more singer-songwriter pop. I’ll start calling it that instead.
TZR: Are there any musical genres you haven’t worked in yet that you’d like to try?
VV: I would love to write a wild rock ‘n’ roll tune of the kind that you can’t t sit still when you hear it, something that would make people dance like crazy. I’d also like to write a song with another musician, if that counts as a genre.
Writing can be kind of lonely; on one hand, you have the freedom to do whatever you like, which is great. On the other hand, it can get kind of monotonous. I’m always looking to challenge myself and try new things, so finding my musical twin and creating a different kind of magic together would be lovely.