[9 February 2011]
England’s VV Brown came out of the South by Southwest Music Festival smokin’ hot. Between her showcase performance at the Latitude 30 Club, several party appearances that included Perez Hilton’s One Night in Austin and Spinner.com’s Pop-Up at the Gas Pipe, and her gig on KGSR radio’s breakfast program, the word was out. Brown was last year’s SXSW most likely to succeed, following in the tradition of females songstresses of the past such as Amy Winehouse, Norah Jones, and Nellie McKay.
Whether Brown will flame out like Winehouse, soar to superstardom like Jones, or remain a beloved cult artist like McKay remains to be seen. One thing for certain is Brown’s driving ambition. Brown sat down with PopMatters at SXSW and discussed her plans to conquer the world.
How different is it playing festivals with artists different than you are versus your own tours?
I love it when I am with artists different than me. I stumbled upon a new band yesterday that I fell in love with called the Octopus Project. And I think it’s just so fun to mingle with other musicians. They challenge you and inspire you as an artist, and it’s a great feeling. It’s really boring when you hang around people that are similar to you or doing the same things as you because you don’t grow. And as an artist, I really want to grow so festivals like this are a platform for discovery for me as an artist.
Have you performed in the United States before, or is this your first tour?
This is my first big tent tour. Last time I went to New York, Los Angeles, and a few big cities. This time around I am going every single state and city that I can. I’ve never done that before ,and I am really enjoying it. We were in the Midwest—Minneapolis, and there was a political rally about health care and two different sides were protesting, and I was right in the thick of it. I enjoyed looking at it as an objective observer. I took a lot of footage with my camera. It’s the little things like that I am really enjoying in America. Each city and each state is culturally different and Americans don’t seem to notice it. It’s like Europe: America is split up in different countries, and I enjoy discovering them.
It’s unbelievable how big America is, and the more and more I travel, the more I realize how immense it is. As big as the markets are in New York and LA, there are so many other places we want to conquer. And I love being here.
So what exactly are your goals?
I am trying to be a renaissance woman. I am working on a comic book with my friend the music video producer David Allain. We are putting out a seven series of issues from May to November and then in December release it is a graphic novel. It’s a political journey of this girl Freda, who has to be free. You can read about it online at www.thecityofabaus.com.
I like being creative. I get bored easily. When I am on the road promoting the same music over and over and over, I just need projects to get my brain cells and to get my juices flowing. I can’t stay in any one place mentally or creatively that’s why I do these projects.
But why comic books? Aren’t you afraid of not being taken seriously if you work in such a medium?
I love reading comics. There is nothing better than a story with illustrations. I’m always a sucker for cartoons. Animation is the best way to escape into a new world. My inspiration came from a place of love with comic books and comic art. And I sometimes feel like a comic book character in this world I am living in. My world is kind of crazy at the moment. And I love to dress interesting as well.
You were wearing a yellow Michael Jackson t-shirt at your show?
Did you like it? It was a long T-shirt and I cut it. Fashion is another passion of mine [Brown is the newest face of Marks & Spencers, modelling alongside Dannii Minogue, Brazilian supermodel Ana Beatriz Barros, Lisa Snowdon, and Twiggy]. I have an online vintage fashion site, www.vvvintage.com.
I love costume design. I love the stage. I try to dress appropriate to the venue. At festivals I tend not to do be extravagant because it’s kind of a vibe where everything is just more natural, and we usually perform outside, but when we are back on tour, that’s when the big shoulder pads come out and the starched, checked long dresses and such.
With your interest in costume and story, have you ever thought of writing a play?
That’s so bizarre that you asked me that. I have started on an idea for a play. I just honestly thought of it while riding on the plane. I was so bored and started writing some notes about a play I would like to do. It’s a tale of quantum love. It’s a tale about two gods, a god and a goddess, that fall in love with each other and they get married in the sky as gods. Then one day the goddess dies, so the male god goes to the god of death and says, “Can you please make my love come to life?” And the god of death says, “No, that’s not possible. It will have a massive ripple effect in the universe. So what I’ll do is I’ll put you both back down to earth, and you will both reincarnate continually until you meet each other”. Now the probability of that would be extremely difficult because they will have to be at the same place at the same time at the same age and anyway, the god of death changed his mind and said it’s not just possible for the planet Earth. It has to be the entire universe.
So now they both are going to be reincarnated and may be on different planets at different times and even in different dimensions. While maybe in the year 2009 here on Earth she got married to a guy, had some kids, while the guy is on the planet Bluch in the dimension X, etc., and they just keep reincarnating. Then one day on the planet Earth they are walking down the street going to a grocery store. The woman looks at the man, the man looks at the woman, and at that moment they realize each of them are the ones and that they are the god and the goddess.
So you believe in true love?
Yeah, I believe in true love. Totally.
Have you found him?
No, not yet, but I will find him. I believe in love. It’s quantum physics. The two go together. It’s an infinite world and an infinite possibility of love.
Will this be a musical?
No, I think I would have to do this play strictly minimalist. It would have to be just a table and a chair on the stage. The drama would have to be just about words, like Shakespeare, very poetic.
Would you perform as the goddess? Would you like to do it on film or television?
Not really. I never thought about film. I don’t think I would be a good, serious actress. I am quite over the top. For film you have to be very introverted and internal. I think I might be good at Broadway or West End or musicals, because I give out lots of energy.
I did get offered a movie, the Ian Dury movie. I was going to play the girlfriend of Ian Dury, but that didn’t work out. That would have been interesting.
Film music is my passion. I would love to score films. When I was a kid I wanted to be a composer. When I reached 14 or 15, I discovered my voice and thought I should be a singer as well. Until then, I worshiped Beethoven, Stravinsky and all these tremendous composers. Film music is definitely the pipeline to that type of music.
It’s good to have ambition and you seem to have lots of it
I do. I believe that anything is possible if you work hard.
Do you feel that way now because you are succeeding?
I’ve always felt that way. It’s really weird, but when I was young I used to look at a toy in the toy shop and I would want to get it. And I wouldn’t say anything to anybody. And I would always get that toy. I would visualize that it was mine. And when I was 14, I started to think, how is it that I always get the things that I want even if I don’t ask for it? I just think it and believe that it’s possible and have faith and it will happen.
And quantum physics proves that. There is this guy called Emoto and there’s this book called The Hidden Messages in Water. He looks at water particles and analyzed when people spoke to the water, it had a definite impact. If they spoke good words to the water particles, the molecules were more formed. And if they spoke bad words to the water particles, they were more fragmented and not as formed. His theory shows that our energy effects molecules. It’s not just a self-help book, airy fairy theory. It’s actually science. So when you think things, you actually create them as in, anything is possible if you think it.
Yet there are still bad things in the world. Innocent people die of cancer. Good people find themselves in terrible life situations.
Yes, those are the things I want to ask God about when I die. Why do bad things happen to good people who do think good thoughts a lot of the time? So hopefully I’ll get the chance, but not anytime soon!