Violetness is a local songstress whose voice is as hauntingly beautiful as it is prophetic. She initially came to Chicago (by way of California) to record an EP, but decided to stay when she found the music scene here too magnetic to ignore. Violetness wasted no time fitting in; she's graced the stages of both Beat Kitchen and Empty Bottle, opening for some of the most revered indie acts touring through Chicago, including Eyedea & Abilities and Themselves. Centerstage caught up with the budding artist to get the skinny on how she got started in music and when we can expect the new EP.
Tell me a little bit about your background and how you got interested in music.
As long as I can remember music has been part of my life. When I was really young my father would turn on his record player and listen to Sinatra, The Ronettes, Tina Turner, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and more of course. I can remember dancing and belting at the top of my lungs to the songs with my sister while my dad washed the dishes. By putting these divergent bands together in the same "session" he inadvertently paved the road to my eclectic approach to music.
How'd you come to the name Violetness?
I wanted a name that was genderless but still derived from my name. In this process I thought of my grandmother Violet who also was a musician. Unfortunately I never got to know her but she has always been this mystic and fascinating woman I would have loved to know. It's a bit of an homage to her.
Do you remember the moment when you realized that music is the creative route you wanted to take?
I do actually. I don't think I will ever forget it. I started singing in church at a very young age. One day after singing at mass this old man came up to me with tears in his eyes. He told me that my voice touched him so much it brought him to tears. After he left, this overwhelming feeling took over. I can't explain it I just knew from that moment music was not only something I wanted to do but needed to do.
You moved to Chicago from California; tell me a little bit about the transitions from there to here.
I am definitely someone who adjusts quickly so when I moved back here my transition went seamlessly. The obvious issue might have been the weather but I actually prefer cold over warm.
You came to Chicago to record; who were some of the musicians you worked with and what studio did you record at?
I work with an amazing production company called Cassette Company. It's made up of three extremely talented guys: Stefan Clark, Sean Geyer and Justin Eisenbraun. Ryne Estwing (Louis and the Hunt) and Baron Harper (Scattered Trees) also contributed to the recordings at Reel Sound Studio in Skokie.
Who produced the songs you have posted on your MySpace page?
Stefan Clark of Cassette Company produced those tracks. I had been looking to collaborate with a producer but everyone that I had met with never felt right. The problem was that I had a lot of ideas but as far as direction I was lost. Within our first meeting I knew he was the right collaborator; he understood the craziness going on in my head and saw the vision I was going for.
You mention that you have different artists that inspire you at different times; who are the ones that speak to you right now?
This question is really difficult to answer because it changes month to month or day to day. I kind of obsess over an artist for a few months, then I break up with them. Tomorrow it may change but today it would be Themselves. I opened up for them the other night and their set was unbelievable. Album-wise I would say Deep Puddle Dynamics, The Taste Of Rain...Why Kneel is pretty mind-blowing right now.
Do you prefer a specific genre?
Hip-hop music definitely speaks to me; it's been a genre that constantly re-enters my life. My very first tape was Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Unfortunately my relationship with that tape was short-lived because my dad heard all the profanities. I moved on quickly to my next idols, Salt 'n' Pepa. Evidently my dad was ok with profanities as long as it came from a female voice.
How does Chicago contribute to the overall development of your sound?
I think all of the people/musicians I have met in Chicago have helped me discover what sound was in me. The more like-minded people who hop on a project the better. It's kind of like excavating with a group. I needed help in digging away at the crap to get to the gold. It's taken some time to realize that.
Tell me a bit about the forthcoming EP. Do you have an official release date?
My forthcoming EP will be out by the end of January, beginning of February. It will be a four-song EP with additional remixes.
Being a relative newcomer to the stage, what sort of impact are you looking to make with your music?
I just want to make music that's fresh and honest. I want people to feel emotion when they see me perform or hear my recordings. I like things that are raw and real to the moment and my only hope is that people can and will feel that from me.