How Adia Victoria Got a Buzz Off One Single
In an age when the Internet immediately determines the popularity of an artist, it seems presumptuous to heap the hype on a musician after releasing just one song. After listening to the malaise-filled anthemic "Stuck In The South" by Nashville-based artist Adia Victoria, the song legitimizes the practice of being quick to judge the vitality and importance of this songwriter and her distinctive perception of the ways of the world. The single not only works in establishing Victoria's bold and brash personality, but paints a melancholic picture of a young woman's hopelessness and desperation to escape her upbringing set to muddy rhythm and blues.
"I wrote 'Stuck In the South' from the vantage point of my teenage self in Mauldin, South Carolina," she explains, "I tried to put myself back in the emotional place I was at before leaving home for the first time and moving to NYC. The South had become synonymous with insanity for me. It was becoming less a place and more a sick frame of mind. I don't "mean" for it to represent anything [other] than what it inherently is: a song about a young girl being driven insane by her surroundings."
The "sick frame of mind" that drove her insane is not only being combated on her music, but also on social media. Take for instance a meme she posted of Prince introducing the Album of the Year award at the Grammys. It features his quote, "Like books and Black lives, albums still matter." This resonated deeply with her.
"It means that black people have to fight and demand to be seen as fully human, still, in America," she says, "That in the age of Beyoncé and Obama, white people still refuse to treat blacks as human beings."
Her feelings and opinions can come off very strong, showing a very low tolerance for seemingly silly or boring questions and opinions. Raised in South Carolina, her parents kept her isolated from the world (her dad immigrated here from Trinidad). She was raised a Seventh-Day Adventist, which had an unusual effect on her creative output.
She explains, "[My upbringing] influences my creativity in that I was isolated completely from the secular world for the first eleven years of my life. I am able to draw immensely from that secluded upbringing. It allows me to see myself separate from the world and society around me, which makes for a very interesting vantage point as an artist. To some people I seem a bit odd socially and that's natural in that I came up in such a protected environment. I still feel like 'the other' most of the time when I'm out in the world,very much out of place."
Victoria has been known to bring a feeling of a humid Southern heat to her performance with a bold honesty that has listeners reaching for their handkerchiefs to wipe the nervous sweat from their foreheads. As she works on putting together her first full-length album with producer Roger Moutenot, who has collaborated with Sleater-Kinney and Yo La Tengo, she is setting herself apart from her Nashville peers with an irreverence and openness that blurs the line between country, poetry, and punk. Her second single, "Sea of Sand," builds on the promise of her first release. Written in Harlem in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the cover features a sweet, intimate portrait of Victoria with curious eyes designed by Jessi Zazu of the band Those Darlins. It portrays a tender side that she reveals only to those closest to her.
She describes, "I wanted to be captured by someone who knew me, and not just with a camera. The cover is a suggestion of my likeness as seen through a loved one's eyes."
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