There was a lot that went into releasing my own music and it felt like I arrived to a moment where my entire life made sense.
Vylana has just brought out her debut album Goddess Rise and it sees the self-proclaimed sound alchemist documenting a spiritual journey through both sound and vision as the music is accompanied by a visual companion. Gavin Brown caught up with Vylana to talk about the album and working with violinist Laura Escudé on it, her musical journey, working with Jon Hopkins and how her year in music and her life has been.
E&D: Your debut album Goddess Rise has just been released, what was the feedback for the album been like so far?
Vylana: It has been beyond my expectation. The inspiration for creating this album was to inspire women to see the embodiment of something different. When I created it, I created it from the autobiography of my own healing journey. I did a film that’s visual album that goes with the entire album, and the feedback from women who just resonate so deeply on like deep core level, to what the music represents, and the visceral feeling that you get from watching the film has been far beyond my expectations. It’s been really exciting.
E&D: Did you always want to make a film to go along with the music?
Vylana: My desire to make the film was actually inspired by Beyonce’s Lemonade album that came out around the time that I was in my mid 20s. That visual art piece was so impactful in my life that really helped me, beyond just the frequency of the music, it was the depth of the story. It was the visceral experience of what you got to see with your eyes and her emotion and what she emulated through the music, It was a much deeper experience and that was honestly just the way that I was guided as I was creating this. We started out with one video that was for ‘Awaken The Goddess’ that just happened really seamlessly. I just got a really, really clear message to build an entire story around it so that people could really understand what the music was about.
E&D: You worked with violinist Laura Escudé on the album. How was the experience of working with her and how did you start working together in the first place?
Vylana: Working with her was an absolute dream. A lot of the music had come from stuff that I tapped for my own personal life, so it really began as a vision of, this is what I want to sing to help inspire women along their path. This is what the music feels like, here’s a playlist of songs that inspire me about these different textures, about the music. We would just sit down together, and she would get on Ableton and just create a banger out of it, do her violin solo in one take and we immediately had the bones of what the songs were going to be. It was an absolute dream working with her.
E&D: Goddess Rise has a very ethereal sound, was that always your intention with the sound of it, or did it evolve as you were creating?
Vylana: The ethereal aspects are in some of the songs. I don’t feel that that element is in all of them but definitely there’s aspects in ‘Awaken The Goddess’ and in ‘Phoenix’. My background as a singer, prior to coming out with the solo album, was an album that I did called Remembrance with a group called For The Good Of All and the track ‘A Gathering Of The Tribe’ with Jon Hopkins and I’ve done other collaborative efforts with people before this solo album. Prior to that, my primary focus was recording sound healing music. It’s actually using sound vibration as a means to create resonance in the body, which ultimately is healing, so all of the ethereal vibe, which doesn’t feel like contemporary western music, it has more of this angelic, almost cosmic essence to it. That is such a massive part of how I am of service to the world. I don’t do it for money or anything like that, I literally just do it for healing for people, because it is so impactful. I wanted to layer that in with the rest of the music, because it’s very, very much a part of me as an artist.
E&D: You’ve obviously released the singles beforehand, but does it feel extremely exciting to have released the album in full?
Vylana: Yeah, it is exciting and somewhat of a relief. This is my first solo album, and we self released, so I was essentially the artist and the label simultaneously. I’ve not been on this path of releasing music myself before, so there was a lot of things that were happening simultaneously, where I’m finishing the music, while releasing a single and all the logistical detail oriented things that go into that it was quite overwhelming. I’m excited because the film and the music have been developing over the last year and a half. I’ve had to go through a lot of initiations personally to bring the music through and the way that it wanted to come. To have it finally fully be out there where people get to experience the entire journey, because the whole the album is set in a particular order with a story arc. Actually my intention was for it to be like a guiding tool for women who really want to encounter themselves on a deeper level. Coming out with the singles, those were the ones that I felt were the most widely felt. Layering in the rest of the story now, it creates the depth to something that people are already attracted to. It feels like a big relief and a big exhale to finally just have it out there and I’m now about to approach my own time of just being in full celebration of what I’ve created. I haven’t had the time to do that yet, but I will.
E&D: Have you had thoughts about new music and would you consider doing a whole visual experience with it again?
Vylana: I live a very spiritual path and I am always in a space of listening to the way the universe guides me to what I’m meant to do, and how I can serve the world in the greatest way. I’m in that space right now, where I’m just taking a pause but my desire is to absolutely continue to use my voice to be a beacon of inspiration and empowerment for women and men. I think as my life evolves, and I evolve as a person, my music is going to evolve. The creation of this album, and this film is the most extraordinary thing I’ve ever done in my life. It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life. It was the absolute highest highs and the lowest lows, but so completely and entirely rewarding to make it to this point, and as excited as I am to take a really big pause, I know my hunger for being in that sense of creation will probably come back around spring.
E&D: You performed at the Burning Man Festival this year. How did that go for you?
Vylana: Yeah, it was amazing. A lot of people who were actually there had already been listening to my single ‘Phoenix’ at the time, ‘Phoenix’ had just been released and some people were really feeling it and really excited to see that performance. I was able to perform my single ‘Out Of Exile’ that was unreleased. It’s exciting to be in a performance where it’s like, making it to the moment where I know everything that I’ve been through to create that particular song, not only in the creation of the music, but in the evolution of my life, to be able to write those lyrics and seeing those lyrics and to just be performing it, but from a visceral sense of how the music moves through my body, and then to feel the reflection of people really feeling it and being excited by it and wanting to hear more. It’s the best!
E&D: You mentioned Jon Hopkins, how was the experience of working with him on ‘A Gathering Of The Tribe’?
Vylana: Jon Hopkins is an extraordinary musician and people bow to his sensei kind of energy, so to create with him was amazing. He told me how he had this vision of creating a symphony out of my voice. I really had no idea what it was going to be like, the bass sounds in it were pretty minimal by the point that I sang over it.I just kind of felt into it opened my heart created a lot of variety for what he could work with and then he just turned it into an angelic, ethereal chorus. I can’t even remember singing it in the way that he created it, I really, truly believe he’s one of the most masterful, if not the most masterful, ambient sound producer, musician, creator. When that song came out, and it was on Spotify, and I got to listen to it for the first time, I wept because I felt like the little girl in me that always knew that I was going to be a singer, it felt like that song coming out defined that I could do it. That came a long time before I was working on the meat of my solo album. It was really special and very pleasurable. He’s such a wonderful human, beyond the wizardry of how masterful he is as a musician. He’s a really, really epic human and so it was a joy to work with him, a very, very deep honour.
E&D: What have been some of the highlights of this year for you as an artist?
Vylana: Highlights as an artist were putting out my first single ‘Phoenix’, that happened in August, There was a lot that went into releasing my own music and it felt like I arrived to a moment where my entire life made sense. I’ve been through a lot of trials and tribulations and trauma and darkness and disempowerment. Everything that I have been through in my life, is what I drew on to be able to create the music and so releasing that first single, when it happened. I just wept, because it felt like I’ve waited my entire life to experience this moment, the little four year old girl in me through my teenage years and even in my 20s that was like, I’m going to be a singer. This is my destiny. I moved to LA and I tried to do the whole, working with really big producers and very quickly realised that that type of environment in the music industry was not for me. I completely walked away from my dream, and I stopped singing altogether, to then rediscover it through sound healing, and then the whole path from having this be my dream my whole life to having that dream die, and then coming back to it from a place of, I know who I am, and I know what I want to create, and this could not be more honest and authentic and vulnerable and true. To be able to create it with one of the greatest violinist and musicians and one of my favourite producers of all time and then give it to the world like, this is my offering, this is my gift. This is my whole life’s journey, of all the hardship, and love and beauty, the full spectrum of what my life has been. This is the moment where I get to really live my dream and do it in a way that was beyond what I imagined. That was definitely probably the biggest highlight of this year. The other one was actually filming the Rise Of The Goddess visual album, what came through me when I was filming that. Every bit of it was real, there are parts in the song ‘Into The Fire’ where I’m screaming, and I’m crying in grief. One of the things that I committed with my filmmaker was that everything that we film has to be real, because if it’s not real, it’s not going to work. I’d rather not release it than to be acting any part of this. I actually have to tap real feelings and real emotions. What I allowed myself to go through, it was really, really difficult, but it was also just one of the most magical and inspiring myself kind of things of my resiliency and my ability to really connect with something that’s much greater than me. I would say I would say those are the big highlights, and then just releasing it, finally getting to the point where I’ve been working as hard as I possibly can, for so long and to get to a point where I feel like there’s a moment to relax and breathe. It’s like there’s another thing that needs to needs to happen, I’ve birthed it, it’s a baby, I’ll continue to promote it and do everything that I can for as many people to see it as possible, but it’s its own living entity now that gets to be out in the world and inspire people and kind of take on its own life. It’s a very euphoric and unbelievable thing to be experiencing what I’m experiencing when again, when I said like, I was four and I knew with everything in my being that I would be doing exactly this, everything my whole life just feels like it makes sense. It sounds cheesy, but I’m literally living the dream. I’m living my dream.