Having spent the last few years releasing a flurry of warm and atmospheric dark-pop releases, Swedish/Hungarian singer-songwriter Antonia Vai recently returned to deliver her first new offering of 2020, 'GHOST'.
Filled with a bold and captivating production, 'GHOST' explores loss and what we do with the empty space it leaves us with. With her soaring voice landing centre stage on this new release, her enticing new delight brings out fresh and vibrant emotion at every turn.
So with her new song currently doing the rounds, we sat down with her to find out more about her origins and what has brought her to this point in her career.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
We had a piano at home when I was little, I started playing it from the moment I was big enough to reach the keys. And of course, singing… My voice has always been my main expression and instrument.
What has been the most prominent inspiration behind your music so far?
I couldn’t say one thing. Inspiration is everywhere, in everything. It’s cliche but true. It’s in every journey or downfall, behind every genuine emotion. Since I can remember, I’ve turned my experiences into songs, writing has always been the channel through which I understand myself.
What kind of music did you love as a teenager?
My first and biggest love was Lauryn Hill’s album ‘The miseducation of Lauryn Hill’. You know, I dressed like a punk, in all black and spikes, but I was all about hiphop. Early Missy Elliott, TLC, The Roots, Outkast, Fugees, Looptroop, Atmosphere. But also had some other favs, like Björk, Tool, Massive Attack, Nitin Sawhney, Cornelis Vreeswijk.
Can you remember the first song that made you want to pursue a life in music?
There wasn’t one song that made me decide, it was more the realisation that I had written so many songs and I’d be crazy not to show them to anyone or dare to acknowledge my path. I was 18 years old and about to graduate when I decided I’ll put together a band to see if my music works outside of my head. After finding musicians from my school, we did one gig in a little bar in Stockholm. And.. Well, it was overwhelming for me. A real eye-opener. I had held those songs all to myself, been writing them from the loneliest place for all those years, not knowing if they’re meant for anyone else to hear. And suddenly I was there. Playing and singing with other musicians, connecting with an audience, seeing responses and emotions and tears and laughters from others. Really connecting. I decided I won’t diminish this purpose, this passion I feel. There was no going back from there.
When you wake up in the morning, what kind of music do you like to listen to?
I usually don’t listen to music when I wake up. Is that weird? I really enjoy quiet mornings. Most of my other awake hours are filled with music anyways.
How many of your songs have you written about people in your life?
Hmmm, I would say most of them. But not all. Sometimes I write inspired by characters from mythology, religion or fairytales but they also represent real people I know. I’d say, anyone who has affected me on a deeper level, has gotten a song or line written to them, usually without knowing it. The dedication constantly morphs and changes, depending on where I am in life.
What has been the most memorable moment in your career so far?
Creating the music video for 'GHOST' is definitely on the top. Working with director Noemi Veronika Szakonyi was a very inspiring experience. We wrote the script together and set out into the wintry landscapes of Cape Cod to shoot it with a small team, consisting of students from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts graduate filmmaking program. Creating the video from scratch to the final step has been a very empowering and transformative journey, both creatively and personally.
Outside of music, what is your biggest passion?
Maybe... travelling. I got this mad love for hitting the road alone. There is a special energy to it. It challenges me and makes me connect with people and places in a totally open way. I’ve written many songs and found many little homes around the world this way.
If you weren’t a musician, what other path do you think you might have taken?
Filmmaking. I’m just super nerdy and passionate about how movies are made. From the script writing to the costume making to the props creating to the shooting to the editing. Either that or I’d be a psychologist or a social worker, like my mom.
And what advice would you give to other musicians looking to stay productive through the coronavirus lockdown?
I’d say, make sure you give yourself a chill, safe space. And time. Set up this cozy and private creative space in your home. Light some candles, make a tea, turn your phone off, have your instrument or recording program ready. Give yourself an evening, a night, to really connect with yourself. And in case nothing happens, I’d say; don’t push it. That’s my attitude towards songwriting. If it doesn’t come organically, maybe the song inside you just isn’t ripe yet. It’s not ready and that’s okey. Wait it out. It will come on another night. Return to that cozy space later and try again.
Antonia Vai's new single 'GHOST' is available to stream and download now, and she is planning to release the follow-up 'Kali's Song' in the coming months. Watch the new video for 'GHOST' in the player below.