JBL Emerging Interview: Venus on embracing change in new music

In this Emerging Headliner interview powered by JBL, Headliner gets to know Venus, an up and coming artist with a talent for writing soothing, infectious music and relatable narratives. In fact, this California-based songstress’ music is so ethereal and hypnotic, it even sounds pleasant when she’s telling you to eff off.

“It's a juxtaposition,” she smiles, acknowledging her song Eff Off. “It's got a sweet sound, but the lyrics are like, ‘What's going on here?’ I've always been into very ethereal sounds because people like music that people can attach to.” Venus admits to feeling a touch of nerves due to this being one of her first interviews. She needn't worry – she’s a natural, and is warm and generous with her time and anecdotes.

So who is Venus, in a nutshell? It turns out this independent artist does it all – Venus is a singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and producer who combines these strengths into an undeniable dreamlike fusion of indie/alternative, pop and new wave.

“I was always into producing instrumentals and I've always been in love with musical scores and compositions,” she shares from her home in California. “I guess that has to do with my band background. With all of the instruments that come into orchestral music, there always is a slight ethereal sound, so I try to incorporate a modern way of having an ethereal aspect into the music. My voice is also soft, so it just goes really well with softer sounding music.”

For Venus, music is the soundtrack to the stories of our lives. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that her music is always inspired by true events:

“I am the type of artist who has to experience something or go through something in order to write,” she confirms – “and that doesn't have to be negative. I remember I went to a James Blake concert and he said that he's trying to get himself to not always write when he’s sad. It's a lot easier to get in touch with the negative side of things for some reason,” she reasons.

“Music helps artists deal with those negative emotions, so that's usually why it's easier to write from that place. I also used to only write from sad experiences or negative experiences, so I've found a way to get myself into the headspace of writing music with all of my life experiences that I go through. I think it's allowed me to dive more into the wide range of music and songwriting.”

Life is going to take me where I need to go. I have to be okay with the fact that things are gonna change.

Recent track, Things Change, is characterised by Venus’ signature velvet vocals, hypnotic guitar riffs and dreamy synthesisers. In her own words it’s “a hazy and misty lullaby for pondering the inevitability of change.

“In the literal sense, it was about things changing very frequently, but at the time when I wrote the song, there were so many things going on in my life,” she explains. “I had broken off a relationship – both platonically and romantically – I had changed jobs, I had moved where I was living, and everything was moving at such a quick pace that it was hard to grasp that. 

"It's like a metamorphosis right now; everything around you is moving, it's changing, and you have to go with the flow and move with it. I had produced the instrumental first and at the time, I really wanted to write to it, but I hadn't fully reflected on all of the changes that had gone on in my life. But over time, I was able to come to terms with the uncomfortability that I felt with all those changes, and was able to really understand it and feel grateful for it. The beautiful part of life is that things are always going to be changing, and it's the journeys of change where we find our stories to tell.”

Venus hopes that people feel seen when they listen to the track: “I hope that people feel like, ‘I have gone through a lot of things in life, but it's okay that life is moving and it's okay to feel uncomfortable’. It's okay to feel strange, but I have to keep moving forward and accept that. Life is going to take me where I need to go. I have to be okay with the fact that things are gonna change.”

The lyrics came from a place of genuine love.

New single, If (This is Love) is a reflective and emotive ballad – a soft declaration of love and a hope that it will last. As with all Venus’ songs, she wrote and produced the song herself.

“I had first written it in my room on my ukulele actually – I thought it was just going to be a small little ukulele song,” she reveals. “Then my partner played the chords for me on guitar, and I thought, ‘this is super beautiful’, so that's how the music happened. The lyrics came from a place of genuine love. 

"It was a declaration of love for the person that I was experiencing – and am experiencing – this kind of love with. It's not a song that is supposed to be sceptical, but a feeling of, ‘This is something that I've never felt before. I love the way it feels, I love the way this type of love is genuine; it's pure. It's almost a spiritual love, and if this is what it really is, then I want to keep this; I want to stay here. I want to make sure that this love that I have is always protected and it's safe’.”

Drawing inspiration from her vastly diverse music tastes, Venus writes, records and produces all of her music within the walls of her home – first getting a taste for music production in high school when she discovered FL Studio and Logic.

“I was super intrigued by it and I wanted to know how to do it, and that's where I started producing. I know some people usually start with GarageBand, but I was like, ‘Nope, we're doing Logic!’ I realised that if I want to keep singing and doing music, I should learn how to do it myself so that I don't have to wait for anyone to do it for me. What really tipped me over the edge was the same breakup that inspired Eff Off – that was my first ever fully self-produced and written song,” she points out.

Having a home studio set up means Venus is particular about the necessary equipment she invests in to shape her sound. She shares that she uses AKG K371-BT professional studio headphones, which strike the perfect balance between studio-quality sound, Bluetooth functionality, plush comfort and a sleek and a sturdy design.

“They've been absolutely amazing,” she enthuses, smiling. “I've been using them wired, although they're also Bluetooth. The sound quality is absolutely amazing, the headphones are very comfortable and the quality of the build is fantastic. I absolutely love these! I have used them to do some test vocals to figure out melodies and things like that, and the sound quality is perfect. It's amazing.”

You can immediately hear the sound quality difference using the AKG K371-BT headphones.

K371-BTs are precision-engineered to match AKG’s Reference Response acoustic target to reproduce natural, balanced audio in extraordinary detail, which allows Venus to make more confident decisions when she’s mixing and editing.

“It's so important because if your headphones sound good and what you're hearing back sounds good, then it will inspire you to keep going and to keep creating,” she nods. “Sonically, things sound really good on these. You can immediately hear the sound quality difference [when compared to the previous brand of headphones she was using]. 

"When I play back vocals, you can hear it in the instruments – you can hear those little, minute things that you have to hear when you're making music that you won’t be able to hear on a pair of headphones that are not as good. You should get a good pair of headphones because the way you hear things is going to be the way that your music turns out. The better your equipment is, the better the better your song is going to come out,” she confirms.

Venus shares that there is an EP project in the works, which, naturally, is being composed entirely by herself.

“People can expect a really well thought out – not conceptual – but a really well thought out piece of music,” she says of the upcoming EP. “The instruments that have been used, the lyrics, the production – everything is going to be very sonically pleasing and hopefully very relatable. Things Change is going to be on that EP and the EP is going to surround the idea of growing up, growing pains and falling in and out of love. I truly hope that people feel seen and feel heard when they listen to it,” she smiles knowingly.