Interview: Vivian Green – Keeping Soul Alive


Having captured the attention of fans worldwide with her breakthrough single “Emotional Rollercoaster”, Vivian has been one of the most genre-defining vocalists of our time.

What made you decide to pursue a career in music? I love your voice and I have been a fan since “Emotional Rollercoaster”.
I thought as a teenager, maybe around thirteen, that I might be good enough to pursue it professionally. I started writing songs when I was around eleven-years-old. By the time I was thirteen, I was in the basement at the piano every day after school making super sad love ballads. I thought “Hey, I might turn into a pretty good songwriter and singer, and if I do, I would want to pursue it professionally.” When I got to high school I knew it was definitely what I wanted to try to do but I had this thing where if I wasn’t a published artist by the time I was twenty-one, I would just go to college and do the straight and narrow thing. I just happen to make it right at that time.

You didn’t need your plan B, you follow through with your plan A and what a great career you have. When you were making those love ballads, who inspired you?
I have so many influences including Stevie Wonder. My parents listened to a lot of Motown so the Motown sound was always playing in my house when I was a little girl. My mother loved theatre and jazz so we had all the soundtracks to all the musicals. She loved Barbara Streisand and Ella Fitzgerald. When I got a little older, I really loved Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton and Anita Baker, especially Toni Braxton and Anita Baker because my voice can go really deep. They were the only artists at that time that were singing in that low sultry range. As my voice was developing, I definitely gravitated to their stuff. There are so many people but I think I named enough (laughing).

That’s a pretty wide range of influences, there are a lot color and hues.
My parents were not into one specific style of music so we grew up listening to a lot of things.

It reflects in your style. It really truly does. Name some of the people that you worked with on your latest project.
I have a duet with Musiq (Soulchild) on VGVI. It’s called “Just Like Fools” but that’s the only feature on the album. Kwame produced the entire album except for one track. That one was produced by my friend named Full Notes.

I heard “I Don’t Know” of course. I love that single and the sample from the 1985 hit. It was perfect the way everything was put together and produced. “Promise” is really super sexy.
Thank you. It’s really grown up. The topic is something that a lot of women go through. I thought people would be able to relate to that.

Was there a particular sound you were going for with the entire project? I heard the two songs so far and they sounded mature and very passionate, can we respect the rest of the album to follow suit?
I think it’s definitely grown up and sexy… I would describe it in that way. As far as sound, there’s a magic in working with one producer because it gives the album a cohesiveness. There’s nothing wrong with working with multiple producers, I have done it numerous times. You don’t have usually have the same cohesiveness that you have working with one person because producers don’t usually hear the work that other producers are doing on the project until the album comes out. Those projects don’t have the same cohesiveness because the producers are not talking to each other and not on one accord with how the overall album will sound.

With Kwame producing almost the entire album, there’s a consistency that’s there. I think we go 80’s, 90’s, house, and soul, but it all has this glue that connects it all together.

The cohesiveness of this album is very fluid, would you say that is what makes this project different than your previous releases?
He did my last project as well so I think they both were. I just think that he and I really have our footing together on this one. The last album was our first project together so I think this one is even better. We know each other better and we have our synergy going. We know how each other works now and it’s not new anymore. We definitely wanted to make it as perfect as it could be.

Based on the people you named as your influences, I’m curious to know your thoughts on today’s music.
That’s a very interesting question. Some of it, I probably don’t care for very much and some of it I do. Since he first dropped an album, I have always loved Bruno Mars as both a singer and songwriter. He’s super talented. I love the sultriness of Adele’s voice. I love the music that Solange puts out. It’s really eclectic. There is a lot of stuff that I really do like and appreciate then there are some things not so much. I think music is always like that.

Since your debut single “Emotional Rollercoaster”, if there was one thing you could do differently, what would it be?
If I could somehow turn back the clock I wish I was a bit more educated about the entertainment industry. When I was a teenager back in high school, I used to read all of the music business books that I could find at the library and the bookstore. None of that stuff prepared me for what this business really is. There’s an education that you get going through it, learning as you go along. Knowing all those things before, I think most artists would make different decisions than the ones they make initially. It’s truly a live-and-learn experience. No one tells you these things. I don’t know why (laughing).

If there was any advice I would give to aspiring talent, it would be that it’s not what you think.When I was watching Whitney Houston and Toni Braxton videos, I just thought they looked really great and I like the songs. I never thought about all of the grueling things that go into it. I will just be honest and say that’s it is really a lot of hard work. You have to have on photoshoot makeup all the time. You are not going to always like it. You are going to be tired and want to wash your face. You are going to not want to do interviews all day because you’re going to get hoarse from it. People asking you the same questions over and over again. You have to be just as happy and cordial as you were the first time even though it may be the twentieth time that day. You can’t show any discomfort that you may be having going through the motions of promoting your project. It’s really a lot of work that goes into it and no one really prepares you for what it is going to be. Some of those schedules are really grueling. The outcome is always beautiful and it sounds and looks great, but the work that goes into it is actually hard.

In your bio, it says that you are a champion for children with special needs. How so?
My son was born with an unknown syndrome. It’s a personal experience. I did a PSA actually last year… The intention was always to put the PSA out when the album dropped. I am really excited about it… My son doesn’t fit in autism or any specific category. I feel that people separate the special needs community which is very large. 57 million people or 19% of the current population suffer from a special needs related disability so my message is very broad. I think it is important that we teach children very early on about this community. My experience as a mother has been that people just aren’t taught any better. When kids see my child in public, there are these raw reactions because clearly, no one has taught them how to react when seeing someone different them. That’s the message of my PSA.

– DAKARI

 

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