#PopularPlay: Vanessa Silberman
Jun 5, 2020
Vanessa Silberman, preaches positivity and empowerment in her newest rock and roll anthem, “Hey All.” A high-powered single described as a feel-good philosophy with a head-banging beat. This grunge singer-songwriter draws on authentic, raw emotions to encourage her audience to love and fully accept themselves. A mantra that we can all get behind. Produced, written, engineered, and mastered by Vanessa herself, “Hey All” is one of several singles to be released, eventually leading to an album reveal at the end of the year.
Recognized as one of the most hardworking artists for three consecutive years (2019, 2018, 2017) by Audiofemme, PopularTV had the privilege of speaking with Vanessa about her journey toward self-acceptance, her creative process, and the musical influences that continuously inspire her.
1. Tell us About “Hey All”. What is the song about it?
“Hey All” is really personal and about some pretty vulnerable, hard subjects I’ve been trying to tackle in a song for a long time. The lyrics are really about living for yourself, being free, and living to the fullest.
At times I have had struggles with being gay and not being in open but hidden relationships – which is no way to live life. I struggled with that, on top of being a musician and recording engineer. Those lifestyles are already very challenging paths, to begin with, and not always easily understood. At times, I experienced situations where people knew I was gay or in relationships but couldn’t acknowledge it. I also experienced similar things with being an artist where people couldn’t quite acknowledge me – even when I was making a living at it. I remember a few times living on the road working so hard and playing 150-200 shows a year and being called “homeless” in a not so kind way. But I believe that more people are starting to come out of a narrow-minded headspace of only one way to live nine-to-five jobs, only men and women have relationships together, old school way of thinking, and are being more open to our new age. I always try to take a hard situation and turn it around in songs because that’s what I believe in.
“Hey All” is really about encouraging people to find the bravery to be more of themselves and support each other for who we are. There have been times where I had to find so much belief in myself as a person. To pick myself up, get strong, keep believing, and keep going when things have become so hard, and I felt alone. Ultimately, through my struggles, I realized that I am not embarrassed by who I am or how I feel. I’m not even afraid, and in fact, I should be more of who I am. We weren’t put on this planet to lessen or dumb ourselves down – we are supposed to live out loud and be more of who we are! So if you are reading this and going through a struggle, stay strong, don’t ever give up on yourself, and be more of who you are – I wrote this song for you.
2. Describe your creative process when you are writing.
I usually start by writing on the acoustic guitar, finding a melody, while letting lyrics organically come out. When I was living full time on the road, I’d sometimes go into motel bathrooms and start playing to get some ideas, or I would get an idea from something I hear or read. I’ll write it down or record a memo. Once I start writing a song, I record it on my iPhone and keep developing it (I do this multiple times and listen with headphones and keep working on the song and refining it). I often will already hear production, drum, or music ideas. I’ll hear what I want most of it to sound like, or will listen to other music for inspiration, then start building it in Protools & Logic at my home studio. Usually by tracking a rough guitar, vocal, then building the song from there. Once the song is built (usually with all the instruments) in a listenable form/roughly mixed, I send it to my drummer Ryan Carnes so he can hear the drums and get some fresh ears on it. He gives some creative input and has a great outside perspective. I sometimes ask him what he thinks of some lyric lines and how they come across – it’s a great way of collaborating. Sometimes I even end up fixing lyrics last minute. I almost think this is a new/old school way of writing – back in the day when labels had huge budgets; they’d put artists in studios to write and record for months because they could afford it. More recently, a lot of labels and bands don’t have a big budget, so they are really rushing to track quickly and have the songs done before entering the studio.
3. Who are your inspirations in music?
If you took Nirvana, Seattle 90s grunge, rock and roll like Joan Jett, Patti Smith’s punk energy meets NOFX, Anti-flag, Bad Religion, mix it with Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Dr. Luke, Max Martin production, add a dash of NWA, The Game, Lil Wayne, with a touch of synth-pop and a dab of old country blues like Rosetta Tharpe! I’m constantly inspired by all kinds of music.
4.Your photos are very cool and authentic. How do you develop the concept behind them?
Thank you so much – My 2020 photos are a collaboration I did with Brooklyn photographer Michelle Lobianco. I saw some other photos that she did of some local Brooklyn artists I love (A Deer A Horse, Shark Muffin) and contacted her. We met up and planned the shoot. I am big into high fashion, and she has done a lot of these editorial fashion shoots. I had some looks in mind (in the past, I have styled some shoots for some other artists) and wanted to take photos for numerous singles. We discussed doing a mix of Marc Jacobs style photos mixed with grunge/punk. Michelle actually turned me on to Juergen Teller. I had seen and loved all his photos over the years, but I didn’t know who he was before.
5. What is your favorite song to do a cover of?
I learned “Runaway” by Del Shannon (which I really love) and have played it live a few times. I learned a few Joan Jett songs once for a Halloween show, but I don’t do much of any covers, so this is something I’m working on! Someone loaned me The Beatles Fake Book right before the pandemic started, so being that we’re still in quarantine, I have no excuses. Ha!
6. Do you have any upcoming projects or future plans?
For 2020, I am releasing one song a month, leading up to an album release by the end of the year. I launched this at the beginning of March and have been planning it since December 2019. I had a few tours scheduled that got canceled because of the coronavirus. So, right now, I am doing live streams once a week. They consist of helpful artist development tips (I also run an artist development label: A Diamond Heart Production) and recording advice (I’m a producer, engineer, and mixer for other artists). Then usually I play a few songs at the end. This happens every Friday at 12/3 pm EST on my Instagram and 5 pm EST on Facebook.
- Photographer Michelle LoBianco