Interview: Vida Sunshyne
If you don’t know Vida Sunshyne I suggest you stop reading now and click this link to her soundcloud; I’ll wait. Yeah, you see? Awesome right? As great as she is, she can also be a bit of a nightmare from a writer’s perspective. She’s almost impossible to pin down but that’s part of her inherent appeal in the first place. Her styles range from the more traditional dub elements to the more contemporary wobble and grime, all of which she backs up with a powerful stage persona. Along with her 2011 single ‘Woman Run Tings’ and various collaborations with Astronomy Class as well more recently teaming up with UK rapper Dash Villz, Vida also has her début album in the works. I caught up with her to try and get the full story.
Hey, how are things?
I’m really good actually. I just did some recording earlier so I’m just having a few beers to wind it up.
What were you recording?
I was just recording something with an MC who’s just come down from South
Australia about a year ago; he’s got some really crunchy stuff down so I thought I’d sing on it.
Anybody that’s heard your music knows that you’re incredibly versatile and you cover a lot of reggae and wobbly sounds. How does that come about?
Every single part of me that I’ve got, nationality or whatever, I try to put into my music and I try my best to not focus on what other people may think. That’s why it comes across with some reggae, Australian, African and even a bit of a UK tinge, I spent some time there and they influenced me a bit. However my dad was one of the first Afro-reggae musicians in Australia.
Really? What was his name?
Randy, his band was called Randy and the Jah Roots, he’s been around since the 70’s. My birth-mother used to be his manager, so I grew up around heaps of reggae and dance hall vibes when I was becoming a teen, so I kind of dove right into all of that. But when I heard grime, I was like “get the fuck out! I’m going to get into that”.
Hip-hop can be such a broad and encompassing term; what does it mean to you?
In my opinion hip-hop is just truth talk. Well I mean at least underground hip-hop is more about truth talk, they let people know what their life is about and things like that. And then you’ve got your more pop hip-hop which is more party vibes and things like that. I love all of it as long as it’s good. But as far as hip-hop in the broader sense, I don’t put any pigeon holes on what it’s supposed to be.
I saw you at a Melbourne vs. Sydney grime clash the other week and things seemed to be pretty intense on stage in terms of actually getting the mic. Do you find as a woman you have to assert yourself a bit more to carve out your own space?
Well it varies I guess. Most of the guys in Australia are really supportive especially throughout the hip-hop community everyone just gives each other support. In the grime scene through, the testosterone is a lot more apparent. But it’s a different kind of thing; it’s a clash, a musical war. So when I come in I bring my warrior attitude. It took me a few goes, getting into the show and seeing that, oh right we snatch the mic off each other we don’t actually share it. So once I got the hang of it I thought “Shit I better bring it!”
Searching around the internet “Woman Run Tings” seems to be your only solo release. Am I just looking in the wrong places or do you have more?
That was my first solo release and that was about two years ago but since then I’ve just been working on this album. It’s been taking some time but its coming. I decided to keep on collaborating with people to keep the vibe going and let people know I’m still out there. The alum’s coming but it’s got so many different styles that I’m being a bit picky with what I want on there I guess but I aim to release something just before new years.
So we can expect a 2014 Vida Sunshyne tour?
Definitely, once I get this body of work together I’ll be thrashing it. Basically it ranges from grime to hip-hop to more melodic singing, so there’s a lot of different styles and collaborations to go with it. So I’ll be going all over with it.
Are you playing any festivals over the summer?
I’m in the works with that, I’ve just teamed up with Liquid Funk Orchestra and I’ve just teamed up with Thalia’ who’s just come out from New Zealand and she’s another sister with some awesome energy. So we’re just trying to get our rehearsals together now and fish around for some shows.
Who generally handles your production? Is it a collaborative process?
I’ve got some different producers for each track. So the once that are in Melbourne, we tend to get some vibes going in the studio but with the ones that I’ve met overseas and things, I tend to send them my stuff and see what they have.
Lyrically, do you tend to get things out quite fast or is it a much more labour intensive process?
It depends on the vibe of the beat and where my heads at out the time I guess. I found a lot of the ones I chose for the album were ones where I just sat down and it came out but then there are other ones, usually the collab stuff, I tend to sit down and think about it a bit more.
If you want more Vida Sunshyne you should check out her facebook