VNSSA on Remixing Claude VonStroke and Dirtybird Campout
VNSSA continuously keeps the momentum going. After years of rising through the American DJ circuit, she has checked off another career box with an official remix of "These Notes In This Order" for Dirtybird boss Claude VonStroke. The remix comes with the massive remix package for Von Strokes Covid era album Freaks & Beaks alongside remixes from Nikki Nair, Shiba San, and Steve Darko.
VNSSA burst onto the scene in 2019 with club favorites "Word" and "Rave Grave" with Walker & Royce. While she was a new name to some, she'd spent years honing her skills in the LA scene and had already scored underground cred with releases on Box Of Cats, Psycho Disco, Dim Mak, and Country Club Disco.
VNSSA has since become a festival favorite. Her onstage presence matches her wonderfully eclectic catalog, often breezing from bottom-heavy tech house to joyous disco in one set.
We caught up with VNSSA to chat about her latest Dirtybird release, her upcoming performance at Dirtybird Campout, and more.
You've been a regular on Dirtybird over the years, with multiple appearances on compilations and your first single coming last year. However, this is the first time Barclay tapped you for a remix. How do you approach a remix for someone like him? Do you feel pressure to try and make it in the "Dirtybird style," or is it simply about expressing your take on the track?
I still cannot believe I got to do a remix for Claude VonStroke. He's been one of my favorite artists for so long. I was definitely feeling the pressure because I wanted to stay true to myself while also making something that he would like and that we would both play out at shows.
You're playing the upcoming Dirtybird Campout Festival. Given your association with the label, this festival is probably somewhat of a homecoming filled with friends and family. What does it mean to you to play this event, and how is it different performing at an artist/label-driven event versus other festivals?
Dirtybird Campout is my home away from home. In a way, it's just like summer camp. Every year you see the same friends (and meet a ton of new ones), catch up, hang out, and enjoy all the music and activities together again. It brings together some amazing people and music, and I'm so happy I got asked back to play again. It really is the most unique festival I've been to.
Can you tell us about coming up in Newport Beach? It doesn't seem like a place that one would necessarily associate with electronic music, yet we've spoken to a handful of DJs over the years from the area. What was your time like there, and how did you discover electronic music?
Growing up by the beach, I did a lot of surfing and riding my bike around at the beach. I went to a lot of surf, punk, and rock shows until eventually starting my own band with some friends, although we were more indie rock than anything. After a while, I started going to clubs and DJ shows at the local live music venue (Detroit Bar at the time) and just fell in love. I decided that I didn't want to be in a band anymore. I wanted to be the band. So I started DJing.
You DJed the local circuit for five years before scoring your first release on a label in 2018. This period in any artist's life often gets overlooked. It's easy to think your career starts with that first release, but the reality is you were grinding for years. Do you have fond memories of this time? Is there anything you miss from those early days? How do you feel the electronic scene on the west coast has changed since you first got your start out there?
I had a great time early on before releasing music. I was hanging out with all the other local DJs and learning new stuff constantly. I stopped getting booked in my local scene for a while, so I decided to start throwing my own parties. Every party had a theme. They were kind of like janky elrow parties, except confetti would eventually get banned.
You've managed to avoid being put into a box throughout your career. You've released music with an eclectic group of labels, from Dirtybird to Higher Ground. It seems that tech house is becoming increasingly popular every day. What's the biggest challenge in staying fresh with your music and consistently finding new ways to approach producing/DJing?
My music taste is always evolving, and I listen to just about everything. I think it's important to draw inspiration from other types of music, not just dance music. As the music I listen to transforms, so does the music I make. I hope to continue to keep changing and growing and stay out of a box.
2019 was a massive year for you. "Word" and "Rave Grave" with Walker & Royce received an incredible response and put you into the spotlight. Did you have a sense that these tracks were a little different? How did you meet Sam and Gavin?
I met Gavin and Sam in 2016 or 17 at a gig in my hometown. I opened for them a few times, and we remained in contact. I knew those tracks were different just from the amount of hype they were getting before they even came out. Walker & Royce have been a huge inspiration for me over the years and have believed in me from the start. I'm super thankful for their support and always love working with them. We currently have a few tracks in the works, so hopefully, you'll hear more from us soon!
In the last year or two, you've been releasing music at a higher rate, carrying the momentum and growing rapidly. What do you hope to accomplish in the next year or so of your career? Are there any long-term goals you have, such as starting a label or building out some crazy tour production?
I want to keep releasing music and honing my craft. I feel like I'm still learning new stuff, and I don't see an end to that. I hope to continue to tour more outside of the US. I'm touring Australia for the first time in October, and I'm so excited! Eventually, I'd like to take a live set on the road, but for now, I'm going where the wind takes me!
What are your favorite songs to play out right now?
Anything by Hannah Laing or Ben Sterling.
Do you have any pieces of hardware or software plugins you rely on frequently for producing?
My Novation Peak is my favorite synth at the moment, and U-he Diva.
What music do you listen to outside of dance music?
I listen to a lot of dream pop synth wave, indie rock goth punk. That's one genre.
Festival, large venue, or club?
Festival during the day. Large venue at night and club for the afters.
West Coast or East coast show?
Different vibes, but both are amazing. I can't pick
What advice would you give to an upcoming artist in an ever-crowded scene?
Be true to yourself and follow your own path.
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