Interview: Aka V
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I got into music after an eye opening trip to the west coast of Canada. I lived on the East coast then and I was in a really bad place mentally. I needed to escape so I got my parents to take most of my stuff back home and care for my dog and I drove to the West Coast all by myself. Driving 40 hours by yourself across the country is some great therapy, I tell you. I worked on orchards until it got too cold. I had 3 weeks left until my contract at a ski resort started and had absolutely nothing to do so I drove to LA and fell in love! Right then and there, I decided that when my contract w
as over(5 months), I would be moving to Toronto (the music capital of Canada) and I’d start singing.
If I wasn’t doing music, I would definitely be doing something else that allows me to be creative. I love designing clothes, creating looks whether it is hair or makeup, photography. When I was younger, I wanted to be a veterinarian but I quickly realized that I could never do that as a job. I love animals but only as pets. I have no desire to open them up and mess with their organs. Before getting into music, I was also considering going to school for fashion design, hairstylist and make up artist. Although, music is what won the battle over the other creative outlets/choices I was considering.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I don’t typically enjoy normal activities like going out to clubs or eating out, etc. I absolutely love creating so modifying my clothes, thrifting, creating looks and doing photoshoots are things I like to do in my free time. Also, these days, turning my place into a big art project where I decide to design every single wall with some special DYI project is a thing (turning a guitar into a lamp with broken mirror and ceramic, using drum shells as shelves, etc.)
Anyone who knows me, knows that I absolutely LOVE dogs so hanging out with doggies is also one of my fav activities. I just love how they make you present and how happy they are. Going hiking is something I’ve recently really gotten into and truly enjoy. Especially in California with all the different landscapes!! Anything that helps me get present with my surroundings and reminds me to enjoy this beautiful human experience we’re living really! My mind has a mind of its own and relaxing isn’t easy for me so anything that helps me be present in my life, definitely helps my creativity.
How long has music been your career?
The defining moment for me was when I got hired to go on a national tour across Canada with the band Ozgoode in 2015. The tour was 2 months long and afterward, I kept playing with them for a while. We went on a second tour and then the band dissolved. I then decided to start my solo career as AKA V and never looked back! I miss the band dynamics for sure but I don’t regret going solo in order to truly dedicate myself to my career.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I recently just settled in Los Angeles. Since the beginning of my solo career, I was just floating around in between tours and movie projects. When I wasn’t touring, I spent a lot of time in different parts of Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Edmonton, Alberta and back home in my small, northern, Quebec town, Rouyn-Noranda). I also spent a lot of time in New York and Los Angeles. My nomad lifestyle definitely influenced my music because I got to work with different people in different places and see a lot of different cultures and landscapes.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
Best show I have played was back home in my hometown when I was touring with the band. It was my first time performing there and we had booked a great venue with amazing sound, lighting and a great stage. Our performance was great, we had multiple photographers, press, radio interviews, etc. and the turn out of the concert was amazing!! The room was packed!!
The Worst show I have played was in New York at the very beginning of my solo career. The promoter booked me as the last act, after 2 great, full bands, who brought local crowds and I went on around 1 am playing with just an acoustic guitar which was a very different vibe than what their people had come to enjoy. A few people stayed for a couple songs to be nice but then everyone was going to party somewhere else and we ended up playing to a totally empty room. The staff basically told us to pack it up after 3 songs because we were playing to nobody. It took us forever to get home, we got lost in the metro on our way back and got back where we were staying wayyy too late. It was definitely not the best experience!
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I don’t know if I have a favorite venue to play at. I mean, anywhere with great sound and lighting is always fun! I am playing Molly Malone’s in Los Angeles May 7th and I booked it because I know what to expect I know my fans will have a great experience. They have a great stage, great lighting and amazing sound so it’s the perfect place to bring a crowd and have a blast. I first played there in 2019 and this upcoming show will be my 3rd time playing there. There are definitely a lot of venues I want to play at that I haven’t played but that will come in time!!
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
The Pretty Reckless and Lilith Czar (aka Juliet Simms).
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Work on your mindset everyday!! There are soooo many talented people out there but a lot of them are not successful at making music their full time career because their mindset isn’t there. It’s not an easy industry so if you want to “make it”, you need to make sure you set your mind right. Success is 80% mindset, 20% talent!! The more you get to know people in the industry, the more you’ll realize how true this statement is. It still blows my mind!!
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Embrace your imperfections and build your brand around them because that’s what makes you unique. A lot of the time, we want to be perfect because we are conditioned to want that. But really, perfect is boring af! What makes you unique is all the things that bother you because you see them as imperfections. So learn to embrace them and watch people gravitate to you and your craft.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
“Last Chance” is my most meaningful song because it’s the first song that I felt represented me and what I truly wanted to sound like. At the beginning of my career, I didn’t know which direction to go with my sound so I experimented a lot. My song “Last Chance” is the first song I felt was really “me”. I also really love the message. It’s a song about being sick and tired and kicking anxiety to the curb.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
My favorite song to play is Last Chance. I love the groove, the muted guitar in the beginning and like I mentioned above, it’s the first song that it felt like MY sound so it holds a special place in my heart.
Always Go Home (my first single) is the one song that people gravitate to the most. Not sure if it’s the melody, the message or the groove but people seem to really like it!
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
I write my songs a few different ways but for the most part, it starts with a concept idea or a set of lyrics in my songwriting book. I write down what I came up with and I explain it to my songwriting partner who plays guitar and drums. He usually plays what comes to him and then I help him refine the chords (when needed) to the vibe that I really want. Depending on the song, sometimes, he’s bang on vibe wise and it even inspires the rest of the lyrics and the song. Other times, we have to work a bit harder at it and change it up. Once I have a decent idea of the chord progression and rhythm, I write the melody and refine the lyrics/finish writing them. Then we send everything over to my producer Scott and he starts working his magic! He’s a great guitar player and he always knows which sound will give my music the right floor for my style. I absolutely love working with him!
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I definitely like to get across a strong message of hope to empower people to live their dream life. I also know that sometimes music helps us process our emotions so some of my songs are not just about taking control of your life, working towards your best self and turning your dreams into reality. Some of them are just about a rough episode/moment in your life or some really strong emotions grabbing a hold of your entire being.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
Of course but I like to choose my battles. If it’s not about something that’s gonna make or break the song and it still allows me to stay true to myself and my sound, then I don’t make a big deal and move on. Most of the time, I try to be open minded because that’s how a lot of the magic happens.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I am playing at Molly Malone’s in Los Angeles on May 7th
My booking agency started booking shows across California early on into the summer. They also started booking a tour in July- August.
I’m currently doing radio promotion for my song “Addicted”, which will be followed by radio promotion for my cover of Like A Stone by Audioslave and the release of a brand new single which I’m working on right now with my producer!!
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