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Interview with Buzz Violet
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I started playing piano at the age of 5 and adored it. I continued playing throughout my childhood and eventually I started to take an interest in the idea of composition and writing songs. This was the moment I realized that music was all I wanted to do - I dreamt of writing albums and touring the world and collaborating with others. There were some artists that my parents introduced me to that inspired that lust - David Bowie, The Beatles, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Stevie Wonder to name a few and then some albums I discovered later like Everything Everything’s Man Alive and Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange that informed my approach to music making. I also had a songwriting epiphany after my best friend Laurie introduced me to Joni Mitchell’s Blue - I listened to it on full on a train to Edinburgh and felt as if my entire attitude to songwriting shifted. If I wasn’t making music I’d probably give filmmaking a go.... or poetry. Or maybe an artist? Or a novelist? Something creative haha. I have to be making things to feel happy.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I read a lot in my spare time which heavily influences my creativity. I’m currently reading Murakami’s South of the Border, West of the Sun! I also write a lot of poetry as a way to flex my lyrical muscle - I find that the more I write, the more I CAN write. I also love to go for long runs - after about 5km of running, I get the ‘runner’s high’ and feel euphoric and free. In those moments, I often come up with lyrical concepts and musical ideas. I often also find clarity in obstacles in my life that I’ve been struggling to overcome. Whether that’s through acceptance or actual practical problem solving that wasn’t clear to me before!
How long have you been making music?
Technically I’ve been making music since I was about 5 as that’s when I started playing piano - I would often make little tunes outside my piano lessons. Mostly terrible I believe. When I was about 12 I actually started writing songs. I was going through my emo phase at that point so the music was heavy and guitar led and had very sad depressing lyrics despite being a pretty happy child.
Where are you based and how has that influenced your music?
I’m based in Hertfordshire which fortunately is very close to London. I was lucky enough to go to a local school that had a great music department and so I met like minded individuals who also wanted to make music. Around that time I met my friend Laurie who went to another local school - he ended up dating one of my best friends who went to my school and we all became close friends and made music together. Soon after they began dating, Laurie and I formed our duo Petrie - we’ve released two full length albums to date and toured around the UK and Europe!!
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
As Buzz Violet I haven’t actually played any full shows yet but as Petrie one of my most memorable shows was probably in Hamburg. It was my first time in Germany and we were supporting Electric Guest on their 2019 Europe tour. As we walked onstage the room lit up and welcomed us so warmly despite only being the support act. The crowd danced and engaged for the entirety of the set and it felt so good to be so far from home yet so appreciated.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
As Petrie we played at the Village Underground (supporting Electric Guest at their London show) and it was amazing to play in such a huge space. Would love to play a headline show there one day. I’ll keep dreaming for now.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the line up?
Clairo, Owen Pallet, Father John Misty, ME
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Make the music that you love. Don’t focus on ANYTHING other than that to start with. You have years and years to hone your sound... then you can sell out. You’ll have real trouble trying to make the music you THINK you should make based on the Zeitgeist and what other people are doing.... just make what you REALLY want to make and work hard at it. Once you’ve made the music, wear exactly what your music sounds like to you. Or the complete opposite for juxtapositional purposes. To my younger self I would’ve given the above advice... I spent too long making music that I THOUGHT I should make as opposed to what I really wanted to make deep in my heart and soul.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
I have a song called ‘Redeem Myself’ that is yet to be released but it’s an apology to one of my first loves about being a lousy boyfriend and asking for forgiveness for the mistakes I made as a youngster in love.
What is your creative process for writing your music and what inspires you to write your music?
My creative process differs from song to song depending on the style and how I’m feeling. Before I start anything, I like to have a lyrical concept so I know the general meaning and feeling I’m trying to convey. I’ve always struggled to make music for the sake of it - music for me has to have a purpose and to paint a picture of what I’m trying to say. I’m inspired by so many things.... It could be a book, a person that means a lot to me, a song that I’m currently listening to, a photo, a poem, an obstacle I’m facing.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
All I want is for people to understand me. I want people to understand the feeling I’m trying to convey when they hear my lyrics for the first time. Although I would love to convey a message of positivity and hopefulness in all of my songs, sometimes that just isn’t how I feel and I think it’s important for me as an artist to always be honest and sing what I’m feeling in the moment!
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I’m about to release my debut single ‘Energy’ as Buzz Violet and that will be followed by the classic string of singles into a neat lil EP in early 2023. I’m already writing my debut LP which will hopefully also be coming out in 2023 if I get my skates on!! Laurie and I are also working on our third full length project for Petrie which is also coming soon. Expect bangers from all directions.
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