Alternative pop singer-songwriter Victoria Reed’s new album Aquamadre, the long-awaited follow-up to her debut record Chariot is out on April 24th via Fisica Moderna Records/ AWAL. Where her 2016 debut drew inspiration from the Tarot, ‘Aquamadre’ is an astrologically-charged reflection on the sign of Aquarius.
There is an “it” factor that conjures shades of Fiona Apple and Cat Power, Victoria Reed displays it with her ethereal vocals and enchanting musical presentation. As a listener to a diverse array of artists that include PJ Harvey and Dirty Projectors, Victoria Reed also keeps musical lineage in her family as her father is the renowned longtime Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band saxophonist Alto Reed and her husband is the well respected exploratory pianist/composer Erik Deutsch.
With the events of recent weeks, Reed realizes that despite not being able to follow the customary record, release record and tour cycle many artists are used to, Aquamadre might very well serve a purpose during crisis times.
“My songs are deeply personal, and a big part of what motivates me to make my music is simply the emotional catharsis I get out of it, but the other half of what it’s all about for me is about sharing them with the world in hopes that it can be healing to others in some way. So I’m really just grateful to have something to offer- even if that means just a momentary distraction from it all,” says Reed.
Largely recorded from her home studio in Mexico City, where the Brooklynite-by-way of-Detroit recently relocated, Aquamadre is a ten-track exploration of pain and finding the salve for it amidst the chaos. Reed enlisted Autre Ne Veut to produce the album, and Deutsch to craft the haunting soundscape, which stretches from sparsely instrumented meditations on healing (“Heal Your Pain”, “I Will”) to victorious emotional celebrations of calm (“Life 2 Be Adored”).
Glide is proud to premiere the eclectic and inviting “Same Way” (below) off Aquamadre, as well as having an insightful interview with Reed on her musical inspirations, motivations, and creative secrets..
Well, it would be weird without addressing our current musical state and to ask both how are you dealing and has these events recently brought upon any newfound creativity for you?
It’s definitely an interesting time to be putting out a record. All of the show cancellations have obviously been a huge disappointment and a really hard hit for a lot of musicians. I’m certainly going to have to be a lot more creative about how I promote this record! And yet it’s hard to get too down about it when you consider how difficult this time is for so many other millions of people, in even more dire ways.
The tone in the U.S. really shifted around things a day or so before my first single release- which at first felt like really awful timing, but the more I considered it, the more I began to see the ways in which it’s actually a really special and important time to be putting out music. You see all of these heartbreakingly beautiful videos of Italians signing from their balconies, and it’s pretty clear that in times like these, people need music more than ever! My songs are deeply personal, and a big part of what motivates me to make my music is simply the emotional catharsis I get out of it, but the other half of what it’s all about for me is about sharing them with the world in hopes that it can be healing to others in some way. So I’m really just grateful to have something to offer- even if that means just a momentary distraction from it all.
I’m also very fortunate to have a home studio in my apartment, great for a quarantine. I’ve already been writing a ton, and brainstorming with my husband about all the different projects we can finally get around to starting that we just haven’t had the time for! A children’s album maybe? And yet, I’m also really hesitant to buy too much into the idea that we should all use this time to be even more productive. If there are any collective lessons to be learned or gifts hidden in this time of crisis– which I wholeheartedly believe that there are– it seems that one of them is actually just taking a breath from the constant emphasis on productivity in modern life. So I’m giving myself permission to do nothing at all as well!
The track “Same Way” that we are premiering is about what we’re meant to embrace in order to feel fulfilled and fully realized in accordance and the positive transformation that can be supported by seeing yourself through the eyes of another person. How has seeing yourself as a live performer through the eyes of someone else helped your stage presence and does this song take on any new significance from the events of the past month?
So much of this album is inspired by me diving into a significant astrological point in my natal chart known as the lunar nodes. They point to our destiny in this lifetime, what we’re meant to embrace and also what we’re meant to release. For me, overly simplified, that’s a journey from the praise motivated and attention driven sign of Leo, to the sign of Aquarius- in which things are less personal, more about the collective and collaborative side of things- favoring what makes you unique over what makes you special. As an artist and a performer, that definitely translates as a fine line to walk. Seeing yourself through the eyes of the right person can really support that kind of journey while being overly dependent upon it can also be problematic.
But part of the reason I became so obsessed with this aspect in the first place was because it rang so true for me! I find performing on stage to be so much more fulfilling when I focus less on how I’m being perceived and more on the art itself, on the musicians I’m playing with, being in service to the experience and the general energy we’re all conjuring up together. When it’s all about me it ends up feeling a little bit empty and weird. Though I will say that putting music out in this crazy time is also encouraging me to not overthink it too much. Releasing and promoting an album requires a lot of asking people to sort of ‘look at me’ and I honestly felt a bit ethically conflicted about moving forward with it for that reason. But I received such heartwarming feedback with that first single release, people reaching out to say how much just that one song meant to them in this turbulent time. It really reminded me to get out of my head, and of why I’m doing this in the first place! Making that kind of connection is ultimately what it’s all about.
How is Aquamadre a musical leap forward from Chariot from an instrumental and musical sense? When and how did the songs come together?
I’m really proud of Chariot and it will always hold a special place in my heart, but I was also so green in the whole recording process at the time, that it definitely left me wondering how I could get even closer to making the record that’s in my mind’s eye the next time around. I think any seasoned artist will tell you that it’s an impossible chase, but Aquamadre definitely feels that much closer in a really major way — working with Autre Ne Veut, who produced the record, really helped me to hone in on a sound that felt both totally exciting and totally true. He’s kind of this avant-garde experimental guy, but also has a deep appreciation and knowledge of pop music. The combination of those sensibilities really lent itself to the type of record I was hoping to make.
I wrote all of the songs as I usually do, whenever inspiration strikes, usually late at night at the piano, cry-singing my way into whatever chord structure suddenly begins to feel right, or like ‘a thing’. And we recorded it almost entirely at home, with my husband, Erik Deutsch at our side. Autre made sure to begin the production of each song on any instrument but the piano, just to get us out of our comfort zones and there’s a really sweet kind of trust and mutual respect that exists between the three of us that made for a really fun, and rewarding recording process. We were all very much on the same wavelength throughout the process on a very psychic level. I could go to reference Annie Lennox and before I could even get the words out, Autre would already have a song of hers pulled up.
You live in Mexico City and have a home studio there, what has that area been like to you as a musician?
Working in a home studio for the first time allowed me to grow, learn and stretch out on the job in really amazing ways. There’s so much pressure that comes along with recording in a studio, that in the past, often left me feeling a bit hurried and wishing that I had more time just to try things, experiment, and work some stuff out— without the constraints of time and budget staring me down. But with this project, if we went to work on things and it didn’t feel totally right, we could just go for a walk, or take a nap and try again later. For me, that was a game-changer!
Your husband Erik Deutsch surely knows his way around the keyboard, what do you feel is his biggest contribution to the new album and what have you most learned from his talent?
He is totally brilliant! I’ll sometimes hear him playing piano around the house and be suddenly struck by how much I take for granted that I get to enjoy such genius artistry on such a casual basis! But he’s also totally gifted as an accompanying player, and has a natural talent for tuning into the needs of the project at hand. He contributed so much to this record, he’s all over it, so it’s really difficult to pick just one thing. He’s the kind of guy that’s always on the move, not at all the type to just sort of lounge about the studio. So Autre and I would sort of just be doing our thing and then call him in throughout the day. He’d come into the studio and at the drop of the hat, throw down the tastiest overdubs in between whatever other tasks he was working on at the moment. It’s so effortless for him, it’s actually insane.
And making music together is an absolute gift, but it also brings its own set of challenges- which translates to us having a lot to learn from each other. One thing he’s always trying to sell me on is the value of simply trying things in the studio. I have very immediate and visceral reactions to things, which can be helpful, but it also makes it hard for me to sometimes just let something live before scrapping it based on my initial reaction. So he’s definitely teaching me how to loosen up more and see the value in letting things breathe a bit before making a call one way or the other. We actually joked that Autre was like our musical couples counselor while making this album. We both really trust his taste, so in any given situation he would either say, to me, “just let him try” or to Erik, “yeah, that’s not quite it” and we would both happily defer to him. It made things a lot less personal which is helpful when collaborating as a married couple!
If you can curate your own music festival who would you include?
PJ Harvey, Kate Bush, Spice Girls and Sade would headline. And then I’d include a mix of some current favorite artists; Shura, Nilufer Yanya, Kelsey Lu, Tizrah, King Princess, Vagabon, Hannah Cohen, Gold Child, Rae Isla, Mmeadows, Dori Freeman, Katie Jacoby, Leslie Mendelson
Growing up your dad (Alto Reed) was the saxophone player for and (still is) for Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band- was there ever a point when watching him perform or going to Seger shows that you realized this is something you wanted to pursue?
Growing up around that whole scene definitely played a huge part in my interest in pursuing a life as a musician. They had taken a break from touring right before I was born, so I didn’t really see it in full action until the age of six, but I will never forget those first shows. It was completely exhilarating. What influenced me the most though was the emphasis both of my parents would place on Seger’s songwriting. They got me thinking about songwriting as an art form and a form of emotional expression from such a young age that it’s hard for me to remember a time when I wasn’t writing songs in some capacity.
Are there any live shows in particular (your dad’s shows or otherwise) that had a significant impact on you as an artist?
Every Seger show I’ve ever attended has moved me to my core in some kind of way. I saw PJ Harvey live for the first time a few years back and she was so good I honestly felt like I couldn’t breathe. My first Spice Girls concert in the ’90s had me in full on fits of hysteria. There was a period of time in college where I was going to shows all the time on my own that felt especially influential. It was during those early Pitchfork glory days- Beach House circa ‘Teen Dream’, Grizzly Bear circa ‘Veckatimest’, Dirty Projectors circa “Bitte Orca”. That era of shows really opened up my musical palette in exciting ways.