Vanessa Elisha has compared herself to Liz Lemon but her vocal stylings are more reminiscent of 90's R&B with a modern kick. Her latest single "Girls," produced by Dave Luxe, is a far cry from the typical fronts R&B artists try to put forward of being a bad bitch. That isn't who she is and she's not going to conform to the norm. "I'm a good girl and you know it," she sings in the song's opener, "not the type to go unnoticed." We've definitely taken notice of the Australian vocalist. We caught up with Vanessa during her latest visit to Los Angeles to talk "Girls," studio collaborations, streetwear and what to expect from her upcoming EP.
How did "Girls" come together? What was it inspired by?
I think the idea came about when I was out one night clubbing for someone’s birthday. I’m generally a bit of a hermit, so I feel very out of place in that environment. Everyone around me seemed to be having the best time, and I was looking at the time wondering when I could go home. I must have written a note about being “not your typical girl” in my phone and written about it the next day.
You grew up listening to a lot of 90's R&B. Who are a few of the artists you listen to that might be considered more under-the-radar?
From the 90's Kut Klose, SWV, Sista & Teedra Moses are some of my favorites. Right now though there are so many up-and-coming vocalists that I love; Rochelle Jordan, Wolfie, Rob Law, Jordan Rakei, Appleby, Maribelle, Kucka just to name a few.
You originally recorded music in a studio before bringing it to a live stage. How was that transition from going to making music in a protected space to bringing it out into the open?
It was a massive transition for me personally. One, because I had massive stage fright and two because I didn’t realize how different the world of recording was, to the world of performing. The first few shows were daunting, but now I think its the most fun and exciting thing that I do, I can’t get enough of it.
You've shared the studio with an impressive array of producers – JMSN, Paces, and Golden Features to name a few. What have been some of the lessons you've learned during your collaborations?
I think the biggest lesson is that everyone has a different process, so you have to find common ground with whoever you're working with in the session. Sometimes you click and sometimes you don’t, it's just a matter of your sounds and personalities melding.
CVIRO, who you performed with on "Latency," is your real-life brother. How does that change the dynamic? Have you always been producing music together or it is a more recent thing?
We’ve been making songs since we were little. "Latency" is the definitely the first proper collaboration we did though. I think he is the easiest person to work with because we have this weird understanding of what we want without having to talk about it. We’ve always worked off each other’s ideas really well; I guess that comes from knowing each other your whole lives.
What are some of the struggles you've had to overcome as an indie artist?
I think the biggest struggle is just doing everything yourself, from writing, recording, to mixing, to styling, artwork concepts, to putting my whole live show together - everything I’ve done has been pretty much on my own. Sometimes that can be really mentally draining.
Just to bounce off from music for a second, you typically rock a cool streetstyle aesthetic. Where do you find your fashion?
I find most of my fashion online, clothing stores out here don’t always have the kind of clothes that I wear. I love streetwear brands, Effect Mode Clothing and HlzBlz are my favourites right now. I like to play between really comfortable, sexy and always try to keep it classy.
Despite still being an emerging artist, you've already accumulated some dedicated fans. What's the coolest thing someone has said or done with your music?
I love to see people doing choreography to my music, it always trips me out. But the coolest thing would definitely be the odd message I get here and there from people saying that my music helped them get through a tough time, nothing will ever be any cooler than that.
I've read you start your music with a beat and go from there but what usually influences your lyrics? Do you have any favorite songwriters or perhaps poets?
I think more than anything my mood influences me. If I am feeling happy I want to hear a beat that makes me feel happy and the words and melodies pour out from there.
Your previous EP, Midnight Swim, was largely built around the idea of water. Is there a similar common thread in your upcoming EP or will it be a departure? What can we expect?
It’s definitely a departure. I would say there is a theme to the EP reflected in the title, but it’s not as literal this time around. You can expect a juxtaposition of lightness and darkness in the music. Each song evokes a different feeling.
You've recorded in Australia and Los Angeles. Is there a different vibe to each city?
There is this amazing energy in Los Angeles, I love that everyone out there is working on something, you go to cafes or diners and people have their laptops open, writing scripts or making music with headphones on. That energy really inspires you to work hard. Recording itself is pretty similar, but there’s definitely something in the air in L.A.