Updated: Sep 30, 2021
This week I had the pleasure of speaking to the vibrant soul that is Vicky Pasion. If you haven’t heard of her yet, you are sincerely missing out. Her music is raw and honest but empowering.
Vicky Pasion is a British, mixed-Asian recording artist who has captivated audiences on West End and international stages, including West End’s ‘The Lion King’ and FIFA’s 57th World Congress in Zurich Hallenstadion. She released her newest single HEAVY on 25th June.
“With my artistry, I want to look back as I continue to grow and be proud of myself for taking that moment to talk about something that really does matter.”
You are a very inspiring and interesting person! Artist, performer, activist, entrepreneur, you are bursting with creativity. How did you start your journey into music?
I’ve always been very musical. As I’m growing, I’m recognising that singing has always been a way to express myself and to connect with my emotions. I’m quite a quiet person in real life, but my voice is quite big. It’s a way for me to take up space and to just be myself. My mum recognised that and thankfully I got a scholarship to a theatre school. Theatre is really where my background is. I’ve been in several west end shows. I think it was when I was on stage with Thriller live and singing Michael Jackson songs. Just that connection with the audience. Normally you’re playing different characters and not really breaking that 4th wall, but with Michael Jackson, it was like a concert. I just loved that energy. Watching the audience just completely surrender to the music was amazing. I was going through quite a lot at that time; I was inspired to write my own music. I had my own story to tell. I thought if in some way I could connect with someone by being vulnerable and by being honest, that would be incredible. It started really innocently. I released a mixtape and thankfully audiences started to grow. I guess it started from there, really naturally. Almost journaling songwriting and putting it to beats and connecting with different producers.
“I’m just getting used to taking up space. My voice is quite big, so even just owning my voice and feeling empowered in my voice and feeling like it’s okay to share that.”
Everyone’s journey into music is so different, it’s all about the connection. The vulnerability. This brings me to my next question. You’ve mentioned before that the inspiration for HEAVY was the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in lockdown and explores racial inequality. Why was it important for you to write about?
Being a woman of colour, I already experience that racial undertone in different spaces. Especially last year when the BLM resurgence was sparking again. I was in L.A and the heaviness of the American murders that were happening. I just couldn’t ignore it. It wasn’t a record that was planned in any way; I felt I needed to express myself. I was a teacher for some time in a boys’ school, recognising and looking down the rabbit hole at the statistics. Seeing that young black boys had been the worst hit during the pandemic, especially those who are from backgrounds who aren’t as well, perhaps their families are single parents, financially have been hit. The lack of mental health support from people of colour and access to that. It was a lot to take in during that time. For me, it’s about remaining authentic and vulnerable. I don’t think it should just be this one-off thing and then forget about it. With my artistry, I want to look back as I continue to grow and be proud of myself for taking that moment to talk about something that really does matter. For me, it was about ongoing conversations. After releasing the record, we were thankfully commissioned a space for black men of multiple generations and creative spaces to have a moment, to be honest, and vulnerable about their experiences with education and mental health, their upbringing. Recognising with women especially, it comes a little bit more natural to sit down and have a chat and be honest about what we’re experiencing. But for black men, we recognise there’s not really that space to be vulnerable, so that was really interesting and I hope we can continue to create those spaces for men and women.
“At the very very beginning of my music career, I was so desperate to get out there and very naïve and very vulnerable. When you’re sharing your heart and your soul and you’re just being honest, you’re in a very vulnerable position.”
In the last two years, there has been so much social change, so much learning, especially for me as a white person. Learning has been really important. A lot of things have shocked me because you don’t know these things until you go out and properly look at them. Listening to HEAVY, I can hear all the things you’ve talked about, the heaviness, the injustice, the inequality. Also, relating to the project you commissioned, it links back to toxic masculinity as well. Women talk more about their feelings, it’s almost expected, a stereotype of women being emotional and for men, it’s harder, and there’s even more intersectionality with that for black men. How did you want the listener to feel listening to HEAVY?
Heavy! Mostly to listen, to hold space. It was me acknowledging my own ignorance. Like you said, if you don’t go out and openly and actively search for those statistics or even have those conversations, it doesn’t really cross your path. It was me taking a moment to slow down and to listen and to openly apologise for not being sensitive to the weight of injustice and heaviness that black boys in particular have had to carry. Me accepting my part in this and saying sorry, but lifting up towards the end. Moving forward, how can we celebrate your voices? How can we encourage everyone to lift their heads up? Globally now we can’t ignore this conversation. A lot of the conversations towards climate change and racism are heavy, it’s true, and it’s heavy. In our day to day, how can we incorporate these conversations in a more hopeful way?
It’s about making space and knowing when to step back. When listening to your song you can hear all these undertones, the heaviness. The song itself is a banger, but the lyrical content makes it a think piece. It is important to give black people space, but also room to celebrate them too. It’s about making more safe spaces which is exactly what you’re doing with Gifted, by Nature! It links quite well with Cactus City Studio too. We want to make safe spaces for women and gender minorities, but for everyone who doesn’t feel safe in music and studio spaces. Similarly, with our spaces, it’s about safety and giving people spaces to heal too.
I love that. Thank you for your work. I think it’s so important, especially what you’ve said about safe recording studios. At the very very beginning of my music career, I was so desperate to get out there and very naïve and very vulnerable. When you’re sharing your heart and your soul and you’re just being honest, you’re in a very vulnerable position. I was so naive going into different spaces. I’ve had really great experiences who are wiser and more mature and experienced in handling an artist and having them open up. I’ve also been in quite dangerous situations where thankfully nothing has happened, but emotionally I’ve left feeling uncomfortable and scared. Simply because a recording studio is quite a spiritual space for me, you’re very open, you’re vulnerable to what you’re sharing.
In your interview with Mission Statement Magazine, you mentioned that you’re now working with young black female producers to work towards empowering each other. How does working with producers who are female change your creative journey?
It’s been fundamental to my creative process. I speak in quite flowery language, so even just another woman understanding, without me having to over-explain myself. Likkle Jay is the black female producer I have been working with, she’s just so fresh. She definitely gets me. We have similar musical influences, R&B, Gospel, Hip hop. She’s been amazing in understanding without me having to overcomplicate anything. That feminine energy and this stage in my career has been amazing. I’m just getting used to taking up space. My voice is quite big, so even just owning my voice and feeling empowered in my voice and feeling like it’s okay to share that. I’m used to singing on stage where actually the bigger the voice doesn’t actually matter, it’s about projecting and telling your story. Whereas in a studio it’s more of a closed space, I feel a lot more exposed. In those intimate spaces, I feel that everyone is looking at me. I can see everyone’s eyeballs. Whereas on a bigger stage I can’t see anything, I’m just in my own world. Working with women, especially in the studio, has been such a big part of me owning that space, feeling empowered, having the conversations that come up. Not feeling that I’ll be judged or playing up to masculine energy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been creating with more men in my new season, which is another part of me evolving as an artist, playing with that sensual energy, but always feeling safe. I have someone in my team with me to check-in and make sure I’m okay. The more that happens, the more confidence I get to quickly say I feel a certain way and act on that.
Why do you think it is important to work with female producers?
The more women, the better that we can empower and lift up in this space! I don’t think there’s enough of us to have those opportunities, so if we can gather together and empower each other, that’s amazing. So often there’s a narrative of us being in competition with each other or not having enough seats at the table. I do understand that there are limited opportunities. But why don’t we just build a bigger table and get more chairs? It’s been challenging for me to get into the music industry, the transition from theatre into this space. If I can hold the door open for other people to come in, that’s great.
“Activism is using your skills, your time, your privilege, your money, whatever you do have, recognising what you have first. What am I amazing at? What am I passionate about? It’s all within you.”
I saw you’re also in the Women In CTRL community, which is amazing! What do you want to see change in the music industry for women?
Exactly what you’re doing, what I’m doing, building safer spaces for us to have these conversations and to normalise these conversations. Equip each other to know when we’re not safe or when we’re feeling uncomfortable and knowing what to do in those situations. To not be afraid. I think for a little while I was scared to reach out to other producers, to work with men. I was scared and acting from this fearful place, which then doesn’t help my creativity. It’s about creating safer spaces and having these conversations and the room for no judgement. Empowering us all to be in collaboration, not competition.
“Take the time to understand yourself and what you want to say with your music. Take your time with collaboration and connections you’re making, there’s no rush. Be patient with the journey.”
You founded the production house Gifted, by Nature, which is a community grounded in healing, self-love, creativity and consciousness. Having those real and hard conversations but being supported by love and healing. What tips do you have for musicians who want to get involved in activism?
Activism is using your skills, your time, your privilege, your money, whatever you do have, recognising what you have first. What am I amazing at? What am I passionate about? It’s all within you. What is important to you, your community, your family? Think about your story. What is something you feel is important to hold space for? Then be brave. Start having those conversations very gently. You don’t have to hold a sign and run into the middle of the road and start protesting; it doesn’t have to be that huge. It can be holding space for those conversations. Naturally, it will grow, and you’ll feel more confident talking about it on socials and your own setting, maybe your art. Check-in on yourself. What gifts do you have that come naturally to you? What conversation do you want to hold space for?
Using your platform for the greater good, doing what you should do! Give everyone a voice, let everyone be heard. What advice would you give to women starting in the music industry?
You’re in for a ride. For me, the lesson that I’m still learning is that it’s going to take time. For women, we have this biological clock within us, we’re literally every month reminded of time. You want to be in the music industry, now you’re in. The decision is the first step. Once you’ve made that decision, trust that you’ve got all the time. There’s no pressure or rush for you to release anything. Take the time to understand yourself and what you want to say with your music. Take your time with collaboration and connections you’re making, there’s no rush. Be patient with the journey. Everything will fall into place when that’s right. So often we’re comparing ourselves to other people with social media. We can get carried thinking we’re not doing enough or we need to be doing more. It’s coming back to the moment and thinking I’m in it for the long haul. I’ve got loads of time. Then your art feels more natural and easy flowing. That’s the lesson that I’m beginning to learn, having patience.
Not rushing it is fighting all of your natural instincts, especially for women, as the media makes us believe we have an expiry date. You can’t rush perfection!
What can we expect from you next?
So much! I’m working on my next single called Let Go. It was one of the tracks on my mixtape and I feel that it still resonates. I’m reworking it at the moment. It’s introducing the tone and sound I’m playing with for my EP, which is coming soon. I’m taking my time with it, making sure it feels right. My first EP was like having a baby. It needs to come out right now, whereas with this one I’m in the season of being more gentle on myself and allowing it to ripen in its own sweet time. It’s a more intimate R&B. I’m looking forward to doing more visuals. It’s so fun, I want to do more!
You can watch Vicky live on Saturday 21st August at Omnibus Theatre in Clapham as part of Juice’s takeover. Grab tickets here.
Listen to HEAVY here:
Gifted, by Nature’s Heavy Circle: