Virginia is a singer, DJ and producer from Munich, with inimitable skills in each one of those categories. She has been a Panorama Bar resident since 2012, but her fascinating career actually took flight in the late 1990s thanks to some early hit singles.
In 2008 she had a crossover electro-pop project, an LP called Twisted Mind which found its way into film and TV play. She began touring with a live five piece band. Production-wise, she has had collaborations with Steve Bug, Dexter and Steffi, with the latter’s debut album featuring two tracks helmed by Virginia’s vocals (“Yours” and “You Own My Mind.”)
Virginia went on to release her first solo work on Ostgut Ton in 2013 titled Loch & Hill, followed by My Fantasy in 2015. But it was with the release of her vocally driven album Fierce for the Night on Ostgut Ton last year with tracks like the club favorite “Funkert” that you could really see her star shine.
Photos by Stephan Redel.
When reading up on your bio I was so overwhelmed by just how much you had done ever since the ’90s! So you started out as a singer, began DJing and then combined those two talents along with production. One of the challenges I often hear about from singers who also write their own music is that they get overshadowed by a bigger name producer who will “sell” the song under his name and never really give the singer the full credit.
Unfortunately, history shows that this has happened way too often. Personally I think that until a certain point in a career it is a give and take. If the producer’s profile is big, the singer will benefit from that and will gain more attention. You need to find out for yourself though when the time has come to step up and have your name featured and your work appreciated as much as the producer’s. In my experience, it can be a bit of a hustle and sometimes an awkward process to fight for your credits, as giving them away does not come easy for everyone. As a singer and a producer, knowing both sides, I don’t understand why some producers are so ignorant to think some tracks are their creation alone.
Once I remember being asked: “Hey Virginia, do have some random vocals on your computer?” I mean, who asks that?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had help from my sister who was working in music publishing for many years. She took good care of my copyrights and royalty statements. I learned a lot from her.
There are also producers that never really worked with a real singer before. They are only used to samples or grabbing their vocals from sound libraries. Of course, some of them don’t appreciate the value of a real fellow artist who puts in as much effort into the project as they do. They never had to pay and they never had to credit anyone before.
Once I remember being asked: “Hey Virginia, do have some random vocals on your computer?” I mean, who asks that? It’s not like I am sitting in my studio and recording random ooohs and aaahs so can I eventually can offer them to some electronic music producer.
Of course, another way to make sure you get your credit is to develop your production skills and produce your own music. Not only come up with an idea, but to also to finish your drafts.
I haven’t had a chance to really interview a lot of women producers that do collaborative work with each other, so reading about all the stuff you did with Steffi warms my heart.
There is definitely more music coming from the two of us together. Steffi just released her third studio album World Of The Waking State on Ostgut Ton, so I hope she will be free soon to team up once more for a collaboration.
In an interview in XLR8R you referred to a moment in time when a song you were in got featured on MTV and there was some mixed reaction. You said, “Everyone wants to be underground until they’re overground.” How true! Did you experience many instances of this phenomenon and conversely, have you actually met folks in this business who have turned down overground opportunities?
You win some, you lose some. There have been times where I’ve lost some of my underground-leaning followers, but have also had the chance to travel far and present my music to a wider audience all around the world. I learned a great deal from that time in my career. Dealing with new environments and crowds surely made me a better performer and DJ.
In terms of success, there is no hit recipe. You never really know if you just wrote a piece of music that will go through the roof. Steffi and I turned down an offer from a big, well-known electronic music label who wanted to license “Yours” back in 2011. The song had already been very successful and we thought even more attention would push both of us as artists into a more commercial direction in which we didn’t want to go.
Only play records that you like 100%. Anything else will make you lose your passion.
How much of your own music do you play and how often do you sing during your sets? I love it when a DJ can do that, it makes it so much more alive and interesting to watch over body convulsions and filter effects.
It’s funny, but most times I forget to play my own music. Sometimes friends or someone from the audience requests a track and that’s when I remember. If it suits my set, I’ll play it.
That said, I always remember to play “Yours,” where I sing live on top of the instrumental. I try never to overdo it with live vocals and to find a good balance. Some crowds like more vocals then others. That is something I always find out during my set. Which is why I try to keep it subtle – except for some moments where I really interact with the audience. A lot of people know by now that I add vocals to my sets, but every now and then I see some surprised faces when they realize it is really me singing live. I love seeing their reaction and their joy.
Tell us about your music and what you are currently working on. I love playing “Funkert” during my set. Can you talk us through some of your favorite songs?
Not sure if I am allowed to announce this yet, but I can say that I am about to finish a remix for one of Chicago’s finest. I am also working on sketches of new songs for a second Virginia album. Enough time has passed since Fierce For The Night for me to feel inspired again. I really enjoy being back in the studio and doing creative work.
Thinking back on playing live, it is a bit sad that we never performed “Subdued Colors.” It made sense not to do it with the set list for our tour last summer, but this song and its lyrics are so very important to me. As with all of my lyrics, I write about things that happen in my life at the moment. It helps me to overcome a difficult time or lets me capture moments I never want to forget. Writing lyrics is healing for me; it helps me grow and reflect. Which is why it’s really hard to say which are my favorite lyrics. I think it changes also with my mood.
And finally, what can you tell some of the up and coming producers right now who are seeking inspiration to continue making music in a media saturated environment?
The only advice I have is to always stay true to yourself, and don’t make any compromises to please someone else, as this will only make you unhappy on the long run. Produce music you love and feel – music from the heart. Only play records that you like 100%. In my experience, anything else will make you lose your passion in music and the listener will always get the feeling something is off. Work hard!