This week I had the pleasure of chatting with the winner of our July 9th edition of Bands & Bites, Philly- based singer/songwriter, Victoria Watts. This young talent has a lot of drive and a lot of soul. With catchy, rock- infused gems like “Waiting On the Sun” and “Builders Quit Faster,” there is not doubt that we will be hearing a lot more from Victoria Watts in the months to come.
ROP: Victoria, first off, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with Rock On Philly today! Let’s start with the very beginning. You’ve clearly been doing this for a long time. How did you get started with music?
Victoria: I grew up in a musical family so I’ve been surrounded by music for as long as I can remember. My dad was actually a professional drummer back in the 70s, and he tried to teach me drums when I was in grade school. Although the drums were technically my first instrument, I really didn’t fall in love with playing until I picked up a guitar around the age of 12. I started writing songs and picking up other instruments shortly after. I’ve been writing and performing music nonstop ever since.
ROP: When was that “A-HA!” moment for you when you realized you wanted to dedicate your life to a music career?
Victoria: I must have been about 14 when it really clicked that it was in me to do music as my craft and profession. I went to a concert to see a band I was into at the time, and there was this female singer/songwriter who opened for them that I had never heard of. Her name was Kendall Payne, and she changed my life. With just her voice and an acoustic guitar, she stole the show and silenced this crowd of people who didn’t even come to see her. I honestly couldn’t tell you much about the band I originally had gone to see, because I didn’t even stick around to watch much of their set. After Kendall Payne was done, I immediately went to the merch table where she was selling her CDs so I could talk with her. I’ve been a big fan of her ever since, and she inspired me to be a woman who can make an impact with just a song and my guitar.
ROP: That’s incredibly moving. It’s all about lighting that candle of inspiration for others and you’re definitely inspiring your listeners as well! Now onto Philly- focused stuff. Are you from the area originally? How do you like living here? Any favorite spots to hang?
Victoria: I’m actually originally from San Diego, California, and I lived there till I was 20 years old. I moved to Philly to play bass in a band and to finish my history degree at Eastern University since they offered me a very generous academic scholarship. I basically moved to Philly with my guitar and a bag of clothes, and I haven’t looked back! I miss California a lot and wish I could visit more, but I think Philly is an amazing city, and I wouldn’t trade my life here for anything!
ROP: Aside from finding inspiration from other artists’ music, where you do find inspiration?
Victoria: It can come from anything! Often, it’s just from experiences. I’ve found that creative types have to sort of be experience junkies to some extent. So much can be created just out of experiencing. I’m a firm believer that “input= output.” If you let your intellect, emotion, and body experience to the fullest extent, then you can create to your fullest extent. When I write songs, inspiration can come from a childhood memory, a broken heart, something I’ve read about…. anything!
ROP: As a career musician, what’s a typical day like for you?
Victoria: Since I’m a full time musician right now, I work mostly late nights, so I tend to sleep in till probably around 10am most days (with earlier mornings here and there). I spend a few hours doing administrative work for both my original music and for the cover band I’m in, Element K. Then I usually have a little time to practice whatever material I need to learn, and then I’m usually on the road for a gig. I get home anywhere from 2am-6am from gigs and then wake up and do it again the next day 🙂
ROP: Wow! That is dedicated! And that’s what it takes. Speaking of early mornings, your song, “Waiting On the Sun,” what inspired you to write that? Love that tune!
Victoria: Well, I’ve always been a night owl, and I have some insomniac tendencies, so I usually stay awake much later than those around me. This is the best time for me to write because there are no distractions. I remember being up late one night while I was attending The Contemporary Music Center, and I really wanted to write. But since it was late I couldn’t make a lot of noise, so I walked to the school’s laundry room where I’d be away from everything, sat on the dryer, and started writing. The melody for “Waiting on the Sun” was just sort of what came out. The lyrics came pretty quickly because I had recently been reading about King Solomon and had read some of his passages in the Old Testament (I’m such a nerd with reading and LOVE to read about anything and everything). I always thought he was an interesting Biblical figure because he was sort of melancholy (sort of like an artist type haha) and he had a sort of philosophical honesty that had intrigued me. So I based the song off of his musings in the early chapters of Ecclesiastes. He talks about how meaningless life can feel and how we waste time toiling over foolish things. I just thought it was refreshingly honest and felt inspired to write my own version of it. The idea of waiting on the sun isn’t about waiting for the sun to come out and brighten our day, but rather I wrote it as humans feeling like servants to the sun, how days just pass one after the other; therefore, we are all like servers just waiting on the sun hand and foot. It’s a little depressing, but it’s an honest emotion to express and the imagery that Solomon uses was so brilliant! I just couldn’t resist creating something like that.
ROP: Wow. Now I love the song even more! (Another reading/history buff here) Who are you listening to right now?
Victoria: Billie Holiday is a staple on my playlists. I’ve also really been enjoying Bombay Bicycle Club and Class Actress. My favorite jams right now though have been coming from a band called Lord Huron. I’ve been ridiculously overload with work lately, and I’ve been on the road a lot and not sleeping, so my stress level can sometimes get the best of me. I’ve found that Lord Huron has a strange ability to calm me. It has this very transcendent, almost spiritual quality. It’s like their music can get inside my head and turn off my panic switch. It’s wonderful, and I’ve really been digging their sound.
ROP: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Victoria: Still doing music! I’m fortunate enough to be a full time musician now, but it’s a tough job to maintain, so I hope to find creative ways to take my career to the next level and maybe (just maybe!) in 5 years I’ll be established enough so that it won’t be quite as precarious as it is now. I would love to be on a label that can help me get the resources I need to make the kind of music I’d like to make. And I love touring so having a way to continue with that would be amazing. But again, this is a tough business, so I want to try to stay open to the different possibilities and opportunities available to me, and not be too particular about what I think those should look like.
ROP: And I love asking artists about interesting/random, little reported on facts. What’s an interesting fact that most people don’t know about you?
Victoria: Hmm… well, I was a championship drag racer back in California. I guess that’s interesting? haha.
ROP: Very! Rock On! Thank you so much for interviewing with us!
Victoria: My pleasure!