We would like to introduce you to the latest electro-swing sensation, Little Violet. Her debut single, ‘Don’t Stop’ is out on Cuckoo Records, 12 November 2012 and it’s already causing a stir, as is her infectious personality and vocal delivery. We caught up with the retro-voxed chanteuse to find out exactly who Little Violet is and what she’s all about…
the girls are: So, who is Little Violet?
Little Violet: I would describe myself as someone who lives for performing and composing. I can be quite shy and sensitive, so to get my feelings out through music is exhilarating. Composing is the catharsis that keeps me sane. I feel alive when I am performing. I love telling the audience my stories, and helping them to escape any problems they may have and just enjoy the moment. Nothing beats the feeling you get from performing live music.
tga: and what is your background?
LV: I come from a very musical family (often described in our area as Teesside’s very own Von Trapp family) and was brought up listening to Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and watching Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe movies. My dad was always writing songs; playing guitar and piano, and our home was filled from top to bottom with records, tapes and CD’s of all genres from Alice Cooper to The Andrew Sisters. My mum says I started songwriting from the age of 2.
tga: how would you describe your music?
LV: Our music is fresh, exciting, fun and tasteful; while paying the greatest respect to the authentic jazz swing era. This is our way of paying homage to the great kings and queens of jazz music and likewise of introducing new music lovers to a genre, which will never go out of style!
tga: Electro swing is pretty popular at the moment – why do you think that is?
LV: Because it’s awesome – you can’t not bounce to it. It creeps inside your soul and wakes up your quirky side with a smile. Electro swing artists and DJ’s are showing the world that they can incorporate legendary artists such as Peggy Lee and Nancy Sinatra and make them exciting to the younger generation. They connect insanely catchy and teasing beats and samples with true jazz singers.
tga: Is there a lot of jazz technique involved? Or is it more of a pop vocal technique you employ?
LV: Jazz and pop vocals have always had a connection but some artists demonstrate this connection more than others. For me the main connection is improvisation – if you are writing a song no matter what style, you have to improvise until you come up with a melody or hook you are happy with. If I could improvise everyday I would never get it wrong! Scatting an improvisation on a jazz gig can be very different from ad–libbing at a pop gig, so I love to mix up the two techniques to create something new and spicy. Jazz melodies can be more experimental and use ‘tastier’ notes, which may not always be appreciated by the ‘pop’ listener/singers ear. However, if you can find those juicy notes, which both jazz and pop lovers can enjoy you are definitely onto a winner. It’s all about learning from the great traditional artists such as Nancy Wilson, Nina Simone and adding a bit of a modern twist. I find rap artists very inspiring when they use an exciting rhythmic delivery, which I guess could be compared to a horn solo.
tga: To me, electro swing is a mixture of various genres – so I’m wondering how you bring those together to create something new? Or, do you not think about that?
LV: Music is a chameleon- it’s allowed to change colour and impersonate other animals from time to time before it can fill out it’s own skin and find a new name or style. I enjoy blurring the lines between genres, it keeps music exciting and edgy. It also introduces audiences to something new. Because I have such a massive love and respect for all kinds of music I think I now fuse them together without really thinking about it and just decide if it needs more soul, pop or jazz elements to the overall sound. It is important to remember who your audience are, though and know what is appropriate for that particular gig.
tga: The video to ‘Don’t Stop’ looks like it was a lot of fun to shoot – was it?
LV: Oh my gosh, yes it was amazing I loved it. It was all shot in one day so it was a little nuts trying to fit everything in but everyone was very lovely and professional. All the extras were friends of mine so it was so much fun on and off the camera. Plus I love playing dress up, so getting all-dowdy in the kitchen and mashing up vegetables with raw eggs was such a laugh.
tga: You had a gig at The Maven recently, where you shot the video – how did it go?
LV: I loved every second of it. My band were incredible. They produce such an authentic swing sound. The live clarinet, mixed with the gypsy guitar, jazz piano, upright bass and the drum brushes provided perfect accompaniment to my swinging vocal melodies. Along with our original set, we incorporated some covers including Peggy Lee’s: ‘Why Don’t You Do Right’ recently put back on the scene by Gramophondzie.
tga: Who are your musical influences?
LV: The queen of improvisation Ella Fitzgerald, song writer Hoagy Charmichael and of course, the legendary Stevie Wonder.
tga: What do you do to take a break from music?
LV: Listen to the hairdryer. Or hoover. White noise is the only sound that can make my brain rest and escape from new and old melodies and the lyrics constantly floating around my head. If I want to read I have to listen to classical music, if there are lyrics in a song I can’t help but listen to them and try to understand the story or meaning. I’ll listen to different styles of music depending on my mood.
‘Don’t Stop’ is released digitally on 12 November. Little Violet is definitely one to watch out for – we predict big things for this talented lady.