Interview by Miriam Cadoni
Texan indie/roots rock singer-songwriter Vanessa Peters has been working and dividing herself between Austin, USA and Italy. Indeed, it’s in this country where her latest release “Modern Age” was recorded.
Introduced by the acclaimed single “Crazymakers”, her 11th album “Modern Age” out now via Idol Records, it proves to be one of her stronger releases ever. In order to know more about it, I have interviewed Vanessa herself. Enjoy!
Hi Vanessa, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine, how are you? And, how are these precarious days treating you?
Hi Miriam! We like to say in our house that things are “pandemic fine.” 🙂 Which is to say… nothing is back to normal of course, but things are going as well as can be expected!
Today, we are here to talk about your 11th album “Modern Age” released on 23rd April 2021 via Idol Records.
What can you tell me about its general production process? Actually, when did you start to compose material for this release?
We began recording demos for these songs in late 2019 with the intent of recording the full album in Texas in March 2020. Of course, those recording plans were obviously scrapped due to COVID.
And, we ended up finishing the record in Italy. We converted a friend’s farmhouse in the countryside into a recording studio and did the album there in August 2020.
The first single of “Modern Age” is “Crazymaker”. Why did you opt for this one? And, would you mind offering us some details about its lyrics?
We chose “Crazymaker” because it’s the most obviously catchy of the songs on the record. It’s radio-friendly and has a great chorus. Also, it was also a way to signal to radio and press and our long-time listeners that we were going in a different direction with this album. We wanted to make it clear from the outset that this wasn’t a folk/Americana record like my last one.
The song “Crazymaker” is about the kind of person who creates drama, who causes trouble, but manages to do it in a subtle way that ends up making *you* feel like you’re the crazy one. It’s about a toxic and addictive relationship that you know you should get out of, but you keep being attract to that person anyway, over and over again.
Then, we have the title track and “Valley of Ages”. Taking in consideration also the first single, in your opinion, which is the overall concept/idea that these three singles offer to the audience?
I think these three singles made it very clear that we were going for more indie-rock sound than my previous records. All of these songs have a bright, modern pop edge to them. Even “Valley”, which is kind of bluesy, has a modern feel to it.
Your new LP is “Modern Age” but To which modern age you refer to in the song?
The title has a few different meanings. On the most basic level, it just means the world we’re living in today — everything is hyper-modern, bright and shiny. It’s the ‘now,’ instead of the way things used to be. It’s just a way of saying “di questi tempi”.
But it’s also a bit ironic because while the record is more rock than many of my previous ones, it’s not necessarily modern in the truest sense. Most indie rock records these days feature keyboards and synths and electronic elements very heavily, whereas these songs are absolutely a throwback to the “the way it used to be” when rock was made with electric guitars. There’s a very 1990s (even in some cases 1970s or 1980s) sound to much of the album.
Both the three aforementioned singles have its own companion videoclip and the album was released during a pandemic too, how much challenging was? And, on what you had to compromise?
It was a huge challenge, and we had to compromise on nearly everything. We were supposed to go into a big studio with a producer and an engineer. Instead we ended up having to do DIY the whole project ourselves. We shot all of the videos ourselves — the only exception was “Modern Age”.
Actually, we worked with a video artist in France, but we did the whole thing via email. We set out to make one kind of record and we ended up making something else entirely. But that’s okay! You have to be flexible when you are making music.
If you would be able to compare “Modern Age” with 2018’s “Foxhole Prayers”, which are the main musical and lyrical elements that differ from each other?
Well, in “Foxhole Prayers” there was much more melancholy, with more ballads and acoustic instruments, and also had a strong socio-political thread running through it. Instead, “Modern Age” features way more electric guitar, lots of power chords and riffs, and is overall a more energetic record. I
love melancholy music as much as the next person — maybe more! But after such a heavy year, we decided to make a really fun record, because we felt like the world needed more energy and less sadness. We wanted to make an album that you could listen to in the car, with the windows down and the volume turned all the way up. A summer album. 🙂
You indeed hold two bases, one in Texas and one in Italy. How does this reflect in and play a role in your music?
Well, I always have a sense of belonging everywhere and nowhere, of being home and at the same time always missing home. I have lived this way for so long, nearly 20 years, that for me it’s fairly normal at this point. But I always hear it in my songs, because the theme of nostalgia is always very strong in my lyrics. In this album you can hear it especially in the song “Never Really Gone”.
Last year, in April, you released a full-length called “Mixtape” which is a collection of cover songs. How was this project born? What do those featured songs mean to you?
This was a project we had worked for many years, just one song at a time, whenever we had a break between other recording projects or between tours. There isn’t a thread, per se, that ties the songs together. Simply, it was a collection of songs that I’ve always loved and that I thought it would be fun to try and record. If I had all of the time and money in the world, I’d love to do another covers record — there are still so many songs that I’d like to try my hand at.
Despite this ongoing pandemic, which are your plans in the medium/long term in terms of promotion and/or releases?
We have been working hard on promoting the album online and doing live streams as well. We have a few shows in Texas in June. But, we are hoping to do some shows in Italy and the rest of Europe this summer and later this fall. It’s definitely a hard time to release a record, especially a rock record that I really want to tour with my full band.
So, Vanessa, we’re almost at the end. Please be free to say hi to your fans and your readers. Thank you so much for this interview.
Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to listen to the album and share it with your readers!