For singer-songwriter, actress, and filmmaker Victoria Blade, home is less of a place than a state of mind.
Michigan-born, Blade has since called Detroit, Chicago, Brooklyn, and – finally – Atlanta home. Before you start calculating how much time and energy it would take to simply move from city to city, let me add another daunting task to the list: on top of all of her own creative endeavors, she’s also the co-founder of independent record label, Already Dead Tapes with her husband, Joshua Tabbia.
Her latest release, the warm, deeply intimate debut LP, Lo-Fi Love Songs, is more of a look into Blade’s personal journal than a generic singer-songwriter record. Written and recorded alone with the use of a Tascam 4-track, Lo-Fi Love Songs details the lives of Blade and her husband over the last seven years, at times chronicling their adventures together before diving inward, examining the ongoing changes – and challenges – of the life of a creative nomad. Set to a delicately precise sonic backdrop that blends folk with the sweet sensibility of indie pop, Blade is equal parts studied and effortless, good-natured and introspective, and always – always – carefree in her delivery.
In the midst of days on set, in studio, and on the road, I caught up with Blade to talk all things moving, music, and the simple joys of cheap champagne and hot jazz.
AF: Let’s start from the beginning! When did your musical journey start? Was it always a part of your life, or was it something you grew into?
VB: I’ve been singing forever. I remember discovering a stack of Jackson 5 45s in the garage as an eight-year-old and I was done for. When I was 10, I auditioned for the musical Annie and got the lead role, even though I forgot the lyrics at my audition. I continued to do musical theatre for years. In college, I started songwriting with my soon-to-be husband and composing songs for original plays. I started to realize I had a gift for combining lyrics and melodies in a way that helped make sense out of life. In Chicago, I fell in with a group of songwriters at our local church. It was an incredibly supportive community with lots of creative freedom. I was encouraged to be myself and write whatever I wanted. My songwriting exploded and became a constant source of inspiration in my daily life.
AF: Who do you consider your greatest inspirations?
VB: Otis Redding, Charles Bradley, Elvis Presley. I love their soul and raw vocals. Right now I am really inspired by The Garden and Shabazz Palaces. I’ve always loved Ben Kweller. Also, my husband, Josh Tabbia, is a total badass because he’s a doer and not a talker, writes beautiful music and built Already Dead Tapes from the ground up.
AF: You recently released a pair of new singles: “I Don’t Wanna Worry” and “Moving Song.” What inspired the songs?
VB: Growing up, I was surrounded by a lot of over-thinkers and couch philosophers. “I Don’t Wanna Worry” is a rejection of that way of life. It’s just me processing some bad habits from my youth. My husband is the exact opposite kind of person. He doesn’t overanalyze things. He just works really hard on what’s important to him. And we have a lot of fun!
“Moving Song” is about the pleasure and pain of leaving what you love to discover something new. I used to crave a permanent home. A city I could live in forever. But it hasn’t panned out that way. I’ve moved from Detroit to Chicago to Brooklyn and now Atlanta. I love discovering new cities and tend to get bored once a city is too familiar.
AF: What drew you to Atlanta? Do you think you’ve found a home base? How does the scene differ from other cities?
VB: I’ve learned to embrace change and almost expect it these days. Atlanta was a total surprise. We were living in Brooklyn and ready to move on. NYC is an incredible place but it takes a toll. I’m an actor and started doing research on the film/TV industry in Atlanta. I talked to some actors in Atlanta and couldn’t believe the amount of opportunities here. We decided to dive in and try it. It’s been exhilarating and fun. Wherever I am is home base. It’s never my goal to move. As a couple, we are creative nomads. We move wherever is going to nourish us as artists the most. And right now, that is definitely Atlanta! Atlanta feels like a small town compared to NYC and Chicago. But that’s not a bad thing. I’m not an expert on the local music scene yet – that’s going to take some time. There’s a lot less of everything here, which is refreshing.
AF: What’s your writing process like? Do you typically write alone, or is it more collaborative?
VB: It just depends on the project. Everything on Lo-fi Love Songs is super intimate and simple and written by just little ol’ me. I’ve collaborated a lot over the years and I love that way of creating just as much as writing alone.
AF: Your debut record, Lo-Fi Love Songs, released on May 31st. What message do you hope to share with your listeners? Why do you think it’s so important for them to hear, feel, and connect with that?
VB: My main goal is to reach people’s hearts. To offer hope, encouragement, and love. That is the motivation behind everything I do as an artist. There’s so much pain and suffering out there. My desire is to uplift and empower others. Life is messy and these songs help make a little sense out of the chaos. When we tune into our heart, we can live with more clarity and authenticity.
AF: What inspired you to write this new record? What do you consider to be the most exciting part of recording it, and what was the most challenging?
VB: The album was inspired by my husband’s and my creative journey as wayfaring artists. The tracks were selected from the many songs I’ve written over the years telling our story. I wanted the recording quality to match the intimate atmosphere of the music. The most exciting part of recording was capturing the warm, lo-fi sound I was going for. This was also the most challenging part as I had to learn to slowly capture each song on a Tascam 4-track that I had never used before. It was a delicate and technical process that I got the hang of eventually.
AF: You’re an actress, producer, and singer-songwriter. What drives you to create? Do you find one of these mediums more authentic or expressive to you, or do you find that they all offer a way for you to express yourself at different times and in different ways?
VB: Songwriting in some ways feels like the easiest and most immediate way to express myself creatively. Acting and filmmaking require so many other steps and collaborators before you can finish or share anything. It can be challenging. So songwriting has been a creative life-saver for me over the years.
AF: You’ve been in Atlanta for just over a year now; what’s your favorite aspect of the Atlanta music scene?
VB: Everything in Atlanta feels so accessible. It feels like an open door. There are a lot of great people here who are doing things out of sheer passion and that’s exciting.
AF: Favorite place for a good show and a drink?
VB: I really like The Earl. But there are so many great venues in Atlanta it’s hard to choose. One of my favorite places in the world for live music is The Green Mill in Chicago where the jazz is hot and the champagne is only $6!
AF: Last one! What’s next for Victoria Blade?
VB: I have a music video for “Moving Song” that will release this summer and I’m looking forward to planning a tour for later this year! Acting wise, I have roles on a few upcoming HBO shows. I’m also shooting a top-secret project with Janelle Monae next month.
Keep track of Victoria and her travels on Facebook, and stream Lo-Fi Love Songs on Spotify this Friday.