Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE – your source for the best NYC shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands.
Fresh New York City transplant and DIY queen Vanessa Silberman is playing at The Broadway this Thursday 11/21 with Nihiloceros, Top Nachos, and Sharkswimmer. We are psyched to premiere her colorful stop-motion music video for “Don’t,” off her new EP Brighter Than Bloom that recently recently released on her own label. We spoke with Vanessa about her heavy touring schedule, running her own label, and what keeps her motivated, organized, balanced…
AF: You recently relocated to NYC from LA. How do you like New York so far? What are the advantages to having home bases in cities like New York and LA?
VS: I love it! I love the music scene and people here. It’s thriving, inspiring and there are so many venues! I love LA too but it’s very different. I was in LA for so many years but was really just ready for growth and a life change, especially for when I’d be coming off tours. I just wanted a different place to come home to and always wanted to try New York. Over the last few years I had been spending quite a bit of time in NYC and on the East Coast working with a lot various artist/bands recording in-between touring and really enjoyed it!
Some of the biggest advantages I see to being based in ether of these cities is the multitude of opportunities and business for people. There’s a lot of music in both cities too. I think people can only go so far in smaller cities depending on their goals. NY has an amazing advantage of being so close to so many other states and cities, making it easier for an active artist to get out and play out of town shows but not have to drive far. You also don’t have to own a car – I’ve been walking a lot and making up for all the insane hours of siting in the car on tour! NYC has this magic too – I have no idea what it is but just walking through the city you feel it. Its a very exciting city that’s fast paced, which I love and matches what I am very used to.
On the other hand, I do love things about LA, Hollywood and the magic that is there. It’s just really easy to live there and the LA weather is so beautiful. There’s a lot of opportunity in the music business there especially for someone starting out, depending on your goals, or for an artist/band who has the pieces but is ready to go to the next level. Though, I do think it’s up to an individual to cultivate and create what they want wherever they are. With the internet you can do that from a lot of places these days.
AF: You do everything yourself and wear pretty much all the hats in the industry. How do you balance songwriting, leading a band, booking, touring, producing/engineering other musicians, running your own label, etc.?
VS: I definitely use a lot of to-do lists and plan a lot in advance. Even when it is a juggle it somehow just feels right doing everything. I love music so much and I love playing as well as helping other bands and artists. I also think in this day and age it’s imperative for artists to be multi faceted (like a brand) and be able to be visionaries, creating their career before bigger people get in the picture.
Some of it is learning how to balance as you go. I was on the road for over 3 1/2 years and I didn’t have a home because I was touring so much (plus recording, doing co-writing and my label work in between being on the road). I love it but also the more people involved the more moving pieces there are. I think it’s hard to stop once you have been out that long and balancing so much. I have had a couple moments where I have needed to just say to myself “Okay, I need a spiritual break to collect myself, to rejuvenate, take a minute off touring, rest, exercise, have quiet time, expand as a human, just experience life in one place so I can re-balance.” I put out a lot of energy and it’s hard for me personally to allow myself to stop but it is needed for expansion, assessment and growth as an artist so one can produce really good material. I think also working for other bands and artists gives me a very good perspective.
I do start to feel uneven or even stagnant if I’m just focusing on one of thing for too long. Like if I’m just playing shows, booking, promoting (basically running a tour) I feel so self-reliant and extremely fulfilled but I do miss creativity in recording so I like to record other artists in between playing or even mix and co-write from the road. Then on the other hand if I’m just in the studio I absolutely miss the road and feel like I need to get out into the world. Same thing too with business/admin work – too much of it and I feel very unbalanced, but as soon as I play I feel a lot better. I think I’m the happiest doing everything and plus I have multiple streams of income. I spent a couple years just mainly working like 12-14 hours in the studio and then going to shows late at night to get out. I just have a lot of energy! I love having a label too and it is really fulfilling to help build artists’ careers. Everyone I have ever been inspired by has wore a lot of hats in the music business and were also artists and/or producers. I feel a complete knowingness around what I am supposed to do on my life path. I think the only tough thing that truly has ever been hard to balance is a personal life. Relationships are challenging.
AF: How long have you been a touring musician and what have you seen change over the years? What’s your favorite part about touring and what keeps your motivated in general?
VS: I did my first tour in 2005 (when I played under my old band moniker Diamonds Under Fire). When I first started there were only yahoo maps and we had to print them out! There are so many more resources now, it’s incredible. Everything from venue resources to food, hotel and cheap gas station apps. You name it! I also feel like now more than ever you can really find so many different avenues of reaching people and getting people to shows. There are a lot of options, especially if you’re willing to put in the work. You can actually make a living DIY touring. You don’t need a label, agent or a lot of money to tour. I love waking up every single day and playing for people, traveling and connecting to music fans about life and learning about different places.
What keeps me motivated? Wanting to change the world in a positive way through music is an absolute motivation – it’s like a fire that won’t burn out. I just want to impact and motivate people through music, whether I’m playing live, putting out someone’s record or producing them. I want to get people excited and make them feel. I just want to make things happen and amplify everything.
More great shows this week:
11/17 AUDIOFEMME RELAUNCH PARTY! We’ll see you at the Rosewood Theater with sets from Zola Jesus, Mothica, Purple Pilgrims, Jess Williamson, tarot readings, a tattoo booth, and more! 21+ / $25 / 7:30pm RSVP HERE