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Article and interview by Allie Adams, photos by Second Mile Media
LAW Records newest signee, Vana Liya, is a bubbly, smiley young woman about five feet tall with a voice that melts and an aura that instantly draws you in. Vana got her start covering Pepper songs on her bathroom floor (because acoustics, duh) and began writing her own music, becoming a voice for mental health awareness after experiencing and conquering her own struggles. Her new single “Surface” was released on World Mental Health Day, October 7. Listen HERE.
We initially did an interview meant for one article, but after chatting for thirty minutes we decided to split them up. Find Part 1 here
(Continued from Part 1)
AA: Yeah, how did you get signed to LAW? Backstory!
VL: I was posting covers to Instagram back when they were 30 seconds or whatever and I was doing them on my bathroom floor, actually, because I didn’t have a mic and I liked the way it sounded. I got a little bit of a following from that and then I decided to put my big girl pants on and get a mic. I started making full-length covers in my room, my first one was “Too Much” by Pepper. Pepper reposted it on their page and so I messaged them like,
“Thank you so much for reposting, you guys are my favorite band. It means the world to me”
and Yesod actually replied saying:
“Hey, you know we have a record label, right? Do you write anything?”
“Hell yeah I know you have a record label!” [laughs]
So I forwarded him my stuff and he sent me to Florida to write a song with Greg [Shields, Kash’d Out]. Originally the deal was supposed to be for just a single, but after we wrote “Show Me”, Yesod was like,
“Cool, let’s just do a full-on record deal”.
So that was really, really cool.
AA: THAT’S SO AWESOME!
VL: Yeah! It was perfect timing. I was applying to grad schools at the time because I was about to graduate college and that’s pretty much when I got the record deal sooooo… Yeah I didn’t go to grad school! I told myself that could wait, for now.
AA: What did you major in?
VL: Health Sciences. I was going to go to medical school or become an occupational therapist.
AA: You’re just the Jill of all Trades. I stan you for real, but… Ummmm, so tell me about your new single!
VL: Like I said, I write music with Greg and Nick [Gudzan, Kash’d Out]. When I went down to Florida they already had a track laid out and asked me what I thought of when I heard it; Greg mentioned that it really sounded like a struggle song. I’ve always wanted to write a song about my experiences, but feel weird sometimes opening up to people about it because I just don’t know their perspective on it… but I told them,
“Hey, I went through this period of time and I wanna write about it”.
A lot of songs, especially in the reggae community, are about positivity and being happy and, of course, everyone should strive to live their life that way but I feel like a lot of times people hide what they’re actually feeling.
AA: It’s unrealistic to think you can be happy all the time.
VL: Exactly, and I think sometimes people are afraid to say they’re not okay because they feel pressure to be this happy, positive person. I wanted to write this song to be a catalyst for people to talk about their feelings and be real, and reach out for help, because I didn’t. It took a lot out of me to overcome that battle on my own and I don’t want to sound cocky or anything like that at all, but I don’t know if everyone can pull themselves out of a hole like that.
AA: There’s a huge stigma around mental illness and the more you talk about it the more you normalize it.
VL: Exactly and that’s one thing I try to portray as an artist. Not even just with this song, but for example, I’ll post bloopers and stuff because I want people to realize that, yes, I am an artist, but I’m a person just like you. I want people to feel like it’s okay to feel bad because you know what, I’ve been through that too. I just want everyone to talk about it and get the help they need. No one ever asked me if I was okay, because I never showed emotion, so even if you personally aren’t struggling with mental health, I want you to ask your friends if they’re okay, because you never know who is going through what and we need to treat everyone with love. <3