I am personally jealous of people who can immerse themselves in every moment, completely absorbed by their experience. VISSIA is one such artist, who is keenly collecting very human moments to transcribe into the language of music. With an almost childlike wonderment, Canadian alt-pop singer-songwriter VISSIA approaches a multitude of feelings across a potluck of genres – from R&B and soul to even smooth jazz, in her ten track thirty minute album: With Pleasure.
The album traverses many moods, opening with a mellow rock-pop track about the satisfaction of getting over a previous relationship and moving into a more heavy bass and synth vibe as the album progresses. By the time you get to Take it Apart, it’s an ABBA-esque synth-pop rock that breaks into a energetic rock and roll solo. The more vibrant and zestful tracks contrast with the more introspective tracks, allowing them to display how intricate and complex nature of the human condition. Songs like Walk Me Home and About Moving On allow for deliberately reflective moments held together by cathartic piano pieces in the EP. The last track is a five minute melancholic ode to, well, moving on – and is a gorgeously crafted soundscape that pays fine attention to the minutiae.
With this album, VISSIA reveals the sincerity with which she approaches the world, a curious hunger through the lens of a poet. She writes,
“I started writing songs when I was 11 years old. At that age, I was kind of a loner. The social dynamics at school were pretty harsh and I was bullied a lot. Music was something completely outside of that where I felt accepted for who I was and like I mattered. And what’s more, I just loved writing songs. The process of creating my own musical vessels of self-expression brought me so much joy. It was really therapeutic for me. And then getting to play them for people who cared about what I had to say felt so good. So that’s where it really all started for me. As I’ve grown older and become more confident and awake, I’m more interested in how music connects me to other people. One song can have the power to make someone feel seen and less alone. So really, I think music can be a form of service work. It just depends what your intentions are.
Songwriting is an unearthing process for me, and sometimes it’s hard for me to figure out how I want to say something. Sometimes I need to just let something out and express myself regardless of how it comes across, but I believe in the power of our words and ultimately I want what I create to come from a place of mindfulness. When I say internal paradoxes, I’m talking about the tension that comes with personal growth. I still struggle with old emotional and behavioural patterns as I am healing and it’s uncomfortable letting those go. I can know better and still have to put in conscious effort do better.”
VISSIA also demonstrates her mastery over many different styles of pop music, creating an album that hops genres across an incredible spectrum of moods and sounds.
“I just love a lot of different styles of music, and with this record I really wanted to venture out and try things that felt new to me. My roots are in country, western and folk music, which is sort of where my last record (Place Holder) lives, but when I was making this record, I’d been listening to pop, R&B and soul music, pretty much exclusively. When I’m listening, I’m paying attention to the details of the whole production. It’s those subtle elements that are gradually brought in that really make a song pop off, in my opinion. Sometimes so subtle that we don’t immediately recognize what specifically is elevating the song higher and higher. With his record I was really interested in melodic hooks and groove and creating music that would make people want to move. Because that’s what I wanna do when I’m listening to music these days. I want to move and be moved.
My initial impulse when I was getting ready to make a new album was for it to be a continuation of what I’d already been doing musically, that kind of roots-rock sound with folk influences. I recorded a couple of demos and submitted them with some applications for grant funding. When that didn’t end up working out, my timeline ended up getting stretched out (as timelines often do). In that time I started really digging into listening to emotional pop music (like Robyn, Miley Cyrus, LÉON, Halsey, etc.). I was pulled in by its ability to make me feel and make me move. It felt so refreshing to me. I went back to my producer, Nich Davies, and I said, we need to redo these demos. And that was the start of this new direction for me.
The only real concept for this album was in the way I approached it energetically. I just wanted to be curious and try things that felt good to me. That’s where the title With Pleasure comes from. It’s really about the whole creative process and keeping pleasure in mind throughout the whole thing. I just want to continue to make projects that are interesting to me. I want to keep listening to my intuition when it comes to deciding what I want to make next. When artists follow their hearts, it comes through in the work they do, and I think people can really feel that.
Whenever I’m feeling off or unsure, I just try to come back to my “why.” Why am I doing this? And that’s going to be different for every artist. For me, it’s all about connection. Everybody has a story, and everybody’s story is worth hearing. Period. So if by living and telling mine through my music I am able to encourage others to step into their own, then that’s really what it’s all about for me.”
Do check out this incredible roller-coaster that feels like way more than one album, With Pleasure by VISSIA!
Part-time writer but full-time music enthusiast, I write some of the features on here. I think appreciating a multitude of genres and styles makes me good at my job, so clicky here to see what I've written!