Essex based artist, A.b. Violet is here with, “Merry Go Round” – her second single of the year. Characterized by dreamy vocals and a melancholic piano accompaniment, “Merry Go Round” is rather introspective in nature. The song is what seems like a collection or archive of observations that we have been privy to in the past two years. The two singles belong to the album Elemence – “to experience or exist within extremes of forecasts and reality.” Both songs explore these elements in depth. The song also has a very existential vibe to it.
With echoey vocals and synths that seem to come straight from a dream, the track is an exploration of how the world is part of a larger pattern that fulfills itself. I think the recorded audio in the first-half of the song is my favorite part of it. It really pulls you out of the atmosphere of the song, to push you back into the song, with the music.
A.b. Violet has a very experimental style that is characterized as she mentions by her “shower vocals meets midi keyboard.” The music and the vocals are seductive, and her musical training really shines through. She gives me Evanescence vibes, but more dream-pop-acoustic. Her vocals are very dynamic and seductive, and she knows exactly the vibe she is going for. If you’ve been sick of the pandemic and want to dive into some introspective, ambient music, Merry Go Round is the song for you.
A.b. Violet has an interesting background that led her to music production. We were fortunate enough to be able to have a chat with her:
Merry go Round was such a dreamy and honest track. It also fits in perfectly with what I’ve been feeling during the pandemic. Can you tell me what the thought process behind the song was?
Thank you. I’m so glad you’ve found personal meaning in Merry Go Round. That is truly always my aim with any music I write. This time, I really wanted to encapsulate a feeling of both monotony and apathy around everyday life, but also pain and struggle with it too. For me, that feeling personally echoes my struggle with detachment based anxiety, where I would numb myself to avoid dealing with any painful emotions or events and just painted on a smile every day to struggle through the best I could. However, I totally understand that many people, including myself, may have actually experienced something similar during the pandemic. So, writing Merry Go Round was a very cathartic process, like an ode to apathy, as we begin to see some light at the end of the tunnel after the pandemic.
2. Is this genre of music something that you’ve always leaned towards? How has your music evolved since you first started?
I think so, from the beginning I’ve wanted to configure sound spaces for listeners to visualize, or imagine their own narrative to get lost in. I personally listen to more somber music that continuously builds, that’s the music I get lost in, that I have an emotional response to. That’s probably because I use my music to express my own emotions. … I’m not always gloomy! But this genre just feels right for now- it allows me to be expressive and experimental, whilst I establish an artistic style. In terms of evolution, I’m very much more aware of trying to create thick textures with more interesting layers, rather than just all the reverb! I have been working with a producer, who happens to be a fantastic drummer, so that’s led to some creative percussive elements to cut through the thick textured reverb. It seems to be a good combination, and I’m enjoying it.
3. I understand that you have a degree in music research and that you shifted from writing about music to writing music. How did you navigate these spaces? What was the one prominent thing you have learned from your shift from academia to music production?
Academia was all consuming, and I couldn’t really enjoy listening to or writing music. I would just overanalyze every single element. It was also very isolating. Now, I’ve had some time out of academia and have been working a pretty regular and unrelated 9-5 job, which has helped me shift my mindset with music.
Understanding music theory and music psychology, etc. has probably helped in terms of being able to access music production and perhaps intrinsically influences my writing. Funnily enough, however, I actually pursued the academic route in music, because I never got very good grades in any composition or production classes. That just goes to show the subjectivity of music. So that’s probably the most prominent thing I have learned: to write from the heart and with meaning, be true to yourself and enjoy the creative process. Then, if someone else can find meaning in my music, that’s a success in my opinion. Writing against a grading criteria can suck all the meaning and passion from the production process, and you can hear it in the music too.
4. Your music seems very explorative and personal. How do you navigate these experiences and conceptualize it into a song?
There’s no particular formula for how I navigate any particular personal experience and conceptualize it into a song. I just write what I feel, when I feel it. I think that’s what makes it explorative and personal in the first place! Yes, my music is personal, I think it has to be for it to be meaningful, but I try to use musical elements to represent myself and my story. Differently, I try to keep the lyrics and melody slightly more vague and focussed on more broadly accessible themes, so that people can attach their own meaning, and can just feel and be absorbed by a mood, a feeling, or an emotion for 3 minutes or so! The exploration of that mood, feeling or emotion is what keeps me excited about a song. The final version is usually a million miles from the initial concept.
5. Who are your biggest musical influences?
There’s too many to mention. My earliest musical influence was probably Tori Amos. She wrote about some very personal experiences, so poetically and with meaningful metaphors. I am very much a fan of the experimental nature of music by Kate Bush, Madonna, Annie Lennox and David Bowie. And also feel an affinity with the Goth chronotope and post-goth subgenres. Today, I really enjoy the soundscapes created by the likes of London Grammar, Massive Attack and similar artists. All have featured in my listening experiences throughout significant moments in my life.
6. You just released two singles. What do you see for yourself in the future?
I have been so humbled and inspired by the response to my first two singles. BBC Music Introducing in Essex has been particularly amazing. I’d love the opportunity to perform live, and have a lot of music already drafted. I just need some time off from my day job to record and produce a few more tracks properly! If time and money allows, I hope to continue building something here.