Caturday with Vagabon

Words:
April Ru Wan

The opening lyrics of Vagabon‘s debut album ‘Infinite Worlds’ in 2017, ‘I feel so small,’ set a contemplative tone. Six years later, her third album ‘Sorry I Haven’t Called’ begins boldly with ‘Can I talk my shit?’ This shift underscores her growing confidence, a result of ‘experimenting openly and generously’ with her fanbase. The latest release, ‘Sorry I Haven’t Called,’ pays homage to her late friend Eric Littman, honouring their shared love for dance and house music with faster tempos than in her earlier work. Vagabon credits her success to a supportive network of like-minded musicians and friends, who have created a comfortable environment for her authentic musical exploration. For aspiring musicians, Vagabon offers a simple yet profound piece of advice: ‘Make friends, grow together!’ Delve into our conversation below to discover her favourite musicians, memorable moments, and her Caturday playlist.

April Wan: You’re currently on tour, how has this experience been for you?
Vagabon: It’s been really nice to play live music again, I’ve missed it quite a bit!
AW: Your music has often been praised for its unique blend of genres. Can you share some insights into the musicians or genres that have had the most significant influence on your sound?
V: Joni Mitchell, Mariah Carey, Frank Ocean, Aphex Twin, Bjork, Francis Bebey, to name some well known ones. As a teenager I mostly listened to pop music (whatever was on the radio) since I didn’t know about record stores or music discovery blogs etc. I’m often inspired by the work of my friends and the musicians I have near me… the shows I got to witness when I first discovered the underground music scene in NYC.
AW: Your album, ‘Sorry I Haven’t Called,’ was highly anticipated. How does it differ from your previous works, and what inspired the direction you took with this album?
V: The album is a dedication to my friend Eric Littmann. He and I loved dance music, specifically House. I wanted to make an album that honored our friendship and musical relationship but also one that helped me escape my grief in a way that offered me catharsis which became, faster tempos then I’ve worked with in the past.
AW: Your journey as a musician has been well-documented, from your early days of posting tracks on Bandcamp to your recent successes. What have been some of the most memorable moments of your career so far?
V: My most memorable moments as a musician has been the kinship and community I’ve found with other musicians. Like you said, I’ve been sharing my work since the very beginning. The first songs I ever wrote are on my first album Infinite Worlds. Only in my reflection was I able to see how brave that was! And the gift of sharing such early and vulnerable work is that it’s allowed me to meet people who really understand me and who are with me on this journey for the long haul, both musicians and fans alike.
AW: Representation and inclusion are important topics in the music industry, and you’ve been an advocate for these issues. Could you share what this means to you personally and why it’s crucial for the industry at large?
V: I only strive to speak and behave in ways that align with my values and my morals as a human being.
AW: In addition to your music, you’ve also been involved in visual art and design. How does this creative diversity influence your musical expression and approach?
V: I’ve found it rewarding to expand the worlds I build musically into a visual place. It’s a way of telling the listener/observer how I want them to interpret my work while leaving room for their imaginations to be stimulated. When I think of my visuals, , I hope to evoke a feeling. Even if it’s confusion. This is why we turn to art, to feel something.
AW: Can you talk about a particular experience or moment in your life that significantly influenced your creative process or the themes explored in your music?
V: Finding a group of like minded musicians who were making music in their bedrooms and figuring out how to record music on our own. It opened me up creatively and allowed me to be where I am now.
AW: How has your music evolved since your debut album ‘Infinite Worlds,’ and what have been some of the key driving forces behind this evolution?
V: Time. I’ve been sharing my music online from the very start. I didn’t go to music school, I wasn’t in bands as a teenager. I wrote my first song and I put it online, never expecting it to be heard. The changes that people see between albums  is a result of time and fans growing up with me. I’m experimenting openly and generously.
AW: What advice would you give to other musicians who are just starting out in the industry, especially those who may be navigating challenges in finding their unique voice and establishing themselves in the music scene?
V: Make friends! Grow together!
AW: What can fans expect from your upcoming projects? Are there any exciting developments or collaborations on the horizon that you can share with us?
V: I’m writing music and right now I’m so excited about touring Sorry I Haven’t Called so come see the show, I think it’s a really good one.

Click to check out Vagabon’s playlist

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