Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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If you think all pop artists are cookie cutter creations, let me introduce you to Vaeda Black.
She’s not here to look, sing, or write, like anyone other than herself, and she’s been keenly aware of her uniqueness from an early age.
“I was a dinosaur kid. I wasn’t a Barbie kid,” the Long Island native says, “That’s really the only way I can explain it.”
The former “dinosaur kid” has evolved to writing and performing her own music in some of NYC’s legendary indie venues – even though she’s still a few years shy of being able to be served at the bar – and she recently had an audition for American Idol that left every judge impressed … and one a bit scared.
Here are eight things you should know about Vaeda Black.
Her latest single, “Drunken Tears,” was inspired by her love of horror
With the opening line, “I left you alone, so I could watch you die,” it’s clear from the start that “Drunken Tears” is not your traditional pop song.
Black originally wrote “Drunken Tears” – the commercially released version of which was produced by Tiger Darrow – when she was a young teenager teaching herself how to play the piano, and she says her love of horror was a huge influence.
“I’ve just been such a big horror fan since I was a child,” she explains, “I think around the time I wrote (“Drunken Tears”) I was binge watching American Horror Story … also, I think as a writer it’s really fun to write from different perspectives that aren’t necessarily mine. It’s just a different way of self-expression. It’s definitely where that came from, because I don’t want to murder anybody, obviously. That is not my plan.”
One plan she does have is to release a video for “Drunken Tears” that will be in the style of a campy slasher movie.
She’s been dealing with censorship since childhood
It should probably come as no surprise that if as a young teenager she was writing songs like “Drunken Tears” Black has experienced quite a bit of censorship over the years, but would you believe it started back in grade school, over a Christmas song?
“I wanted to perform ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ in the talent show” she remembers, “and they didn’t let me, because it was apparently religious. So I didn’t sing, and instead they were like, ‘Just be in the fashion show. Wear a dress, and walk across the stage.’ So I did that, which was so disappointing.”
The censoring continued in high school, when Black wanted to perform her original song “Perfectly Wrong.” “There’s a part (in the song) where it’s like, ‘I was always just a notch in your belt,’ and they were like, ‘You can’t sing that. It’s inappropriate.’” Black noted there were other girls who were dancing half naked to songs filled with sexual innuendo, but she was still bounced for a single lyric.
“I’m just waiting for my audience, I guess.”
Her audition for this season of American Idol was successful, but she scared Katy Perry in the process
Yes, you did see Black in a clip from this season of American Idol, as she not only auditioned, but received a Golden Ticket to Hollywood.
Her Idol story, however, had an inauspicious start.
“I go into the room, and the first thing, I introduced myself and said hello, and nobody really said hi back. It was really weird. It seemed like somebody was in a bad mood. I don’t know, so I just kind of ignored it. I sang ‘Drunken Tears,’ and it was hit or miss … it was a miss. Katy Perry, after I finished singing, she goes, ‘You’re creepy,’ and I was like, I don’t know what to say to that, so I was like, ‘OK … thank you.’”
After that exchange, Black performed a second song, Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.” “They liked that, so I got three ‘yes’ (votes). I was very surprised.”
Even as a kid first impressions weren’t her forte
“When I first moved to Centerport I was such a weird kid,” Black remembers, “I was in 4th grade, that’s when I started school in this area, and I thought a great way to make friends would be to walk up to them and be like, ‘You want to hear a scary story?’ I think I scared the crap out of everybody that I met. Everyone thought I was super weird, and I was, I’m owning that, but I guess the people who respected that about me stuck around.”
She gave college the old college try, but it wasn’t for her
Black initially had high hopes for her college experience when she started classes at LIU Brooklyn this past fall. “You think – you’re in Brooklyn, you’re gonna be going to live music all the time, and be surrounded by crazy people.”
In reality, things went much differently.
“When I got to college I felt really lost with my music, just because I wasn’t feeling really creative in my program. It was an adjustment period for me, because I thought I was going to thrive, but I really did not. A lot of sad poetry came out of that time.”
That being said, Black found a silver lining – “It made me realize this is really what I want to do.”
Her parents had a strong influence on her musical taste
With a father who loves funk, Motown, and classic rock, and a mother who has a strong appreciation of ‘80s music, Black grew up in a very musical household. This is something she credits as influencing her interest in discovering new music, and being experimental with her own work.
Because of this …
She now has an influence on her parents’ musical taste
With Black diving into an array of musical genres, she’s found influence can be a two-way street, as now her parents are becoming fans of some her favorite artists.
“I got them into Donna Missal,” she says, “They got tickets for me and my friends, and they were like, ‘We’re gonna come, too. We really like her.’ I was like, OK, so we all went. Bishop Briggs, Twenty One Pilots … I recently got my family into King Princess, too, so they want to go see her.”
Her plans for the year include A LOT of new music
“I have a goal of putting out a song every other month, because I want to start putting out music more consistently, and I definitely want to get a band back together. (I just want to be) getting into a routine of constantly making music, because I feel like that is what makes me happy, and that is what I want to do.”