I recently sat with a young lady named Victoria Skie. She is an up and comer in the music industry, and quite frankly, a breath of fresh air. Having teenagers of my own, I know how snarky they can be … I also know how wonderful they can be. That being said, Victoria is someone I could have spoken with for HOURS, but our time was limited, and it had to end somewhere … sigh.
It was a Tuesday afternoon, in Montclair, NJ. We met at a Starbucks, near her manager’s office, on Church Street. Her manager is Hakim Bell, you may remember him from a previous blog of mine, and if not, do yourself a favor and Meet Hakim. The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold. Trying to find parking in Montclair, is challenging, but once I found a spot, I could already see Victoria sitting at a table, outside of Starbucks, as we discussed. I had already seen her many videos on youtube, so I knew what she looked like, yet I was completely taken aback at her natural beauty … stunning actually, with very little makeup on. Like I said … A breath of fresh air.
After our introductions were made, we sat and began our lovely conversation. I gave Victoria some background information about myself. I always feel it necessary, for the person I’m interviewing, to know a little about me. It seems to make the other person feel more comfy, and I have found that the conversation just flows easier, when you feel like you’re old friends. :o)
Victoria Skie, whose full name is, Victoria Marchlewski, shared a little background, as well. She is 18, and just graduated from high school, this past school year … Class of 2017!! Both of her parents are from Poland, so she is 100% polish, which she takes SO much pride in.
“My dad played in a wedding band, in Poland, when he was a teenager, and my mom has always been a singer. She loves singing, and always wanted to be a pop singer, but my grandfather was very traditional. Not that he didn’t have appreciation for pop music, he was just more of an “opera” man. When he grew up, he became an Impresario of Poland, and he would bring shows over to America. He had a lavish lifestyle, and he would like to go to Opera’s, and what not. He set my mom up for opera voice lessons, and she just hasn’t been able to switch it off, from all of the classical training. ((SIDE NOTE: Once you train in classical style, it IS very hard to turn this switch off)). She has always had that want to sing popular music in Poland, so I feel like that’s why she is so supportive of me. I have taken a year, or two, off from school, to help pursue my career in music, and she is here with me, always. My father is so supportive, as well. They both had “the dream”, and so I feel like we are all working on it together, so it’s really exciting!”
For me, it’s so refreshing to see the beam in Victoria’s eyes when she spoke of her parents. I was lucky enough to meet her mother, right before our interview, and she is, indeed, a lovely lady. After you peruse my interview, it will be easy to see that the apple probably didn’t fall far from the tree, in my opinion. This is one up and comer, that I hope and pray, finds her way to the “big stage” … she is simply ahhh-mazing!
Victoria, Who do you look up to musically?
“I have a lot of answers for this. So, I look up to Ariana Grande’s production team, because I feel like every song they put out, is a hit, even if the lyrics are questionable. I just feel like the background music, the beats, the bass lines, are always so catchy. So, I’m definitely inspired by her production team. I also look up to Ed Sheeran, because he’s just so chill, and low-key, and just like it’s no big deal, ‘Gonna play MSG tonight’, and I find that so awe-inspiring, just because he’s able to connect with so many people, and NOT be taken over by the industry side. Oh, and Tori Kelly … she’s built her brand from the beginning by herself, and I’ve read a few articles on her, with her business side of things, and how her parents have been a part of it, and that’s huge for me. I want my parents to be a part of everything, because I feel like they have been so instrumental in allowing me to do it, they have given up a lot to support me, and it’s important to me, that they are there with me, every step of the way.”
SEE … refreshing … If only every teenager out there, could appreciate, and respect everything their parents do for them. It doesn’t matter WHAT situation you are in, if you have parents that give a $hit … RESPECT THEM! Otherwise, you’re going to regret how you’ve treated them, one day.
What’s your motto, or message that you want to convey to your young(er) listeners/fans … You know, to the young people, who are now looking up to you?
“This is actually something my old choir teacher taught me … I love choir music, by the way … I love all types of music, but I have been doing state choirs, and regional choirs throughout high school, so I’ve really developed a love for dissonance and different harmonies, and stuff. So, I was fortunate enough to have Stevie Rawlings, as my choir teacher. She had spent a crazy amount of time in show business, before coming to our school, as the choir teacher. So, I played her one of the very first songs I had ever written for my project, ((which means, recording and presenting her original music to executives in hopes of a record deal)), and she sat me down and said, “You should really pursue this”, and then followed up with, “What you have to do in life is, whatever you’re first thinking of in the morning, and the last thing you’re thinking of at night before you go to sleep”, and so ever since then, that’s been my biggest piece of advice. I know kids are pushed by parents, and societal pressures to pick jobs where they make the “most money”, or job stability, but really, even if your job is stable and you’re making a lot of money, when you’re 50 years old, and you’ve always wanted to be singer or a writer, and you’ve never done it, then you’re going to regret it one day. So, to me, it’s better to not have regrets, than to always be “safe”.”
She’s right … you will regret it! Which is why, at 41, I have decided to pursue my writing career. If you don’t ever try, you will NEVER know. This is a very good lesson to learn at such a young age. She is wise beyond her years. Very well spoken, which lead me to this question, because there is no such thing as a perfect teenager … or is there?! ;o)What’s the most trouble you have ever gotten into?
A little giggle ensues, followed with … “So, I asked my mom, for my 13th birthday, for Justin Bieber tickets, and I wanted the meet and greet SO BAD ((like every other Belieber out there!)) .. so of course, the meet and greet sold out immediately … so then I accidentally, set us up for a “bid” for tickets .. and I SWEAR, it was an accident ((and she swore up and down that it was an accident)) … so we ended up winning, ummm, for A LOT of money, umm ((almost hiding her face)) TENTH ROW tickets, and my mom had just found it on her credit card statement the next month .. and was like, “Well, I guess we’re going to a Justin Bieber concert!” … and she was SO ANGRY at me, and I was still like, I swear I didn’t know … but then we ended up going, and at the time, it was THE BEST CONCERT EVER, but I did get in a lot of trouble, but so worth it!”
It’s refreshing to know that THIS is the biggest trouble a young, beautiful, aspiring artist has gotten herself into … Lord knows, there are way worse things out there … However, inquiring minds do want to know …
Just how much WERE those Bieber tickets?
“OMG … Like $900.00 for both!!! I still feel SO BAD!”
LOL Well, Victoria, it’s my opinion, that one day, you’ll be able to pay them back for those tickets … and then some! :o)
Why is it important to you, as an artist, to be a good role model?
“This is like a BIG thing for me, because not that it upsets me, because I know that every artist has their own audience, and their own image they’re trying to portray, but I feel like there’s too many. The majority of artists that are my age, and female, are so like, over exposed on stage, and they sing about provocative things, and not that that is bad … Look, Rhianna can do it well, Beyoncé can do it well, also, they are in their 20’s ((or older)) … When you’re 17, and your audience are 12/13 year olds, and you’re using curse words in your songs, or using sexual ((innuendos)), it’s just not good. Everyone keeps complaining that generations are getting worse and worse, but what are we giving out to these generations?! Stuff that’s worse and worse!! Seventeen year olds are talking about drinking and smoking in their songs, and kids are listening to it, saying … Well, “this person” who’s really famous, and has a lot of people who like them, are doing these things, so maybe if I do these same things, then people will like me too … and I think that there’s a niche that’s open now, like I feel like there’s a need, in the music industry, for artists that are around my age, that are not gonna do that ((promote smoking, drinking, violence, drugs)).”
It is in my opinion, as a mother, that THESE are the kids that need to be headlining these shows, with their message of positivity, dressing so they’re comfortable, not the way “society” thinks they should dress … just giving a different message, other than sex, violence and drugs.
How old were you when you started to write/play?
“I’ve been writing short stories and stuff since I was little, little. Let’s just say my first couple songs, and when I say couple, I mean like FIFTY, they were HORRENDOUS. I remember I wrote a song in like 3rd grade, called ‘We Came Here To Party’, because my influences at that time, were Shakira, Britney Spears, etc .. So, I was like yeah … let me write a good pop song, and it was just terrible, I mean horrendous. LOL BUT, they started to get better around 10, and I remember my first real “good” song, was called, ‘Help The World’, and I remember I sat down at the piano, which I took lessons for 6 or 7 years ((she learned piano before guitar, but feels more comfy on guitar)), and the chorus was, “Won’t matter your color, your shape, size or dollar, the clothes that you wear, or the country you are from, we’ll live as one”. ((I KNOW! RIGHT?!)) So my mom came home, she heard it, and was like WHAT?! So, the next day I showed my music teacher, Mr. Nalesnik, and he was like WHAT? And when the head of the music department, Ms. Vartanian, heard the song, she asked me to sing it at a library opening that they had, and they had a little peace park made, and she said the song fits perfectly. She was also such a great support throughout my school career. So, that was my first “big” performance, and I have been writing ever since. When I got my guitar, that’s when the songs started shooting out, cause now I had a way of creating background music, and so it just poured out.”
Victoria, since you are an up & comer, I know you sing a lot of covers ((very well, might I add)), but could you please explain your sound to my readers, in your own words?
“THIS, is the hardest question ever. So pop has always been a part of my life. I have loved it since I was little, and as I grew up, I started to get more in to acoustic music, or acoustic versions of pop songs, and saw that people who cover songs, can make them their own, and I love urban influences, as well, like Lauryn Hill, or India Arie . My sister introduced me to that type of music when I was younger, and I love the beats and the vibe to it, and at the same time … I love sad music. I love to listen to sad music, I mean, who DOESN’T love a good sad song, and cry?! ((side note: if you just said YOU, you’re a big, fat liar liar, pants on fire! Continue on .. lol)) I just love to cry and then write sad songs, ((a little giggle ensues)) but honestly, it’s the best … it’s so therapeutic!! So, to answer your question, my sound, I would say is Pop, R&B, with a heavy acoustic underlay …”
What’s on your playlist? What do you like to listen to when you aren’t working on your own music?
“OMG … EVERYTHING!! When I plug my phone into my friends cars, omg, they laugh at me and are like … WHAT?! Cause one “side” of my playlist is like ridiculous HIP HOP, crazy, loud, funky hip hop songs, and then you listen to the “other side”, which is all classical/choral pieces, and my friends are like, huh? … :o) Then I like Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, and I LOVE The Civil Wars, who is my all time favorite ever, and I listen to them every night before I go to sleep. I really respect their songwriting, and their ability to capture feelings in three minutes, and I really hope to have that ability one day, and am striving to do that. Who else is on my playlist? Oh, of course, Lauryn Hill, I listen to her when I’m getting ready … ((opens phone to look at playlist)) Ohhh, Pentatonix … I ran the Accapella group in my high school, and I’d arrange pieces for them, so I listened to Pentatonix, A LOT … I also have Josh Groban, cause his voice is just heavenly ((agreed, 1,000%)), I also have Chris Brown, Bruno Mars, Future … I also have a lot of throwback songs, I LOVE listening to the music I used to listen to in like 6th and 7th grades, cause it just brings me back to the good times we had, the dances at school … but yeah, my music is all over the place, ((which is good, it means she has an open mind, and can appreciate all genres of music)) and I feel like it helps someone like me, a songwriter, because you can take influence from other genres and make it your own.”
What is your favorite “go to” song, to belt out in the shower, your car … karaoke?
“Whoa, that’s a hard one … Hmmm … Okay, I know, I know … “And I Am Telling You… by: Jennifer Hudson, from Dream Girls … All of my friends love show tunes, and Dream Girls is the one I love the most … So whenever we are doing karaoke, or whatever, it’s the go to song for me! I love it so much!”
Where do you draw inspiration from, when you’re writing your music, and what’s your favorite part of the process?
“I love this question, because I feel like it’s unrealistic to say I only draw from personal experiences, that have only happened to me in real life. I feel like everything you do is a personal experience … you read a book or watch a show … it’s a personal experience, because you have personal emotions and reactions to EVERYTHING in life. So, I hate when people say, well you can’t write about love, if you’ve never been in a relationship, but I’ve read books, and seen movies where people have been in loving relationships, and you develop little relationships with characters, and what not, and you can FEEL that love, and like when people say that it’s not genuine, well, yes it is … I mean, when my favorite duo, The Civil Wars broke up, that hurt … I felt that BIG TIME … It was like a break up for me … I was crying, wondering how life would be without their music anymore?! So, I have “felt” that hurt, and that pain, one way or another, and I definitely know what LOVE is … I love my family, my friends, and I feel like it’s unrealistic to say, that you can’t write a song about something you haven’t gone through, when you can definitely relate, in other ways. So, I draw inspiration from everywhere … Life is definitely one of them, but from things I’ve read, movies I’ve seen, experiences friends have had .. I think it just opens up a lot more opportunities, to be open about where inspiration is drawn from.”
What skills or attributes are most important to being successful in this industry?
“I think being confident in yourself, and what you produce, is important. I mean, I know I’m not going to please everyone! I know a lot of people are not going to like my music, people are gonna say I stink, and I get all the time, that I write too mature for my age, and I just take that as, thanks … that means that my audience is wider then … I don’t see a problem with writing more mature for your age, especially when there are 17/18 year olds, singing about stuff WAY more mature than I am, and their songs are on the radio. So, I think be confident in what you produce, and in yourself, and don’t take no for an answer. Also, me being a girl, something about the industry that I don’t like, and this is just in general, not everyone, but sometimes, if you’re a male in the industry, and you know what you want, you’re a visionary, or an inspiration to others. However, if you’re a girl and you know what you want, you’re hard to work with. I find that super annoying, because I AM a perfectionist when it comes to my music, I can go without cleaning my room for 6 months, but if my music is not correct, then I am angry, because I put too much time into it, and too much thought, for it to be wrong. So, I always want to be a part of everything, from songwriting, to production, to final tweaks and mixings, and stuff. I just want everything to be perfect, the way I want it, because it’s MY music.“
It’s also a true sign of great work ethic and discipline. I swear … This young lady, is seriously going places, and I’m honored to be a tiny part of the process!
Is there anything else you don’t like about this business, or is there something you feel could just be better, about the industry?
“Definitely. I think it’s so money driven, but so is every industry, so that’s understandable. I mean, no one wants to invest money into something ((or someone)) that won’t produce. I think that’s a downfall in the industry, because it allows for loopholes. For instance, if you have a lot of money, you may “make it” faster than someone who doesn’t have a lot of money, and has been working hard their entire life, just to be noticed by someone. I think that 40/50 years ago, the music industry was a lot more genuine, and I think that’s partially the fault of the internet and technology, because now you don’t make money on your music, because people can illegally download it. It’s all about merch ((merchandise)), and ticket sales. So, if you are not able to build that brand, and have a huge following on your social media platforms, because they are such a huge part of everyday life, then you’re not gonna get the same chances, as someone who has 3 million followers on Instagram ((or other social media outlets)).”
If you could open for any artist or band, on tour now or the recent past, who would it be, and why?
“I think it’s important to be with someone who is similar to my genre or sound, just to be exposed to an audience who may be more receptive of my music. I also think it’s so important for people to listen to music from every generation … because there are geniuses in every generation, you just have to find them, listen to them, appreciate them, and learn from them … emulate them, not copy them. Definitely challenge yourself, and broaden your horizons. So, to answer your question, hmmm, maybe Tori Kelly … she’s another one of my big inspirations, so maybe for her, or like Ed Sheeran, that would be INSANE, because he plays big stadiums …” ((I interjected with a question, because I think Ed Sheeran is freaking AMAZING, yet I’m always reading about the haters out there, to the point where I’ve already started to collect information, for a blog that I intend to write regarding this exact topic … I mean, do people even know just how amazing he is??))
So, I asked Victoria, why do you think Ed Sheeran gets such a “bad rap”?
“I think that people just aren’t used to someone, of celebrity status, being so “normal”. I feel like when you’re that famous, you’re supposed to be snobby, you’re supposed to wear thousand dollar t-shirts, and he just doesn’t. He just sings. So, for every person that doesn’t like him, there’s like 16 that do, so he’s doing it right … living the dream!”
AMEN!! I love Ed Sheeran, and I’m not afraid to say it!!!
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing or making music?
“Well, since I grew up in Jersey, I’m such a “joisey girl” … I love going “down the shore”, I love the boardwalk and the beach, but I also love sleeping. I never sleep. I write my best songs at 4 a.m., so I’m always up, writing, trying to edit vocals, etc … I also like to hang out with my friends, because I’m always so super busy with my music, and I also have a part-time job, because I love to shop, and buy new outfits for my performances, etc … So when I do have a day off, I like to go to the beach with my friends, or shopping … I love shopping … retail therapy is a real thing! Lol So yeah, that’s about it!”
If you could sing a duet with anyone, who would it be?
((Without ANY hesitation…)) ” John Paul White, from The Civil Wars, because I love the way his voice blends. I saw him live in Brooklyn, at this beautiful venue, called National Sawdust, where they constructed the room, to give the most amazing sound experience to the audience … only like a hundred people in the audience, standing room. It was a life changing show for me. Everything was insane. I think his songwriting is great. Also, I’ve written a bunch of “sad songs”, that I feel would sound amazing as a duet with him. He’s able to capture that desperate, my heart is breaking feeling/sound in his voice, so well, and it would be my dream, to sing with him.”
Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years? ((I dislike this question with someone who is seasoned, and has been in the industry for YEARS … I think it’s a great question for a young, aspiring artist in the industry))
“I’m hoping in the next 5 years, that I have a major label backing me, because as much as I respect the independent artist way, and I think a lot of people can do it successfully, I just find that in order to reach huge audiences, you need that “push” from the label, and that’s another dream of mine … While I love making music, and staying intimate with my audience, my number one bucket list item, is to play a show at Madison Square Garden, and as an independent artist, yes, some can grow their audiences to be that big, but it’s harder without that “push” from the label. Also in the next 5 years, I hope to have my first solo album out … I’ve written 20 – 30 songs for this project, and I love writing songs, and poems and stuff, so I’m hoping that I have one out, even if it’s not backed by a big label.”
Victoria, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the opportunity to speak with you. I’m in your corner, and wish you nothing but great success in your future. You’re the type of “kid” that this country NEEDS, especially in the times we live!! Our nation is divided, but it’s young people like you, that give me GREAT HOPE, to bring everyone back together! I know that when you do make it, you will use your platform to speak about positivity, empowerment, etc … And, right now, YOU are what our youth needs to look up to! You are a great inspiration to me, and I’m honored to have had the pleasure to interview you for my blog.
You can find Victoria singing at BB Kings in the city. She also sings at Montclair Center Stage for different events. On July 27th, she will be singing the National Anthem at Skyland’s Stadium, while also doing a 30 minute set, right before the game. In September, she has some things in the works in the Washington DC area. Follow this young lady: