Q&A: VICTORIA GOUVEIA EXPRESSES HER OPINION ON TORONTO MUSIC, HER DEBUT PROJECT "RELENTLESS," MAC MILLER, AND MORE...
More on Victoria Gouveia:
Victoria Gouveia is a 22-year-old, Toronto-based R&B & Soul, singer-songwriter. As she shines a light on her hometown of Listowel, Ontario, it is clear that Toronto raised the young artist. Having moved to Toronto at the age of seventeen to pursue her passion for music. Victoria tells her story, as she goes in-depth on her childhood, who inspired her musically, and more.
Firstly, we want to thank you for your time, sitting down with us to give more insight into the life of being a female Toronto singer-songwriter. To start things off, I am sure you have answered this many times before, but for those that do not know, “Who is Victoria Gouveia?” What has life been like for you growing up in Toronto, and have you lived in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) your whole life?
Victoria Gouveia: It’s absolutely my pleasure! Thank you for taking the time to interview me! For those who may not know, I grew up in the small town of Listowel, Ontario. Almost two hours north of Toronto. I grew up as an only child and on a farm my entire life so as you could presume, the imagination I had as a kid growing up was quite literally, out of this world. I want to say I’ve been singing since I was in the womb, but legitimately speaking, I’ve been singing since I could talk and it was the only thing I ever saw myself doing aside from dancing and acting. I moved out to Toronto by myself when I was 17 to pursue my career as a singer & actress, but throughout the journey of being here my heart has definitely leaned more towards the music; as it always deep down has.
Having noticed you released your first single “Beautiful Lie,” about two years ago and exclusively on SoundCloud. Was that the first song you ever released or did you make music prior?
Victoria Gouveia: Yes! So, “Beautiful Lie” was first released exclusively on SoundCloud but about a week into it, we released it on all streaming platforms. It was originally just a track noaccess and I were just messing around with, nothing too serious. I wrote my part on the beach in Dominican in no word of a lie, maybe 5-10 minutes. The beat was just an absolute vibe and the lyrics and melody just flowed together so perfectly. When I sat down with the guys and heard Ashton write his verse and spit his flow we all knew it’d be a special one. But to answer your question, it was the first single I had ever released under myself. I’ve been writing my own songs since I was about 9-years-old and started hitting the studio at 16 to record my originals, but the first song I ever released before that was back in 2015. It was actually an EDM feature. Totally not me now when I look back, but it was definitely fun to start getting into the process of recording and being in a studio environment and learn about the process of releasing.
Following up with beginning to make music, who influenced you early on to begin a career in music? As well as, who were some of the artists you looked up to and did your family impact your love for music in any way?
Victoria Gouveia: Early on as a kid, I grew up listening to a lot of the music my parents would listen to. Celine Dion, Michael Buble, Christina Aguilera, Madonna, and a lot of radio music, etc. But of course like most girls my age I also loved listening to the classic Britney Spears, Destiny’s Child/Beyoncé as a solo act, Lady Gaga, etc. But now more than anything I love alternative and old R&B-Soul. Like Ottis Redding, Etta James, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, The Platters, Aretha Franklin, Tom Jones, etc. A lot of people tell me they feel like I have an old soul, which I guess is true. I’d love to travel back into the ’50s and ’60s. The music was just so pure. Growing up, I feel like Celine Dion and Christina Aguilera gave me the more “vulnerable” side of me as a young artist to just belt out notes and really mean what I sing, but growing up and listening to wider variety of genres it gave me the understanding of experimenting with different styles of music and how to still incorporate the vulnerability, just in a different way.
Victoria Gouveia (Continues): I think that even if my family didn’t love music I still would love it just as much however, they did have a unique influence on my love for it. My family would encourage me to keep singing and always give me constructive criticism from early on so that later in life I wouldn’t be let down or set myself up with false hope thinking I sounded better than what I actually was at the time. My dad’s side of the family has 9 brothers and sisters, and 4 of them were in a band together. Although I was never around at that time in their life, I always used to admire the pictures and stories they’d tell me. That side of the family was always very musically inclined. On the other hand, my mom’s side of the family introduced me to the world of Hip-Hop/Rap/R&B. At around age eight, my older cousin would take me to her side job cleaning banks in the evening and every road trip there and back she would be blasting Weezy, Drizzy, Nicki, Kayne, Jay, 50, Luda, all those guys. And I felt like a mini BOSS. I started bumping that shit on my ones with my first iPod touch back in grade six. I just loved the passion and flows with the bars they’d come up with. And now being older, I understand it even more. Shit was inspiring and I knew people f*cked with that sound. So I always knew, this style is definitely something I want to work with when I grow up. I was always surrounded by it.
Did/Do people at High School know about your music, and if so, what is/was the support like from your peers?
Victoria Gouveia: Oh yes. Since early on in Elementary School everyone knew that I was all about music. I’d say grade two was when I really started to showcase that to my peers. I never hid from it or was shy about it. I knew what I wanted and I always embraced that. Music class? If my teacher needed a volunteer, everyone looked at me like “she’s your girl!” The only subjects I was ever really good at was music and drama. And to be quite honest, there was never really a point and time in my life I felt discouraged to pursue it. Everyone was always really supportive and a lot of them still are which I’m super grateful for because if they weren’t, who knows if I would’ve felt the same motivation to continue with it.
Victoria Gouveia (Continues): I was the lead in my first musical when I was nine and I think that was the first time I really showcased my voice to a full-on audience. After that, I constantly did my Elementary and High School talent shows and musicals. Throughout the last three years of High School, I started entering singing competitions and started posting covers on YouTube. My first video got about 70,000 views. But needless to say, it was the Cup Song- go figure, haha!
Having lived in Toronto and been heavily attached to the music scene out there. What is your take on the city’s music scene as a whole and its R&B & Soul scene? Do you feel as though it is developing for the better, and/or still has room for improvement?
Victoria Gouveia: Well I mean, there’s always going to be room for improvement no doubt about that. But overall, I think Toronto is really starting to develop their own sound all around. Especially in Hip-hop game and underground Rap. Killy, Houdini, Yung Tory, are all sick. I feel like we get inspired with flows from Atlanta, LA, Houston, the UK, and just put our own saucy spin on it. But as for R&B-Soul, definitely still something I think everyone is just scratching the surface on because realistically, it’s only going to continue becoming more gratifying. We have so many different unique R&B artists, especially up and coming. But take Majid Jordan, DVSN, Daniel Caesar, River Tiber, Jessie Reyez, or even one of my homies K. Forest– they all do a great job at playing with their sound and developing it further in each release. I think 2020 is really going to put Toronto on the map. Creative flows and production are flourishing more and more every day. I think we’re all just striving to be different. Which is something totally stand with, otherwise there is no development or growth. Uniqueness within the industry is key.
Can you list off some of your favourite Toronto singer-songwriters that either inspire your music or are just an artist you musically admire?
Victoria Gouveia: Yeah for sure. A lot of the artists I gain inspiration from have been from SoundCloud (I love SoundCloud, you find the best underground music, and I think it’s super underrated). I definitely f*ck with Danileigh, IV, Healy, Don Toliver, Swae Lee. Rhythmically speaking and also Canadian, I think Derek Wise and Drew Howard (88Glam) have some of the sickest changeups. Their beats go hard, their bars are super dope and their flow is wavy. I think their super original and what I like about them is that you still get a feel for the Toronto vibe in their music even though it’s different than a lot of other Toronto artists. And both of their voices are super unique and different. I think it’d be dope to do a track with them one day. And then of course Drizzy. He definitely influences me as a creator and how to build your own empire. That guy literally runs the city. From the name to slang, to music. He’s the ultimate trendsetter, I don’t care what anyone says. He can take someone’s flow and make it even better and that will never die. I aspire to be like that for sure.
Victoria Gouveia (Continues): Musically in general, I was the biggest Ariana Grande fan far before her Nickelodeon days. I’ve seen her live more times than I can count and from day one she has always inspired me. And I especially love the direction she’s been headed in recently. Different, and urban. Full of confidence and attitude, and it shows. She literally doesn’t miss it. And honestly, I feel like I have the grit and fortitude to pull that off. Another one of my all-time favorites, who I’ve also seen live many times is Mac Miller. I love him so much to the point I almost find it hard to even listen to his newest album because I have such an attachment to him emotionally it makes it difficult knowing he’s no longer here. But, that guy was and always will be an absolute genius. The new jazzy, alternative Rap vibe he was going for was just something different, changing the game. He set a new bar for himself that only he could touch. No one could do it like him.
Victoria Gouveia (Continues): And last but not least, my soul-sister Lennon Stella. Super Pop and urban, but if there is anyone I could relate to personally or as an artist it’s her. And it’s also super crazy because she’s actually two years younger than me and yet I look up to her so much. Her voice is just so angelic I don’t even know if it’s real at this point. She’s the most humble, beautiful and down to earth human being. If she can do it, so can I, you know? She just gives me the drive to chase after my dreams. I’ve been watching her grow for seven years, also pursuing acting and music. I just relate to her so much deeper than what’s on the surface. It’s something different that I can’t explain, and for time’s sake, I won’t get into it here. But I know one day we are destined to meet, and make music. I just know it. Anyways, I talk too much! Next question!
“RELENTLESS” Can you please elaborate on the concept and meaning of your freshman album? What was it like for you to create this body of work? By the way, incredibly well put together.
Victoria Gouveia: Thank you so much! I appreciate that more than you know. Ah, “Relentless.” There is not a single word in the English language that I could not relate with currently in my life and within the past two years more than that one. It actually took me up until almost a month before the release to name it. I don’t know how I didn’t think of it sooner but when it clicked, it stuck. From the time I started creating this EP, I went through a lot of very intense situations that influenced me completely on the entire project.
Victoria Gouveia (Continues): I was struggling a lot mentally and emotionally, all while committing myself in a very brittle relationship. There was a lot of manipulation and lying I was fed throughout it but beneath all of that, there was also a lot of love. Which made everyday a constant battle of “should I stay or should I go” and convincing myself of one thing when it was totally another. But one thing I got to take away from all of that was inspiration and fuel. It was a rollercoaster of emotions and the process of being able to find myself again throughout all the good and all the bad after all these years of losing a sense of who I was truly liberating. And I feel like while creating this project, every song was its own way of expressing how I felt and releasing all the negative burden that was sown on me. As for the creative process itself, it was super exciting. All I knew was that I wanted it to be different. Vocally, structure-wise, melodically. But still enticing and something that tells a story. Working with dF was a pleasure and an honour. He’s extremely talented and great at what he does and I couldn’t have asked for a better producer to release my first project with. He always brought my vision to life.
Victoria Gouveia (Continues): I’d try to explain sounds I wanted in production or ways I wanted my vocals to sound like, like using 808’s, pads, or fixing the EQ, all while not using proper English to clarify my complex ideas; but yet somehow he always managed to bring my vision to life. Without him, none of this would’ve been possible. We all call him the “Prod God” for a reason- self-explanatory. He would enlighten me on what sounded good and what didn’t. And coming from Darren if he says it’s good than you know it must be good. I always trusted his input. Also huge s/o to my boy Ashton, the one I created “Beautiful Lie” with. Who came through to countless sessions or would pick me up for a late-night cruise to give me feedback and ideas on how to execute my vision. He was really one of the only people I could confide in with that stuff, he just understood it all. Artist to artist.
As you know, “Holding On” is my favourite song on “RELENTLESS.” What is the meaning behind the song and what was the creative process for how it came together?
Victoria Gouveia: “Holding On” was probably the most vulnerable song on the entire project, so it humbles me when people say they vibed with that one the most. It was the last song I finished on the album, it took me a full year to finish. I tried to make it relatable for everyone while still truly being in tune with myself. It’s all about conquering and persevering through the dark times (and good) in the journey of your life, with or without a partner. At the end of the day, all you really, truly have is yourself. And it is completely okay not to be okay sometimes. As hard as it can be to face your demons head-on, you just have to. Because that is what makes you who you are and gets you to where you are today. You wouldn’t be you without all the hardships and grinding. It’s all about getting through the dark tunnel. You literally just have to hold on. And once you conquer all that, you will realize you have a life worth living and that you always have. It was just unclear for a small moment. Life truly is what you make it.
Victoria Gouveia (Continues): I’m an immensely strong believer in manifestation and that everything happens for a reason. Manifest good energy and the universe will give it right back to you. It’s almost like you get out what you put in kinda thing, you know? “Holding On” started off completely as a ballad, barely any drums, just piano, and pads. But we didn’t want to make it too low-energy. Still wanted to give it a little bop. Writing it was definitely the hardest task. I actually gained writers’ block for months on it. I always found a reason to not be satisfied with it. Whether the placement wasn’t ever right, the lyrics weren’t up to par, or if the melody wasn’t good enough. It was always hard to put into words what I felt the most. Just saying how I felt out loud always made it more real, which isn’t something I always wanted to accept. But like I said, if you just keep holding on, even on dark days, your day will come. And you will be so thankful you stuck around to see the light.
What can we expect from Victoria this year? Do you have another project on the way, music videos or features? We wish you the best and cannot wait to catch up with you when we visit Toronto later this year.
Victoria Gouveia: Damn, well I hope you get to hear and see a lot more of me this year. The goal is definitely to release another project. I got a bunch of singles in the works and another music video on the way very shortly, just in post-production. I also want to play a lot more with different sounds and genres. A bit of Indie/Alternative, mixed with my current R&B/Soul vibe, and dig deeper and explore more experimentation with my Hip-hop roots. I definitely want to be as versatile as possible. My hopes this year is to be working out of Miami and LA, which is already in the works so hopefully, all falls through. Since 2017, I had always said- “2020 is my year.” I don’t know why, but I did. I just had a good feeling about it. Timing-wise, number wise (I’m very into numerology), and based on my own self progression.
Victoria Gouveia (Continues): 2020 is the year I want to put my name on the map and really show the world what I can offer and to have real fans who can relate to and side with me. I’ve wanted to revolve my life around music my entire life that there really is no other route for me. Not for the fame, not for the money, but really because I put every ounce of soul and passion into this. I was never good at anything else. It was always just music, music, music. My first love. Everyone always said “you’re going to make it one day, kid,” and every night I pray that they’re right. I want to thank everyone for riding with me on such a crazy musical journey. I’m so incredibly thankful, and I don’t think anyone understands how serious I am when I say that. It has been a blast this far and I can’t wait to see what the rest of my life has in store for me.
Is there anything you would like to say to young female artists trying to pursue a music career? Are there any pros and cons you can touch on regarding the industry?
Victoria Gouveia: Definitely stay true to yourself. Don’t fall under an ”image” or try to front as someone you’re not. Don’t get caught up in the Instagram world. It’s not real. I can tell you from experience, as soon as I stopped giving a shit about what others thought of me, magic started to brew. I felt freer. And being you is the most organic and raw way to really connect with your audience and have real riders. Besides, there is no other you in this world, so why be someone else? Embrace that! Be you that you’ve always wanted to be! As for pros and cons, I haven’t really had many bad experiences thus far. But one thing I can touch on is definitely watching out for yourself first and foremost. There are unfortunately some scummy people out there with crueler selfish intentions. It’s sad to even say but there’s always potential scammers who money grab, which I have definitely experienced before, or you could meet an individual who claims to “help” your career, but really is someone who expects you to always owe them something in return.
Victoria Gouveia (Continues): You just never really know, and you can never be too careful. Make sure whatever you’re doing is with honest intentions and that you know who you’re getting yourself involved with when working with new artists, producers or even record labels. Stay wise my friends.
What is one positive thing you could say about yourself?
Victoria Gouveia: Ah, talking about my pros is not something I’m good at. I’m the most awkward person when accepting a compliment, haha! But one positive thing I could say about myself, hmm… I cherish people and life itself very deeply. Probably the most out of anyone you’ll ever meet, not kidding. When I care for others, there’s never an ounce of dishonesty and unloyalty in my body. I love and care to the fullest, and will always look out for your best interest with the truest of intentions. As I said, I grew up an only child so when I find “my people,” I truly mean it when I say I would do anything for them. Sometimes, I honestly feel I give a lot more than I get back, but that doesn’t really matter to me… What fulfills me is knowing that my friends and family know that they can depend on me no matter what. I truly just want to see everyone succeed and be happy.
Victoria Gouveia (Continues): Another small thing I could say is I’d like to think of myself as a very optimistic person. I like to see the bright side of everything! I’ve always been that way, for the most part. Why stress on something you can’t change? Just focus on what you can do to move forward and ask yourself, what lesson did you take from this experience? But I must say, it’s not always easy… Sometimes trying so hard to stay positive ultimately can drain you. But luckily, I have an amazing support system who reminds me of all the great things in life when I sometimes seem to forget. And it’s all about the cycle, just staying optimistic.
“Thank you so much for the interview, it was actually quite a pleasant surprise getting more insight on who I am as an artist more in-depth than just the surface when I get to write it all out and be specific. You’re doing great things by giving indie artists a chance to share their stories and talent. Keep doing what you’re doing!”