Singer and songwriter Victoria Canal has been making a name for herself in the music scene by taking — and commanding — the stage with refreshing energy mixed with vulnerable lyrics that have relatable depth.
While living in Los Angeles, Canal has managed to gain thousands of YouTube views both to her live performances and her more intimate music sessions/covers, which often feature Victoria, a mic, and a keyboard — just one of the instruments she has incorporated into her music.
The soulful, if not downright jazz-forward, Spanish-American songstress has also been working with brands like Nike Air Jordan and collaborating with other writers and producers for her four song EP, Victoria.
Though she draws a lot of songwriting inspiration from personal experiences, which include tapping into her LGBTQ identification as well as being differently-abled, Canal attributed her unique sound to listening to a variety of music growing up, and also being exposed to her grandmother’s music playing at church and at home.
Read on to see how Victoria tackled songwriting on her new EP and how she incorporates fun, fearless, and fierce elements into all of her music as well as check out the video for “Drama.”
American Songwriter: Your new single “Drama” talks a lot about self-love, taking care of you. Also kind of about being an individual and staying drama-free. Can you tell me a little about what inspired that song?
Victoria Canal: Yeah…I had an experience last year, more than ever, of people casting their opinions on me. And my self-critic kind of being loud in my head — that voice being louder than ever as I got closer and closer to my dreams.
Which was a funny thing to experience. But really when I sat down to write the song, what I wanted to kind of brush off and set free was this sort of confused obligation to listen to those voices, whether they were from people in the industry trying to tell me their opinions of me or anyone trying to make me feel small.
Because I feel like the more you embrace your higher self, the more you find your bravery in showing up for life as best as you can.
AS: I like that. I also notice that your music has a lot of soulful elements to it, and also elements from other genres. Who inspired you to start creating music?
VC: Well, my grandma was a piano teacher and she played for church. And so I loved watching her play and seeing the effect of her passion and making art. The effect on everybody in church and everyone in the house when she played, it was such a meditative, relaxing uniting experience.
At four-years-old,when I saw her do that, I knew that I wanted to be involved and make stuff too like that. So I started sitting on her lap and she would show me how to play and it was very natural, organic coming into that relationship with music.
In terms of artists that made me want to write and do popular music, I was always a big fan of songs that were real and relatable but also made you feel a little bit larger than life when you sing along with them. I listen a lot to Stevie Wonder, which always has an underlying tone of positivity even if the songs were sad. And I loved big, dramatic singers like Steven Tyler, Bono, and Freddie Mercury. And all these singers from classic rock bands — Aerosmith, U2, Queen. I just loved the idea of showing up that way. Like finding a version of yourself that’s without fear of anything.
AS: “Drama” was featured in Nike’s recent Air Jordan campaign. What other things do you hope to accomplish with your new music?
VC: I really feel like what I’m most excited about is touring the live show. Because up until this point, I’ve played a lot of solo opening gigs, and they’ve all been pretty mellow, soulful and intimate. Sort of like a songwriters in the round type of vibe.Whereas with these songs, it’s a bigger energy. It’s more of a statement of who Victoria is.
The EP will be called Victoria and conceptually, each song kind of delves into a different part of me that is just as much me, but feels like a totally opposite person. So that’s really exciting for me. I feel like next year is going to be a big year of getting to play these songs exactly the way I envision them, which definitely new. Honestly, I’m proud of these songs. I’m proud of the collabs that have come from this. And I’m really excited for people to hear the most recent progress of my craft.
It’s a little more fun also. Even though it’s deep and kind of exploring these new facets of my journey with growth and everything, it’s still fresh and fun.
AS: What was the songwriting process like for the new EP Victoria?
VC: I was taking part in an artist residency in Fort Worth, Texas earlier this year. So I camped out in an apartment totally removed from everything and everyone for a few months, and invited writers and producers out to write with me.
And we must’ve written close to like 50 songs, or something like that, among me, my co-writers and producers. And then I ended up finding a really nice groove with Martin Luke Brown, who I co-wrote the whole EP with. I essentially always come in with my own chorus idea, and we always start from where I am with the song. It’s never totally from scratch or their idea. I like the foundation to be me, and I have a catalyst to help me in different places where I wouldn’t go on my own.
So that’s kind of the approach. I would produce a little chorus or demo, and get really fun with that and then flush it out with a co-writer. And then after we wrote those songs, we chose the four that we loved most. It’s just going to be four songs on this one EP, but I’ll be releasing a lot more music further down the line also. But these four really represent this period of growth and transition.
AS: As someone who’s a part of the LGBTQ community, Spanish-American, and differently-abled, how do you feel about inspiring younger generations who share similar backgrounds to you?
VC: Really, the best way I can describe it is I just want them to live without being confined to those labels, and understand that they are more than anything that people are going to define them as. And people are capable of so much more than they think they are.
And, I experience this a lot myself: holding myself back because of the fear of failure. Or maybe even the fear of what success could bring, or what it doesn’t bring that you think it’ll bring. And regardless of sexuality, gender expression, talent, career, or if you’re differently-abled or not, just really living in your present everyday and understanding that this life a really amazing, beautiful thing. Love yourself, that’s what I’m all about. I’m less goal-oriented than I’ve ever been, and I’m more so mindfulness-oriented. And I think that’s okay. I’m kind of coming to terms with that, I think there’s a way to accomplish what you want in life, but also be at peace with yourself without suffering. It’s what we’re all trying to do.