You all know by now that we love finding brand new talent here at Lemonade. Recently we came upon a young artist currently residing in Nashville who goes by the name SVRCINA. Her name might be new to the world, but this talented singer started songwriting professionally at 13 years old! You know, that age where the rest of us are still trying to figure out if it’s time to move on from Saturday morning cartoons or not.
Lucky for me, I got the chance to chat with SVRCINA over the phone recently, so without any further adieu…I introduce to you, SVRCINA.
Brandon: So how is everything in Nashville?
SVRCINA: Nashvile was pretty beautiful today. I was in the house – I’m working from home today, I have an internship because I’m trying to finish college, finish my undergrad degree as well as work on music. So I was in the house today working and I didn’t actually get a full grasp of the weather, but it looked pretty from the window.
B: You’re originally from Michigan. Now you’re living in Nashville. Tell us a little bit about living there, and also the music side of things. What are the differences between Michigan and Nashville?
S: Yeah, gosh, I grew up a little bit outside of Detroit. I was born in Dearborn, Michigan and moved out a couple of different times within the Detroit area. I grew up singing in church mostly, but then when I was ten I started hopping to the fairs and festivals and would perform in the Detroit area, up and around Michigan, and then started expanding to the greater Midwest. And the talent pool in Detroit is pretty pretty crazy. I had the opportunity at the time – I don’t know if it’s so much this way now – but there were a lot of karaoke-type competitions, especially during the peak of American Idol.
There were some producers from a studio in Detroit that had recorded Aretha Franklin. It was in Harmonie Park. It was called Harmonie Park Studios, and that was the only studio that I was aware of that was, like, fully functioning at the time in Detroit. But it was cool just to be in the building, recording where some pretty cool history was made with other artists from Motown. I started music pretty young at ten, and shockingly people took me seriously. I had met a publisher that was from Detroit living in Nashville, like I said, the music and the talent pool in Detroit is pretty incredible, but as far as songwriting it was a totally different and foreign world to me.
So after meeting the publisher she ended up inviting me down to Nashville when I was 12 to see how I could hold my own with these professionals and writers. It just opened my eyes to a totally different side of music. Nashville being the music place that it is, there is a pretty amazing emphasis on songwriting and the songwriter practice behind music, not just the performance aspect. So, I learned, probably the biggest difference for me personally, I learned a lot about performance in Detroit and cutting my teeth performing in the area, and then started a different side with songwriting and learning from other writers here in Nashville. I mean it’s all an ongoing learning experience and learning journey, but that’s a long way to describe the differences. [laughs]
B: Well I was going to say that in just the lakes region in general, I mean you talked about the past musicians, whether it be Motown or you mentioned Aretha Franklin, obviously a big part of that, and Prince from Minnesota. And we’ve recently had artists like yourself, Leslie Lane and Olivia Millerschin from Michigan and then Queen Hilma from Wisconsin. I don’t know if maybe the coasts don’t think about it very much, but it’s a hotbed for music.
S: Yeah, and the music industry in Detroit…it’s not, like, totally dead, but for a lot of artists you can reach a certain point you do have to expand and hit one of the coasts or go to Nashville, or even overseas to continue the journey. Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can do in some of those cities, including Detroit, at the moment. I’m very proud to be from Detroit and I think there’s some young blood and young creatives that are coming back into the city to rebuild it a bit, which is awesome to see that process begin. But I do love Nashville, though.
B: Yeah, I’ve heard that from everybody I know who’s made the move to Nashville. People absolutely love it there, especially if they’re songwriters. Speaking of songwriting, correct me if I’m wrong, but you started songwriting when you were 13, right?
S: Yeah, so I started…I very vividly remember my mom telling me when I started singing, and my parents took me seriously very young, which I’m very thankful for. But I was literally eight and I was singing in church and my mom told me like “if you’re going to want to do this for real, you’re going to have to learn how to write music and how to be a songwriter.” And I took mental note of that, but I didn’t really know what that looked like. After I met that publisher at the competition, she had me come down the Nashville for the first time and I wrote my first song when I was 12…
S: …And then she offered me a publishing deal a year later. So, I was 13 when I signed a publishing deal. I had to hit the old courthouse and everything [laughs]. I had to appear before a judge to make it legit because I was still a minor-
S: …So, yeah I look back at the and it’s pretty mind blowing.
B: That’s incredible. I mean, I think about myself. I’ve done a lot of different forms of writing since I started around 14, but that was just getting into it, you know? I just can’t imagine writing for a publisher at 13. The amount of pressure must have been enormous.
S: Yeah, well she was super gracious and so were all the writers that she placed me with. When I would come back and forth during that year before she actually signed me, she would literally sit in the writer’s room with me just so my parents felt like I was safe and was in good hands. She would take the occasional nap while writing [laughs]. But, it’s still a job job and I had a quota to meet, so it was one of those things where it was like, there was only so much I could do in Detroit. So, my family ended up making the move to Nashville when I was 14, and my parents are still married, but my dad still works in Detroit. And, I’m 20 now and he’s been commuting back and forth from Detroit to Nashville for seven years.
B: Oh my gosh.
S: We took the opportunity very seriously, and I just am so grateful to the Lord and to my parents – for the parents that I have – because I would not be here or be doing any of this if they weren’t supportive and weren’t willing to do that.
B: Absolutely. It’s great that they had that sort of belief in you because a lot of parents will try to almost talk their kids out of that sort of things because they’re afraid of the push back from the industry, or even just the fact that there’s a lot of criticism and that you won’t always experience good positive feedback. It’s pretty awesome that they allowed you to have that sort of opportunity.
S: Yes, oh my goodness, absolutely. I mean, they took the same type of approach with my brother. I have one older brother and he’s in the military, and from the time he was 12 he always said, “I’m gonna to fly for the Navy, I’m gonna fly for the Navy.” And my parents were totally supportive of that, and there are a lot of families that would want to maybe deter their kids from joining the military, too, because it’s dangerous potentially. But they’re just amazing people, and it’s just like freedom with boundaries. [laughs]
B: I was going to ask you, what is that like for you looking back at some of the stuff you wrote in your younger years, but, of course, you’re 20 so “your younger years.” [laughs]…
B: …Your even younger years. What is that like now? How have you grown as an artist from then to now?
S: Oh gosh, yeah, so when I started singing, like I said, I sang in church and then it transitioned. When I would perform I started with singing country music and the publisher that signed me. I was singing and writing all country music. I had fallen in love with traditional country, so, like Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. I wanted to write music and perform music like that. When I moved it definitely…it’s been an amazing learning experience, and then just over the course of learning the craft of writing, which is a never-ending. But, just growing up a little bit and kind of coming back to my roots of being from the north and other styles of music that I love to listen to.
When you’re so young and you start so young, you don’t really know yourself, and so I started transitioning as I got a little bit older, when I was 17/18, I got into the electronic and pop scene more. I would write with different people, and everyone’s got their different creative take on production or lyric, so my palette was open to a lot of different ideas and a lot of different options. So, it was kind of a spider web of writing with other people, and it was like this growing underground electronic scene in Nashville and it was like, “Oh my gosh, I can actually…I can do this?” So, I started to follow down that path and I am loving it.
That’s where we’re at now, so it’s quite a stretch from starting country and then do doing, like, a 180 doing pop/electronic music. But, there’s definitely a growing scene in Nashville and it’s super exciting to watch that. All of these other artists pop up in the Nashville area. Country’s amazing. I still love country music, especially the traditional country. I’m a fan, but as far as what I do it’s definitely transformed.
B: Well, I was gonna say, I was raised with country, and of course I think, like yourself, you had this point in your life where you want to branch out and listen to other stuff, and what’s great about it, personally, as a writer, even those small little influences shape you as a writer too. I mean, I’ve heard, I am blanking for a name at the moment, but I remember there was a kind of EDM-style track that actually had a very country sound to it a couple of years ago, and it was a hit because it was different.
S: Yeah. Was that Avicii?
B: It was Avicii! I just can’t think of who, because he’s with somebody and I can’t remember the name of the song and I’m usually really good at stuff like that.
S: Is it “Hey Brother” by chance?
B: Yes! Yes, you’re right.
S: Oh my gosh, I love that song.
B: Thank you! You helped me out there. I’m supposed to know this stuff. You should be the one doing the interview. [laughs]
S: No. [laughs]
B: As for your music, you do have an EP out right now, but you said you’re working on some new music as well. I know you’ve got school on top of everything. For the people who are kind of new to knowing about you, what exactly is going on in SVRCINA’s world right now?
S: Yeah, so the EP that I released, it’s been coming up on a year. I released it I think the first week of February of last year. The EP was pretty cinematic. The goal was to combine pop elements with kind of that epic feel. With some feedback that we had gotten, some really great constructive feedback, we decided to just strip it totally back.
So over the summer I had done some piano vocals that were like ambient piano vocals, and that rabbit trailed as well. I had been collaborating with other DJs and then just did this stripped back ambient stuff. Over the summer, I was doing some studying abroad for school, so I had gone to China, and my publisher is an arm of Kobalt, which you’ve spoken with (Becki DeVries) with Kompass Music. So, I emailed Becki and Dennis Matkosky, her partner, and I was like, “So, I’m gonna be in China, and is there any possibility that I could maybe go to London on the way back from China, because it’ll kind of be on the way back – (which it really wasn’t). But, they totally said yes. They set me up with some awesome writers.
The trip to China and my trip to London ended up being my first time being out of the country by myself. So, I was in London by myself, and literally the first writing session I had was with the producer, he goes by Kiz. This guy, his personality is infectious, and the first song I wrote in London I wrote with him. It is the single that we’re about to release this Friday, February 3rd. So, it ended up being an amazing decision to go ahead and take the trip to London. That trip was definitely really special for me, and the song is super special.
Then I did a collaboration with some DJs out of L.A. called Fancy Cars on a song called “I’ll Follow” and we did an independent release, kind of in the fall of last year. Universal Germany picked up the single, and so they’re going to re-release, I believe, in March. So, we’ve got a couple of singles coming out, and I think from here on out I’m going back to London in March and Berlin this time as well. Moving forward I think we’re going to be releasing singles at this time, and then possibly compile and put an album together by the end of the year.
B: Well, that sounds great. I was actually listening to a couple of your songs from your last EP and it’s incredible too, because when you get into the electronic pop sort of genre, sometimes you do have a lot of heavily distorted vocals, which is great because that adds to it sometimes, but your voice on its own is extremely good.
S: Oh, man.
B: I was listening to “Island” and it’s pretty incredible because you have this sort of falsetto that you go into and you think that’s going to be the whole song, then at the end you really have a lot of depth there as you start to get more passionate as the song goes on. How important is it to you in the genre you’re in to make sure your natural vocals are always a part of it?
S: Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, it definitely is important, I think, where the genre is right now, it’s definitely a combination of raw with a lot of technology. So, I am definitely a perfectionist, but it varies too with the producers that I’m working with, trying to hold and balance where the culture is at production wise, and be okay with having raw elements or mistakes, but also totally embracing the auto-tune vibe, if you will, just because that processed sound is the norm, so being somewhat flexible. I don’t know if it’s actually answering your question.
B: No, it totally does. It’s one of those things where I hear a lot of people that jump immediately to the anti-auto tune train. I’m not like that at all. I think there’s a place for everything. I’ve been a little but critical of artists sometimes use it as a crutch, which I know is totally “wrong” to say this, but sometimes I feel Bon Iver goes way down that route sometimes. But really, in general, I think there’s definitely a place for it. Like you mentioned, you have to have that raw element as well, because your voice is incredible. I was pleasantly surprised when I was listening to it. I was like, “Dang, she’s got a voice.”
S: Oh my goodness, thank you.
B: Well I’m definitely looking forward to hearing the new music, so that’ll be great. And, like you mentioned, you have a lot on your plate, with school and everything like that, but what else do you have in the works? Obviously, there’s a potential for music videos possibly touring. Has anything like that crossed your mind right now, or are you just focusing on getting new music made and released.
S: Yeah, we’re focusing at the moment probably up until the late spring with continuing to write music and singles that feel, like, viable for the rest of the year and to put a show together. I would say in the summer we’re going to start looking at playing some shows. I am going back to London and Berlin in March to create more music. I really would love to start touring and start playing out more. I’m also graduating in March. So, there’s a lot going on in March.
S: There’s a great threshold. Some things that have been en route for a couple of years are coming to an end, so it’s kind of like the next phase of the music. So, creating music and then in this summer/fall I would say I’ll start touring.
B: Nice. Now, we talked about the fact you’re in Nashville and there’s a lot of talent down there. It’s always kind of nice to hear from fellow artists, is there anybody down there that you’ve gotten to see play that have really stood out to you lately?
S: Oh gosh, yeah. The community here is just pretty amazing. So, I confess I am a raging fan of Daniella Mason. I saw her play live here recently, and she’s got an electro-pop vibe, pretty dance-y, and her vocals live are literally perfect. The music feels just amazing, it is very infectious. So, Daniella Mason. I love Florrie. She’s a little bit more on the cinematic end of the spectrum. I think she kind of compares herself to a female Coldplay-vibe. Just beautiful, beautiful. I love Whistle, Wave & Rome . They’re definitely some pretty crazy artists in town.
B: I’m going to have to make sure that I check out all of their Facebook pages and their Soundclouds. I would definitely love to hear them.
S: Oh, and Zayde Wølf. Yes, he’s a good one.
B: Oh, nice. Yeah I’ll make sure I check out all of those. Now, I guess for a final question, on either side, I know you mentioned on your website about everybody having a sort of platform or way to make the world better. You as a musician, especially with a lot of different things happening, how important do you feel that is in times like these?
S: You are full of excellent questions. Yeah, it’s definitely important to me. I think entertainment is meant to give people hope and inspire people with creativity in times that are so intense. I think about even something as simple as Shirley Temple back in the time where there was war and she was just the breath of fresh air that everyone needed. Someone like her, or entertainment in general, just lifted people’s spirits.
My hope is with music and providing really solid content that inspires people to use the gift that they have been given to go out and also make the world a better place, whatever that looks like. There’s definitely a lot of intensity and I do think music has a pretty profound impact on people’s emotions and behavior for better or for worse. I definitely think whatever the content you’re dwelling on has an impact on your behavior, so putting solid hopeful content out there. I know I won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but at least throw something to the marketplace of ideas for sure.
Check out SVRCINA’s new single, “Deeper” below and visit her website, HERE, for more music!
Editor in Chief of Lemonade Magazine