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Slaying adversity with Mindkiller
VANESSA Fernandez knows first-hand the challenges homegrown musicians face. After all, she has been championing local music for years, running the soon-to-be-defunct indie station Lush 99.5, and is a recording artiste herself who performs under the "Vandetta" moniker.
Against the odds of straddling a day job with a singing career, she is set to release her new EP Mindkiller with a launch gig on Friday to celebrate it. The title, as well as the music, are inspired by the line, "Fear is the mindkiller", off Frank Herbert's cult sci-fi novel Dune which she read shortly after graduating from Ngee Ann Polytechnic in mass communication.
"(The phrase) answers the question I pose in the concept of this EP of what it takes to enable an artiste to create when struggling," explains Fernandez. "Each song is a story of struggle or confidence, which comes when you battle or overcome adversity."
Mindkiller is the second EP she's recording as Vandetta and her first after a three-year hiatus. She broke into the scene with hip hop groups Urban Xchange and Parking Lot Pimp before becoming part of audio-visual collective Syndicate. With the latter, she released an experimental album as Octover with veteran producer Jason Tan on the Syndicate label, and has also recorded the audiophile CD Use Me under her own name.
Mindkiller comes on the back of her very busy work schedule but Fernandez maintains that making music has always been important to her even when she doesn't have enough time: "It's a form of catharsis ... I believe creating art is useful in business and management too because it keeps you connected and exercises parts of your brain you don't usually get to."
The EP also marks the first time she is playing executive producer - "I had to coordinate the producers, engineers and talent to pull it altogether" - and she feels the new five-track is more accessible than her self-titled Vandetta debut.
"At the time I created that EP, I had moved to Los Angeles and I was far more introspective, figuring out how to do everything on my own as much as possible - producing and marketing that taught me the value of technology for the independent artist," Fernandez shares. "On the other hand, Mindkiller explores reaching out to more people for help, which is why I wanted to work with different producers while using my voice as a unifying thread - it sounds simple but it can be difficult, although I'm a person who enjoys finding solutions to challenges."
Mindkiller comprises five tracks made in collaboration with as many homegrown producers: veterans Kiat, Koflow, and upcomers Lineath, Perk Pietrek and Fauxe. She collaborated with her Octover partner Tan on vocal production and recording, while her radio colleague and music icon Chris Ho, and rapper Kim Olsen both guest on it.
The bouncy first single with the Singlish-inspired title Onz pays tribute to those who keep the local music scene going, especially the Old Guard.
"When I first heard the beat produced by Perk Pietrek, I thought it felt really positive," recalls Fernandez. "(And) positivity for me comes from seeing the veterans in our music scene who keep hustling, creating and throwing awesome events for the community while working day jobs (which) can be very tough to do in Singapore given our cost of living - yet they don't stop, they keep going!"
- Vandetta's Mindkiller showcase takes place at Kilo Lounge on Aug 25 at 7pm. The EP is available to stream and buy on all digital platforms. For more info, check soundslikevan.com