VCS Deliver Homegrown R&B Electro
Resembling the soulful melodies of R&B combined with head-bopping electro beats; Sydney-based VCS are the new cool kids on the block. Their latest debut album Awake, has been released to critical acclaim, and the groups growing popularity was shown when they smashed OutsideIn festival in early September. Backyard Opera caught up with lead singer/producer, Vinay Seeth, to check out what’s going on behind the scenes of VCS in 2013 and beyond.
How did you first enter the world of music?
I grew up in a musical family, but only started thinking about it seriously in early 2012. As a vocalist, I began singing in cover bands and at jazz clubs. Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and Al Green were heavy on my list of singing influences, but also contemporary stuff. I'm a huge Drake, Aaliyah and Usher fan too. I grew up on American R&B! My brother introduced me to rock, trip-hop and indie music. So we had a lot of different influences and music in our house.
When did VCS first form?
VCS started up in Jan 2012, with me and my brother as co-producers, and me on the vox. It all happened naturally after experimenting on Ableton and making a few tracks that we really liked, so we went for the jugular and made ‘Awake’ in mid 2012. Weekends, long nights, blood and passion, while balancing law school and work, that was pretty much the whole year. We released it in February 2013. Gigging started off with myself and David K, our guitarist, and expanded out with a drummer (Chris) and keyboardist (Jerel). Having the rest of the guys really gets the music going and makes gigging incredibly fun.
VCS’s debut album Awake, released this year is a cool mix of R&B electro, how would you describe the band’s style and genre and the meaning behind the album?
Our musical style reflects a mix between Electronica and R&B. In terms of lyricism, we are quite introspective, reflecting on different moments of our lives and trying to come at peace with it. More importantly, we do our best to make the lyrics are as interpretive as possible, letting whoever listens to it attach their own meaning to it. But ultimately, great music is about connection, and that's what I'm trying to do.
In terms of the meaning behind the album, I saw this release as me finally ‘waking up’ and taking a chance, acting on a passion that I’ve otherwise kept dormant and sharing something personal with the world. There was a lot I wanted to get off my chest and I found writing music to be the most comfortable and natural way to do it.
Where does your musical inspiration stem from?
In terms of the inspiration behind our sound, throughout high school I used to listen to a wide range of music but I was particularly a fan of 90s and early 2000s R&B/Hip hop. In particular, my favourite artists were Craig David, Usher, Nas, D’Angelo and Aaliyah. Later on, my brother introduced me to more electronica with some of my favourite artists being Massive Attack, Miike Snow and Faithless. So our music is kind of a crossover between the two.
In terms of our live feel, my brother and I were big fans of Incubus, The Roots and N.E.R.D. So we try to inject a similar energy and acoustic feel that they brought into our live sets, trying to find a neat balance between electronic elements and acoustic.
Was Triple J Unearthed a big part of publicizing the band’s music and reaching an audience?
Triple J has been quite useful in getting feedback from some of our fans and being played on Triple J unearthed radio. Getting feedback from Triple J hosts such as Fenella Kernebone has been valuable and quite encouraging for us. Otherwise, Facebook has been good to us. We're getting a fair amount genuine support through word-of-mouth from some of our peers and friends, which is really encouraging.
What were the highlights of performing at the OutsideIn festival in Sydney last month?
Getting to sing along with Elizabeth Rose was fantastic. She is a really talented musician in her own right, and a cool chick, so yeah, the opportunity to gig really opened my eyes to what I want to be doing. Seeing a full crowd getting into it and connecting through the music was surreal!
I also enjoyed catching the many fantastic underground and emerging talents that were performing at OutsideIn. I particularly enjoyed sets from Polographia, Oisima (and of course Elizabeth Rose!).
What gigs do you have lined up next?
Our next gig is at the Brighton up bar, Darlinghurst on 9th November 2013. We are opening for the Bright Young Things. We're still developing our live sound, but will be gigging quite regularly from early 2014 onwards to build up our live sound. So all things point to a great year in 2014!
… In other news, VCS recently released a music video for their track “The Search”, check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNGPOEZdjQ0. Keep a close eye on these boys as VCS are also working on a follow up EP, aiming for a mid 2014 release. Check out VCS through their social media pages to keep up to date on all the band’s happenings:
Triple J Unearthed: www.triplejunearthed.com.au/VCS
- Mimi Nightingale