Suga Suga! Artist Spotlight on LA's VANILLA SUGAR (IXReverbnation Winner)
Who are you as a musician artist? What is your story?
I am Vanilla Sugar. I originally started writing songs in my apartment in Houston, TX back in 2009. I began posting music on MySpace, and was asked to perform live. I absolutely loved performing on stage, and made a habit out of it. I now tour regularly and can’t get enough. I reside in Los Angeles, CA, where I am currently working on my new album.
Who are your top musical influences?
I’m inspired by many different artists. Growing up, I was really into Metal - Korn, Slipknot, Marilyn Manson. Korn was the reason I started playing guitar. As I grew older, my music taste expanded. More electronic influences were added to the mix. New artists began to influence me - Mindless Self Indulgence, Grimes, and Sleigh Bells.
What makes your music stand out in the music industry?
I believe the songs are different from anything else that I am listening to. The songs are a mix of heavy, dark electronic synths, fluorescent vocals, and crazy beats. Part of what makes the music stand out is the raw energy behind it. I write music that I would want to listen to, which only encourages me to be more of myself when writing it. It’s not a generic, cookie cutter type album.
In your opinion, what is the future of the music industry, let’s say in 5 years?
I think the music industry will be all about streaming in 5 years. I also feel that music releases will be more single based versus album format. Fans get excited about new tracks, and streaming is so accessible. I think artists will be able to get more hype from a single release, with remixes, features, etc. I also believe that ticket prices for shows will continue to rise as artists are now gaining revenue differently with the decline of music being purchased.
What surprises you the most about music industry? Frustrates you? Inspires you?
What surprises me about the music industry is that women are still not treated equally to men. I have been talked down to by male sound engineers at shows. I approached one sound engineer and asked him about their stage specs (as the live show is set up a little differently from a band setup). He said to me, “Little girl, I have been around for a long time. I’ve been doing this since before you were born.” He totally dismissed me.
When it came to show time, he was fumbling around not knowing what to do. I helped him fix the situation. What inspires me though, is when fellow artists support other artists. It means a lot for local bands to stay the whole night to support touring artists, like myself. It’s also amazing when local bands offer a place to stay for the night while I am on tour. A gesture of kindness can really go a long way. I have also housed touring artists in return. I 100% believe in helping each other out.
What’s your Poison?
In the terms of a drink - vodka & club soda! In life, my poison is obsession. I always feel like what I create is never good enough, and keep wanting to improve it. Maybe add a little extra melody here, or a harmony there. I keep telling myself to let it go, it sounds fine, stop being crazy…but part of me never lets it go. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to change that about me.
How is your Music “your Religion”?
Music is definitely my religion. It’s what I wake up for every morning, and what I look forward to. I worship music, and wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for music. I didn't know how to handle my depression when I was younger. The sadness consumed me and I didn’t see a purpose for me anymore. Wanting to be alone, I started going outside every night after school into my backyard and sit on my swing, listening to music.
I would sit out there for hours, just zoning out and letting the music take over. That act in itself was religious. It was my sanctuary. I was able to connect with the lyrics from other artists, and it let me know that I wasn’t alone in feeling the way I did.
What are you creating with your artistry that changes the world?
I hope to change the world by encouraging others to stay in it. I write about a lot of personal experiences. Some devastating, some great. I was saved by music, and I want others to feel supported by mine. You are never alone. There is always someone else out there who feels the way you do.
What is the (spiritual, political, social) message of your music?
The message I want to send with my music is - we are strong as human beings. We can defeat any obstacles and come out stronger on the other end.
How has luck played a role in your career? Or not? What was your luckiest moment?
I don’t think luck has played a huge role in my career. Everything that I have achieved has been done with hard work. A lot of blood, sweat, and glitter.
What do you really think it takes to “make it” as an artist? List 3 important strategies.
The definition of “making it” for me would be to have a supportive fanbase, successfully tour, and be able to connect with & inspire a large amount of people. 3 important strategies to achieve this are: 1) Touring - (I never stop) Touring is so important because you’re making relationships with new people all over the world. 2) Connect with your fans. You wouldn’t be where you are if it wasn’t for these people who love and support you. Give back and make sure they know how much you love them too. 3) Never be stagnant. Always move forward with your music career. If you’re not playing shows, write and record in the studio. If you’re not in the studio - practice at home! You’re always working and furthering yourself daily.
What is your favorite life quote or philosophy that inspires you?
My favorite philosophy is karma. I am a huge believer in it. Always be good to others.
5 years ago what would you have done differently in your music career?
I would have moved to Los Angeles a lot sooner. I have been working on the album almost every day since I moved!
Where do you see your career going in five years? 10 years? Next year?
In 5 years, I would like to be filling House of Blues size venues across the world. Ideally, touring would take up 80% of my time. In 10 years, I would like to have my stage vests on display in the House of Blues!! Next year I plan to be touring most of the time ( yay, like in 5 years!) with a few new music videos under my belt.
Legacy: At the end of the day, how do you want people to remember you and your work of art?
I want people to remember how they felt when they heard my music. I want that feeling to inspire them to continue listening and share with generations after!