Interview: An Vedi
An Vedi is a multiple award winning and Grammy-balloted indie singer-songwriter, violinist and composer. She has just released a new Christian song called 'My Sweet Lord', and Louder Than The Music spoke with this classically trained musician to find out more about her background in music, and how after becoming seriously ill with covid she feared she would never sing again.
For those who haven't heard of you before, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in making music?
I started making music and playing the violin at the age of 4. Although my parents and close relatives are not connected with music, I listened to recordings of classical and rock music and attended concerts and ballet performances since my childhood. At the age of 7 I started playing the piano, and almost immediately with both my hands. A couple of years after I won one of the international competitions in Greece, I composed my first pieces for piano and synthesizer. I had an excellent keyboard - a used Ensoniq KT-88, which my parents bought from no one knows where. I really liked to combine sounds, and when I had time, I spent hours recording my new compositions on floppy disks. By the way, I didn’t have much time, because my studies took 15-17 hours a day, since I studied at school and college at the Conservatory.
When I graduated from college and entered the Conservatory, I began to study as a violinist and composer, and also took conducting lessons. I chose the most complex works by Bach, Paganini and other composers as a violinist to perform, and I actively studied the modern classical music by Ligeti, Gubaidulina, Berg, Webern as a composer. By the end of my studies at the Conservatory, I had already won about 10 competitions as a composer, in addition to many awards as a violinist. I enrolled in post-graduation studies at the Department of Contemporary Music. And finally I was able to return to what I also did well as a little child - singing. But I started writing my own songs, while working on improving my voice according to the methods by Seth Riggs and other famous coaches.
Tell us about your new single 'My Sweet Lord' and what the inspiration behind it was?
This is one of my new songs that I wrote in the fall of 2022 and released almost recently. In 2020, I already recorded the LP "The Untuned Piano" and the EP "Wanna Be Alright" - both contain songs for voice and piano. This is my tribute to the art song genre, which was very popular in the 19th and early 20th century. Just voice and piano, nothing else. I decided to write this song, "My Sweet Lord", again returning to this genre, but with a Christian theme. Our lives are getting harder every day, we have to make more and more difficult choices. And, perhaps, music and prayer can help us make this choice the right one.
In September, I became seriously ill with a new strain of coronavirus and for the first time in my life I completely lost my voice for several days. I was diligently treated and believed in recovery, however, my thoughts were occupied with the fact that I might not record any more songs. Of course, I have many friends from the Recording Academy who are excellent singers, and some of them would be happy to perform my music, as they have done before. However, I worked on improving my voice for many years, already being a well-known and award-winning artist as a violinist and composer. Of course, it would be very sad if I could no longer express my musical thoughts in this way. But a miracle happened. And the song "My Sweet Lord" is dedicated to this miracle.
Do you have any plans to release more Christian music in the near future?
Yes, definitely, I do have. I have several songs of this genre that have not yet been released commercially, as well as many drafts and new ideas.
What message would you like people to take from your music?
I think that my message, which I convey through my music, is always connected with the hope for a better future for people, for finding peace of mind and the strength to fight some internal obstacles to spiritual growth. For me personally, music and what I do is the meaning of my life, and these are not "big words". I experienced clinical death in various forms several times, and also many diseases. But I have studied a lot and worked on my own to best express my thoughts - whether as a composer or performer. And even my "non-Christian" songs always have religious and philosophical overtones, which contain thoughts about the soul, eternal life and love for God as a form of thanksgiving for the opportunity to live this earthly life.
How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?
Since I’m a classically trained musician, in my music, I combine the purity of melodic lines and the transparency of chords with a modern approach to production, including a variety of genres and styles, because I also studied at the Berklee College of Music (online) as a music producer and songwriter. It's an amazing thing, but I perform and write music in almost all genres except rap, r&b and thrash metal. Last year I recorded an album of Latin American instrumental music as a violinist. This year I presented an album of Bach's music and music by modern classical composers from 5 countries. As for my songs, every album or every single is a new genre. But everyone who listens to my music - my friends or colleagues, or people who first found out about me and just wrote to me with their opinion - they all say that I have some kind of "my own" style, and it doesn't matter, it's about instrumental music, songs or about my violin performing style.
If you could work with any songwriter, who would it be and why?
What about living songwriters (and composers), I already have the honor of working with my colleagues at the Recording Academy. There are real talents, and mostly independent artists who don't work for major labels.
Once, a man who was a very famous promoter of rock bands before the era of digital music said to me: "An, you are the new Kate Bush." Of course, I was interested in working with her. Her "pop music" is a real challenge that she threw many years ago into the industry and she is still a well-known artist to this day.
As strange as it may sound, I would like to work with Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. This outstanding composer has written many beautiful songs. I studied his scores and sang some of them myself, and I can say that you will not find such a variety of musical pulsations in the seemingly transparent texture of music even in the most dynamic songs by Schubert and Schumann.
How would you define success in your career as an artist?
I would define success in a career as a musician, no matter what genre it is, it's the willingness to work. Every gig, new instrumental piece or new song, new award is a small success. But this is not the end point of a musician's development, nor is it the end of his or her life. That's why I'm always looking for new combinations of sounds, learning new techniques, playing and writing new music and songs.
What is your favorite album of all time?
"Innuendo" by Queen. This album was released the year I was born. And I listened to it a lot when I was a child. I told you about my Ensoniq KT-88. I was 10 years old when I did something like Fantasy on the song "The Show Must Go On" for keys. And I performed this piece in my concerts, which was rather unusual for the conservative audience of that time, when after Massenet or Wieniawski, whose pieces I played on the violin, I suddenly sat down at the keys and played my compositions and this Fantasy in memory of Freddie Mercury. But everyone liked this.
You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your phone. What track is it?
I have quite a lot of music and scores in my head so that I can listen to them at any time. But I, perhaps, will answer that it would be "Ave Maria" by Franz Schubert.
What does the next year hold for you?
I have several projects that are connected not only with my music but also with me as an organizer. I mean projects of an educational orientation - for example, "Cross Master Classes" - this is my project I started in 2018, and as part of it, I have already conducted classes with more than 300 young musicians and ensembles with my own teaching method. I also have some projects with members of the Recording Academy and other professional communities. And, of course, as I said before, I always learn and study something new, and now I actively work as a conductor besides my activity as a violinist, composer and singer-songwriter.