Hailing from the City of Angels, Veronica Bianqui has been singing her heart out since the moment she was hatched into the exciting world of music. Her breath is pop with elements of rock and sprinkles of funk and R&B but she isn’t afraid to explore any number of categories within her field. Her powerful voice commands any room and her two-step moves on stage summons the crowd to praise her animated energy. With several singles and music videos available online, her latest single “Victim” is a sensational indie-pop track with a serious subject matter about drug addiction that was written after her sister tragically lost her fight to that addiction.
The Echo, in the heart of Los Angeles, was the epicenter for Veronica Bianqui’s latest triumph where she capitalized on the hungry fans looking for a colossal show. With a full band that included a horn section and backing vocalists, she left the room sparkling with a glimmer of hope for the future of indie artists climbing their way to the top. We caught up with Veronica to chat about her origin story, her love of cassette tapes and the upcoming release of her debut album.
Can you tell us about the origins of Veronica Bianqui? Where did the musical adventure begin?
In the womb. Started young, singing, writing songs, did musical theater in middle school, choir and electronic music in high school. I went to college at UCLA, studied musicology, and I always knew that my strong suit was writing songs. I’m not a classical musician, even though I’ve studied some classical music. I’m not a jazz musician, even though I’ve studied some jazz music. But it’s just been a slow progression of finding my voice and I think I’m getting there.
Being part of other bands like The Blank Tapes and Jail Weddings, how do manage working with them and working on your own solo music?
It’s so far worked out pretty well. Blank Tapes has been around for much longer as a group than I have, and so Matt Adams, who helped co-produce my album, he has got a leg up of touring, so it’s been great touring Europe, Brazil, and the US with him. I’m slowly starting to finally play in more shows with my band outside of town, and I take a lot of inspiration from him. He’s such a prolific writer. But we both understand that we have our own things going on. So, we help each other out when we can but we’re also on an understanding basis of we have our own things going on, so I think it balances out well.
Tell me about the band you have, amazing band: horns, singers, backup singers, everything. How did you find that group?
Kind of just word of mouth of college, I knew some horn players, and they recorded on it, and then if I had some gigs, I was like, “I want horns.” And if they couldn’t make it, they recommended a few others. And these two horn guys, they’re so enthusiastic and love playing it, and they’re always down, I’m like, “Fuck yeah!” And my backup singers, same thing. I went to college with one of them. We actually went to middle school, high school and college, but she’s a bit younger, so we didn’t quite know each other the whole thing, the whole trajectory. But they’re such powerful singers and they’re down to do it. I’m very lucky, it’s just word of mouth, and living and being from LA.
Do you do that with all shows or is it some shows your solo work?
It depends on the gig. Sometimes I’ll do it solo, sometimes I’ll do it even as a three-piece, just guitar, bass drums.
Is there a preference?
I prefer the whole band, but there is something that I really like about having it a bit more stripped down. But, if the time is right, and the stage is right, we can all fit, yeah, everyone.
It was a little crowded up there, but you made it work.
I love the song “Victim”, it’s a standout, but I know what the content’s about. Do you get tired of talking about that?
It seems like everyone talks about that. I don’t know how comfortable you are talking about that. It seems like there’s something tragic about the content on that song.
No, I’m totally comfortable talking about it. I’m the first one who talked about it. I actually wrote the song before my sister passed away, and it’s about co-dependency. But then, once she passed away, the meanings of the lyrics took on a different form and it sort of, to me, became an anthem of giving hope to people who have addictions, because I always tried to give my sister hope of like, “There is a way out. You don’t have to feel like you’re a victim.” A lot of times people struggle … I don’t know totally because I’m not in the position that my sister in, but I knew what I was struggling with, with my own sort of way of being a victim to the world. I’m not tired of talking about it. It should be talked about because drug overdoses, that’s an epidemic, and that’s the reason why I decided to make sales from that song to towards the Harm Reduction Coalition to help addicts. It’s not a rehab association, it’s an association that treats addiction as an actual issue, like, people are going to do drugs. Let’s not say “Don’t to drugs”, it’s going to happen but we can at least treat addicts with respect and reduce the amount of deaths that happen, reduce disease that gets spread, whether it’s Hepatitis C, or HIV, or needle exchanges, things like that, you know?
And what has been the outcome, so far, with you donating the proceeds to that coalition?
My plan is to do a quarterly thing of adding up how much I’ve made. I’m such a new artist that most people don’t like buying music, so I don’t know how much it is but whatever little amount I can give.
Yeah, everything helps.
I’m happy for. Yeah. And at least to raise awareness, you know?
What was it like working with Mark Rains on your upcoming release?
Mark is fucking amazing. So, the first time I worked with him was with Jail Weddings, he is such a quick worker, he has great ideas, he has a great ear, he’s also a musician, he’s a quick engineer and he’s not the kind of guy who will but in unless you ask, “Hey, what do you think?” And then he totally has poignant, strong opinions that have always been on point and I love him so much.
Did you learn anything from him with regards to how you’ll release future EPs or albums?
I always ask him, “Hey, what do you think if I release this as the next single?” I definitely consult him and ask his opinion about things. And then, when I’m getting things mastered, I’m like, “What do you think?” So, I hold his opinion in high regard.
What was the toughest thing, or hardest, if there was any, difficulties making this album?
The most difficult thing is the fact that it’s my first album, and so I’m very precious about it. So, most of it’s been recorded for at least a couple of years, but because it’s my first release I want to be delicate about how I put it out, how I’m representing myself. At the same time, I pretend to be a perfectionist, where I don’t want to get to the point of holding on to it forever, where I don’t ever release it, you know? But that’s something I’ve learned from working with Matt from The Blank Tapes. He’s helped me, like, if there’s one note wrong, I’ll fixate on that one note and he’ll be like, “Its fine.” Even though he has a good ear for detail, he helps me balance it out.
The most challenging part is just letting it go. I feel like, once this is finally released, I’ll be able to expand. Like, a lot of my newer stuff, which a few of the songs are on this new album, but my newer stuff, the sound is changing. The dynamic, I’m trying to pair down more. Originally, it was lots of layers, lots of stuff going on. I’m trying to strip it down a little more and make it a much more… I want to say funk, RnB influenced, more space in the sound. So, yeah, the most challenging part is just putting it out in the world.
What was the first album you bought with your own money? How do you feel about that album all these years later?
I don’t remember if it was with my own money. It might have been with my own allowance money, but I definitely remember the first album I ever bought was TLC, Crazy Sexy Cool, on cassette. I was probably eight, and I actually have a cassette of myself, I used to always record myself as my own radio DJ, singing along and stuff, TLC was the first.
Have you gone back to listen to that album?
Is it in your car on repeat?
No, but I’ve been wanting to digitize it. That was an important part of my life.
Yeah. Speaking of cassettes, you released a single on cassette?
How do you feel about this whole retro, going back to the ’80s when we had cassettes? I never thought that would come back.
I think cassettes are cool. Still a lot of us, who don’t have brand new cars, we have cassette decks in our cars, and so it’s really great for that. My fucking cassette deck in my car sometimes work, and then sometimes it warps it and it doesn’t work, I’m like, “Fuck!” But I think it’s really cool. Number one, I love vinyl. That, to me, is my favorite thing. Cassettes, they’ve sort of had a recent boom in the underground. I feel like it’s kind of going out, in a way, but still there is a place for it, for people like myself who are like, “Oh, I have a cassette deck in my car.”
You’re the only one in LA. What has been your greatest rock star moment, so far?
Oh God. Greatest rock star moment? What do you mean?
Something where you said, “Fuck yeah! This is why I’m here.”
Probably a combination of things, of like, if I’m the opening act and the room is packed, I’m like, “Oh, wow. People are here to see my band play, that’s cool.” Or hearing about how much I’ve touched people’s hearts and stuff.
Do you have any horror stories on the road with The Blank Tapes, Jail Weddings or as a solo artist that would make an interesting short story or short film?
This is on record. There was a time, someone who used to play in my band, who filled in with The Blank Tapes, who ended up being quite an asshole, and we kicked him off our European tour and sent him back home to America because he was that much of an asshole. That was pretty horrible.
That’s pretty horrible. Is there any advice you have for new bands just starting out?
Go to a lot of shows, be supportive of other artists as much as you can. You meet people going out to shows. My life changed, I’m from LA, I’m born and raised.
So was I.
All over. I was born at the UCLA Hospital.
Oh, okay. I was born in Burbank, grew up in Encino, went to high school in west LA, Hamilton. But, yeah, I’d just go into shows all the time, meeting people that changed my life. Moving here to Echo Park, where I’ve lived across from The Echo, I still live super close. Yeah, meeting people at shows, having genuine friendships with people who happen to work at the venues, or who play in bands, and going to shows that you like, I think that has helped a lot. And I didn’t necessarily do it because I had a goal of, “Oh, they’re going to book me.” But it’s more like, this is something I enjoy doing and it’s flourished.
I mean, it’s taken years. I’ve lived in Echo Park now over five years and it wasn’t until recently, a couple of years ago, or maybe … I played here with Jail Weddings maybe two and a half years ago, and that was my first time playing at The Echo, and I was so excited about it. But it wasn’t until not that long ago when I played here with my own band. And so, you know, just be in it for the long run, and it’s not going to be an overnight thing. And if you want an overnight thing then you’re not in it for the right reasons. It’s a life choice.
What is next for Veronica Bianqui?
So, I’m releasing my album, I found a label.
Does it have a name yet?
The album? I’ve always wanted to call it: If Love’s a Gun, I’m Better off Dead. It’s quite a long title, but I kind of like that.
It’s a good title.
Yeah. This album is down to do it, I don’t want to give too much away before it’s super official. Touring, finally. Hopefully going to set up some tours for this year. I’m going to the UK to play a show in a couple of weeks. I have a connection with the UK, I lived there for a year, so I like to go there once a year and play a few shows. We’re trying to rehearse more. It used to be a thing of like, “We have a gig, let’s have a couple rehearsals.” But now I’m really trying to hone it down, where it’s like, “Let’s practice regularly, build up more of a set, so that we can even longer of a set.” Throw in covers, throw in more new songs, just be prepared to take it to the next level and take it on the road.
Blow My Mind
I Do Much Better
If Love’s a Gun, I’m Better Off Dead
Don’t Love me Blue