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Q&A With V.V. Brown

The Woman Behind the Mask

V. V. Brown wears many masks, whether on stage, or as a creative artist on a major label, or as a model for Vogue, or as an intellectual discussing quantum physics. With her debut album, Traveling Like The Light, she’s learning which mask fits best. At SXSW, SF Station interviewed V.V. Brown in hopes of discovering the woman beneath the mask before her performances at the Independent on April 13th and 14th.

SF Station (SFS): My coworker described your performance as having a really punk, Grace Jones-esque feel, but when she later showed me a video of yours she was surprised at how polished you were. Are you being shaped by the record industry?

V.V. Brown (VV): This is such a good question. I don't know how to answer this one. I'm trying to be diplomatic. I think when you see me live; I think it's a process. If you listen to "Crying Blood", it has much more of a punk vibe than "Shark in the Water." When you hear "Shark in the Water" live it is much more raw. … I've had to maybe compromise a little bit.

SFS: If you compromise to the label’s path, you'll eventually become something you're not.

VV: Yeah, You do have to constantly evaluate every decision you make. Is this me? Sometimes it's really hard when you're an artist because it's the war between being you, and appealing to a mass market. Once I've proved myself, when it comes to the second album, you will start to slowly see the V.V. live come through and there will be such a strong foundation it will just grow. It's like being a lawyer.

SFS: I read that you were going to be a lawyer.

VV: Yeah, I was going to be a lawyer.

SFS: What type?

VV: A corporate lawyer.

SFS: So you wanted to make money?

VV: Yeah, well we all want to make money eventually, don't we? But I think that job would have been a little too restrictive, and predictable. I like music because there isn't one formula.

SFS: Were your parents concerned that you chose such an unpredictable lifestyle?

VV: My mom and dad knew that I would always be in the arts because I was in a punk band when I was fourteen and they let me go to Japan. I think they wanted me to go to Oxford for law as a contingency plan because they know how unpredictable the industry is for anyone.

SFS: What helps you get through the moments of doubt?

VV: God helps me. I'm a very spiritual person — not religious, more spiritual. I grew up Christian and I still have Christian values, but I kind of have a new Christianity that I follow called Christian Quantum Physics, where I mix those two theories together. I think quantum physics is basically the meaning of life.

SFS: I read that you're really into quantum physics.

VV: Love, I'm obsessed with it.

SFS: Okay, so here is a quantum physics question. When not bound to an atom, an electron's energy is no longer quantized, but it displays, like any other massive particle, a Compton wavelength. While a photon does not have mass, it does have linear momentum. Are you an atom or a photon?

VV: That is the best question anyone has ever asked me. I'd be a photon.

SFS: Does your mind channel thoughts with frequencies or do thoughts manifest themselves without linear direction?

VV: You're great. That's really powerful you know. I'm a true believer that telepathy can happen. There is this book that I read called The Hidden Message in Water by Masaru Emoto. When he talked to the water particles, if he spoke positive things the actual particles under the microscope were more formed, than when you spoke negative things which were more fragmented.

I'm definitely one where my thoughts are like frequencies, and I tend to meditate on wanting things to happen and they happen — I guess.

SFS: Why do you wear masks?

VV: I wear masks because they're sexy and you're not quite sure what is behind them. Even though you know it's me coming on stage, there's a natural mystery. It's so beautiful — the feathers, the glitter, and the fact you can see my eyes but nothing else. I think it's a great form of showmanship and I always want my live performances to slowly evolve into a show. I don't just want to be a live musician with a band behind me.

SFS: What is behind the mask that you, as Vanessa, put on to become V.V. Brown?

VV: Well V.V. Brown is Vanessa, and Vanessa is V.V. Brown. It's my nickname you know, "VV." I would wear a mask whenever. I'm dying to wear a mask while I have sex. That would be a very liberating experience. Like a big, massive, mask that'd be hot.

SFS: What type of mask would you're partner where?

VV: The mask I tell them to wear. [Laughs]

V.V. Brown opens for Little Dragon at the Independent on April 13th and 14th. Tickets are $20 and the show starts at 9pm.