I don’t belong…
Hailing from Los Angeles, Violent Vickie describes herself as a “Dark Synth-Riot” artist. Embracing themes that include consumerism, relationships, gender, hedonism and all points in-between, Vickie (in collaboration with co-producer/recording guitarist E) carves out a strange dreamscape of sound that can be unsettling, but always intriguing.
Her latest release, the sublime ‘Circle Square’, chugs along with rhythmic beats that have a mesmerising effect on the listener. Vickie’s vocals have a gauzy quality to them; indistinct and covered in washes of effects (“I stumble along/In your world”). It’s a song that “explores the illusion of not belonging” and has a subtle darkwave appeal.
Equally, her earlier release, ‘Serotonin’ presented a brooding, Gothic quality. Like some damaged hymnal, it lets loose some dark electronics and effects-laden dirty guitar.
All this seems a long way from Vickie’s initial musical roots. Growing up in San Dimas, she initially embarked on penning folk-style songs after teaching herself guitar. Apparently, she’ll still pick the guitar up now and then, such as her strangely evocative take on Johny Cash classic ‘Ring of Fire’ (sounding like something that’s fallen out of a lost David Lynch film).
Inspired by friends who were into experimental electronic music, Vickie later enrolled in music classes at the University of California. Here, she familiarised herself with processors and analogue synths – and later invested in a drum machine. Writing and producing her fledgling material, much of the Vickie Violent sound was inspired by the likes of Peaches, Le Tigre, Throbbing Gristle and June Ruin. But elements of riot grrrl and electroclash are lurking in there too.
2013 saw the arrival of Monster Alley, which marked Violent Vickie’s debut album release. Although the tracks bounce around in terms of style, there’s certainly moments that connect with her more recent output.
Offerings such as ‘Drugs’ seem to be pulling from more of a retro New Wave approach. Vickie’s vocals here playing around with themes of hedonism and escapism (“You ain’t gotta worry when you got drugs”). It’s not a million miles away from the sort of tunes that Peaches plays with.
Elsewhere, there’s the buzzy rawness of ‘Lies’ and the seductive tones of ‘The Wolf’ (the latter also featuring in a National Organisation for Women film).
There’s commentary on consumerism via the synth-pop tones of ‘Beauty Store’ (“I bought five/But i wanted more”). Conversely, the stark ‘Men’ offers stripped-down percussion and sleazy synths.
Meanwhile, the echoes and washes of ‘The Scientist’ seems to indicate the direction that Violent Vickie is evolving towards. Here, the vocals take on a ghost-like presence against insistent electronic rhythms.
Monster Alley certainly resonated with the LA-based electronic community, with the album also being selected as one of the Best of 2013 by radio station KALX (UC Berkeley’s student and community radio station).
Outside of writing and recording, Vickie has also taken her tunes to the road. This includes touring with Hanin Elias (Atari Teenage Riot) and supported Jessie Evans (The Vanishing), Trans X, Them Are Us Too, Aimon & The Missing Persons.
Both ‘Circle Square’ and ‘Serotonin’ are taken from her followup album to Monster Alley, the forthcoming Division (which was partially funded via an Indiegogo campaign).
Violent Vickie is likely to find fans among those electronic music enthusiasts who like their tunes to have a raw, gritty feel to them. ‘Circle Square’ provides a fine starting point.
‘Circle Square’ is out now via Bandcamp: https://violentvickie.bandcamp.com/track/circle-square and Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/1qF3ggg6XluH4ZSlaxMpsW