Staying relevant is one thing for a seasoned veteran.
To stay ahead and lead, instead of keeping up with the rest, it takes a lot more than a keen knowledge of current styles and genres embraced by the trend-setters and trailblazers. It takes creativity that transcends flashy or even gimmicky production techniques — in composition, delivery and skill in dealing with producing a truly original product. The psychedelic synth-pop (for a lack of a better category) that permeated Tame Impala's newest album could've been a disaster if it weren't for frontman Kevin Parker's distinctively focused songwriting.
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For someone like Vandetta, aka Lush99.5fm's Vanessa Fernandez, it has also taken a lot of hustling and dedication that has emboldened her ideas and allowed her to remain as one of Singapore's most strikingly unique artists, playfully dancing on the fringes of the mainstream. Making her way through the public consciousness as a prominent vocalist in R&B/rap collective Urban Xchange, she's currently crafting musical ideas as Vandetta while performing her duty managing the alternative radio station. Her position as tastemaker and musician has allowed her to keep a firm root into the underground electronic music scene.
Presenting Vandetta Remixes, it's a collection of tracks featured on her self-titled EP, reworked by various producers who inject a myriad of eclectic flavour into the predominantly downtempo songs — 'Ground Zero' is given an extra sub-bass punch thanks to drum & bass extraordinaire Kiat while Los Angeles artist Seven Saturdays weaves in a bit of euphoric post-rock magic in 'Myne'.
Vanessa personally selected the producers involved and even expounded a bit about how these individuals played a part in presenting a brand new lens into her world as Vandetta. Here's what she has to say, track by track.
Myne | remixed by Seven Saturdays ft. Joey Ponchetti)
When I wrote 'Myne' back in 2011, I recorded myself in my Downtown apartment — a loft with a few pieces of furniture and a very high ceiling. I'd sing at my dining table in the middle of the night, looking out through large windows at a deep black LA sky. It made me feel like I had a lot of space... like I was free. That’s also how I feel when I listen to the Seven Saturdays Remix of 'Myne', with its gradual soaring of the additional chords coupled with the open restraint of Joey Ponchetti on drums.
Ground Zero | remixed by Intriguant
Listening to Intriguant’s remix always puts me in a meditative state. As I listen to it again now, I’m reminded to be mindful. It’s exactly what I needed today to stay grounded. And as the second track on the EP, I feel it lays the groundwork for the rest of the songs to take flight.
Number One | remixed by Isaac Aesili
(New Zealand musician) Isaac Aesili first heard 'Number One' at a gig I'd done for Syndicate Subsessions. It was after that he told me he'd be down to remix it and I was super excited he was keen. He's elevated it into a journey filled with trumpets and moving basslines and clapping chorus that make me smile. If I have half the heart that Isaac Aesili does, I will be content.
Fly | remixed by KoFlow
The first time I heard KoFlow's remix of 'Fly' was for a gig we were doing at Night Festival. He had gotten eight scratch DJs together to perform one of the best displays of turntablism I've ever seen. I remember meeting the guys one night at rehearsal and watching KoFlow direct the set with comfort and confidence. One of the things I have learned from watching him is how to be a good leader and role model.
Walls | remixed by Sauce81 ft Albino Sound
Sauce81 totally flipped the script on the track and gave it a Motown soul vibe, completely unexpected and intriguing. We went back and forth on the mix and in the end I learned the second thing from him — which is that you need to be able to stand by what you create.
Fly | remixed by Jean Reiki
It’s important when you’re an artist/musician to have realistic expectations and a clear purpose about why you do what you do. If it’s about fame and glory, that’s probably not going to sustain you. But if you can find that connection to your soul, know what the music means to you, what the people in it mean to you… I think that takes you further. I appreciate that lesson Jean Reiki — a lesson in patience and tolerance. And as the only female producer on the Vandetta EP Remixes, I’m honoured to have her.
Myne | remixed by Beat Ventriloquists
I imagine their remix as the soundtrack to flying in space. Ethereal synth lines paired with percussive drums that accelerate just as you’re about to hit hyperdrive, dropping you into a million stars.
Ground Zero | remixed by Kiat
Kiat’s remix of 'Ground Zero' is that perfect balance between hard and soft. It’s liquid courage. As the penultimate track on the album, I thought it was a great set-up for what I think about I’ve learned from the scene.
Fly | remixed by Perk Pietrek
When I first heard his remix, I was completely blown away. Where the f^$k did this guy come from? Super sick beats and how he reworked the vocals into a chanting chorus that bounces over bumping bass turns 'Fly' into an anthem. There’s a slickness in his production and approach of both music and melody, which makes me see why he’s had nods from Mad Decent, and also gets me excited about the talent in Singapore’s electronic music scene.
You can download and stream Vandetta Remixes on Bandcamp.