Creating Art Through Empathy | Meet Singer-Songwriter Victoria Monét

Author: Mia Guevarra / Photos: Angelo Vasquez
03.22 / MISSBISH Artist Series

Singer-songwriter Victoria Monét has been writing songs for artists like Ariana Grande, Fifth Harmony, and Kanye West for years. Last month, she released a project of her own and is aiming to bring her dreams to fruition. Inspired by her own experiences and life around her, she creates her art with empathy and passion. She is like the best friend who knows exactly what you mean every time you confide in her. If you don't already know Victoria, get ready to remember her name. Check out her interview with MISSBISH below.

You just released a project at the end of February. What can you tell us about this project and how does it differ from what you’ve done before? 
I’m really excited to get this off of my chest because it’s the most personal project I’ve ever, ever done. It’s about a terrible breakup I had with someone who I thought was my “forever." It’s in chronological order of the feelings I went through right after the breakup. You will absolutely hear my heartbreak in this music and I know so many people can relate! We’ve all had had to go through a hard breakup, so let Life After Love be the soundtrack because I want to heal through it with you.

Did you always know you wanted to be a singer/songwriter? 
I actually always wanted to but was way too shy to open my mouth and sing in front of people. I would only sing in the shower or make people turn their backs to me until I got enough courage to sing. It’s kinda funny. I’ve always wanted to be a triple threat (singer, dancer, and actress) but growing up, I was training mostly in dance because it was a silent sport. I think that’s where I got my stage confidence from though, so looking back on it I’m so glad it happened in that order.

How did you begin writing songs and start your career in the music industry? 
For the longest time, I didn’t even know artists didn’t write their own music. I assumed if you sang it, you wrote it. I was so wrong. One day my cousin encouraged me to exchange poetry with her weekly, and that’s how it all started. Soon I was putting the poetry writing skills to music because I saw this as a way to lose all the fear and get started on my artistry. A friend of mine suggested I be a “ghost writer” in addition to writing for myself, and he and explained what it meant. I took the advice and just kept writing and singing--after meeting one person, that lead to meeting another and another. Eventually, I moved to LA and kept my head buried in the music and it’s been going on like that for years.

In what ways did growing up in Sacramento influence the artist you are today? 
Well, with Sac being so diverse, I got a taste of a lot of different genres. My mom also had a super wide variety of music taste. She would play everything from Sade to Uncle Luke while we cleaned the house, lol. I feel that today, I am a melting pot of a few different feels but my heart is always in the '90s mixed with an indie feel. Sac has a super cool indie, artsy vibe downtown where I used to practice dance with Boogie Monstarz, and I think that’s where I met my match and felt right at home.

" hard but enjoy it and don’t stress or take it all too seriously. It’s music."

Who are some of your musical influences and who would you like to collaborate with down the road? 
My favorite ladies are Beyoncé, Sade, Aaliyah, and Janet! I call them the Magic4! If I could even be a fly on the wall in any of those studio sessions my life would be complete! I also have a huge place in my heart for the one and only Michael Jackson forever and always. If I could collaborate with someone, it would be anyone who worked closely with these amazing artist (Timbaland, Missy, Sade: the band, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Babyface). It would be an honor.

What is your songwriting process like? 
I usually love starting music from scratch. I love working with musicians who can give me dope chord progressions. I like to write while the beat is still very empty because I feel like it leaves more room for melody options for me. I’ll pace around the studio for a while until I have something I’m feeling, and I’ll go in and record the song. I come out and comp my vocals, listen for a while and then I’m back in the booth fixing and building things! It’s like a computer playground. I mean how cool is it to work with the art of sound?

Where do you get inspiration for your music/lyrics? 
My inspiration comes from my personal experiences mixed with other people’s experiences. I’m kind of a sponge. I can take someone else’s situation and absorb the feelings of it. I want to always be able to help someone express through song what they wouldn’t be able to express in the real world. I want my music to help people’s emotions speak so they don’t have to.

You’ve worked with artists like Ariana Grande, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Fifth Harmony, and more. Is there anything you’ve learned from another artist that you apply to your music process? 
Yes, I definitely learn about the amount of teamwork it takes to do this career successfully. Although we see an artists name in lights, that name doesn’t describe a single person. It’s really referring to a brand, a company, a team. None of us get very far all alone. It’s about building a squad that knows your goals and can add to that daily. You gotta grow together, work hard but enjoy it and don’t stress or take it all too seriously. It’s music.

When you’re not doing music related things, what are you doing? How do you balance your personal life with your musical career?  
It’s really hard not to do music related things because it’s literally everywhere. In the car, in the mall, in an elevator, football games, etc! So I’m usually thinking about it in one way or another, getting inspired all the while. I’d say one place that really takes a lot of my time though is the gym! I have a passion for fitness for work and health reasons, so my boyfriend Isaiah tries to add in activities that are fun but also combine a little physical work (like trampoline places and hiking dates). He’s able to pull me from work every once in a while and we just melt into our own little world full of fun.

Where do you hope to be by the end of 2018?
To be honest, coming off of a world tour last year, having a nice run with songwriting and feeling so proud and working so hard, it kind of hurt my feelings not to be invited to events like the Grammys, Fashion Week or any festivals at all. People always say I’m an underdog or that I’m underrated. This year I wanna change that narrative. I want to finally be seen and I’m going to work even harder to bring my dreams to fruition, whether it’s in 2018 or 2025, I’m not going to stop.

What advice can you give to aspiring singer/songwriters? 
Don't stop. Those moments when you feel frustrated, call those moments the “character builders” and you want your character to be a superhero! You’re always one step away from the next step, all you gotta do is take it every time.

What does MISSBISH mean to you and who is your MISSBISH? 
MISSBISH means to be THAT bish! Not necessarily the center of attention or the superstar of your friends, but that girl who is confident and feels sexy when no one is looking. That bish who is true to herself and doesn’t need to dim anyone else’s light just so she can shine. My MISSBISH is Issa Rae! I’ve fallen in love with the way she encourages women of color, and the comic relief she brings to the struggles we go through! I don’t know her but I’m super proud always. Go, bish!