Some artists catch you off guard when you hear them for the first time. I have been a longtime devotee to the harsher side of music. Like, I go to noise shows on purpose. So, when I first heard the bedroom pop and R&B of Vicky Farewell and immediately found my head nodding and my soul vibing, I had to take a long hard look in the mirror. My horror themed tattoos and grindcore t-shirt couldn’t mask the look of joy and sentimentalism on my face. Let’s roll with it.

Vicky Farewell is a classically trained musician, picking up piano at the age of 10 through church music, she grew into an accomplished musician through conservatory and jazz. Her tastes weren’t strictly in that realm, however, and she began to work with well known pop and indie musicians. Notably, she has worked with Anderson .Paak (on Malibu and Ventura) as well as Mac DeMarco. She not only possesses a musical talent with instruments, but also has a honeyed voice that, while I imagine is quite versatile, is perfectly suited for her own brand of pop music. With encouragement from these respective titans, she began to work on her music, taking notable inspiration from teen pop groups, soul and R&B from across the decades, and modern adventurers in the bedroom and indie pop world.

So, her first album, Sweet Company (2022) emerged on Mac DeMarco‘s label Mac’s Record Label. Here, she crafted dreamy pop songs often featuring Rhodes pianos with some R&B beats, backing vocals, light funk, and indie pop quirkiness. Overall, the album is exceptionally smooth. Farewell has done her homework on what makes easily enjoyable pop songs, at times sounding like something that would play at the end of an anime in the late ’90’s/early 2000’s.

Something changed in Vicky after Sweet Company and she was nice enough to speak with me about it.I had a major mental breakdown. Went right back into therapy and did a deep cleaning of my brain. [I] Didn’t realize how much I craved honesty this whole time, and that it was pretty heartbreaking to learn. I had been faking so much bullshit. I wanted to be real, even at the cost of my own privacy and embarrassment,’ she says.

The result of her need for more authenticity arrived as her latest album, Give A Damn, released on May 10th (Mac’s Record Label). Give A Damn immediately feels like both a more mature endeavor and a step forward, creativity. It is arresting, even. Sweet Company is a lovely record, and not to sell its pristine production and execution short, but it felt like she was trying to make a glossy, bubblegum record, at times reserved. Stand out tracks like the above “Kakashi (All The Time) and the dream-funk soul of album closer “Get Me” are beautiful ear worms, but every track on Give A Damn hit me harder.

Vicky says of how the record has been received, so far, ‘It’s been mostly positive. [I] Wish it could reach more ears, but that’s out of my control. It’s a great album, and I love it dearly.’ I love it dearly, as well, Vicky. It starts off with “Intro (Remember Me)” which is an instrumental track that reads as a love letter to vintage synthesizers while setting the overall luster of Give A Damn. It has a reflective quality to it in its slowly uplifting melody, like looking back at a past time in your life with a mixture of sadness and fond nostalgia, a feeling that reverberates through Vicky’s music.

These synthesizers provide texture and a base of operations for Vicky’s voice and lyrics while seamlessly providing juxtaposition between neo-retro R&B vibes and modern indie pop. Lyrically, Give A Damn became an outlet for Vicky to express herself like never before. She said the newfound authenticity made her feel, Relief. Free. I had never felt more myself than when I was making this record. That’s a big advantage when you’re the sole writer and producer. You’re gonna get something truly personable and unique.’ These songs feel more mature. detailing lived experiences and emotions.

At first, what seemed to mark this change was romantic relationships. Songs like “Make Me” and “Tern Me On” with their open discussions of intimate moments and the push and pull of lust-driven situationships left the impression that this was the focus. While romance and lust are common themes in R&B, Vicky assured me that was not the case; Romantic relationships are the obvious culprit, but no, lots of other non-romantic experiences have made their way through these songs. Some are just observations and stories that aren’t necessarily from my own personal life but moved me enough to retell through my lens.’ 

I wrote most of these songs as an outlet,’ she continues,“Luxury Hellscape” is about, well…not the most positive outlook, but it’s about disconnection from each other, humanity, reality, however you deem fit.’  This gave me pause to reconsider my entire interpretation of the album. The often subjected ‘you’ of course, doesn’t have to be a physical person, but poetically can either be a personification or used in a general sense to express a deeper meaning. Also, of course, the beauty of art lies not only in the music or poem or what-have-you, but also in the person experiencing the art’s interpretation of it.

As this consideration began to take hold, I started interpreting Vicky’s songs differently. I still think some are about the nuances of romantic entaglement, but there is more going on here. My own tastes, informed by the often very explicit and declarative lyrics in punk, metal, and hip-hop, neglected to consider the poetry of Vicky’s lyrics beyond a surface-level reading. This endears Give A Damn even more to me, and gives tracks like “Semi Auto” seem more like an internal struggle than an external relationship conflict.

I asked if any art outside of music influences her work. ‘Rarely, never? Hahaha. I don’t want to ‘take’ from anyone. I feel like I know a lot of things and have a ton of musical skill, everything I absorb and live through will subconsciously flow through me in time. I don’t like drawing directly from someone else’s work, I feel like such a fraud when I do, so I avoid it at all costs,’ she replied. This also strikes me as inspiring. Certainly, many artists draw from personal experiences, but again, I am overly accustomed to hearing things that also take inspiration from film and literature. Vicky is a pure singer-songwriter, not just another R&B act.

Vicky’s insistence on doing things her own way pays off in dividends. The more time I have spent with her music, the more I have come to realize that she is paving her own path and offering a unique voice in the broader musical landscape as well as my own listening habits. I love a revelation and a challenge to my own patterns. She does, however, take inspiration from other artists, ‘My friends, Mild High Club, Mac DeMarco. I like that they write and produce their own shit, they move against the status quo, effortlessly, and that’s so inspiring and refreshing to me.’

If producing and writing your own shit and moving against the status quo isn’t punk as fuck, then I don’t know what is. That also involves moving forward, and Vicky is looking to tour this year, ‘I’m a great support act, ask everyone. I’m looking into playing shows in Japan,’ she says, ‘I’m excited to make more music and expand my palate.I know Give A Damn just came out, but I am already eager to see where her music and independent spirit takes her. Will there be a deeper dive into her synth work? Dreamier atmosphere? Dance tracks? Acoustic chamber-pop? The sky is the limit, but with so much talent and her integrity, Vicky Farewell is bound to continue to deliver disarmingly beautiful music.

You can snag a copy of Give A Damn here. Give Vicky a follow on socials, as well!

All songs written, produced, and performed by Vicky Farewell

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