From catching salamanders like fireflies to catalyzing genres entirely her own, psychedelic dream-pop vixen Vitesse X has always been eccentric. A singer/songwriter, producer, and DJ in no particular order, the 100% Electronica artist is a non-conformist whose many philosophical layers are revealed through both her craft and natural state of being. Following a sold-out tour as support for George Clanton and Magdalena Bay, Vitesse X solidifies her individuality with the lead single and title-track to her forthcoming debut album. An ode to the perpetual passing of time, “Us Ephemeral” embraces the impermanence and absurdity of life itself. Exploring meditations on nostalgia, jazz therapy, and cinematic dreams of immortality, Vitesse X is vulnerable and perfectly human in this introspective one-on-one with C-Heads.
You just finished up a sold-out tour with George Clanton and Magdalena Bay. Tell us about your favorite performances, cities, and shows from the tour.
Yes! I actually played my first show ever as Vitesse X only a few days before the tour started, so it was pretty nerve-wracking initially. But the audience was incredible. They were all so receptive and supportive. I saw some people singing along, even. It’s hard to pick a favorite show, just because all of them seemed to carry that same energy. Philly at First Unitarian Church is always a blast because it has a really DIY feel about it. It takes me back to my house show days – playing in punk bands, living for the spontaneity of the night. But in this case, it’s in a much bigger room, so it gets wild. I met a lot of fans and labelmates – people that I had strictly been chatting with online up until that point. Some of them even introduced me by their Twitter handles, which was pretty funny to me, but also goes to show how well a music community can exist and grow within the virtual realm if you create a proper space for it. George and Mag Bay are incredible artists and performers, so I felt honored to be a part of it, and definitely learned a thing or two.
You’re a producer and singer/songwriter but also a DJ. What are some unfair critiques or stereotypes that DJs face?
I think some people are quick to assume that DJing is just getting some tracks together and hitting play. In reality, I end up doing more preparation for my DJ sets than an actual live show. Every set ends up taking on it’s own unique identity. You have to take so many factors into account – the crowd, the space, the time of night or day, the other DJs or artists on the bill. Before each set, I’ll scour the internet to find new tracks that would fit the general vibe, and then start piecing a general playlist together based on BPM and key. Only after all of that will I start practicing a set. And the thing is, you could get to the show, and realize what you prepared is not the right vibe, and scrap a lot of what you prepared. So you’re always geared for the uncertainty that comes with it all. It might seem like an easy artform to certain people, but DJing is its own unique language, and you can really tell a story in how you piece different tracks and genres together.
“I think some people are quick to assume that DJing is just getting some tracks together and hitting play.”
If you had an unlimited budget and free reign to create the live show of your dreams, what would it look like?
It would definitely be an outdoor event, maybe on a mountain top, or somewhere remote where you could see the stars without light pollution. And somewhere with a ton of natural reverb. I’ve been told my music would be perfect for a rave in the sky, so I think I’d like to get as close to that as possible. I’d also get Sade to sing on stage for a song or two, but then again, I’d probably faint.
Choose a style. Eccentric and bold or modern and refined?
I gotta go with modern and refined. There’s so much allure to visual simplicity, especially in this era of over consumption and overstimulation. I think a lot can be said with subtlety. And to me, it’s a sign of confidence when things don’t need to be bold or flashy.
You just released the title-track to your debut album Us Ephemeral, what’s the story behind the title?
This is the first song I wrote when the lockdown hit. I felt like I finally had the proper space to breathe and reconnect with myself and my priorities. I started thinking a lot about the people in my life and all of the amazing things I had been able to experience up until that point. I just felt a lot of gratitude. I also looked back to the times where I was really struggling to find meaning and fulfillment, and I saw how that all seemed to be deeply correlated to capitalism – where I was caught in the trap of valuing productivity over creativity, experience, or connection. I was reflecting on all of this when I wrote this song, and looking back, the lyrics almost seem to be offering advice to my future self. It’s a song about taking accountability for yourself – not caving to the needs of the machine, but instead doing what truly nourishes you and your community, because our time here on earth is brief and fleeting.
“It’s a song about taking accountability for yourself – not caving to the needs of the machine, but instead doing what truly nourishes you and your community, because our time here on earth is brief and fleeting.”
By definition, ephemerality is the concept of something being transitory – existing only briefly. How do you circumnavigate the discomfort of knowing all things, both good and bad, must come to an end?
I think this kind of awareness is one of the ultimate struggles of being human, and at points in my life, it’s led me into some extremely dark places. Overtime, I began to realize that I didn’t have much control over my natural responses, and desperately trying to control my anxieties only seemed to create a negative feedback loop. So I’ve learned to focus on what I can control – what I consume, and what I surround myself with, and when I do this right, my anxiety towards death and impermanence almost fades away. It’s almost like, if I can find total peace and fulfillment within the now, I can make peace with the past and future. I think it’s crucial to embrace the inevitable. When you see time as a limited resource, it forces you to really cherish the moments you have with the people you love. It’s also what gives me motivation to really follow my heart and express myself the most that I can.
The 2020s are witnessing a revival of 90s post-punk dream-pop and electronic-driven shoegaze. Do you think this is just the recycling of trends or an artistic reflection of society’s current state?
I would say both. People born in the late 80’s/90’s have the unique situation of experiencing their youth in both the pre and post-internet era. As a kid, I would spend hours in the woods, making forts and collecting salamanders. I would get caught in trance-like, meditative states at times simply because there was nothing better to do than stare at my ceiling and zone out. Now, our phones and computers have essentially become extensions of ourselves, and overstimulation has become a fact of life. I sometimes hear a voice deep in my psyche, that’s repeating “once we get back to how things were,” like I’m waiting to return to a point of stillness that will never come back again. Almost like a stage of grief. It makes it easy to romanticize the 90’s as an era of simplicity and comfort. Nostalgic music offers us a portal into a better, blissful, familiar reality. It can make us feel like we’re home again in an era that feels so foreign and unfamiliar.
“I’ve learned to focus on what I can control – what I consume, and what I surround myself with, and when I do this right, my anxiety towards death and impermanence almost fades away.”
“Us Ephemeral” blends elements of drum and bass breakbeats and 90s dream-pop. What are some other genres and subgenres you’d like to explore throughout the transformation of your career?
I’m always trying to challenge myself to incorporate elements of different genres and recontextualize it into something that sounds uniquely me. I’d like to delve more into the hyperpop territory, in a way that still has a humanized feel to it. I sometimes think writing a tasteful pop song is one of the most challenging things you can put yourself up to as an artist, so naturally I’d like to do more of that. My next goal is to start writing more techno tracks that I can add to my DJ sets, not necessarily anything I would release under Vitesse X, but it would be great if I could find that pocket where it fits both worlds.
What music did you listen to as a kid? Do you think it plays a role in the style of music you make today?
I started really developing my personal taste sometime in middle school. Before that it was mostly Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. By 7th grade, I was listening to a ton of Frank Sinatra, and jazz music always had this way of creeping into my ears and spiking the senses for me. As an anxiety riddled kid, it was soothing in ways I couldn’t find with most modern music. I grew up in a relatively secular household, and started becoming more or less “existentially confused” around this time, so I actually remember buying this compilation CD full of Christian worship songs with my birthday money one year. I don’t know if I really believed in what was being said lyrically, but I remember getting a high off of the transcendental element of it. There was this intention to uplift and connect to a higher state of being through the music that really resonated with me. So that may have been my first moment of experiencing trance music haha. I was always extremely impacted by songs that had this kind of objective. I had a similar experience hearing Moby for the first time. I was inside a planetarium at a science museum and it came on as I was looking up at the constellations, and it completely shook me. So a lot of what influenced my taste as a kid, were just brief moments in time where I heard something that transported me to this ethereal space, in a way I couldn’t forget.
By the time I was in highschool, my taste was all over the place. I was listening to a lot of Radiohead, Massive Attack, and Four Tet. I also had a notable reggae phase right around when I started learning the guitar. My earth science teacher, who happened to be a music nerd, would share his music with me, and that’s when I started listening to grittier stuff like Fugazi, At the Drive-In and Bad Brains. This was an insanely transformative period for me. My mind was just spinning with the possibilities of the music I could create. I realized I could finally have an outlet for all of my harbored anger and anxiety. This is the period of time that really taught me about using music as a tool for catharsis, and I think that’s why you can always hear the darker undertones within the music I make.
“I sometimes hear a voice deep in my psyche, that’s repeating “once we get back to how things were,” like I’m waiting to return to a point of stillness that will never come back again.”
If you could have any director, dead or alive, direct an Us Ephemeral film who would it be and why?
Jennifer Medina, no question. Jennifer is a great friend of mine, and shot and directed my past two music videos. She just has an incredible eye. Her style mirrors what I attempt to do with my music. It transports you into this vivid, dream-like space that’s both tranquil and invigorating. Her photos and videos really capture the essence of youth and possibility. That type of optimism is scarce in the film industry I feel.
What would the film be about?
It would be a sci-fi film taking place about 30 years from now. The Gilgamesh project, funded by the world’s elite has just discovered the key to immortality. The billionaires are the first to get it, and chaos ensues as people scramble to get their hands on the elixir. You follow the story of this 35 year old man. He’s a career guy, with no family, stoked on his BMW and money in the bank. Desperate to get his hands on the elixir himself, he finds a guy selling in an alley and takes his shot. As time progresses, most of civilization has become immortalized. People now live in a perpetual state of unrestrained hedonism, like a scene straight out of the Garden of Earthly Delights. The man realizes his disgust for this new world and ventures out to find a commune of people who have chosen to accept their mortality. He’s refreshed by their joy towards life, their kindness and empathy. For years, he revels in this utopic state. But as time draws on, his beloved community of mortals begin to age and pass. The man wishes he could undo his eternal decision, but it’s too late. Netflix hire me.