I’d love to be able to inspire young artists to follow their art and pursue it fearlessly and independently. By exploring the musical journey independently, it allows an artist to really grow into themselves, their story and their values in an unclouded, authentic way. The world will always need real, honest music.
Asa part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing VËR.
VËR short for ‘Vered’, the Hebrew word for ‘Rose’ is an independent Canadian-Israeli singer, songwriter and producer from Montreal. With a degree in Architecture, a diploma in Audio Production and having worked in the performance industry for many years wearing different hats, VËR’s worlds blend together through the passion for the creative process, music and connecting through song, art and creativity. Her musical identity is drawn from her middle-eastern roots, mixed with contemporary influences like Charlotte Cardin, Snoh Aalegra & H.E.R., with the soulful inspiration of Amy Winehouse, Norah Jones & Ms. Lauryn Hill. VËR’s debut EP ‘Bloom’ will be released in the early fall of 2020.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?
Igrew up as a musical child. I was literally placed in front of a piano as soon as I could hold myself upright and started taking vocal lessons after attending my first concert at 12 years old (shoutout to Hilary Duff!) I’ve always had a passion for music but my journey to where I am today, pursuing it full-time, was pretty winding (from getting a degree in Architecture, to being on a quick season II of ‘La Voix’, to working a ton of different jobs (from transcriptionist, to dog-walker, vocal coach, online English teacher, hostess, and most recently, A&R/Music programmer at a Live Entertainment company). Telling my backstory always makes me sweat a little!
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m currently working on my first full-length album, and with a *really* special producer from England (which I won’t announce just yet!) The concept and narrative behind it revolves around my experience/awakening after having my life ‘uprooted’ by the recent pandemic. The job losses, the relationship changes, the big move, the realizations and newfound appreciations, the silver linings. I think it will help people because this pandemic is universal — it’s something that the entire world is experiencing together. The feel of this album and its genre will be very moody, vocal-centric and intimate, to really help transport the listener into a zen, introspective space. Something like an escape from the moment they were in prior to listening to the album. Hopefully this album will help listeners see the silver linings in this really cloudy, dark time.
Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?
Totally — in February of 2013 to be exact! I was in my second year of architecture school and while I’m now grateful for having gone through the program, at the time, it was absolutely killer. All I wanted to do was be studying at Berklee as it was initially planned (that’s a story for another time). I was craving excitement and music in my life. Maroon 5 called on their fans to help create a special music video for their song ‘Daylight’. I immediately jumped to the occasion, sent in a clip where I opened up about ‘one of the hardest decisions I had to make in my life’, and was told by literally everyone who knew about it that there was no way my clip would get chosen. Well, it did. And that was the moment I discovered the power of manifestation (and simply being a ‘do-er’).
Maroon 5 was coming to town a couple of months later. Without hesitation, I bought tickets as close to the stage as possible. Then and there I decided I’d find a way to get myself onto his stage, telling my best friend who bought tickets with me: “he’s going to know his biggest fans are in the audience.”
I figured the best way was through a bright, fluorescent, sparkly poster. How else do you get noticed in a sea of 20,000 people? It said: “I was in ur daylight vid — let me sing with u?”. Instead of studying for my History of Architecture midterm which was the next morning, or drafting up floor plans, I was crafting the perfect, flamboyant poster — my ticket to the stage. People in my class thought I was actually insane. I remember the look on their faces when I left school at 7pm the night of the concert saying: “Bye guys, I’m going to join Maroon 5 on stage”. My family also thought I’d completely lost it — but they’ve always been good at just letting me do my thing.
The night of the concert, the stars aligned. I was meant to share the stage with Adam Levine — there’s no doubt in my mind. Upon entering the stadium, the security guard tried to take the poster away from me. I didn’t let that happen. Upon taking our seats, we noticed our friends in the second row, who were being brought down to the floor seats. We ended up taking theirs, getting that much closer to the stage (practically at eye level with the band!). After waving the poster and screaming/jumping like a maniac, Adam finally noticed the sign, winked and pointed at me. While it seemed promising, half the show went by without anything happening. And a wink was definitely not enough for me. Someone from the band’s team walking along the stage noticed my poster and gave me a thumbs up and pointed to the stage. Another promising moment, but nothing seemed to be coming out of it. Meanwhile, I was also hoping that ‘Daylight’ was closer to the end of his set so I’d have enough time to get my way to his stage! (Lucky for me, t was the second-to-last song ;))
I quickly realized I had to take this into my own hands if I wanted something to actually happen. I walked over to the crew member who noticed my poster and tapped him on the shoulder. He looked up at me with the biggest look of confusion. With the biggest smile on my face I said: “So, you liked my poster! Are you going to get me up there or what?!” He literally had no clue who I was. But after 5 minutes of convincing and explaining that I was the “poster-girl” in the band’s Daylight video, that it would be such a perfect story if I was brought on stage, and that I promised not to f*&$# it up, he finally smiled and said: “I’ll see what I can do.”
At that moment, I knew it had finally worked. I felt it all over. A couple of songs later, the lights in the stadium shut off abruptly, and I knew exactly what was happening. This is the only part of the night that is a blur because I was in such shock that it had worked, and I actually started to panic a little. (All the videos are on youtube if you’re curious!) Adam Levine ended up inviting me to come up and share the stage with him for the song ‘Daylight’. I’ll never forget how nervous I was walking up to the stage, and how the second I put one foot on the stage, the nerves disappeared immediately. I knew then and there that the big stage was the place for me, and that I’d work my ass off to be able to get there again (but next time, as the headliner! ;))
In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂
Search: “Dana Ben David on stage with Adam Levine” on Youtube 😉
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I don’t think I’d be where I am today without my former vocal coach (and mentor) Erin. In my opinion, every young artist needs a guide, someone to believe in them, give them that boost, that confidence. Growing up, I wanted to be like Erin and wanted to make her proud. Not only were our weekly lessons also like ‘therapy’, but after 10 years of working together, she was so instrumental in training my voice and giving me the tools to let it develop into its own sound. I hope one day to be able to give to young artists what Erin gave me during my formative years of 12–21!
It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?
Growing up, I had a pretty great support system, and wasn’t really surrounded by many ‘naysayers’. However that being said, I always found myself in very male-dominated fields (in Audio Production School, I was literally the only girl in my class). Being in those kinds of environments definitely contributed to my resiliency as there was no doubt an underlying sense of being the ‘underdog’ and having to prove myself to be at the ‘male-standard’. Sexism in the music industry is real in so many ways. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked if I knew how to set up my own mic stand, or assuming I don’t know how to use gear. And while I do believe that it’s starting to be dismantled (slowly), it’s definitely still rampant. When you’re faced with it often enough, and whether it’s blatant or covert, you end up building thicker skin and resiliency (if you don’t let it get to you, that is…)
Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)
- Block out the noise: at the end of the day, it truly doesn’t matter what others think when it comes to your visions, your goals, your dreams. Getting caught up in other people’s opinions can only slow you down, or bring you to a complete halt! Learning to filter out the noise and the negative energy will allow you to see clearly, to stay optimistic and focused.
- On that note: Focus! Don’t let yourself get distracted or forget the WHY (and trust me, sometimes it’s really easy to forget when things get tough or seem out of reach). Write down what your goal is and why you want it so badly. Put that paper up near your desk and keep it in sight!
- Manifest (say it out loud): there’s something about saying your goals out loud that helps it materialize. When you actually say something out loud, a part of it actually becomes real. That’s the first step. Repeat it. Believe it. Visualize it and eventually, it will be!
- Mindset is everything. It takes a level of fearlessness and “forgetting the rules” to accomplish the “impossible”, whatever that may be to you. It helps to think outside the box, have fun with your goals and to not take yourself too seriously!
- Get rid of your inner naysayer. Sometimes, we’re our worst enemy and our harshest critic. Self-doubt is toxic and definitely doesn’t lend itself to being able to accomplish the ‘impossible’, so try to replace that with a little more self-love and that’ll help you get on your way.
What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?
It sounds really basic and probably a bit cliche, but for me, it really comes down to: “you can do anything you set your mind to if you want it badly enough”.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Wow, that’s a tough one! I’m not sure about an actual *movement* perse, but I’d love to be able to inspire young artists to follow their art and pursue it fearlessly and independently. By exploring the musical journey independently, it allows an artist to really grow into themselves, their story and their values in an unclouded, authentic way. The world will always need real, honest music. Having the tools to create music, and having that outlet, is the most powerful way to heal yourself and others! I’d love to be able to start a charity one day that gives children the opportunity to get into music at a young age, by receiving weekly music lessons and bringing an instrument into their home.
Can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!