Victoria Jane: Manchester’s ‘music all-rounder’ on the come up
Author: Joel Griffiths | Wednesday 10th February 2021
Never before 2021, has the Northern quarter of England curated such a hot bed of urban talent. Artists like Aitch, Bugzy Malone and IAMDDB make up a poignant fraction of what’s surfaced from Manchester, but it only feels like the beginning. Young creatives and underground talent now more than ever, have tangible evidence that there is space for Northern rappers and singers to project their sound. There are now role models from either sex making wave, from intoxicating urban-jazz, to 808 drums and road-rap.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Victoria Jane, last week, a talented artist and radio presenter on the come up in Manchester. Victoria’s music is soulful and atmospheric. She shows diversity wherever she can. Whether this is through melody, flow or genre is interchangeable. She perhaps epitomises the opportunity that now presents itself to music people in the area. She has combined her natural talent with hard-work and a passion for the UK-urban scene. Victoria also has a budding career in radio-journalism, working as a presenter for Unity Radio, in Manchester. On top of this, she’s working with BBC Introducing, carving her own path in music journalism.
“So I was born in London, but I moved up to Manchester when I was in year 6. So I kind of had half my childhood there, but to be fair you don’t really know what you’re doing when you’re that young, so I would say mostly Manchester. When I first moved to Manchester, I lived in a place called Denton. I wouldn’t say it’s really ‘Manny’, it’s kind of on the outskirts. There was no one from the music scene that was from Denton. Then when I went to uni, I was travelling into the city centre. So then I was able to meet people in the music scene and make my connections when I started studying. But before that point, in primary school and high school, there was nothing. I was just singing and doing my own things. I think I did do Open Mic UK before that, though!”
The 22-year-old released her debut EP ‘In My Zone’, last year. I wanted to know about where her initial passion for music came from.
“I always wanted to do music or singing. I can’t really pinpoint a moment that got me into it, that’s just a passion of mine that I developed growing up. I really loved to write and sing music, and that’s what is now helps me de-stress. What actually made me start releasing music and getting into music properly though, was actually making those connections with producers in Manchester. At the time, IAMDDB hadn’t really taken over yet, and I never really like to mention other people, but she hadn’t. So that meant there weren’t really many females (from Manchester) doing music, and also that there weren’t many beats for singers. When I did start making music it was hard, because there was nothing that was suited to myself. It was all trap and rap beats. It’s kind of mad how much things have changed in a short time. I’ve only been releasing for like 2 years.
“The Manchester music scene has always been very close, since I first got involved in it through radio. Everyone knows everyone and has always supported each other. The music scene is very together, which is what helped me as an artist. I saw all these people who are now my friends, growing and taking off. In London, and other major cities, I feel like there are a lot of copies. In Manchester everyone is very original and different. People aren’t afraid to be different here, which is something I really like.”
Unlike what I’d initially imagined, it was a pathway in the media that came before her journey as a recording artist.
“It’s mad because I started doing community radio, on unity radio in Manchester, I wasn’t actually recording music. I went to uni and studied journalism, because I thought I was too scared and I didn’t know exactly what to do. There were no beats, there was nothing happening for females, so I thought the only way I can still be in the industry is to do journalism, and get into radio. Through Unity Radio, I started doing interviews. I did Aitch’s first ever interview, I spoke to a lot of people that are now popping from Manny. That then gave me the confidence to start my own music career, seeing a lot of the artists that I knew flourish and progress. I started trying to actually create music in the middle of my second year at Uni. Even then there were hardly any beats for me to use. That’s why a lot of music that I put out at the start of my career was very trappy. A lot of guys prefer my older stuff because of that. But no, I was really scared because I didn’t know what to do and how to do it.”
'Trigger’ was Victoria’s first official release in 2018. I asked her how it felt to get her sound out in the open.
"To be fair, that’s a song I still love the most because it felt so good to get my music out there, because no-one had heard anything. That kind of set my foot in the sand, it was like okay, you need to keep this up now. I remember sitting in the car with my mum. Songs get released at midnight, so we went out on a drive and we just drove around and played it on the loudest volume, driving round Manchester from Denton. Honestly, my mum plays my music more than me! She listens to my stuff every day, she’s rinsed my songs.”
Her single, ‘Flex’ with Manchester-based artist K.I.M.E is a great example of her sonic dexterity.
“In my songs, I always like to switch up the melody anyway, because that’s what I love when I listen to music. I love melodies, harmonies and the flow of a song. After releasing Trigger, the songs after that, it was about showing that I could do different genres. It was like, I’ve done Trigger, here’s what else I can do. I can do commercial with Flex, I can do rhythmic and RnB, love kind of songs and then I can do Miss Me and Games and give you those hard hitting vibes. I was new to the industry and I just thought, I need to do everything.”
Always seeking new challenges, Victoria’s debut EP was self-produced entirely. This was in part down to financial limitations, but I got the sense that putting out a body of work that was a true reflection of her individualism was important here. It is only recently that beats for artists like Victoria have become accessible. She felt it was important to find a unique sound in this project.
“There were so many mixed emotions in my head, because I’d planned an EP release party. Covid started to I couldn’t do that, I had to switch to Instagram live. I actually ended up trying to promote it and send it to publications because I just wanted to get it out. It was stressing me out, the listening party the release, the launch. So I literally released it only telling a couple of people. Not that it blew up, but I got loads of feedback, and it was such a good feeling to have an actual body of work, that was produced entirely by me, a girl. No features or anything, all songs by me which all had a different vibe.”
The challenges of 2020 weren’t necessarily creative for Victoria, rather having self-reflection and understanding of her own position within the industry.
“Musically I did take a bit of a back step last year. I released 'Ride Or Die', on my own, and 'Sunday'. I guess I stayed consistent with the number of releases but I took a step back with actually pushing the songs. 2020 was hard in general. I started a new day job in the middle of it, and it was tough to actually fund my music; not having as much money as I did when I was releasing through uni. I had a lot of realisation last year, I realised there were a lot of fake people flying about. This year, I learned so much about people and the music industry in general. I learned a lot about how people get popular and get plays. The industry is very cliquey, and I was trying to discover my sound a bit more. It opened my eyes a lot as well to support, support is just essential. I got a lot of support from people that technically weren’t ‘my people’. I took a step back in a lot of ways but last year was one big learning curve.”
Victoria’s Northern Lightz freestyle oozes charisma, she feels that in this freestyle is where she really comes into her element. Surprisingly, it wasn’t long ago that she considered herself an introverted character.
“I was, and can still be a very shy person. I love freestyles because what I’ll do is go on YouTube and get beats up, go on my voice notes, then hit record. Because of money, I don’t go to the studio unless I know every lyric, every melody, because time is money at the end of the day. But no, I love freestyles now, that’s where I feel in my element. A lot of people can’t freestyle and I find it weird! I’ll be in sessions with artists, and they literally take 4 hours to write their verse, I’ve already written my verse and the hook. Some people say it’s quite hard, but I prefer to just get it all out, even if freestyling is just putting the mic on and finding a melody.”
As someone whose entire life is confessed to revolve around music, she finds it hard to envisage a world without it. Alongside her commitments as an artist, and a radio host, she’s a manager for DJ Chaise, her good friend and co-host at Unity.
“Radio wise, I’m still doing my show with DJ Chaise every other Sunday. I still work for BBC introducing, I’m a theme assistant for them in Manchester. Music wise, I recorded my new single last weekend. I’m going to release that at the end of February, I just need to finish editing. I do want to put out another single in March, to be consistent. Then my mixtape that I need to get recorded. I’ve written so much music over the past year. I need to spend a couple day sessions getting it all out. I feel like a mixtape is the next step up for me, because I’ve changed my sound so much, which people will hear with this next single.”
We spoke of the coolest opportunities that had presented themselves through the media, and also what difference it having a foot in both worlds had on career.
“The best thing for me has been the festivals, radio has given me the opportunity to be at Parklife, Reading and Leeds. Being given the chance to be on stage with these artists that I look up to is mad, people who I love and would probably make me faint if I met. The main thing I’ve found is that because I am an artist, I resonate with how these people feel. It helps me to interview them in a better way for sure, because I know what questions to ask and I understand how they feel.
“I feel like I know about the music scene, I know what sounds are popular and I’m making friends with artists all the time, it really helps me on the music side. With radio, I’ve got a niche, because there’s so many people that want to be presenters. If you want to do this, and do it well, you have to find a niche. Mine is new music. I’m all about artists from outside of London as well, because don’t think people outside of London like myself, get shown or recognised enough. They both help each other; I hope one doesn’t have to give one day. But if I had the choice I would have to stick with singing, it’s what I’ve always dreamt about doing.”
Victoria is someone that has had an organic introduction into the scene. A genuine passion for music a desire to find a way in and crucially an appreciation for what her counterparts are bringing to the table.
“Aitch and Meekz are killing it. I don’t know Meekz that well, but he seems like quite a humble guy. I know Aitch quite well, he’s always been humble and he’s stayed grinding. I love love love what Pa Selieu’s doing and Shaybo, I’m so happy that her sound is stepping on to the scene. Ling Hussle, my sis, Ling Hussle is going to take over, if you don’t know about her, get to know. There’s a guy called YP, he’s one of my close friends, he moved to Manchester to study but now is based in Nigeria. He’s such a humble guy, but his time is definitely coming.”
She plans on dropping a mixtape later this year and has music in the pipeline ready to share. Victoria’s journey is far from over, but I was curious when all was said and done, how she wanted to be remembered.
“I want to be remembered as someone whose music you can just listen to and it takes the stress out of your mind. Someone who makes good music that makes you feel an emotion.”
Catch Victoria on Unity Radio on Sundays from 4 to 7 PM with DJ Chaise.
Stream 'In My Zone' below.