Victoria Anthony became an internet sensation in 2018 after singing her heart out to superstar recording artist PINK, in front of 18,000+ spectators at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
It’s the memory of a lifetime and a thrilling moment to witness, including the millions who saw it in the days afterwards, thanks to worldwide press coverage. It’s been viewed over 100 million times online and it’s changed Victoria’s life forever.
Flash forward to 2021 and she is now an artist who was recently selected by the Grammy Awards to appear, not once, but twice, on a series they released called Press Play at Home.
She recorded stripped down versions of her original song “Breathe Underwater” and a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”.
Along with the Grammy Awards appearances, Victoria has also independently released a killer debut album with music videos averaging 40,000 YouTube views each.
We talked with Victoria about her album, the colourful songs she writes and her last music video for “Breathe Underwater” and her new EP “Live”.
The pandemic has been anything but slow for you. The debut album came out last year, and now you’re celebrating the new single, “Breathe Underwater”. Why did you decide to launch your career during the pandemic?
I was working on this album for two years and I just wanted the music to get out. It happened to be when everything was complete and ready. We were mid pandemic and we really don’t know when this is going to end and I have to get this music out. It’s so relevant to me now. I’m young, my voice changes as I grow and I just felt like this music had to be said now.
“Breathe Underwater” has the very distinct honor of being selected by the Grammy Awards for their online music series. How did that come about?
I heard from my publicist that the Grammy organization wanted me to perform one of my songs for their online Press Play at Home segment. I was so honored, so surprised, and just really, really excited. I chose my song “Breathe Underwater” because it’s an acoustic live performance. I just love the strings and the drums and every part of that song live. On the real track, there’s live strings, live drums, so I thought this would be so cool to do live with a full band.
We couldn’t all be in the same room when it happened, which is really weird, but we were all in the same room, just at different times. In the video, it looks lovely. I’m actually singing for an acoustic EP with “Breathe Underwater” acoustic, “Blank Space” acoustic (which I also did for the Grammys), and “We Are Young”, which was a backup option, but I really loved the performance. So that’s coming out soon.
That’s really cool. I love that. Tell me about “Breathe Underwater” itself. What does the song mean to you? How did it come about?
I wrote this song with Justin Gray and Jessica Karpov. I remember it started from the weirdest conversation about layers of something and the layers of a person – what makes someone unique, strong and what makes people persevere.
I just knew that I wanted, because this was near the end of writing the album, a song that was powerful and more broken down than a lot of the more upbeat pop songs on the album. We just got into it; it was a really, really quick write, compared to the other ones we were writing. I think we got everything done in three hours and it flows so nicely, because I just knew exactly what I wanted to say. It’s that moment when you are alone and just waiting – you feel like everything’s going to collapse on you. It’s like a slingshot where you bounce back and explode into what you are capable of. And you may not even have known what you’re capable of.
The music video for the song is very passionate. You also co-directed it as well. So tell me about that video.
I drew up a treatment for the “Breathe Underwater” video. It was actually a very quick process of maybe two weeks. We had the time at that point and I had all these ideas in the water with rain coming down. I didn’t exactly know how or why, but I just drew up the treatment. I didn’t really understand what I was doing, but I was looking at how do you direct a music video, and then I just kind of did it. I also learned from a bunch of incredible directors that I’ve worked with in the past and just seeing their process, I was able to take my own crack at it. And then I brought it to my co-director, Brock Newman. It was an amazing collaborative process.
You sound like you know what you’re doing in terms of directing videos. How did you actually learn that? Have you been on a lot of sets other than music videos?
No, I’ve not really been on any sets of film or TV, except once when I was like 10. I remember every single time that I film a music video, even if I don’t get a director credit. I really care about every single part of the video, whether I’m in it or not.
It’s my music, I write it, and I want the visual that goes along with it to really accentuate that meaning. I’m always collaborating with the directors who always send me a treatment first. In fact, for instance, for my music video for “Real Life”, which is the music video before “Breathe Underwater”, I worked with Brock Newman again, who’s amazing.
He sent me this treatment, and then I completely changed my mind. I wanted a completely different storyline. We worked on it together, so that was really helpful in teaching me how to create a treatment and then how to, direct, or co-direct my music video for “Breathe Underwater”.
In that video, “Breathe Underwater”, you get soaked. So tell me about the experience of working with all that water.
It was not exactly what I anticipated. It was so cold. I remember that day was the most incredible, most surreal, overwhelming day of my life because that was the day my album came out. It was the day we were filming the “Breathe Underwater” music video because it was the only day it would work.
I was doing these press things during the music video filming and so much was going on. I was just weirdly present in creating this music video more than I think anything I’ve ever done. This is probably the last music video I get to do for this album.
My favorite thing is shooting music videos. It’s so much fun. It combines live performing with just emoting and really getting into the meaning of the song, so I just love it. I was just so present, feeling the water fall on me. I don’t think I understood how cold the water was. I was freezing the whole time, but it was actually lovely. When we wrapped I wanted to do one more because I just loved being in the water, letting it take over. It’s a really, really liberating thing.
Just like everything so far, that video is very colourful. Colours seem to be very important to you. Your press photos, your album cover, everything’s very colourful.
When I write songs, I visualize a colour along with them. For instance, “Breathe Underwater”, obviously blue. My song “Sleep” is purple and then “Real Life” initially I thought was orange, but my favorite colour is purple, so I just wanted this entire album branding to really center around purple.
I did that and I just love when you think of something for instance, the album “Red” by Taylor Swift, you automatically associate the colour red. I just love that association with colours. Now when I look at Blue, I might think of “Breathe Underwater”, or I might think of other things associated with blue like 1989 by Taylor Swift.
So, I just think colours are such a huge part of the visuals of music, but also music itself. I can’t really explain it, but it just feels that way to me.
Speaking of Taylor Swift. You recorded “Blank Space”. Tell me about why you chose that one for your second Grammy appearance.
I love Taylor Swift. She’s my biggest inspiration when it comes to songwriting and just life as a performer and a human being. I love “Blank Space”. I think it’s honestly one of her best songs, which is crazy because it’s also a single – and when you’re a fan, it’s almost like you don’t say a single is your favorite song, but it is definitely one of my favorite songs of hers.
I just love the multifaceted parts of that song where every line is a winner. Like, ‘Nice to meet you, where you been?’, Who thinks of that? It’s so random ‘darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream’ – it hits hard, you know?
And I just I thought, when you think of Grammys, you think of Taylor Swift. I could only do Grammy nominated songs for Song of the Year and that was one of them. This had to be the one I do. It’s just perfect.
With that performance, and the other one you did for the Grammys, you’re playing a piano. So is that your instrument of choice to play? And when did piano come about? Was that before vocals?
No, actually, I’ve always loved singing. I first actually learned guitar. I taught myself guitar maybe four years ago now. I was bored in my room and decided I want to play guitar. Then maybe six months after that, I just decided to teach myself how to play piano.
It’s basically just math if you think about it, when you think of major and minor chords, it’s four and then three semitones or whatever it is. I just quickly learned from there and it was great tool for my songwriting. The piano is so special, because it’s very easy to change keys and my hands are so small. Even though I love guitar, I literally can’t play some chords.
It’s been about two years since that Pink concert in Vancouver where you were invited to sing. Take me back to that time. How did the whole thing actually happen? That would be a surreal experience.
That moment was, like you said, so surreal. I couldn’t believe it was happening. It actually all started when one day, my mom told me that Pink was coming to Vancouver and she was going to the concert.
I was so jealous. I really wanted to go, but she’s like, no, I’m going with friends. I don’t remember the actual conversation that led to wanting to sing with Pink. Somehow there was a switch in my head that was like, I really want to sing at Pink’s concert. I don’t know where this little girl got this idea. But I did.
Then I put it out into the universe. I put it on Twitter. Pink saw it somehow and I didn’t know before the concert, I literally went there. Midway through the concert, her song What About Us played, which was the song that I put in my little, Hey, can I sing with you video? And so I was like, okay this probably isn’t gonna happen. And that’s totally fine.
Flash forward 15 minutes later and she’s like, “Are you the girl who I read about on the news?” Oh, my God, what is happening right now? It was crazy. I sang to her and she told me I was amazing and to never stop. Those words have really stuck with me. I’m just so appreciative of her grace and how involved she is with her fans, it’s just incredible. I hope that if I ever get to sing for people on that level, that I get to interact with people like that.
Was there any anxiety, hesitations or fear when that moment came?
I was very scared for sure. I mean, there’s 15 – 18,000 people there. I think I have this philosophy where this happens to me before I go on stage. It’s like, okay, people are expecting you to do something now. So you can just decide not to do it, but that would be way worse than just crying. So just go for it. Sing your heart out. And that’s just what I did.
She gave me the mic and I’m not just gonna stop now. I better go for it.
In some ways, I can almost see a smaller show of your own where you’re headlining being more hectic and more frightening than the Pink concert.
I’ve had to overcome a lot of anxiety when it comes to performing live, because it’s really, really something that takes practice. And I’m lucky that even during this COVID time, I get to perform live online and stuff, which definitely isn’t the same. But for me it comes with the same anxiety and nervousness. I think Sean Mendez said nerves mean, you care. And I really believe that. I’m always nervous, because I want to put on a good show for people who paid to be there – they deserve a good show and they’re expecting me to give them a good show. I need to do that, because that’s what they deserve.
A lot of pop Singers and pop Albums, don’t really tackle some of the positivity, the empowerment that you’re getting across in your first album. Was that something you wanted to accomplish with the album?
I honestly didn’t do that intentionally. It was something that came along as I continued to write and record the album. I think a huge part of that is that this album is really just my perspective on life, the way that I see the world and the way I see myself.
During this time, I was at the brink of going into high school and just starting a lot of things that can be terrifying. And just, finding myself a bit. My song “Gotta Get Up” is really talking to myself and saying you can do it. A lot of it just has to do with what I was trying to say to myself at the time.
Most of 2021 is still to come. So what’s ahead for you this year?
Well, first I have my acoustic EP of three songs that came out on Saturday, March 19. March 5 was when the first single came out. I’m just writing and seeing where that takes me. I have a few songs that I want to put out as soon as I can. But obviously, there’s a lot of back end stuff that has to happen. They’re just demos right now, but I hope to have some new music out by summer. I’m just really, really excited to keep performing and keep putting out music.
Check out VictoriaAnthony.com for her latest videos, music and much more.