Catch up with singer-songwriter Victor Perry, listen to his single "Rainbows" off his debut EP, 4 A.M. Nostalgia (out now) and look for much more to come soon.
What got you interested in music?
Victor: I'm actually interested in both the business side and the creative side of music. I went to school at Morehouse College and I majored in English and while I was there, I was blessed with the opportunity to work for Sony Music as a College Marketing Representative so, basically, what that means is that we acted as a liaison for the record labels in our markets. Being in Atlanta, Atlanta's a great market for music and so I helped bring in cool initiatives: I helped bring in J. Cole - he came to my school and spoke to us - we'd go to concerts, we'd pass out flyers, posters, stickers, pencils, any cool buttons; anything like that that can raise awareness for an album release, single release, or artist. After that, I interned with Aaron Reid, L.A. Reid's son, in A&R. I was his assistant and it was really fun and really cool. I worked in the studios and it was my first time working in an actual recording studio - like a professional one - so that was really cool seeing artists, meeting artists, looking at contracts, and figuring out, if you don't get those creative vibes in the studio, you've got to divvy up who did what and so on and so forth. And then, I also interned at Epic Records where I worked in sales - which is, like, my number one passion in the music industry - and also promo.
I've been singing since I was a kid, as cliché as that sounds. Both my parents are musicians and are both ministers of music for their churches, so I've always been a gospel singer and I've sung everywhere: talent shows, I did the whole American Idol thing, The Voice thing, X Factor thing. I've always just wanted to sing and I never knew it could be a career until my senior year of high school. I had to do a project for bullying and I rewrote Eminem and Rihanna's "Love The Way You Lie" and I turned it into a song called "Not Gonna Bully Anymore" and that was when I first realized, "hmm, I can write" or at least I could rewrite someone's song. Then, in college, I just really jumped on that and became a writer. I started performing on campus as an actual artist, not just doing gospel songs and covers of Maroon 5 and Coldplay, and here I am now today, about four years later!
What was the first song you wrote in college?
"Found My Way". It was written my second semester freshman year. Mikky Ekko is definitely one of my number one inspirations for music - I've actually met him, we're friends and he's really cool - and it was "Stay". It was funny, I found out he was doing a collaboration with Rihanna, who I love, and I was like, "whoa, this is huge," because Mikky Ekko is an alternative/indie artist, he's not a major label artist, and he got a record on one of the top artists' albums in the country - or in the world for that matter. After listening to "Stay" and really vibing to it I was like, "you know what, I want to be a writer," and so I wrote "Found My Way". That just came from, I'm a small town guy, I've always been sheltered, it's always been the four of us - my parents and my twin brother - so being away from home was really difficult and I felt lost at times. I wasn't happy, kind of depressed, but I made it out of that rut, and so "Found My Way" was basically my journal, my diary, my expression of how I felt during that time in my life.
Which musicians have you been influenced by?
Vocally, Whitney Houston all the way, hands down, love her to death; she actually inspired me to sing - outside of my mom. Then, we have Michael Bolton, of course; people say I sound like Michael Jackson and I love MJ; and Luther Vandross, as far as his vocals. Those are the people that inspire me the most when I think of singing.
When I think of the artist side, definitely Mikky Ekko, Angus and Julia, Rihanna, Coldplay and, as of lately, I've really grown to be a huge fan of Daughter; I love Daughter. And London Grammar, I love, love, love.
How would you describe your own sound to someone who had never heard your music?
In the past, I've described it as bedroom confessional pop, but it's definitely evolved since then. It's raw, it's very endearing, and it's also true to the human experience. Everything that you will hear from me is very much something that we all can relate to and I try to always keep it positive, even if it is a negative topic, such as depression or isolation and feeling lonely; I try to keep it as positive as possible because I'm a positive person.
What were your inspirations behind your single "Rainbows"?
Wow, so, [laughs] that was actually the third song I wrote, ever, in my life - I'd written another song called "Hurt" that no one's ever heard, no one will ever hear it, I don't like it - but "Rainbows" came my sophomore year in college. I was actually listening to Kodaline's "In A Perfect World" and I just connected with that song and it just came, it just flowed. I was with my roommate and I asked him, he had a bass guitar, and I was like, "can you just play something in the vein of this and then I'll just write to it?" and he was like, "yeah, sure," so I was like, "you used to tuck in your knees in the passenger seat," and so on and so forth and here we are. A full song, like, 3 years later called "Rainbows" [laughs].
Before I joined Sony, there was a rep on my college campus who I was introduced to and I wanted to shadow him and get an idea as to what it's like to be a Sony rep before I joined, so one of his shows that he had to go to was Kodaline - they had just signed to the label over at Sony and he was promoting them - so I got to go front row and see them live. Luckily, he'd given me the CD a week in advance and I had learned every single song off that album and so I was singing my heart out to Kodaline. That was my first concert I'd been to in Atlanta.
Could you tell us more about your EP 4 A.M. Nostalgia?
4 A.M. Nostalgia is my first project ever. It took forever; it's like having a baby and it takes forever to get it and then when it's finally here it's like "yay!" - I don't know if that's a good analogy [laughs] but to me, that's what it felt like. It's a classic sound, its very bare bones, there's not a lot of production. I wanted to keep everything focused on me; this was my introduction to the music industry and I wanted people to hear my voice, hear my lyrics, and hear Victor. 'Cause I'm a small town guy, it has the rural influence, if you listen to it, in the guitar melodies and the rhythm and the cadence in my voice, but it's very much a mainstream project that is centered around the ideas, the thoughts, the pain, the hurt, the joy, the satisfaction of everything that we go through in life and the things that we tend to keep within ourselves. I came up with the title, 4 A.M. Nostalgia, because during the time in which most of the songs came to me, I would wake up at 4 o'clock in the morning - it was weird - and I would just write in my journal; it wouldn't even be too much of any songs, it would just be like ideas and things of how I felt and I couldn't sleep. It was just this 4 A.M. recollection of all the things that were going on in my life and this nostalgia, because it always reminds me of those things every time I go back and read my journal or go back and listen to these songs.
Is there a track off the EP you were most excited to release?
Yes. I had two of them, "Rainbows" and "Nostalgia". "Rainbows" was, like I said, the song that took the most work and went through the most changes; there's probably 17 versions on my dad's Pro Tools of that song [laughs] where we just couldn't get it. It really started out as an acoustic song, it sounded something like a country folk song - and if you listen to Kodaline, you hear those vibes - and it just took forever and we weren't going to put it on the EP so I was devastated and I was like, "I can't figure it out!". Finally, it just came to us one day in July and it was beautiful and we were like, "yes, yes, yes, yes!". "Nostalgia" was the last song that I did for the EP and it actually came, literally, on the spot. We were working on the EP and my dad was mixing beats and I was in the studio writing - I was just on my computer and I was writing and I don't know why I was writing, I never write when we're mixing because I'm always focused on the mixing - and I wrote "Nostalgia". There was a piano loop originally that my dad had from this session that we didn't use and I was like, "wait, pause, stop, can you play that loop again for me?" and then he played it for me and I was like, "okay, let's stop this, put me in a booth, I got a song I want to record". We recorded "Nostalgia" in 30 minutes. It was literally 30 minutes where we just really worked on the song and finished it and it's my favorite song on the project.
In one sentence, how would you sum up 4 A.M. Nostalgia?
4 A.M. Nostalgia is a project based on love, the loss of love, and the moving on from love and being able to look back at love.
That was tough! [Laughs] I had to rely on my English major background.
What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?
I want them to feel inspired. Love is a difficult subject and I want them to feel hope. We've all fallen in love, that's something that's inevitable, and you don't have to be afraid of it - that's something that I'm still working on, trying not to be afraid of it and just to embrace it - and that love can be something that is in every facet of life, whether it's friends, family members, or someone that you're actually connected to intimately. I just want them to feel hope and feel like, at the end of every tunnel, there is light. Or at the end of every storm there is a rainbow [laughs].
Is there anything you want to add?
Just follow me on my social media 'cause I have a lot of cool things being worked on and being released every week now, it seems. So, I just want you to follow my journey and, hopefully, you'll see me at the top one day.