By Ben Doy
After spending the last few years in Amsterdam, Sacha Vee has returned to New Zealand and released her latest album 'Luminous'.
While in Holland, the neo-soul singer began to make waves - appearing on The Voice of Holland and singing to London record label BBE.
It was time to find out more about Sacha Vee...
Who were your early influences?
I grew up listening to a lot of jazz... and Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson... all that stuff. But also a lot of Calypso, because my Mum is from the West Indies, in Trinidad. So we listened to a lot of South American music. And then as a teenager I picked up on Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, D'Angelo, Alicia Keys and that whole kind of neo-soul. And I think from there that was the kind of music that I really locked into really.
How did you first get in to learning and then performing music?
Well I've always sung; I was always in choirs and stuff and I also played piano. So then it was just natural for me to want to perform on stage. When I was 14 I was also into sport, but then I broke my ankle, so I was out for six months. So I thought 'Ok, what can I do?'. So I joined the school's jazz band, and that was the first time I used a microphone and was singing with a band. So I took it from there.
How did you get involved with BBE Records in the UK?
I had been living in Amsterdam for the last 5 years. I heard about BBE because I initially had a release with Benny Tones with our track 'Chrysalis' on BBE. The people that I was socialising with in Amsterdam were always talking about BBE Records... it was like the quality label. I had my record ready, so I approached them and a few other labels kind of thinking that no one would get back to me (laughs). But I got a message back from the head of BBE which literally just said 'I love this, I want this, let's release this'... and that's all it said!
What drew you to take up residence in Amsterdam?
I moved from Christchurch to Wellington and did Masters degree in Music Therapy. I then released my first record 'Sacha Vee - Self Titled'. My band was playing with every other soul singer in New Zealand and I just felt we were all sounding the same. I knew that I wanted more from my music and wanted something else, but couldn't figure out what it was. So I had the choice of London, Amsterdam or Berlin. I have a Dutch passport because my father is Dutch, so it was quite natural for me to go there. I was also entered into a competition over there; 'The Voice Of Holland'.
Could you speak much Dutch before you went over?
Not much at all! My father was born in New Zealand so he has the blood of a Dutchman but is more of a Kiwi. My Grandparents really made an effort to speak English when they moved out here in the 1950s, so it was a bit of a shame that we didn't get the language passed down. So I kind of went in there, especially with The Voice Of Holland on Dutch television, having to do interviews and standing on stage and getting critiqued by judges in Dutch and having to kind of know when to smile or not (laughs). So it was kind of a guessing a game.
Your new album 'Luminous' is out now. What can you tell us about the new album?
In 2015 I started working with a producer called I.N.T - Percy La Rock. We were put together by '22 Tracks', which is a really good music forum in Amsterdam. They were doing these call out sessions, and they put me and I.N.T together. As soon as we met we just clicked. He's kind of got this old school hip-hop feel, and I'm a bit more neo-soul.
Then when I was in Tokyo last year with Freakshow Records, I played them what I was working on and what I had been up to. They loved it and wanted me to finish it, so that's kind of how it went down. So I have an album now! It's been awesome but bloody stressfull! (laughs). But I'm very proud of it and think it sounds awesome.
Where did you record it?
I recorded most of the vocals myself, in different rooms all around the world mostly as I've been travelling quite a lot this year. I'd send it to Percy and we'd come together and kind of produce it. One of the tracks was recorded at the Red Bull Studios in Amsterdam, but most of it I just did myself.
How long do you think that whole process took?
I guess it took basically a year. Percy and I didn't start working together properly until August 2015, and I had some lyrics kind of in the works but not much. So it was pretty quick.
Now 2017 is upon us, what plans do you have?
My biggest plans are just touring this album and I've been away from New Zealand for so long so I want to get my name at the front of peoples mouths. I really want to focus on my home country and do some good things here.
Sacha Vee - Luminous Album Tour
Friday 3rd March: The World Bar, Queenstown
Saturday 4th March: Water Bar, Wanaka
Wednesday 8th March: HangOut HangOver Shibuya, Tokyo
Friday 24th March (WITH LIVE BAND): Blue Smoke, Christchurch - Tickets via Cosmic Ticketing
Saturday 25th March (WITH LIVE BAND): Matterhorn, Wellington - Tickets via SachaVee.com
Sunday 26th March: PSC Live in the Lanes, Auckland