MCF Preview: Adia Victoria talks about getting back to her southern roots

Adia Victoria with Crystal City and Brooks Strause & The Gory Details

Yacht Club — Wed., Apr. 6 at 8 p.m.

Adia Victoria plays the Yacht Club today, Apr. 6
Adia Victoria joins Mission Creek Festival for a set tonight, Wed., Apr. 6 at the Yacht Club.

A change in plans can often open up opportunities. For Adia Victoria, moving back to the South pushed her to start focusing on her songwriting and learning guitar. Nashville proved to be a fertile and supportive community for Victoria, leading to a label signing and the release of her debut album, Beyond the Bloodhounds (out May 13). She worked with producer Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Sleater-Kinney) to create an album steeped in Delta blues, folk and afropunk. The Village Voice described her as having “bone chilling guitar riffs and lyrics topped with candid scorn.” Her first nationwide tour brings her to Iowa City as part of Mission Creek, with a show at the Yacht Club (Apr. 6 at 8 p.m.; tickets are $8).

You were born and raised in the South — South Carolina, initially — and you left for a while, and now you’re back in the South, in Nashville. Can you talk about that journey?

Yes, I’m back home. I’ve been in Nashville now for six years, before that I was in Atlanta for three. Before that I was in New York City. I was in Brooklyn for two years with a few spurts in Tucson. You know — just to make sure that crazy was really on fire. I ran out of money. So I had to come back home to my mom’s house in Greenville. New York isn’t fun when you’re broke.

How is living in the South again?

I mean, it’s going great. This is where my family lives and it’s really nice to be able to see them, because it keeps me grounded, and there’s a lot for me to write about here — I can kind of just chew on all the scenery and I know it. It’s still becoming something new to me because I’m always changing, I’m always finding things about myself. So, the South changes with me. I like it down here.

Why did you settle on Nashville to start a music career?

I came here to Nashville because I lost my job in Atlanta, and I was just sitting at home watching As The World Turns and, like, smoking too much weed and playing guitar. My mom would say, “It’s time for you to be with your family.” So, I came to Nashville to be back with my family. I started going to school here while learning guitar, and started playing Cafe Coco. It was just something that I did when I had time in between working my jobs and going to school. I guess I’ve been lucky in a way, that I haven’t had to change that approach ever, with music. I’ve never really held my hands around its neck and been like, “You have to fit in somewhere.” So, I just let it be.

Has the Nashville community been supportive of you?

As far as the Nashville music scene, well, yeah, I’ve made some friends here. It’s been pretty cool and people let me play their venues and that’s nice (laughs). I get to meet a lot of people in town that I necessarily wouldn’t be able to meet if I were sitting in a library or waiting tables. So they’ve supported me as I’ve come up as a musician … trying to figure all this out. This has been a really great town to learn, and make mistakes, and grow from them. Yeah — there’s really nice people here.

The new album has a pretty distinctive sound — a mashing of gothic folk, blues and R&B. How did this come about? Did you have this sound in your head before you headed to the studio, or did it come about during the recording?

You know I try not to think a lot outside of the song when I’m writing. I don’t necessarily have all these expectations or categories for it. I just kind of let [the song] introduce itself to me. I was lucky that I had a few years to work in the studio with [producer] Roger Moutenot, to understand better how to share a song with someone — what the listener is maybe listening or looking for, and what I need to provide for them. Or, do I need to provide for them and what does that even mean? I think he just made me a lot more aware of the people who would hopefully be listening to my music. I’m lucky that I work with musicians who are passionate about music themselves. They have these amazing instincts that they’re bringing to the table, too. They have their own influences so it’s kind of a living, breathing thing of coming together and expressing ourselves, and it works.


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Did you have any artists that influence you?

I’m a huge fan of Fiona Apple. I like how she gets to the point.

You just wrapped up some dates in March, and are now ready to embark on a nationwide tour at the beginning of April. What have you learned about touring?

Yes, I’m going back out on tour and I’m very excited about that. I’ve learned a lot about myself in that my needs are a lot smaller than what I presumed [them] to be at home. I can get by with a lot less. Even though there is a very reclusive part of me, I really get something out of being around people I love all the time. I’ve learned also to not to project expectations into events or shows or whatever. It’s like a mind trick for me to constantly remind myself when to be grateful, and that no one’s world revolves around you. So, that’s something I’ve learned from touring.

Has anyone given you advice about touring?

I’ve been told a lot to eat healthy (laughs). I always want to go to Long John Silver’s when we’re on the road because it’s my favorite, and I get shot down. I’ve been told to take care of myself because I don’t want to get gout! (laughs)

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