VTSS: I have a rockstar in me
It cannot be denied that VTSS has quickly become synonymous with exciting DJing. The artist laboriously climbed up the career ladder – from performances at Krakow’s Unsound (where she is returning triumphantly this year) to releasing her new EP on the iconic Ninja Tune label. Not only by refining her craft but also by the bold decision to move from Poland to Berlin, and then to London. Hungry for success, constantly undergoing metamorphosis in the name of artistic expression – VTSS is the epitome of a club music icon. That’s why we are excited to have her as our new cover star.
I have never perceived my ambition as something unique or beyond the normal standard, but maybe there is something to it – says VTSS. There has never been a moment in my life when I realized that I wanted something more – it’s probably a matter of my upbringing, but I’ve always known that I want a lot and I didn’t feel any (mental) limitations – aka cliché, which is believing in myself. I was always determined to prove to any doubting person what I am capable of. Has it worked? I guess so, it’s cool that something useful came out of it, but it is not a way to go through life – she notices consciously. Until today, or rather: especially today, it is something that I struggle with every day, because it has built an unhealthy base. After a few months of therapy, I realized that my motivation, especially at the beginning, did not come from a healthy place, and to this day I struggle with it and work on it. Consistent persistence on the music scene, especially as demanding and competitive as the club scene, requires an iron character. I’m asking for moments of doubt along the way. At first, I didn’t feel it at all, to the dissatisfaction of my parents, I quit studying law to focus on music and put all my eggs in one basket (I do not recommend it). Then, especially with COVID, things got complicated, a little „identity crisis” ensued, and I stopped enjoying some things. Hence, all my decisions and moves for the last two years – I didn’t want to fall into a routine but develop and find new elements of work that I enjoy.
VTSS has built her reputation not only with sets warming up the audiences, but also with solid releases streamed by masses, as well as played by fellow DJs all over the world. It all came out naturally step by step. I had options to release the music beforehand, but the labels that contacted me weren’t what I wanted. It was very important to me from the beginning to have a strategy. The biggest lesson I could teach someone is the art of saying no and waiting for the right moment. Her tracks were released by recognized techno brands such as Intrepid Skin or Repitch, but the real breakthrough is the release with Ninja Tune, one of the most respected labels in the electronic world for decades. The first label I contacted myself was Ninja Tune. As in 2020, I started producing 'not techno’, that is, various idm, beats or whatever it is, I made a list of labels that were my dream. Maybe not a dream, but a plan – I don’t believe in dreams related to work, they are more plans, ideas, options. It was then, when I decided – realistically I’m giving myself two years to release something with Ninja Tune. It was September 2020 – two years exactly! (laughs) VTSS shares her effective strategy: looking at dreams in the form of projects – giving realistic deadlines, developing steps to get there, etc. – I highly recommend it.
Her latest releases on Technicolour and Ninja Tune Records significantly exceed the dance floor template, and stun anyone who has been associating her to one specific genre or scene. The broad horizons of the artist broke through her sets, but only this year she explores them fully through her productions. I’ve been making (and playing) different music since forever – I did not have the courage and did not feel that it was the time to share it in public. But especially in 2020, I found myself incapable of getting back to life as it was before the pandemic – to this hardcore schedule and party loop, travel and the effects of this life. I realized that I was ready and that I have time now or never to make my dreams come true and do what I want to do.
Despite the frenzy of living the „life on the road”, the most vital source of inspiration for VTSS was her new home. The years behind the DJ deck have taught me a lot, but the last two years of living in London have given me even more. I don’t mean even playing sets in London but being a part of the UK scene. And I don’t mean Berlin-wannabe club institutions, but the way how broadly club music is being perceived by the London community. I’ve never been known to be a purist, but it wasn’t until London that I learned that fun starts where genre ends. For me, the future is definitely post-genre. This post-genre reality is well reflected by Circulus Vitiosus (Latin: vicious circle), i.e. the dreamed – or perhaps more planned – debut of VTSS in Ninja Tune. What mainly stands out are… the vocals. Fun fact about me: before I started producing, I was singing jazz and entertainment, that was about 10 years ago in high school. It was always my main dream that was stopped by some kind of vocal cord nodule or other stuff. It closed me up terribly and I didn’t think that I would ever use my voice. I started making beats for fun in 2020 and wanted to send them to singers and rappers, but I didn’t know how to go about it. Then friends from London related to the more hyperpop / alt pop / ex deconstructed scene have been nagging me for months that I have a very specific, deep voice and I should start using it. And so, I dared, I recorded the vocals on the microphone on my laptop lol and we sent the demo to Ninja Tune. My A&R from the label later said, after we signed the contracts, that he only knew my stage name more or less from the scene I came from and thought: „ugh another boric generic techno incoming”. What, thank God, it was not! (laughter)
While listening to the EP, I was in an awe of a mixture of contrasting genres, effortlessly blend: electroclash, techno, hyperpop, deconstructed club, trip hop. I like to hear how people see it – replies VTSS. I did not think about it at all, because seriously: my point of view has changed so that I even no longer distinguish what is what genre. Like me or my friends, when we hear a song, the only thing we care about is whether it is a banger or not. Recording music with her own voice is a milestone, revealing the artist from a perspective we’ve never seen before. Many decisions in my life were driven by fear – about opinions, about hate, about perception. VTSS has always been what it is now, but I wasn’t ready to expose myself more. VTSS is me, sometimes an exaggerated version of me, sometimes a version from the past, or a version from a parallel reality where I made different decisions and didn’t land where I am now. I like to explore it myself, not quite knowing where the truth ends and begins – but it is a great way for me to find out. Working with vocals is associated with different challenges than those that VTSS has taken up so far. I still have asthma and problems with the throat and vocal cords, so it was not smooth, but hmm, worse obstacles did not stop me – she declares with a laugh. At the end of our conversation, I ask about a change of direction – is what we hear on Circulus Vitiosus a constant shift of the creative paradigm? You know what, it’s the most exciting thing that I don’t know! Certainly, the club is home to me, but maybe it is not such a narrow perception of club music as in our techno-centric scenes. I have a long contract with Ninja Tune, so I must get to work. I want to record an album and go on a live tour with it. Before the first live performance at Primavera I was more stressed than before my high school final exams, I was talking to my friend: „What if I don’t have a rockstar in me?” Then I decided that I absolutely do have a rockstar in me, so we will try it – she says with a laugh. And she enthusiastically says: I will do everything in my power not to get bored.
Photography & Video: Marcin Kempski
production: Mikołaj Jaźwiecki
Styling: Ewelina Gralak
Makeup: Sonia Kieryluk
Hair: Michał Pasymowski
Nails: Patrycja Jewsienia
Asystentka stylistki: Natalia Osełka
Asystent Fotografa: Hubert Libuda
Cover Typography: Renata Motyka
Interview: Pawel Klimczak
Editor in Chief & Creative Director: Daniel Jankowski
Director of Creative Production: Julia Czub