London musician VC Pines is one of those relative newcomers who sounds like they've been honing their craft for decades. His love of Motown and soul shining through, his tunes are huge, emotional stories that have the power to both devastate and reassure. On the way to his biggest headline show to date at Omeara this September (y'know, if we're allowed to leave our houses by then), today marks the release of his new 'Skully' EP.
Hi VC Pines, how's it going? Are you stuck at home? How do you fill your days?
I'm good thanks, hope you guys are safe, well and with clean hands. Yeah, I'm stuck at home, just constantly writing, and going for my one walk a day. CABIN FEVER IS GROWING.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a musician, did you have a musical upbringing?
I wouldn't say I had a musical upbringing more-so than the average family? Other than really getting into my dad's music from a young age. It was all a mix of Motown/soul and a load of punk stuff. I started learning guitar aged ten, and that was it, I was hooked.
How did you transition from making songs on your own at home to releasing them and playing live?
Music has always started instrumentally/live to me. It has to sound good with a band for it to work. In my old band, we played together a few times a week, and so we were normally writing/rehearsing together, but now things are a little bit tougher, and I can't get the Violet Collective in for rehearsals four times a week because they're busy boys! But those years of previous experience have helped me understand what's what and so I know if somethings going to sound good live or not. And that's the most important thing; if you can get that, the rest is easy.
Can you remember the first song you wrote? How have you evolved since then?
Haha yeah, I think it was part of my music GCSE? It was about some kind of house party and substance abuse, played with chords that probably didn't go together, and a weird happy melody. It was really, really bad.
How does having epilepsy impact your work as a musician, if at all?
The type of epilepsy I have it Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, so it very much revolves around my memory. I have these overwhelming feelings of nostalgia and de ja vu, and sometimes have seizures. Regardless of that, though, it's not something I'd choose to get rid of. I actually had my first seizure in months the other day, and went back into that - I hate my brain - hole. Then got to writing and realised that everything I am, from my personality to my songs, would be nothing without this strange brain.
Tell us about your new EP, what's 'Skully' about? How did you put it together?
It all fell into place over about four months? I had a handful of ideas, some recorded, some in my phone and then I watched a documentary on the painter Sean Scully. He was in an interview and had been asked about a comment Ai WeiWei had made to one of his recent works and his response really connected with me, and I think will to most other up and coming creatives. He spoke about how the need for self-belief is imperative and that to him, the idea of self-doubt is unfathomable. I recorded the interview and managed to contact him and his team, and that's when the Skully EP all came together. The rest of it wrote itself, and yeah, it's something I'm really proud of!
How was writing with Max Helyer? It sounds like an interesting team-up.
Yeah, the guy's a madman! In the best way. He came to my show at The Lexington and we said we'd get in the studio together. Neither of us managed to get a date in until just before Christmas, but I'm so glad it happened. We gave birth to 'Cracks', and we have a few more in the oven.
Do you spend much time collaborating and writing with other people?
I write the songs myself unless I'm in a writing session with another artist. Most days are with my producer, Hound, we record the songs I've written, sometimes make a few adjustments together, and I always get my vocals recorded with him, even if the song has come from another writing session elsewhere. I get in the studio with SelasiHD frequently too; I think it's good to work with a range of different people. It keeps you on your toes, and you always learn something new.
What have you got coming up over the next few months?
The Skully EP drops 24th April, other than that I guess we'll have to see how this lockdown goes! Nothing's for certain apart from my September rescheduled dates: Bristol Crofters Rights (7th); Brighton The Prince Albert (8th); London Omeara (10th); Live At Leeds (28th November).
For now, make sure you follow me on Instagram @vpines - I'll be doing live streams and Q&As.
Anything else we should know?
Big beats are the best, get high all the time.
VC Pines' EP 'Skully' is out now. He's taking part in new online festival Homeschool too, which runs from 8th-10th May - visit homeschoolfest.com for details.