The U.K.'s coolest new soul singer is a total renaissance lady
YOU'RE AWESOME SINGLE "SHARK IN THE WATER" HAS AN ISLAND KIND OF FEEL TO IT. IS THAT JUST IN YOUR BLOOD?
VVB: My parents are Caribbean so I was raised around ska and reggae music. The way you grow up plays a big part i how you express yourself.
WE DANCED LIKE CRAZY TO THAT SONG WHEN WE SAW YOUR SHOW. YOU REMINDED US OF TINA TURNER WITH YOUR LONG HAIR, BIG VOICE AND HORN-HEAVY BACKING BANK. WHO ARE YOUR IDOLS ANYWAY?
Grace Jones, Damon Albarn, Freddie Mercury, the B-52s and the Sex Pistols.
THOSE ARE ALL OUTLANDISH PERSONALITIES.
I really admire people who bring visual art and music together. That's how it was in the '70s and '80s. It was all about the look and the lifestyle. I've always admired those iconic figures that display aspects of art in their life.
YOU'RE REALLY INTO THE VISUAL PRESENTATION WITH YOUR RETRO STYLE. HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN INTO VINTAGE?
Yes. I started out collecting vintage because I didn't have enough money to have the stuff in designer stores, but I ended up stumbling on some very cool retro fashion.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE THING YOUR COLLECTION RIGHT NOW?
I really love my 360-degree pilot glasses! They're from the 1920s—the goggles they would wear on an airplane. They're dope. They're a mixture of leather and metal and, oh, they're just really wicked.
YOU EVEN HAVE AN ONLINE VINTAGE STORE, VVVINTAGE.COM.
It's a little quiet at the moment because I'm so busy. A lot of it's sold out, but I need to get back to sewing, cutting and making clothes again.
WE HEAR YOU'RE ALSO DEVELOPING A GRAPHIC NOVEL.
Yeah, it's called The City of Abacus. You can buy it at thecityofabacus.com and you can get an iPhone application. We're putting out seven comics, one a month, and we'll release the graphic novel at the end of the year.
DO YOU ACTUALLY DRAW THE COMICS?
I wrote the story and came up with the title and concept. It's similar to George Orwell's 1984. The main character Freeda goes on an epic journey through a city of mental slavery. It's kind of like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. We hope that in four or five years we can turn it into an animated film and video game series.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU HAVE IN YOUR BAG OF TRICKS?
I'm also writing a sarcastic novel called Grey School Socks. When I was in school, the way you wore your socks represented what kind of subculture you belonged to: the geeky kids, the crazy kids. So it's kind of a representation of how we are in society. It's like everyone's still on the playground figuring out which way to wear their grey school socks.
WHERE ON EARTH DO YOU FIND THE TIME TO DO ALL OF THIS WHEN YOU'RE LAUNCHING A CAREER IN POP MUSIC?
On airplanes! I'm always flying from London to New York, or New York to L.A. You get a lot of time to just sit and think. I want people to see a deeper, philosophical side of me that you don't see in the pop mainstream.