When PACIFIC recently spoke with Adia Victoria, she was sitting on the floor of her Nashville apartment on the last day before heading back on tour. After a couple of months at home, the singer, songwriter and guitarist only had one final ritual to complete before hitting the road: eat a home-cooked meal before being faced with eight weeks of gas station food.
Victoria and her band will again be out to support her stunning debut full-length, “Beyond The Bloodhounds,” which was released last May. It’s been described as “gothic blues,” but Victoria’s own description of “back-porch-blues-swamp-cat-lady-howlin'-at-the-moon” is a much better way to put it.
Here is what the artist had to say about going on tour, her own creative process, and the current political climate:
PACIFIC: Are you excited to head back out?
ADIA VICTORIA: We are. But it’s a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be before I started touring. And I now have a whole new level of respect for my favorite touring musicians.
Are the songs changing as you go?
They better change, because I change as a person. And that’s always been my perspective as a live performer - to keep things honest. Stay in touch with my art. And that’s also writing about it, or the people it’s about - if they’re still around. I try to access all of those emotions. They’re very universal. And they’re very useful when I perform. I want to expose that, and I suppose, re-scratch old wounds when I get on the stage. That’s also part of the thrill of it for me as a performer.
The songs are so personal. Easier to perform them the longer it goes?
I don’t want the songs to consume me in a way where, like when I used to perform, it would affect my mental heath and I would crash after performing because it was so emotionally rigorous. Now, I’ve gotten a little better at stepping into the role, and then stepping out, and taking care of myself in between gigs. The show I perform is not just a spectator sport for the audience. I want to walk them through everything that I was feeling when I wrote the songs. And that can take a toll on a performer.
When: 8:30 p.m. Feb. 21
Where: The Casbah, 2501 Kettner Blvd., downtown
You’ve said that the album is “an ode to your 20s.” Is there still more of that story to tell?
I still feel a lot of the emotions I felt on the album. They just manifest themselves in different ways. I’m older now. I wrote a lot of these songs when I was 22. I’m 30 now. I still deal with loneliness, depression, anger, and anxiety, but it doesn’t look the same way it did before. I guess I can chalk that up to maturation. But it will continue to be as honest as ever. And that’s what I want to keep. That’s what I want to guard. I don’t want to put out music just to put out music.
Is the current state of politics in this country making any impact on your creativity?
As a black woman who grew up in the South, the way I’ve been looking at a lot of this is that it’s nothing new. If the chaos that’s coming from the government is new to you, then you’ve been very privileged. Then you’ve had it easy. Then you’ve been protected and shielded from what power does and how it operates in our country. This is not new for my people. This is not the first time that we are encountering this level of hatred. And that’s been a centering thought for me. Now it’s just unmasked. The only difference is that the people in charge don’t have the finesse, they don’t feel the burden, or the need, or the shame that caused them to hide before. It’s out in the open - big, dumb racism. This is an ongoing struggle.
When you’re on the road do you continue to create?
I continue to create. I’m working on my second album now. But when I’m on the road, my creativity takes a hit. The nature of touring is ‘Van, hotel, venue.’ ‘Van, hotel, venue.’ And sometimes I can get a little stuck in that frame of mind. But I’ve had a few months now in between tours. This is my first tour since November of last year. So I’ve been mining the notes I took on the road, sitting down with them, and trying to expand them. And I’ve gotten some pretty good songs out of all of that.
Will you be incorporating any of the new ideas into the set lists on this run?
We will. We’ll be releasing an EP called “How It Feels” in March. It’s a collection of some of my favorite classic French pop songs from the 60s. It has an original on there too, also in French, called “You Know How It Feels.” And we’ll be incorporating that into the set. We’ve also got a keyboard player for this run, so we’ve been experimenting with that. But as far as the next one - I want to roll out the new album as more of a complete package.