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VV Brown

Digging Deeper

In the late 2000s, VV Brown was a shining jewel in the London alt-pop scene, fated for mainstream success. But in a career where many people have had their say on who and what she should be, the role of ‘pop star’ hasn’t always sat comfortably. Here VV describes the journey of self-discovery and self-ownership which has led to her most profound record yet. 

“In the tapestry of my life, I once confined myself to the narrow patterns prescribed by society. I read articles that said I was meant to be the shining star, the iconic pop artist, or perhaps the epitome of electronic hipster coolness. Ridiculous.  

The world expected me to wear the crown of a fashionista, and these were the conventions that wove themselves tightly into the fabric of my existence, especially in the vibrant gentrified tapestries of Peckham and Dalston where entitled egos roar.  

Surrounded by the avant-garde, the art school elites, I stood as a singular note of redundancy, a muted free spirit amidst the swirling winds of creative freedom. My heart yearned for the elusive smile of white women hoping to be seen, validated and somehow needed.  

But, alas, even within that cauldron of entitlement and the relentless pursuit of validation, I remained ensnared, my soul ensnared. Oh, the exhaustion, the weariness, of the unhealthy water of fame only to find myself ensnared in a web of self-importance, ensnared in my own ego's embrace.  Shoreditch House atmospheres crept insidiously into the chambers of my ego, leading me to order senseless concoctions and attend hip-hop soirées of assumed relevance. Layers of familiarity from my past merged with a fervent yearning to be cherished, needed, and anointed as credible. I cried out, "Love me, for I am credible, aren’t I?”  

Yet as I looked around craving for validation every face, every mouth was white. I was seeking some kind of approval as a Black woman from a pool of people who knew nothing about my journey. Like a house slave I yearned for some sort of piece of bread from them that kept me feeling alive.  

This unhealthy pendulum led me to depression that was so numb I never knew I had been in it most days. Then it happened. It was motherhood that cleaved me in twain, sending me plummeting to the very bedrock of my being. It compelled me to journey deeper into myself — beyond the artifice, beyond the expectations, beyond the ceaseless thirst for approval. In that profound dive, Vanessa Brown emerged, unadorned and fearless, casting aside the masks and the trappings.  

This, my friends, is the tipping point. The moment when the tides shift, and you shatter the shackles of societal conventions. It is the moment you awaken to your most potent self, liberated from the need for external validation, realizing that your worth is not beholden to the opinions of others, especially those who have always been voices of privilege.  

My journey from my second album, "Samson and Delilah," to my third album, "Glitch", was an epic odyssey away from the confines of conformity. It was a relentless plunge into the abyss of self-discovery, akin to traversing a dark, labyrinthine cave with a glimmering light at the far end. This path, because of the birth of a child, triggered a cosmic shift, one that demanded immense pain and sacrifice, the kind that breaks you to remake you anew.  In those depths, I grappled with my insecurities, a wild beast untamed, leaving me battered and bloodied. I yearned for an end, for the sweet release of death, yet paradoxically, an insatiable hunger for life surged within me. I longed to exist authentically, to shed the layers of pretense that had shrouded me.  

Much like the biblical tale of Samson and Delilah, I found myself exposed and vulnerable. Delilah's cunning scissors severed my metaphorical locks of conformity, stripping me bare. But it was within this vulnerability that I unearthed a hidden strength, a glitch in the expected narrative, a departure from the ordinary.  

In the world of "Glitch", where reality warped and fractured, I discovered my sanctuary. Here, imperfections were celebrated, and the boundaries of conformity blurred into a tapestry of abstract chaos. I embraced the beauty found in the fragmented and the artistry born from the aberrant.  

This transformative journey taught me that the darkest moments often precede the most radiant awakenings. The agony, the sacrifice, the relentless wrestling with inner demons—all were crucial components of my rebirth. Through this crucible, I emerged anew, unburdened by the chains of conformity.  

I learned that in the depths of despair and amidst the fiercest battles with our own insecurities, we uncover our true strength. Just as a newborn emerges from the womb, scarred but reborn, I emerged from this odyssey, my soul reborn, resolute to embrace life in its purest, unadulterated form.  

This journey led me to the creation of "Am I British Yet?" – the culmination of my quest, the radiant jewel hidden within the cave of my soul. I stood there, inner self exposed and throbbing with life, poised to confront the very essence of my being.  

I had embarked on this pilgrimage to ask a singular question: Am I Truly British yet? And in doing so, it marked the first time in my life when I cast aside the heavy shackles of the industry, the soul-numbing obsession with statistics, the ceaseless clamour for Spotify streams, the relentless pursuit of sales figures, and the insatiable thirst for validation. Even the radio waves and critical reviews lost their grip on my consciousness. Only one craving persists — a yearning to grace the stage of Jools Holland's show, a man and a program I held in profound reverence.  

Yet, everything else dimmed in comparison, fading into the background of daily life. It was about school runs, about cooking meals for my children, and simply living. I embraced authenticity with every fibre of my being, with music becoming not the sole focus, but a harmonious and beautiful accent in the grand symphony of life. 

As a black woman, I shed the chains of conformity that had been skillfully woven by well-meaning but misguided white feminists, disguising themselves as allies, and by white men donning the blankets of tokenism. It was time for me to live life authentically, to stand unapologetically in my truth.  

So, plunge fearlessly into the depths of your soul, break free from the chains that bind you, and let your true essence blaze forth. I am Vanessa Brown, an embodiment of unapologetic authenticity, and witness the world bow before the resplendent power that springs from embracing your unadulterated self." 

VV Brown’s ‘Am I British Yet?' Is out 27th October. Words by VV Brown

VV Brown

Words by VV Brown

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