From a career in modelling to studying psychology, after a sudden realisation that that profession is perhaps not fulfilling enough. From living in and breathing the air of the busy streets of London to moving to a calmer, yet still very creative and unique city like Berlin. Polish singer Vincent Littlehat has been exploring and expanding her mind in the past few years by taking chances and trying out new things. Today she releases her music video for The Head of Knights, the first of a series of singles which she will release in the following months, and in many ways, it represents all of these changes in her life. In her own words it “is about a temporary change in perspective,” read on to find out more about her life, music and thoughts on many different issues that affect us all.
Before we start, could you please introduce yourself to our readers? Who are you and where do you answer us from?
I am a lyricist and a songwriter, I write scripts for and co-direct my music videos, working as and with Vincent Littlehat – my artistic persona. That fabrication gives me the possibility of not taking identification so seriously with the given social roles. Seeing all of them from a slightly detached perspective – which allows me to modify them before I dive back to be them. That makes it all a little bit saner.
I’ve just arrived for a retreat in Corfu, part of it is a digital detox. This interview is pretty much the last thing representing an online communication for this week.
You were born in Poland and now live in Berlin, but have also previously travelled and worked in London and Naples. What do you like most about each of these cities? Is there any that you especially identify yourself with at the moment?
I live now in Berlin, that’s probably what I identify with at the moment. As many people who have experienced its full seasonal cycle, I find this city to be quite bipolar. The weather and sun express themselves in the general mood, you can really feel that intense shift during the first days of spring when everything and everyone becomes suddenly alive and a little euphoric. During the long months of fall and winter, we almost lose hope that we’ll survive the darkness. So it’s exhilarating and relieving.
London had a similar effect on me, though I wasn’t conscious at the time, that’s an impact of the environment and I thought I was depressed because of personal imperfections. Now I know how sunshine withdrawal works, that it brings a comedown and one has to brace themselves if they are sensitive to energy impacts. Accept the nature of the cycle and lower levels of enthusiasm as they were in the warm months to provide the space for resting.
Staying in Naples for some of the winters gave me an opportunity to gain a comparative perspective. The transitions were smoother. Yet I didn’t manage to assimilate with that place, it felt somehow culturally too foreign as if I were on longer holidays.
Relationships with people based in each of the places definitely created personal projections, though one can definitely identify different kinds of general pressures. London creates a drive for success: it’s an expensive and competitive city, which can bring up the survival mode in a person. A good friend from high school (which I attended in Poland) pointed out to me that I’d changed by living there, and that my drive for success and creating an impact on my environment had been magnified. I know I’ve been attracting this kind of intention even after retreating and moving to a bit calmer city, which is Berlin. Only recently I discovered that it is an environment for people who withdrew or never were entertained by a need of becoming someone special. There are many citizens who are rather carrying on a down-to-earth lifestyle with their ordinary stories. I’m rediscovering that within myself and meeting more people who enjoy a life of less widely spread extremes.
I’ve read that you studied psychology at university, is this true?
Yes, I’ve studied psychology for about 3 years, I enjoyed the subject but at the time I have been too young and adventurous to stay in one city and spend most of the time in a library. After a gap year in London and travelling in Europe, thanks to modelling assignments, I understood I needed a lifestyle which required changing places. That’s why I continue my career as a musician. Still, I dive into psychological subjects, although it's from a rather practical side, of a patient. I find it extremely valuable to be mirrored by people who have a good understanding of themselves and can use that knowledge with others to spot patterns which make them get into self-harming and harming others' behaviours.
We often manifest a life that is based on what we want – which is very often what our environment taught us to pursue and nobody really questions it until one is really sick of it, taking it for granted for years. If a person is successful at doing what they want, the problem is that it can cover up the field of what one needs. The very intimate, natural relationship with oneself is covered by the noise/demands of culture.
There is a certain guilt coming from breaking out from these pressures, we don’t want our part of the burden to fall onto others. But sometimes the only way to shake other people up from taking too many roles is to lead by example. Let’s look at the people-pleasing pattern. There is no other way than to start to refuse to take more tasks on oneself and build boundaries. It’s a strain for both sides, which brings at first a lot of shame and discomfort to the one who initiates it. Then with practice, it becomes normal to be normal.
And how does this matter influence your songs? There is no doubt that your artistic work hides important messages loaded with meaning, in which the power of the mind is continuously manifested.
Since I am aware that I hold some potential to de-contextualise and make life experience less alienating or exhausting for myself and other humans, in my lyrics I question why we do what we do and if we really have to act as we’ve been told. Or is there a way to find, perhaps a slower and more attentive way to be? Ever since I’ve been learning about the human mind and reflecting on my and others' psychological constructs, I get better at noticing solutions which bring me ease and stability. I’m glad to point them out and talk about them, being aware that my preferences will not fit all, but maybe inspire others to look for theirs. I believe we can move individually, towards what everyone finds to be good at and can naturally thrive in their individual culture.
We can collectively benefit from an acceptance that we are all different and we can recognise that – if given the time and support. These realisations are very simple, so it’s easy to overlook them, I forget about them all the time, old conditioning is very strong. Conquering generations of being programmed by propagandas, which are hard-wired within the neurological system and disguised as a personal voice. I sense these coming from religious imprinting to be the most vicious.
My lyrics have often a functional role, they are summaries of my realisations (or of people whom I find inspiring) which I’d like to accompany me and not be forgotten. In my songs, there is a wise part linked with the emotional part to awaken the embodied, emotional intelligence.
When do you think you started to focus on music professionally? Was there any turning point?
There was a turning point. I discovered that being a model is not as multi-dimensional as I would like it to be and could participate in creating culture. I was in a moment of giving up and felt very depressed, I had nothing I felt like doing nor that I was good at. I had no other possibility other than to start almost a completely new path, even if my enthusiasm for participating in life was at its lowest. I haven’t sung since childhood or written anything fictional in years. I read Just Kids and The War of Art in that period which blew wind into my sail and started to write lyrics, introduce them to musicians.
I knew there is no turning away from consistently making it until I became it. I enjoy moments of depression, these have a really transformative power, all I need is to let it break me.
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Today you are releasing your new single and music video, The Head of Knights. An introspective alt-pop track which is the first in a series of singles to be released over the latter part of this year and early in 2023. How do you feel?
I am excited and nervous of course. I am honoured that I’ve been able to work with Robot Koch on this single. With the sound production, he has added a lot of artistic value to my words. These have become clearer thanks to my producer, Kris Steininger, who always takes care that I well heard. Zino Mikorey gave clarity and strength to the track with mastering. The video made together with Julian Reich, especially the 16mm parts is my favourite visual making so far. I believe it’s great teamwork, I feel proud of us.
Is this the beginning of a new era, or a natural continuation of your previous work?
My work is directly connected to a continuation of my understanding of how I see myself in the world, which evolves gradually. What’s new to me is being supported by my producer/manager Kris Steininger, and incentives of a label – Wagram Stories. I feel their interest in working with me, that what I am sharing is relatable, that’s a direct feedback I’ve never had on that level before.
I’m also starting now to distribute my work in Web3, connecting directly with collectors and supporters. I’m learning how to exist in this new to me space thanks to Nifty Music Academy in which we are taught how to handle these new markets. We act as a group of creators who support and directly learn from each other. I enjoy being in a group, that’s new to me as before I acted mostly as a lone wolf.
The Head of Knights is about a temporary change in perspective,” you comment on the single that has just been released. Could you tell us more about this change and how you transmit it through music?
It’s about a shift of one's perspective of an actor – who’s caught up in the events – to that of a narrator viewing the action from a wider field of view and possibilities. Thanks to this repositioning, one can overcome a fear of experiencing discomfort that is expected outside of comfort zones, which paradoxically, even if known well might be more dangerous than the new zones.
A creative perspective stimulates different ways of relating to any situation. The mind is placed to be in a playful relation to the scene, thanks to a healthy microdose of detachment from the mundane reality. It creates a space between thoughts, turning them into a temporarily shapeable substance. Thanks to using words of not only a complaining narration (affirming what is) but looking past it in order to see a possibility of transforming that scene.
I would like to encourage the listener (and myself in a less hopeful moment) to question: am I only an actor, or also a scriptwriter/director in this situation?
We can stimulate our perception by using drugs, cannabitriol or CBT proves that we can achieve similar but long-lasting results by the way we narrate what we observe. That observation has a direct effect on taken actions, which break us away from the old patterns.
And let's talk about the music video, co-directed with Julian Reich. Were you clear about the creative direction that the visual piece should take, what was the development process like until you defined the final idea?
I wanted to film reversed actions for a music video since always. An image of people joining to walk along with me, creating a collective counterbalance to an illogical movement on the street – that was clear from the beginning. I had the main concept and Julian helped me by adding elements, places and angles of filming. He was very encouraging, thanks to his strength and communication with security services we managed to film in spaces which are usually not inviting creators to document them.
You’ve already announced that you will be releasing new music in the next months, but is there anything you can tell us in advance?
Yes, indeed. I'm planning to release five tracks within the next months. There is even more in the making and besides being a songwriter, poetry writer and performer, I love to create visual art and immerse myself in various art forms. I am currently working closely with a CGI artist friend on a 3D video (content, storyline teaser), at the same time I am fascinated by blockchain technology, a virtual community that will have a much bigger part in my creation in the future and everything around the web 3 (name a few exciting examples that will flow into your art). it is such a fast-growing universe and it is important to me to find a place in it.
And any artist you would like to collaborate with?
I adore the disillusioning lyric of Say What You Will by James Blake. And the ironic and accurately framing of human self-harming drives Not Because It's Easy, But Because It's Hard by Jens Lekman. I’d be curious what story I could write together with my favourite lyricist and musicians and which myths we could debunk in collaboration.