Vanessa White is taking it back to Chapter One. The 26-year-old Londoner is approaching her latest body of work as a new artist. Sure, we can’t discount the eight years she put in as a member of one of the UK’s biggest girl bands, The Saturdays, but her new material should be approached with fresh ears. Striking up a balance of contemporary production with just enough throwback to have us feeling nostalgic, White is returning to her R&B roots. The music feels personal and her voice soothes, as she channels the incredible female artists that lead her to music in the first place – the likes of Brandy, Mya and Janet Jackson – who she’d listen to in her bedroom as a teenager.
The timing couldn’t be better. With a network of rising R&B singers and producers seeping through from Soundcloud into the mainstream, Vanessa feels right at home. Having put in work with the likes of Snakehips, Chloe Martini, Future Cut, Shakka, Kojey Radical and Wretch 32, as well as songwriter Tre Jean-Marie, White is creating music that feels organic, honest and natural. Chapter One sees her reigniting that feeling of discovering a new musical obsession in her teenage years.
We caught up with Vanessa in Shoreditch’s Ace Hotel for a mid-morning cup of tea, to discuss everything from the initial fear of going solo, writing with Wretch 32 and what the game’s been missing…
How are you feeling about the initial reception to your solo work?
Really good, I’m really shocked actually. I didn’t have any expectations. I was just hoping that people would like it, and so I’ve had that and a lot more, which is really good.
Were you nervous about putting out the new material?
So nervous. I wasn’t so nervous about putting the latest stuff out, it was the first song. ‘Relationship Goals’ was the first thing that people were going to hear of me on my own. Out of all the girls I’m the first to put out solo music, so that was another added pressure. And, I felt like it was me, so if people didn’t like it, then in a strange way I’d feel rejected. My nerves were all over the place, but I was very happy.
What inspired you to start recording solo stuff in the first place?
Well I’ve always wanted to do it, I’ve always had that in me. And then we kind of went on a hiatus last year, and everyone was going off and doing their own things, some people going into presenting and others doing different things. But for me, it was always going to be music. I [can’t imagine] doing anything else. So I just got my head down, went to the studio and took time to see what worked and what didn’t, and finally I think I’m getting somewhere.