HAVANA TIMES — Young Canadian performer Victoria Sol comes to the island to hone her musical studies, and in her appearances before the Cuban public, many have been surprised to hear a vocal style reminiscent of greats like Amy Winhouse.
HT: What encouraged you come to Cuba?
Victoria Sol: When I first visited Cuba, I was still a university student visiting through a short academic exchange. This story is the perfect example of how life sometimes surprises you with opportunities you would never expect. It was through this experience that I would later be invited to perform at the Canadian Embassy in Havana later on in that year.
Through this second trip to Cuba, I was exposed to the potential opportunities to develop as an artist and learn about different music styles here in Havana. I suppose the rest is history, I am here studying both music and Spanish, learning about different styles of Cuba music, as well as developing relationships with Cuban musicians.
HT: We have seen you singing with Cuban musicians.
VS: I feel very fortunate to have connected with different artists here in Havana. It has been an amazing cultural experience to be able to share the stage with amazing Havana talent and I am looking forward to any and all opportunities that come my way.
HT: Do you have anything interesting to tell about the experience of living in Cuban society?
VS: Adjusting to living in a new environment, in a new country, with new customs and culture can be very challenging and intimidating. However, I believe that the warm and friendly nature of the Cuban people, and the hospitality and generosity habitual to Cuban culture has definitely been something I have most enjoyed and appreciated since moving to Havana. Whether I am meeting new musicians in the city, or relaxing with new friends, I always feel like I am with family and despite being so far away from my own family and friends, I never feel alone.
VS: Yes, I was born and raised in Canada. Though, both my parents are Nigerians, and immigrated to Canada a year before I was born. Despite being raised in Canada, I do feel a strong connection to Nigeria I suppose because I was raised by Nigerian parents in a Canadian context. I find this has definitely influenced not only my taste in music, but also my musical sound.
HT: How do you distribute your professional time in Canada?
VS: It is very challenging in Canada to live off being an artist alone. I am good friends with many extremely talented musicians, singers/songwriters/rappers/poets, the list can go on, who unfortunately can not survive off their craft alone and must divide their time between their true passion and traditional work responsibilities.
Right now, my experience is not different, and I simply try to maximize the time I have, and take advantage of any opportunity to improve myself as an artist, or share my music wherever I may happen to be in the world.
HT: When thinking about your vocal power and singing style, do you consider that any particular influence determines your work?
VS: I think every artist tries their best to invent their own voice, their own sound. So I try not to compare myself to other artists, and just be the best that I can be. That is not to say that there are not some amazing artists that I look up to, and that have also influenced my musical style in one way or another. Etta James, Fela Kuti, Lauryn Hill, Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse to name a few.
Though one of the reasons I was so keen on coming to Cuba was so I could expand my musical influences. With such a rich variety of sounds and styles in Cuban music, Cuba is the perfect place to explore musically.
HT: Victoria Sol´s professional purposes?
VS: I most definitely need to finish my album. The writing and recording process can be very challenging, but it is always better to take your time so that the work you put out is a true representation of the artist you wish to be.
However, there is an element of the unknown in this industry and despite always dedicating myself to my music sometimes, it is chance or luck that changes everything. Oh, I also MUST, write a song in Spanish jaja. That is on the list of things to do.