When Whit Stillman debuted his latest film at TIFF 2011 – Damsels in Distress starring Adam Brody and Greta Gerwig – last night, a new audience was exposed to the lyricism of singer/songwriter Victoria Aitken thanks to her song, “Weekend Lover,” that appears on the soundtrack. Victoria is a Brit with Canadian roots – her family tree has William Maxwell Aitken, the first Baron Beaverbrook and newspaper publisher with university buildings and landmarks across Canada bearing his name – who splits her time mostly between New York and London. A Georgetown University graduate who studied international relations, this dance sensation already has a massive following thanks to her tricky rhymes and hot beats. Find out more about this young chanteuse in today's YPDaily.
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I make people dance to twisted lyrics. I write dance songs. I'm a singer and songwriter.
Why did you head into the entertainment business?
Because its fun; I love what I do. It makes me happy. I enjoy writing. I also love listening to great music, watching great films, reading great books. It's amazing to feel inspired by so many different art forms; I am not only inspired by music.
What was the inspiration for this career route?
I just kept on singing in my head, in the shower, and generally making up silly rhymes, writing notes for song ideas, and I thought, “Umm...why don’t I try and do this professionally?” I love telling stories in my songs, and think of each one as a music video – each one has a message, a middle, a beginning and an end.
What lifestyle adjustments have you had to make as a result of being in this business?
Well, you never know what’s going to happen in this business; things can go up and go down, you just never know. It's all a bit of surprise as to what will happen tomorrow, so it has taught me to be flexible and open to what can be around the corner. And the traveling is amazing.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis?
Laughing...with the Bimbo Jones guys – we work together – they are so funny, and they are great cooks. It's such a pleasure, and I am honoured to work with them. They have remixed everyone from Lady Gaga to Rhianna, and are producer superstars. They are so talented, charming, fun, and very inspirational to work with.
The most challenging part?
So much: finding the right mixes, waiting for things to move forward, and there’s a lot of politics involved, so my degree in politics does come in handy. But I actually love meeting new people and so many different kinds of people, from all over the world. Next week am going to Serbia.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Who knows?! But still writing. I don’t really make five year plans, I am more the let's-see-what-happens-tomorrow type.
What does success look like to you?
Being able to do what you likem when you like. Having what Groucho Marx called 'fuck-off money.'
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
When Whit called me about my song “Weekend Lover” for his film. I’ve been such a huge fan of Whit’s for ages – he’s so funny. He always used to make me laugh when I lived in New York, he’s funnier in person than in his films. If somebody followed him around capturing Stillmanisms, they would have a whole dictionary of “funny” quotations.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Yes, follow your dreams, and never give up. Do what you love, and what your heart tells you to do. It's important to follow that. Also, you never know what the universe might bring you, so stay positive. I’ve met some people out of the blue; just when I was looking for that person they showed up. So keep smiling. Perhaps this isn’t “professional” advice, but believe in magic. And keep your eyes open and pay attention to signs and follow them. Go with the flow.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Yes. War on Want, because I’ve written a book about the situation in Western Sahara, Saharawi, and the UN is about to pull out. War on Want still supports the many refugees living in the Tindouf camps. Not much is written about this situation, so I am trying to draw attention to it.
What do you find notable?
There’s always something notable in everything. You never know; by reading some old magazine you might find something amazing, and inspirational. If you had thrown it out, you never know what you might have found.
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Photo credit: Sven Arnstein