The NAS 10 Questions with Blues Trainer - Virginia Kay
This week at NAS, we are celebrating women in the industry for International Women's Day, and that includes indie artists more than ever. Today we talk to Virginia from the band, Blues Trainer. She is one half of the duo, along with Frank, and a strong woman with lots to bring to the table. From the challenges of finding producers and mentors, to the sheer pleasure of sharing a story through music, and reading between the lines, this is a 10 questions that may leave you with a few more of your own! Virigina has a vast array of talents and experience. Make sure to follow Blues Trainer on socials and check out "Wasted Time" from their album , Come on Down to Texas, which is on the
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𝟭. Where are you from and what are your hobbies?
I am originally from Northern Wisconsin, in a little town not far down the road from where the lead singer of Bon Iver grew up! Hi, Justin!!! I have slowly migrated south in my adult years for undergraduate and then graduate studies. Weirdly enough, one of my favorite hobbies growing up was cross-country skiing, but living in Texas now, I have little chance of that except in 2021, when Snowmageddon that took down the entire electric grid in TX for a week. After that, I found out I really like survivalist things, so I am building myself a solar oven. You know, because the state used duct tape and plastic tarp to winterize the power plants. Come on Down to Texas, y'all!
𝟮. How did your get into music?
I grew up around music. My mother, who passed when I was two, was a composer and a percussionist. I still have some of her music lines in a notebook, but have no idea what to do with them! Both sides of my family are very musical, with singers, instrumentalists, teachers, and music advocates all over the branches of our tree. My father, who raised me as a single dad, played trumpet (I understand he was quite good, but played rather begrudgingly) and the electric bass. Honestly, though, I think music was just my solace and my place of expression. I started piano shortly after my mother died, kind of a way to keep me occupied I suspect, but I immediately took to learning the melody of a piece, and just going off on a two hour interpretation of whatever Chopin or Mozart or Happy Little Elephant Boogie was on the page that day. Drove my piano teachers mad, I am afraid. I also didn't realize that the full symphony orchestra that lives in my head and provides a soundtrack to my life is something unusual until I was much older. So, I didn't get into music. It got into me...
𝟯. Who are your biggest influences?
Oh, this feels like a trick question every time I have to answer it! Overall, I don't know that I could pinpoint just one or two artists. My influences come from genres, and from stories. Classical, jazz, and motown are near and dear to me, and they really shape what I hear in my head and what I try to compose. I am also a HUGE fan of marching band and circus music. I don't think anyone can begin to understand how much I love this type of music. One of my favorite things to do is do an interpretation on a theme and turn it into a circus song. Outside of the genre, I am most influenced by those individuals who don't let barriers get in their way: Prince learned every instrument he put his hands on. I aspire to be that. Florence B. Price wrote such gorgeous symphonies that she was the first woman in America to have her work played by a premier orchestra! (Eh, don't quote me on that, but I think this is correct. If not, I still stand by my claim that her symphonies are gorgeous). And in general, my biggest influence are the people around me. I write what I see, and what I know myself and others experience. Storytelling is an integral part of my musical lexicon.
4. What are your goals in the music industry?
Honestly, my goals are always fluid. I don't have an end goal of any sort, as I read just them with every milestone. Ten months ago, my goal was to figure out how to release music on Spotify. Once I did that, I realized I had to market it. Since then, my goal has been to better understand the business side of the industry. When I was in college and working for several years afterwards, I had this vision of starting a musical program for young women and girls to learn about audio engineering, production, mastering, and A&R. Obviously, that didn't happen, ha ha. I wasn't even able to find a mentor that took me serious enough to really teach me about the studio, let alone mentors for a bunch of girls! Honestly, I was either talked down to in a patronizing way, sighed at as if I was just a nuisance two minutes after I walked in the studio, or bombarded with technical speak in a way I later learned was meant to scare me off and prove that I wasn't worthy. Well, the latter worked. For awhile. But, when I look at where I am now, reflecting on my own experiences as a woman working in a male-dominated industry, I realize I still want to see this woman empowerment happen. I've worked with young musical talent a lot, as a volunteer, as a voice, piano, and trumpet teacher, and as a mentor. However, what I still see is a huge gap of women taking their place behind the mixing board and in the post-production process. This idea that women are big in the industry because we are on the microphone ignores the fact that music is made in the production, and we rarely have a place in that space. That's a really long-winded way to say I think my newest goal has come full-circle and I want to create more opportunities for women to have a say in their own musical decisions and production.
5. If you could choose a location to perform at, what would it be?
This sounds way off base, but as some in NAS know, I am also an opera singer. I would love to perform at the Sydney Opera House. It just looks cool. Hi, Australia!! Call me ;)
6. What is your all-time favorite song?
Man, this is like the biggest influences question! It feels like a trick - the instant I say what it is, I'll be confronted by the anxiety that I answered the question wrong. So, my favorite all time song is ....
7. Most embarrassing moment?
As someone with a brain injury, I just don't get embarrassed anymore. I fall on my face sometimes (literally), I say stupid things, I forget basic information, I talkwaytoofastandnoonecanunderstandwhatiamsaying. But, seriously, when I was in High School, I wouldn't say I was a popular kid, ha ha It's not that I didn't have friends - I actually had a very tight group of friends, and was always friendly with everyone, but high school is a horrible, rotten, no-good place. And the people often suck, too. I don't know if it was spite, jealousy, or someone thought I was just an easy target, but someone sabotaged my uniform for show choir right before I put it on to go on stage. It wasn't quite a Janet Jackson moment, but I was mortified. The wardrobe malfunction happened just as I was supposed to move up to the front line for a solo. Even parents laughed at me. Again, high school sucks. I quit show choir after that, but honestly, that's okay. It turns out everyone has an embarrassing story about show choir....
8. Proudest accomplishment?
Cheating death, and not letting a brain injury ruin my life.
My proudest accomplishment is that I never stop trying!
9. What is something about you that might surprise someone who knows you the best?
Oh dear, I don't know that I would be brave enough to say something here to a bunch of strangers that would surprise even people who knew me well. As they say, once on the internet, always on the internet. However, what might surprise some people is that I am a polymath. I seriously want to learn about everything. Like I said earlier, I loved Prince because he played every instrument he touched. Something like 27 or 28? That's me with any subject (and instrument) I encounter. I need to not just learn about things, but do a deep dive. I then love to find connections that others might not see. I mean, my Masters thesis was titled "Reading Between the Lines" and I think that might be the best title I have ever written about myself.
𝟭𝟬. What is your dream collaboration?
Right now, after getting to the end of this interview, my dream collaboration is my pajamas, a hot cup of sleepytime tea, and my bed. Goodnight!
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