Genre-busting female artist of color Vana Liya releases single "Round n Round" (Featuring Pepper) in advance of her upcoming debut album on LAW Records
The daughter of immigrants from Guyana, genre-defying pop reggae/dancehall artist Vana Liya made a serendipitous recent arrival on the national music scene in recent years after several of her covers of popular reggae songs went viral, gaining her the support and encouragement of top reggae artists and eventually leading to a record deal with L.A.-based LAW Records as their first-ever female solo artist.
As a young female artist of color in the heavily male-dominated world of reggae and dancehall, Vana has quickly earned a rare respect and a reputation among many of her well-established musical peers as a solid collaborator who always brings a fresh take and positive energy to the mix with her distinct yet not easily classifiable “island” vibe.
Case in point: Vana Liya’s new single "Round n Round” featuring iconic American reggae rock legend Pepper, (out now on LAW Records). Produced by multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and Stick Figure member Johnny Cosmic, the single pays homage to LAW’s free spirit of collaboration between major and emerging artists with Vana’s raw, sweet, and ethereal vocals cascading over a meandering electronic reggae groove, and paired with Pepper frontman Kaleo Wassman’s iconically bold lyrical delivery.
Thematically, “Round n Round” relates that mystifying mix of loneliness and wanderlust familiar to the timeless wayfaring traveler and the roving artists who stray far from home to follow their muse across the globe. When Vana first started touring, far away from the familiar and often spending long hours by herself, she developed an overwhelming feeling of loneliness:
“I remember being at this house party somewhere in the Virgin Islands, people were all around me but I was still feeling so homesick that I suddenly walked outside and just started crying. But in that moment, I looked up at the sky and I saw the constellation Orion. Growing up, it was always my favorite because every time I would pull into my driveway in my house in New York I could see it. Gazing up through my tears to see Orion suddenly just made me feel like I was at home. It was this really empowering moment of peace and becoming settled in the unsettled. I'm really lonely but I'm doing what I love to be doing and everything is eternally ok.”
For Vana, having a Pepper feature on the track was a no-brainer, especially considering the song’s subject matter and the fact that Pepper’s music was instrumental in helping her overcome anxiety as a teenager.
“I remember one time when I was driving,” reflects Vana, “I heard Pepper’s ‘Sitting on the Curb’ and was like, ‘This is a really happy song so next time I have an anxiety attack, I'm gonna listen to this song.’ And that's literally how I got over the anxiety. I just put the headphones on and play it over and over and over again. This feature is such a big deal to me because Pepper is such a big part of me ...and the fact that that song was about touring and feeling okay when you're not okay kind of made for the perfect storm. As soon as I wrote it, I just heard Kaleo’s voice on the song. He did his little soft Kaleo thing and then he did his hard Pepper thing where he raps, so I feel like I got the best of both worlds with his feature!”
Upcoming live dates for Vana Liya:
7/10 San Diego, CA - Bay Fest
7/24 Orlando, FL - Dirty Heads Vacation
10/21St. Petersburg, FL - Reggae Rise Up