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BLUP 50 INTERVIEW: VANESSA MARIA Blup

TALENT FEATURE // VANESSA MARIA:

BLUP 50 INTERVIEW: VANESSA MARIA Blup

Vanessa Maria is a London-based DJ, broadcaster, and creative producer. She continues to advocate mental health through music with a variety of projects, including the “Don’t Keep Hush” initiative, which she has helped grow over the past few years.

 

We delve deeper into her early experiences in radio, her big plans for this year, such as podcasting, and the challenges she has to work through in order to thrive in her multifaceted career. With these wins, it is evident that Vanessa Maria is a trailblazer who has built a reputation for herself in her industry by working hard and consistently pushing the boundaries. Read on as she shares her sources of creative inspiration while also imparting some life lessons for all of us to remember.

I learned to DJ the year after I graduated university, I was a student officer at my university. The janitor (big up Andrew) would help me set up decks during my lunch break from the DJ society. That was really the start.

 

// WAS THERE A BIG MOMENT WHERE EVERYTHING JUST CHANGED FOR YOU? 

I don’t think there were any ‘big moments’ but there were more consistent ‘smaller’ moments. I won a foundation FM DJ competition, so I then DJ’ed at Wireless, which was an introduction to the music world [for me].

 

// YOU RECENTLY SHARED ON INSTAGRAM HOW IT CAN BE LONELY AS A DJ. TALK A BIT MORE ABOUT HOW ‘DON’T KEEP HUSH’ PROJECT CAME ABOUT.

With that post, I didn’t realise how many people felt the same. It’s sad, but I also found it ironic and kind of funny because we’re all feeling the same way. I also have performance anxiety so it can really affect me, whether it’s a new place, new city, or even home events.

 

Don’t Keep Hush is a collaboration with Fred, founder of Keep Hush, an underground music community. We’ve been a bit quiet this year but we’ve done fundraising events, sold T-shirt merch, panels, and hosted a night to support Black Minds Matter. The next objective is to start a monthly supper club which will be called ‘Spinning Plates’. We want to have a community focused space outside of the parties so we’ll have open decks, people cooking and we’ll eat together and talk about whatever’s on our minds.

 

// DO YOU HAVE A GO TO STYLE OR FAVOURITE FASHION BRAND YOU LIKE WEARING?

I thought about this – I don’t think I have a favourite fashion brand. I live in tracksuits.

BLUP 50 INTERVIEW: VANESSA MARIA Blup

For next year, I really wanna start getting more into thrifting and wearing secondhand clothing. I hosted a panel for Depop and it really made me think more about circular fashion and also sustainability so I’m trying to think about how I can purchase and keep it sustainable.

 

When it comes to occasions like Halloween, I know exactly how I would want to look. It wouldn’t matter where the items are from – could be from Prada, could be from Primark! But Zendaya is a style icon for me, she never misses!

 

 

// HOW DO YOU SWITCH OFF?

I think this year I’ve definitely learned how to do that. If you’re going through life fast ahead and you don’t care about your health, you won’t stop until you have a problem with your health – that will humble you. I have pre premenstrual dysphoric disorder so that was humbling for me because I have to focus on my wellbeing and energy – that’s helped me switch off. Also exercising, reconnecting with friends and family is always a nice way to switch off.

I have pre premenstrual dysphoric disorder so that was humbling for me because I have to focus on my wellbeing and energy – that’s helped me switch off.

// HOW DID BEGIN YOUR AWARD WINNING DOC, ‘WHEN WELLBEING IS WHITE’? 

At the time I didn’t know anything about film & documentary, so I just tweeted about my idea and then from the tweet, I built a team. I didn’t have any budget, it was just a passion project but I was lucky enough that people wanted to get involved.

A lot of the freelancers, even from BBC, were helping me through the process of how to basically produce documentaries. We’d write a script, find narratives and find the talent who would be involved. I was doing a lot of it in my spare time.

BLUP 50 INTERVIEW: VANESSA MARIA Blup

// FOR MULTIFACETED AMBITIOUS CREATIVES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE ON HOW TO BALANCE THINGS, ESPECIALLY WHEN THERE’S SO MANY THINGS WE CAN DO ?

 

I would ask yourself what season you’re in at the moment, what is bringing you joy and where your interests lie. Focus on what is that fire in your belly.

 

I think a lot of the time, especially as young people, we see one thing and we’re like “that’s what I’m gonna do for the rest of my life”. But that one thing can open doors to a lot of other things. If you don’t know exactly what you want to do, just give things a go and something will stick more than something else. It’s easier to say you don’t like something than liking it – that’s what I did when I started. It doesn’t feel like you are progressing, but you are because you already know what you don’t wanna do – which is great.

 

// WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST LESSON YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE? 

When thinking about where you are at, eliminate the word ‘should’. ‘Should’ holds you back and feeds into your deepest insecurities. When people say stuff like, oh, “I should have done this, or I should have done this by this age…”  This can turn into such a barrier to the point where some people actually just give up or they stop. 

 

You are where you need to be and there’s nothing to say that you can’t get to where you wanna go. It’s just a matter of opportunities, time, effort and consistency.

 

I’ve seen that the year is always bigger than you – I’m grateful for every opportunity.  You are a moving part in someone else’s story and also in someone else’s moment of glory, so it’s amazing to find gratitude in that as well.