When Victoria Reed hits the stage, she’s a natural performer: charming and only slightly timid as she laughs between each song and carefully explains what inspired her to write it. Relationships are a big topic for her, not just the ones she’s had with significant others but also with power, with the future and, most importantly, with herself. That’s what the Detroit native grappled with before moving to Williamsburg, finding the balance between who she was — an anxious college student studying philosophy — and the musician she wanted to be.
Identity struggles are not uncommon for students, but with the help of some Tarot mysticism, Reed quit school and left for NYC with mostly positivity in tow. Watching her set at Baby’s All Right, it’s obvious that Reed’s musical future was in the cards. amNewYork caught up with her after the show to find out more about the journey to her debut album, “Chariot,” which drops Feb. 26, and how New York helped her get there.
Was it a difficult decision for you to drop out of college and pursue music?
Honestly, for me, going to college — and it’s incredibly irresponsible of me — I was kind of just going to bide my time a little bit ’til I got things together and was ready to make the music thing happen. I don’t know if it was about courage or if it was about focusing my energy. So I had a moment where, because I was studying philosophy, which I was incredibly into — too much, and I had a moment where I found it was becoming uncomfortable for me. I would be at a party and my mind would be breaking things down. I would wake up in the morning and first thing it’s just like everything was some kind of logical equation or something and I just knew it wasn’t good for me anymore. It was a more a decision of, philosophy is making me feel almost mentally ill whereas when I play music, I feel wonderful: I gotta do music. So it wasn’t that hard. What brought me to that decision was not easy, but the actual decision itself, my parents supported me and everyone around me kind of supported me.
You have a deep interest in astrology and tarot cards. Do these quintessentially mystical things influence your daily decision-making?
It depends. I have a tendency to go really deep into things so I like to keep things in check. I don’t want to be like: I can’t cut my hair today because Venus is in retrograde or little things like that. So these days I only read my long-term forecasts — I’ll only read a monthly horoscope, sometimes a weekly horoscope and it just pumps me up more than anything. The astrologists that I follow are really positive, I would never read one that says, ‘You are going to get horribly sick tomorrow,’ or anything like that. To me it’s more like a motivater, I’m like what can I capitalize on most right now? What energies are out there that I can take advantage of.
How long have you been in NYC? Tell us about your experience here.
I’ve been here for almost three years and I love it. It’s just really good to me. I feel like everyone warns you, like watch out New York, the big bad city, but I had a very soft landing pad down here. Initially who brought me out here was my manager who discovered both my demos and he introduced me to all of these musicians that eventually played on my record and right away it felt like home to me. I feel like a natural New Yorker.
Has New York influenced your music in any way?
I feel like in order to be a musician in New York City, you’ve got to be really serious at it because you’re trying to make a living in a very competitive, very expensive city. Just being surrounded by so many people that are so good at their craft makes me really step up my game. It’s mostly just made me more dedicated and more focused on improving.
What can people expect from your upcoming album?
Hopefully they can find some joy in listening to it. My songs tend to be pretty positive even though I often write about intense subjects and heavier things. For me, when I write a song, I always have to put a positive thing on it because that’s the therapy of writing a song for me. It’s like, OK, this is the messed up situation or this is the pain that I’m dealing with, or whatever issue that I’m addressing, and how have I overcome it in ways and what am I going to do about it? When I’m writing a song that’s like ‘everything is doomed and everything is sad,’ it’s just the least fulfilling thing for me in the world. I feel like I’m whining and I want nothing to do with that. It’s a bad sentiment for me. So yeah, it’s really positive. Hopefully it cheers people up. Hopefully people listen to it and find some kind of connection to any of the struggles that I’m singing about and find some resolve, maybe, or joy.