There was no denying the talent that Vivian Green possessed when she surfaced with her breakout hit ‘Emotional Rollercoaster’ about a decade ago but due to creative risks, personal time off and life in general she has yet to light that fire underneath the masses to the point where they recognize what her die hard fans do. With her fourth studio album release, ‘The Green Room’ she is working on making that happen this time around. RoJay spoke with Vivian about her journey, career and where she plans to take things from this point.
RoJay: First of all, everything from the song to the video and album art and the fact that we have a release date has me excited. I am so happy that you’re back.
Vivian Green: Thank you.
RoJay: I know you took some time off, but what was the thing that made you come back and give us another album?
Vivian Green: I never stopped making music. It was just time to do it again. You know? I was away for as long as I was because I’m a mom now. I have an eight year old and I had a complicated pregnancy and my son was in the hospital a lot and I have to take time out to do that, but it was always my plan to come back and make music. I’ve been doing it for 10 years now and haven’t done anything else. 10 years since my first album.
RoJay: And making it happen. So how will this album differ from your past projects?
Vivian Green: Oh my last album was very Pop and that’s not what my fans wanted to hear so you get feedback and you kind of do what your fans want to hear instead of what you want to do at that time. (laughs) You can’t always do that with the way this business is unless you’re one of those artists that cross over and at that point you can do whatever you want and everyone will accept it, but if you’re an artist that’s completely genre based then you can’t do things out of the box. You have to do the music your base wants to hear. So… I know now. (laughs)
RoJay: So does that frustrate you? Does it upset you to think that you can’t do things out the box at least to just experiment?
Vivian Green: It’s a little frustrating because then it turns into ‘Oh her label made her do an album that’s more Pop’. Every time a person does something different whether it’s changing their hair or changing their clothes or changing their music up a little bit it’s not always because their label made them do it. Maybe it’s something they wanted to try, you know? (laughs) But I can understand being on the artist side and being on the fan side and the fans don’t always understand what’s going on with the artist’s side. They see it and then they draw their conclusions. I know a lot of times things may have been said about me, but the label never made me do anything. I just like to try things, but I’m learning you can’t always do that. You definitely have to play to your base if you want to have longevity. So I can’t keep doing what I want and that’s okay. It’s just a place I’ve come to just in wisdom and I think that’s totally fine. There is a way to do music and please yourself and please your fans. I really really love this record and I believe the fans are going to love it to.
RoJay: So now that you have found that balance, what do you feel is going to be the fan favorite from ‘The Green Room’?
Vivian Green: I don’t know. I don’t know because there are some good ones on there so I honestly don’t know. I have about four favorites. Four out of twelve, but then when other people listen they have their favorites. My mom has her favorites. I really honestly don’t know.
RoJay: Well I have all of your albums and of course I have favorites from each one and although I don’t feel you have made to many bad songs, there are just some that I will never ever grow tired of listening to. I was thinking about that this morning like ‘What track would you get tired of listening to?’ and then I kind of laughed at myself because there are ones I play daily and never get sick of it. I definitely have to say ‘Under My Skin’ is definitely one of my favorites.
Vivian Green: AH! See that’s one of my favorites. That is my favorite.
RoJay: I love that track so much! I love ‘Somewhere’. That one of course is from the ‘Beautiful’ album and you sang on that!
Vivian Green: You love ‘Somewhere’? That’s my favorite from ‘Beautiful’ too.
RoJay: And of course ‘Emotional Rollercoaster’ is like classic. Everyone loves that one.
Vivian Green: That was NOT my favorite.
RoJay: Really? Wow!
Vivian Green: It was not my favorite song from ‘A Love Story’. That is not even my favorite album honestly. I will probably listen to the other ones, but not that one. I mean ‘Final Hour’, ‘Superwoman’, ‘What Is Love’… maybe ‘What Is Love’ is my favorite. One of those three. Yea.
RoJay: Well I know I read a lot of comments from fans and they always say ‘Cursed’ is their favorite song. Maybe it’s something about that song that just resonates.
Vivian Green: I love ‘Cursed’. ‘Cursed’ would probably be… It would probably be ‘Under My Skin’, ‘Frustrated’ and then ‘Cursed’ would probably be my third favorite from that one. I mean I know why they love it because that song was so from the heart. It was so from the heart and I remember my mom saying ‘Don’t ever say out of your mouth that you’re cursed! Girl you don’t say that!’ (laughs) My mom is so about speaking things into the Universe and she is not one about speaking about negative things so she didn’t like it for that reason. I was like ‘Mom… that’s how I feel. People are going to be able to relate to this’. So I think people just related to it because that’s how you really feel about that first love or that love that was so incredible and for whatever reason it just did not work and you can’t forget them and that’s something that is real. I think people took to it because that very word was my experience coming straight from the heart.
RoJay: And I think most of the tracks that I really relate to the most from you are the ones that just seem so personal so I really appreciate the fact that I think I have that connection with you as an artist. Now that I think about it you may well be one of my favorite artists. So thank you for being so personal with your storytelling.
Vivian Green: Awww, thank you. That is so sweet.
RoJay: No problem. Now you’ve been in the game for a while and as years go by the game changes drastically whether it is for better or worse, right now we are in an era where we know we still have real singing talent in the industry, but people don’t take to the real singers like they do the gimmicks or the novelty acts. I remember you having a conversation on twitter letting your followers know there were still real singers out. How do you feel about that?
Vivian Green: Oh you saw that?! Oh, I love twitter. (laughs) Yea, I feel different from how the masses feel about it. I feel like there are plenty of singers out there. From Chrisette Michele. Ledisi… who sings her face off. Melanie Fiona. Jill Scott is still going strong after 12 years. Monica made a comeback and she has always been known for having a beautiful voice and being able to sing. Her comeback was pretty big last time I checked and now Brandy. I just do not agree [with the masses]. And Tamia just had an album to come out and she has been going strong for maybe 15 years and is still doing it. I don’t know. I just feel like there are a lot of girls who can definitely blow and send chills up your spine that are still making music.
RoJay: They do still exist.
Vivian Green: Yes. Now if you choose to listen to the radio stations that play only mainstream hip hop and hip hop based music then you may not hear those artists, but if you change the dial to the Urban AC stations that do play that stuff then you’ll hear a lot of it. I don’t know. I think in 2012 there are so many outlets where music is available whether it’s Pandora or Music Choice or Sirius XM and all of the other online options. You don’t have to listen to that stuff if you don’t want to listen to it. Some of it and I think we all love Hip Hop; I just don’t know why radio chose to say ‘Hey, Hip Hop is only cool by itself and it kind of doesn’t need R&B’. But there was a time when I was growing up that Biggie and Foxy and 112…there was room for everybody on the mainstream stations. The Urban Mainstream stations played everything, but now radio has changed so much where they really keep it Hip Hop based and so those artists that do R&B only get that Urban AC play. But you know that’s just what it is. That’s the corporate structure of radio now and I don’t know if they have more listeners changing the format that way.
Maybe more kids listen to it because they don’t play the R&B… I don’t know why they chose to do that, but I know that they do and if you limit the different sources that you listen to or get music from then you may feel like ‘Hey, there are no more singers’ but if you fiddle around a little bit you’ll find us out there. We’re still singing and making albums.
RoJay: I can feel you on that.
Vivian Green: I know they don’t get the platform of mainstream artists, but you know it is what it is. I think I accept the music business for what it is. I don’t expect it to be this morally correct entity where all things happen the way they should be. It is in fact a business and we should never forget that and we can’t take things personally that the business does. There are a lot of things in the business that I don’t like, but they’ve been running that way for years honestly. So it’s not church. (laughs) The music business is not church so I don’t know why people expect them to live up to these moral obligations they give it because I don’t think it ever has. So the saga continues and now we have the music that used to go hand in hand and side by side which is R&B and Hip Hop being kind of separated.
There are some R&B singers who’s music is kind of hip hop based and they will get the love on the mainstream stations where if your music is soulful without the hip hop base it’s not going to get played. I just choose not to get angry about it and I choose to still support all the girls that do sing and it is 2012, you can totally do that. I think that if we go out and support these girls, these real singers that are still making music by buying their music and going out to their shows then we’re doing our part. But sitting and complaining about why they are not on MTV or The Beat or the hot stations, that’s not really helping. Just support them in the way that you can and that way so they can continue to do this for years. That’s my take on it.
RoJay: Now do you think it’s harder for the veteran artists now. It used to be the newbies having it rough breaking in…Now it seems that the Vets are having it the hardest.
Vivian Green: I think it depends on what you’re trying to do. Goodness. I think for Veterans who have been around for twenty years and their fans have grown up then you have to grow up with your fans. I think that like say Mary for instance, she makes music that is friendly for Urban AC stations but the mainstream stations still play her as well because she still has a hip hop base in music. I think she is very smart in how she makes her records because her fans are adults and some are still younger and she makes it a point to not alienate either so I think when your fans grow up you definitely have to grow up with them. And I think a lot of times making that choice when you are older than you were when you first started and your fans have grown up you have to make that choice. ‘Okay am I still trying to an Urban mainstream artist? Do I still care about being #1 on 106th and Park or do I care about having longevity in my career’; because those two things don’t go hand in hand.
There are artists who have got that shine that might not be able to sell a concert ticket so the older you get if you have real talent I think you have to start investing in that and be like ‘You know what? Let me make music for my fans that are a bit older who will come see me perform so that I can have a career as opposed…’ You know the music business can be such a misconception because you think just because you see somebody on MTV or the #1 video on 106th and Park or whatever big shine outlet there is to be on, you see people on there and assume that twenty years later they’re gonna be around when they very well may not be around. Where somebody else who never got that shine or never got that love continues to make music for the Urban adult audience and they have a career and sell out 5,000 seater venues and you would never know. So the music business is very interesting. It’s not all about the looks. It’s not always all about that. Some artists never make a music video and they still sell out 5,000 seater venues because people just love their work. I think that growing up in the industry that everybody will get it at some point and you’ll make your decision on what it is that you’re trying to do. Do you want to continue to try and solidify your base that will continue to support you through their adulthood and through your adulthood or are you trying to play to the sixteen year olds? It’s very interesting. It’s very very interesting and I think sometimes for an artist it’s hard. Like ‘Hey, I wanna do this’ or ‘I like this younger thing’ but if you’re not that age anymore, it may not be working too well for you. (laughs)
RoJay: So as we prepare to get into these shows that are about to take place with you. When you go into putting a show together and you have your favorites and you have the fan favorites, how do you decide what to perform? Is it hard to put a set list together?
Vivian Green: I don’t think it’s hard. I think it is fun to have all of those options. It’s so much better than it was the first time around when I could only perform my first album and now when this one hits, it will be four. I think it’s great that you have all of that to choose from. I always ask my fans, like I may get on twitter and be like ‘what are your favorites from this…’ I definitely always ask them because it’s always a good idea to see what the fans favorites are from albums one, two and three and then I’ll incorporate what I think I should do from the new one. Whichever ones I think will go over better live. So as I put it together it’s always fun to have all of those choices. It’s not hard. It makes it fun.
RoJay: Well I can’t wait to experience a live show. I still have yet to see you and I need that in my life.
Vivian Green: You never seen me before? Aww.
RoJay: Not yet, but I will. I have to. I promise I will be the loudest one there.
Vivian Green: Awww. That’s so awesome. That is so sweet.
RoJay: No problem. Like I said I am happy to have you back. I’ve been playing the single every day.
Vivian Green: Oh thank you! Do you love it?
RoJay: I do. I actually had to buy it from iTunes from first listen. I’ve been playing it ever since.
Vivian Green: Ahhhh. Yay! That is so sweet. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
RoJay: And I will be getting the album as well. Look out for that on twitter.
Vivian Green: Oh thank you. I will.
RoJay: You have a great day and I will be letting all my folks know your album is out!
Vivian Green: Thank you. I appreciate this interview and I enjoyed speaking with you again so thank you.