Sometimes the simplest answer is the easiest one. ‘I don’t have a choice’ is the one Sarina Giffhorn gives to me when being asked why she decided to start a career in music when it’s one of the toughest professions you can take in the year 2018. But sometimes it’s kind of hard to resist that urgency. ‘Music was always there,’ she explains, ‘Piano lessons, singing classes during my school-time, all of that.’ Later, after finishing her bachelor in architecture that call from music got louder and more crucial. ‘Painting was so exhausting and boring for me,’ Griffhorn adds and later she ultimately ended up becoming a musician. There’s no other option for now. All-In! And that’s probably when her alter ego Vegas came to life.
The young Berlin-based artist just made a first tender but ambitious impact in the world of music with her freshly released debut single End Of The World (out now via Better Call Rob). And a track with such a title feels like an appropriate way to start a career. Giffhorn explains: ‘It’s one of my latest songs as it was important to me to set the most descriptive atmosphere of my cosmos right at the start.’ She also teases something more cheerful following this track because End Of The World itself is quite a gloomy affair. A dark-twisted new wave chanson dedicated to the singer’s introspective way of working on music.
‘The song describes that place in your own mind where you are alone with your thoughts and feel really far away from reality, which is the state I usually write music in.’
Reminiscences to Lana Del Rey, Lorde but also Nico are sensible in Vegas sound. Especially the work of Nico in the 80s with John Cale inspired the German newcomer. She even named herself after that 1981 single by her. The dark and sensual notion is all over sensible in the sound of Vegas, also on the songs that are about to follow End Of The World. The upcoming songs by Vegas which are still waiting to get released share the same spirit but also tend to present the artist in a more grooving context. However, Giffhorn’s voice can’t hide a certain dark appeal and that mellow timbre carries all of her songs. You might call it ‘sad pop’ but that only limits all of the facets.
‘Minor chords are just so tempting’
It’s a good time for gloomy melancholia and Vegas‘ slightly dystopian idea of pop perfectly fits into these times although they are less inspired by the chaos we’re living in than you might think. ‘I can only make music when I am alone at home,’ the singer explains, ‘and this isolation usually makes me a bit gloomy.’ Most of the songs are already a bit older and were written before Trump’s election, as she explains. However, she can’t fully lock the world away from her writing process.
‘Although there is a constant underlying layer of dystopia, our reality is very hyper real due to the internet, phones, etc. and it is hard to not be rational and efficient somehow … I try to make happy music but it always turns out this way. Minor chords are just so tempting!’
And it’s that temptation that captivates the listener. Just like the bright lights of the name-giving Las Vegas the singer wants to create images with her music. ‘It’s a place full of desires, illusions, nostalgia and in the end pretty dark,’ she fantasizes about the city although she’s never been there. ‘I would probably be disappointed,’ Giffhorn explains, ‘I imagine it to be so rotten.’ For her the city Las Vegas combines shining glitter with dystopian madness and that somehow sums up our Western society in many ways. If you want to, you could also call it a metaphor for Vegas‘ music: Tempting and sparkling pop but with a dark and morbid undertone.
However, unlike Lana Del Rey Vegas isn’t interested in going full retro with her aesthetics. The freshly released music video for End Of The World is a high end technology affair, shot at the Sexauer Gallery in Berlin, mixing virtual reality with CGI and performance art. Producing the video also proved to be a personal challenge for the songwriter as she explains:
‘I am sceptical about VR and AR and many technological developments and their social impacts – and yet I am super curious and fascinated by all of that, totally addicted to reading every newspaper-article about anything tech-related. So I’d rather deal with it myself and try to form it my way than to become a tech-pessimist, I think that’s just a bit unrealistic and unsustainable.’
With the help of a few friends she shot everything in a few hours with a borrowed 360° camera. The harder part came later and took the artist ‘a few weeks and many long nights’ as she states. The result was worth the work and it marks an impressive first impact for the young lady. It does feel like Vegas got an ambitious plan and that is just the first glimpse of a bigger world. ‘I hope I will keep on surprising myself,’ the artist tells me and I have a strong feeling she will. I mean, in the end it’s really not a question of choice, isn’t it?
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