Multi-talented artist Victoria Kühne is a prominent part of the arts and music community in her home city of Monterrey, Mexico as a musician, producer, director, record label owner, artist and streetwear fashion designer. When she was 11 years old, Kühne’s parents built the recording studios she now runs and being surrounded by creativity at such a young age set her on the path she’s on today. With people around her constantly writing and producing for other artists, she eventually joined in, leading to some amazing opportunities such as a Grammy nomination this year for “Best Tropical Latin Album” for her work on Felipe Pelaez’s “Ponle Actitud”. Although an incredible moment for Kühne, she noticed she was the only female producer nominated in the category and has made it her mission to use her position as a rare female studio owner and in-demand female producer for many artists in Latin America as a platform to mentor and create opportunities for women within the music industry. Her reputation has earned her invitations to Berklee College of Music’s first-ever Women’s Empowerment Symposium as a guest of honor and the Art of Institute of Houston to instruct master classes and host conferences. As the owner and CEO of Victoria Records and world class recording studios in Monterrey, she has recorded for clients such as Morrissey, The Strokes, Korn, MIA, and Local Natives. With impressive contributions across music, film, theater and nightlife, Kühne is now releasing her own solo music for the first time, inviting us into yet another facet of her boundless creativity.
She will be releasing her debut EP Saints on November 13th which tells a story of duality through a Venus creature who is bored in Heaven, so she goes down to Earth to experience pleasure and sin. Touching on themes of pain and pleasure, power and temptation, and the idea of intentionally making decisions – whether good or bad – to experience life to the fullest, while always remaining in control. She recently released her brand new single and video for “KINGS” that shines a light on her female empowerment mindset, turning the patriarchy on its head and envisioning a modern royalty where gender roles are broken. The song is a powerful statement of strength, with lyrics that find a woman at the end of a relationship referring to herself as a king, serving as a reminder that the most important relationship you can have is with yourself. “Kings” follows on the heels of Victoria‘s debut single “VICE”, which Popdust described as being “soaked in electro-dance melodrama.” Complete with ecstatic sexually-enlightened energy, “Vice” features an anthemic chant, shuddering synths, neon beats and fabulous fashion looks from the likes of Gucci, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton and even some of Victoria‘s own designs from her brand, Kühne. You can follow Victoria Kühne and stay up-to-date on all upcoming news via the following links:
You will be releasing your next single “KINGS” soon which you have called your favorite song you’ve ever written and co-produced. What can you tell me about the song and what makes it your favorite?
I like how “KINGS” started out as a breakup song but somewhere about halfway through I decided to approach it from a much more powerful angle in which the woman keeps referring to herself as a “KING.“ When you were running with me you were running with K-k-k-k-kings.” There’s something super bad ass and strong about saying that to the guy that just left you.
What can you tell me about your upcoming Saints EP? You have mentioned being submerged in El Bosco’s painting “Garden Of Earthly Delights” during the writing process for the EP. What do you love and find so inspiring about the painting and how did that inspiration influence your songwriting?
I had been reading the little information there is about Hieronymus Bosch and had been studying his paintings a lot. I kept going back to “The Garden of Earthly Delights” because I chose to tell my story for this first EP SAINTS in the form of a Venus heavenly creature that is not satisfied in heaven so out of boredom, she comes down to Earth. The important thing here is that it’s her decision. It’s her choice to experiment with sin, pain and pleasure, power and temptation. She is in control and in charge of her sexuality and her body. The bad decisions are still consciously made as they are part of an experience she chooses to have. I think there’s something extremely empowering about that. The painting is a triptych addressing all these subjects of temptation and sin which made it a perfect fit at that moment for me to absorb from it visually as I was writing.
You have said that all of the songs on the EP are connected and part of the same universe. What led you to want to make a concept album, so to speak? Did you set out from the start to have a connection between all of the songs or is that just where your inspirations took your writing?
It was a very natural process. The songs came together during the same stage of my life and I had a very clear idea of what I wanted. Even before writing some of the songs I already had the titles and concepts I wanted to use and then worked myself backwards to writing the lyrics and melodies that would fit my vision. I knew I wanted to talk about sin, temptation, power. I grew up in Mexico, in a strict family, going to an all-girls very strict Catholic school where we were taught to admire and worship all these different Saints. As an adult, I’ve always been fascinated by this concept and I’ve managed to see the images and stories behind these Saints as dope works of art and I’ve taken so much inspiration from that and from the story of Adam and Eve and the promised land, etc. There’s many Biblical references and metaphors hidden in my lyrics. I decided early on that would be the common theme or concept for this first EP.
You have worked and collaborated with other artists over the years but decided recently to shift your focus to your own music. What made you decide that now was the time to focus on your music? Do you have any collaborations coming up or are you mainly focused on your music right now?
I think it was really just a matter of time. I love collaborating and I am really grateful for the opportunities that other artists have given me and even just the fact that they would trust me with their art is a privilege and is still mind blowing to me. Earlier this year I got my first Grammy nomination for a project I co-produced which gave me a bit of a confidence boost to do my own thing as well. But honestly for quite some time now I just felt like I had a lot to say and I felt the need to create my own sound after so many years of doing collaborations and working on other artists projects. This is me finally being vulnerable with my art and sharing my vision as an artist. It’s almost like I couldn’t hold back anymore. It had to happen. I do have one collaboration coming up in January with Jonaz from Plastilina Mosh. A song we did for a movie. which I’m really excited about. Besides that, I am choosing to focus on my music for now 100%.
You were the only female producer nominated for a 2019 Grammy Award and the only female-owned recording studio to make Mix Magazine’s 2018 “Coolest New Studios” list. What were those moments like for you? What has your journey been like as a female in the music industry, especially as a producer and studio owner? With only 2% of all music producers being women, you’ve made it your mission to represent girls and change the statistics. Do you feel like things are changing for women in the industry in recent years and what does it mean to you to be a woman in the music industry today?
I was the only female producer nominated in that category specifically, which was “Best Tropical Latin Album” and it of course was an eye-opening moment of “Mmm where are my fellow girls?” and “Why don’t I see any other women producers in the credits for the other albums in this category?” Just knowing that if I had chosen to not collaborate in that album the category would’ve gone on without any female representation was crazy to me. Another big “aha” moment for me was the first time I was ever invited to speak and give a master class and be in the panel of something really big, which was during Berklee’s first Women’s Empowerment Symposium at their Valencia campus. That weekend changed my life because I realized I had had zero female mentors before that day. Not one single mentor up to that moment of my career. Now I try to do as much as I can for music education by giving master classes and speaking in universities whenever I can. I want girls in those classrooms to be able to have a woman mentor in me one day. My advice to all women is embrace the other girls in this industry. It’s important to support our sisters and I actually think there’s never been a better moment in history to be a woman in the industry. We’ve never been more aware of how uneven the numbers are and there’s never been more pressure to change them. We want more doors opened for women and I can see my colleagues, just like me, not taking this lightly. We are doing everything in our power to make those numbers even.
You did musical theater as a child and were just 11 when your parents built the recording studios you now run. Being surrounded by so many creative and artistic figures as a child and young adult, are there any lessons you learned early on that you carry with you to this day? What would you say is the best advice you’ve received in your career?
One of the best things I learned early on was that I needed to define who I was thoroughly. If I didn’t define who I was then this industry could end up being the one defining me, molding me and shaping me, which can be a dangerous thing. So know your limits, your values, who you are exactly. Figure yourself out before coming into an industry that will try to do it for you.
You have said that you have begun getting more and more into drawing as another new creative outlet to express yourself. What inspired you to start drawing and what led to your love for Symbology? What kinds of plans/designs do you have for your upcoming merch that you plan to design?
I’ve been lucky enough to meet so many amazing artists that started pushing me to do it. They kept telling me I needed to try it because they knew I had the vision and the ideas and concepts, I just didn’t feel comfortable at first going for it. Then I started working with a teacher, Leyda Luz, and during our daily lessons I started experimenting with drawing random things that spoke to me or represented me in a way. That’s how my symbology came to be. Art has always been my way of coping with everything. Museums have always made me feel good inside, they are my safe place. My next thing is to re-do the Victoria Records logo and concept with one of my symbols which featured Davinci’s Vitruvian Man, but I switched the man for Venus. I want that to be the new icon of my company because Leonardo Davinci represents the ultimate multi-disciplinary artist and human and that’s what I want Victoria Records to feel like. Like it’s not only about recording music but the ultimate renaissance company.
What inspired your love for fashion and desire to start your own streetwear company? What can you tell me about your designs and the inspirations behind them?
I got into streetwear design during a trip to Tokyo where I became obsessed with streetwear. Soon afterwards I also became really interested in sustainable fashion. Now I am trying to merge those two in the most flawless way possible by very slowly developing my own sustainable streetwear label. It’s still in the very early process but I do wear a lot of my own prototypes. I use my KÜHNE design studio and work with my team there to create custom pieces for my videos and appearances. It’s just another creative outlet for us and we get to play and be creative which is the most important part for me. I just like to create constantly. Fashion is something I really love and respect and I am just waiting for the right timing for my line.
What is your process for making your music videos? You have talked about being very hands on with the process. Do you come up with all of the concepts for your videos or is it sometimes a collaborative effort?
It changes. “VICE” was more of a collaborative effort but then I felt there were so many things I would’ve done differently if I had done it all by myself, so “KINGS” ended up being less of a collaborative effort and more of me sitting down my Victoria Films family and explaining scene by scene what my vision was. At this stage I’m learning through experience, I wrote the treatment for this video. I co-directed it, co-produced it, supervised every single look I wore, that the the dancers wore. I am becoming more and more of a huge control freak when it comes to my creative projects. It’s hard for me to delegate so I just want to embrace the fact that I have to focus on everything all the time and wear many hats at once.
You have also lent you talents to film, contributing to the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack for Desierto. How did that opportunity come about and what do you love about working with films. Do you have plans to contribute to more films going forward?
That was an amazing moment that came from being disciplined, responsible and reliable, which is something I am really proud of. I had worked with one of the producers of the film “Desierto” in the past on music for an Amat Escalante film where he only gave me about a two days heads up to come through with a specific song for a scene. I did it and I guess his producer was left with the right impression. So later on, when working with Jonas Cuarón things happened in a way where Cuarón needed the song written, recorded, mixed and mastered, all in only four days, and his producer suggested me knowing it was a big challenge but that my team and I could turn around the work in a short amount of time without sacrificing any quality at all. I collaborated with Jonaz from Plastilina Mosh in that track and now I am doing another feature with him for the “Cindy la Regia” movie, a Mexican film that comes out in January. Working on music for films is always so challenging but so rewarding and amazing.
You have said that you’ve had opportunities to move to big US cities such as LA and Chicago but have chosen to keep your home in Monterrey, Mexico. What can you tell me about the scene and culture of Monterrey and what you love about the city?
I have a pretty sick team of people here and I trust them with my life and whose visions are very much aligned with mine at this point. I also have two studios here in Mexico. Victoria Records, my recording studios which are open to the public and KÜHNE, which are my private design studios. If I wake up and feel more social and what I have to say needs to come out with melodies and chords and lyrics, then I head to Victoria Records. Other days, I wake up needing a creative outlet that feels more private and personal, so I feel more inclined to head to my design studio and draw or create pieces of clothing without the craziness of the recording studios. As a multi-disciplinary artist, I am lucky, and I appreciate having these options and spaces in Mexico. Plus, my entire family and friends are here, so I get to have a very balanced life, which is the most important thing for me. It’s a privilege to live five minutes away from all my friends and family members and also only be 15 minutes away from a world class studio where I can just create and create away from LA or any other city that could influence my vision too much. Being here keeps me a little weird and keeps me an outsider, which I think helps impact my art and my work in a positive way. When I’m in any mainstream city I get inspired and it’s great but if I stay too long, I get too inspired and all that inspiration is external. I like it when my work comes 100% from within me and for that to happen, I need to be secluded from all the other artists work and all the big cities where it’s impossible not to absorb.
What’s next for you?
Right now, I’m taking in the fact that “KINGS” just came out! I am so proud of this song and this video. At the same time, I am really looking forward to the third single that comes out in October, and that video is full 3D the whole song. It’s an insane concept and has been the most complex video I’ve done to date. I had to wear movement sensors and shoot with a green screen and all these things I had never done before. I’m just really excited to put my art and my vision out there and see what resonates with people. It’s a privilege that I don’t take for granted and I’m enjoying every second of it.