Written by Britttany Shawnté
Another spotlight for y’all..today, we have pop/rock musician Vander!
Growing up on an industrial estate forty minutes outside of Sydney, Australia, Vander (born William Vandermade) revealed that he didn’t grow up with a lot of money. However, from his childhood, he learned to be grateful for what he did have and to have a positive outlook on life. “I wear that proudly on my sleeve today. And I think it in turn influenced the music that I connected with - music that was inspired by the working class,” Vander said. “U2, Bruce Springsteen, artists who started from nowhere but had the dream to be the biggest and the greatest acts in the world. I feel I connected to their roots and was also inspired by their ambition. I felt that with them, anything was possible.”
Though he’s an artist now, Vander didn’t always want to be. He was still a creative person, but was more passionate about art. “I wanted to be an animator until music barged into my life,” Vander admitted. When he first heard “Clocks” by Coldplay, he was inspired to play the piano. “I remember being completely captivated by the magic of the song. I had never heard anything like it before,” he said. “I tried learning it, and learning it, and then I never really stopped after that.”
He went on to get into singing and songwriting after listening to U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” which moved him to research more about the group. “As I started listening and learning more about the band, I was amazed by how this band, and especially their singer carried over messages of politics, faith and God through their songs, as if they believe that their songs could change the world,” Vander said. “That was the first time I truly got to appreciate how powerful music is to the human race, and how it can in fact change the world. Since then, I knew that being able to contribute to the world by sharing the message of hope was something I wanted to do with my life. I felt from then on, I knew my life’s calling.”
In addition to U2 and Coldplay, other acts that inspire Vander include The Killers and Thirty Seconds To Mars, groups that have made it to a mainstream scale by doing what they love! “I’ve always been attracted to large personalities and large ambition. If you think about it, it says a lot about the acts that write music for stadiums, because they anticipate that at some point, they will perform their music in one!” the artist said. “It comes across as very motivational and inspiring to a kid from the working class.
After working to hone his own craft, Vander released his debut EP, Venus, in 2015, which features track “Back to the Sun.” The lyrics actually came from a relationship that turned sour. “She started distancing herself out of fear of getting her heart broken again, and that’s what the song ultimately became about: fear of relationship, fear of opening your heart to possible hurt, especially if you’ve been hurt in the past already,” Vander admitted. He actually wrote the song some years ago, but it has transformed over the years, with Vander recording the songs three separate times for different sounds. A modern alternative version will be released on an upcoming EP, but for now check out the music video Vander did for the song!
In terms of his upcoming EP, the musician recorded it in LA (right around the time y’all’s new president came into office), and he admitted the vibes were a little off. “The people had a little less of the optimism and [vibrancy] than you’d usually feel whilst you were there,” Vander admitted. However, he used that to influence the direction of the EP, wanting to inspire people to be a part of the change that the world needs right now. “Stand up and contribute to the world around you without fear, only love and an open heart. The world needs you to. It needs us all to,” the artist advised.
Currently, he’s focusing solely on working on this new EP. “I used to write, perform and produce music for other local acts, organize local band nights and even run a music school, but now, I’m focusing purely on this project and getting it off the ground,” Vander admitted. “This is the most important project to me, and there’s heaps of time to get back into everything else.” He described the new record as one with a strong message, both on a political and social level. “I feel that an artist with a strong message is more important to our culture than ever,” Vander explained. “I’m trying to be that artist in this record.”
In terms of what separates him from other artists now, Vander believes it’s his unique sound that sets him apart. “From a musical perspective, I’m reviving Nu Wave and mixing it with modern alternative elements, and I don’t know anyone who is currently doing it quite the way that I am,” he said. In the future, he hopes to continue along his extraordinary adventure as an artist, taking in all of the good moments, but also the risks that come along with it. “I want to go on an adventure, and see how far I can go and see where I end up,” Vander said. “If, one day, I can wake up and contribute to the world through my music for a living, that’s when I know I’m where I want to be in the music industry.”