“I want to be a voice for the voiceless,” proclaims Veronika Bell, known professionally and to her friends as Vikae. An up-and-comer as yet on our music scene, Vikae’s brand of electro-pop is dark, incisive and anthemic. Her debut EP, ‘Finelines,’ released in September 2020, has amassed impressive thousands of streams.
Citing influences as wide-ranging as Taylor Swift, Ella Fitzgerald and Tchaikovsky, Vikae’s musical journey has seen her transition through several different styles. Ukrainian born, her upbringing was steeped in classicism.
“When I was a child I felt like I could either do classical music or no music, and that stemmed from this elitist idea that classical music is the be all and end all,” she says.
Her first foray into contemporary songwriting was in high school.
“I was about 14 when I started writing songs, that’s when I was like, ‘Whoah, I can put my feelings into a pen!’”
After high school in Papakura, Vikae began a music degree at the University of Otago, initially following that upbringing directive by specialising in classical performance, but soon changing.
“I switched to contemporary, tried music theatre, I loved it… but wasn’t as enthusiastic about it as everyone else.”
Graduating with an honours degree in performance jazz, Vikae delved into rock music.
“I recorded a rock EP with my previous band VTMNK… it failed miserably, but we worked really hard.”
Vikae’s current project began when she moved to Auckland and began working with Abigail Knudson, aka Missy, who co-wrote and produced the new EP.
“She took me in in one of the hardest times of my life, when I was quite broken, and allowed me to put my pieces back together and flourish,” Vikae says. “No amount of anything could repay the mentorship, tutelage and friendship that I have had with Abby Knudson.”
Vikae’s lyrics express her personal struggles with mental illness and drug addiction. She wants to raise awareness about these issues.
“People dismiss that mental health is equally as debilitating as physical health,” she says. “So for me, it’s like, how can I show people sonically what it’s like to harbour those emotions?”
The title track, Finelines, is an upbeat, catchy pop song, but the lyrics are intended to make people think.
“It’s inclusive of but not limited to drugs and alcohol… all sorts of things that give us serotonin… I want people to be like, ‘Whoah, those are pretty abrasive, raw lyrics.’”
Vikae has exciting things ahead, including new music, and a summer full of live gigs. She says she will definitely keep experimenting with new genres.
“Being a multifaceted musician is something that I think is really important… I’m capable of a multitude of different genres and I don’t want to limit myself! As long as I’m speaking my truth, and being somebody who can advocate for those who… just need to feel like someone else understands what they’re going through. That’s why I write music.