While you may think you know JVNA, one of the most promising young producers in electronic music, you've never heard her like it did on Hope In Chaos, their bombshell debut album. Fittingly, the record was sung, written and produced by himself.
Hope In Chaos will be released on November 19th via Violet Arrow and is a melodic bass masterpiece that appeals to the 22-year-old in its deepest and darkest form for an acoustic journey of epic emotional proportions. 12 tracks lead us through a transformative coming-of-age opus with impressive dynamics, told of lyrical brilliance à la Taylor Swift and Halsey.
The opening single "Chaos (Prelude)", for example, thunders with an orchestra of drums and strings. "A total spiral in my head … looking for an unknown sign," riffs JVNA with passionate courage.
Then there is "18" which documents her transition to women and reflects on the implications of beauty standards. "Where You Are" explores the longing for lost love, while "At Least It Was Fun" deals with the conflicting emotions that follow a breakup.
Even deeper are the album's transitional songs, such as "Hope" and "Fly," which reflect JVNA's struggle with grief as a teenager. In 2016, she tragically lost her father. Tracks like this are a rarity in bass music – there are no clichéd love songs here.
Scattered in Hope In Chaos are sublime, delicate piano riffs that speak of her training as a classical musician and pianist. They are also paired with pop rock influences and moody synthesizers. Together, these sonics translate the stories of JVNA in new ways, representing both a cathartic healing process and the darker, lingering effects of their hurdles.
worldmusic.blog spoke to JVNA ahead of the release of their debut album to get an inside look at Hope In Chaos, and to discuss the inspirations and the song she's most excited to perform live. You can also see Hope In Chaos live on JVNA's upcoming tour, which begins in Honolulu on February 19, 2022.
worldmusic.blog: What were your goals when you started making this album? What journey did you want to take the audience on?
JVNA: The overall theme of this album revolves around the story of Pandora's box. The Greek story follows the goddess Pandora, who opens a forbidden box out of her own curiosity and thus unleashes chaos, diseases and sins into the universe. Only hope remained. This album is about reaching into the unknown, fighting the chaos against all odds and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
This album was written about a time of instability when I went through so many rapid changes at once: breakups, my father's death, my college degree, entry into the entertainment industry. I'm in a pretty mentally stable part of my life now, and in a way, writing this album was my way of dealing with my growing up journey.
worldmusic.blog: Have you ever felt the pressure to make it sound or feel a certain way considering it's your first album? If so, how did you get out of this mindset and reconnect with your own truth?
JVNA: It became a journey to discover myself and my sound. I think I have to struggle with mansplaining a lot. People like to tell me how I mix my songs, how I write my lyrics and what "sells" to the EDM crowd. But I realized that I chose to make music with my life because I wanted to do whatever I wanted with art. I'd rather do a 9-5 job than make music under other people's control. I wrote this entire album with no one navigating me as a statement about writing authenticity.
worldmusic.blog: You can really hear the different genres that influenced this project. What artists or sounds did you listen to or study while creating it?
JVNA: I think my main influences in music come from listening to Evanescence and anime soundtracks. Hiroyuki Sawano is one of my favorite Japanese anime composers and I really got excited about his style when I heard him when I was younger. It was also during this time that I started listening to James Blake. He has a really complex harmonic style in his tracks that was really inspiring listening to him for new melodic ideas.
worldmusic.blog: What do you think you learned from making this album?
JVNA: I learned that there is no real way to write music or mix a song. As long as it sounds good to you and you feel authentic and proud of it, then it's the right song. I had trouble hearing so many opinions about how to change my music that it drove me insane. But the moment I said, "Eff this. I'm going to write with no rules about how things should sound," my creativity flowed. With this album I learned to follow my vision and gained a lot more confidence in my own opinion.
JVNA / Ivan Wong
worldmusic.blog: How do you think your identity as a woman plays a role in your art and your ability to write so sincerely? Are there any female songwriters that you look up to or try to channel?
JVNA: Right now there aren't many female electronics producers making electronic melodic bass / pop. I always try to write music and tell stories in the EDM scene with a female voice and perspective.
The song with the most emotions is probably my song "18". This song is about the dangerous can of impurities that comes with being 18 years old. You are immediately and legally in a position to be sexualized by others. My text "Are you going to cut your face just to be pretty?" is about plastic surgery and the unrealistic standards of beauty that many young women like me wanted to achieve. "You say I want to be naughty" is a really straight line about the terrifying news I got from older men as a high school student in my DMs. It's an overall song about how I felt as a woman transitioning into adulthood and also a turning point on the album.
I am very inspired by Halsey. She is extremely open and open about her experiences and I think that is what makes her art so true and relatable.
worldmusic.blog: Is there a particular song that you would like to perform live?
JVNA: "Dystopia." This is one of my favorite songs on the album that didn't become a single. It's close to my heart because it's a song about how I process and deal with online negativity, the news, and social media in general. It's a feeling we can all relate to, whether it's comparing ourselves to a photo of someone perfectly edited with Photoshop, or seeing the media in utter chaos. At the end of the day, each of us is beautiful in our own way and it is important to remember to love yourself.
worldmusic.blog: Given that this project was inspired by some of your life changing moments – loss, love, persistence, etc – what advice do you have for listeners who may have similar experiences?
JVNA: Stay strong, you got this! Whatever you may be going through may be hard to take right now, but if you keep going you will see a light at the end of the tunnel soon enough.