viisi Presents Episode II: Red Windows

Prepare to embark on an emotional rollercoaster as viisi, the visionary musician who defies genres, takes us on a captivating journey with his highly anticipated project, Episode II: Red Windows. Noctis sits down with viisi in a discussion below, about his musical style, influence and he lets us into what’s to expect from this uprising artist.

Collaborating with ethereal pop songstress Kayla DiVenere and acclaimed producer F E R R O, viisi presents a contemplative and cathartic narrative that showcases his relentless artistic growth in Episode II: Red Windows. With the serendipitous opening track ‘one day,’ featuring the mesmerizing vocals of Kayla DiVenere, viisi immerses listeners in a dreamy atmosphere woven with saccharine melodies. In ‘i lost who i am,’ viisi delves into the personal struggles he faces while living in LA, distanced from his old friends and family, passionately expressing his introspective journey as an emerging artist. Reflecting on his rise in the music industry, viisi shares his internal monologues over a backdrop of woozy reverbs and gritty acoustics.

‘Episode II: Red Windows’ is a euphoric sonic experience, where viisi fearlessly exposes his raw vocals, baring his soul to the listener. His story began with a rough cut release during his high school years at the age of fourteen. Little did Matthew Borley, also known as viisi, realize that five years later he would be touring Europe, playing packed-out shows in the enchanting South of France.

It was when viisi’s father introduced him to select verses from ’90s hip hop pioneers, notably the notorious rapper of his time, Eminem – that viisi knew his destiny. These verses left a profound impact on viisi, connecting him to the cutting and unapologetic persona of hip hop. Through a careful curation of lyrics that resonated deeply, viisi’s father nurtured his son’s appreciation for music, starting with tracks like the iconic ‘Stan.’ Fuelling his curiosity, viisi embarked on a hip hop exploration, uncovering the works of Dr. Dre, Tupac, and Biggie. This obsession with music became a transformative escape and paved the way for the birth of viisi.

Drawing inspiration from the Finnish word for “five,” viisi embodies the past, present, and future. The upcoming ‘Liminal’ series will see viisi pushing the boundaries of artistic expression. Through his powerful and raw storytelling, his music transcends the confines of personal experiences, connecting with diverse human emotions that have shaped him as both an artist and an individual. With his poignant lyrics and unwavering dedication, viisi fearlessly delves into his own struggles, such as familial challenges, falling out with loved ones, career choices, failures, and self-worth. Each verse he writes carries profound messages of life, dreams, and the intrinsic value of art. Prepare to be moved and captivated as viisi’s visceral evolution unfolds before your eyes, leaving fans in awe of his talent and deeply touched by his story.

Noctis sits down with viisi to delve into the depths of his musical style, influences, and provides a glimpse into what we can expect from this emerging artist. As the conversation unfolds, viisi opens up about his unique musical style, shedding light on the elements that set him apart from the crowd. 

Can you tell us about your journey as a musician from dropping your first rough cut in high school to touring Europe and playing packed-out shows?

I started writing when I was in elementary school – got bullied a few times for it and became a recluse and kept it to myself until I was about 14 years old. In grade 9, I wrote a song to a beat I found on YouTube and for whatever reason felt confident enough to post it online, some positive comments came back and I was addicted to writing, recording and releasing. I did that for a few years until one day I had the opportunity to travel Europe with some other artists from my city and play some really cool shows out there like Paris, Amsterdam, Cannes, Luxembourg & Leipzig… It was wild to be on stage in Paris and play a set for a room full of people and think back on when I would get bullied for writing a song in grade 5. 

How did your early exposure to hip hop, particularly artists like Eminem, influence your musical style and storytelling?

The two artists that I listened to the most when I started listening to hip-hop until I branched out into other things were Eminem & Tupac. They were both great storytellers but for totally different reasons. I think the significance of wordplay in captivating the listener is something that really stuck with me and is now, something I still use to this day, whether I’m rapping or singing. Word play has always fascinated me, and I believe it’s what keeps someone captivated.

Your new project, Episode II: Red Windows, is described as a contemplative and cathartic narrative. Can you share some insights into the themes and emotions explored in this project?

The two songs on this project both deal with the inner monologue of seeing success present itself – how that can be kind of scary or sometimes it just doesn’t look the way you thought it would. A lot of people listen to “one day” as a love song but it wasn’t originally written with that intention. It is more of a self reflective song that looks at how someone can be so excited for something to happen and then once it does, you miss the days where you would think about where you are.

“I lost who i am is a song” that I wrote when I first moved to LA and how I had moved away from all my friends and family to try and pursue this crazy thing, and how that made me feel very disconnected.

“One day,” the opening track of Episode II: Red Windows, features Kayla DiVenere. Can you tell us about the collaboration and the emotions you aimed to convey in this dreamy song?

I work with a producer named FERRO for a lot of my music. He’s actually the one that introduced me to Kayla’s music after they had a session together. He played me one of her songs and I loved what I heard, I had actually asked him if she would let me on the song he showed me. We set up a session to work together and I showed her my first part of “one day” and asked if she would like to put herself on it. I knew from what I heard in her music that her voice and writing would be great on this record. And it was. I think her voice really helped add to that dreamy feeling.

“I lost who I am” addresses the distance you feel from your old friends and family while chasing your dreams in LA. How do you channel these experiences into your music, and what do you hope listeners take away from this particular track?

With this track I wrote it selfishly. I wasn’t really concerned about what people took from the track because I was writing it for myself – it was very therapeutic for me. But this song can be for anyone who needs to distance themselves from familiarity to grow as a person. And I love that. 

Your series aims to push the boundaries of what it means to be an artist. Can you give us a glimpse into what listeners can expect from your music and how it represents your past, present, and future as an artist?

For a long time I didn’t know what kind of artist I wanted to be. I tried a lot of different things and ended up landing on two genres I really loved: hip-hop and pop music. For a while, I thought I had to choose one or the other because no one really does both like this, but eventually I just stopped caring and now I live in this multi-genre world and I personally couldn’t be happier doing it. I started as a rapper and that is a piece of me I don’t think is ever going to leave. That’s where my love for music came from. Presently, I love to sing. Learning how to has been a whole new experience for me. Mergingin singing and rapping is something I find cool and I wish more artists did that. 

In your music, you explore personal experiences such as family struggles, fallouts with loved ones, and self-worth. How do you approach writing and conveying these sensitive topics, and why do you feel it’s important to share these stories with your audience?

I think it’s important because I remember when I was growing up, vulnerable songs made me feel validated. Younger audiences may not always have someone in their immediate lives to validate their thoughts or emotions and that’s when someone can start to close off from other people.

It’s important for me because I don’t like to talk about music which is why I turned to writing and singing/ rapping. It’s my way of expressing myself and if I kept these things inside forever, I would go crazy.

As an artist and individual, what message or feeling do you hope to evoke in your listeners through your visceral approach to storytelling and the evolution of your music?

I want them to be able to listen to my music and feel like they are listening to their own story as if it’s in their own emotions or words, I want to be completely open and honest in every song I release – whether it’s a love song or a song about my past issues. Or even a song where I’m just rapping telling everybody I’m the best, because everyone should be able to look at themselves and think they’re the best from time-to-time.

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Interview by Izabel Rose