[INTERVIEW] JVNA Dives Into Her New Album, 'Play With You'
Get ready to dive into the electrifying realm of JVNA as she returns with her highly anticipated second studio album, Play With You. In this interview, we explore the evolution of this American-Taiwanese LA-based artist since her debut LP Hope In Chaos in 2021.
Play With You marks a transformative shift for JVNA, as she sheds the role of victimhood and embraces her inner strength. With melodic dubstep at its core, the album ventures into a more aggressive territory, infused with elements of alt-pop, J-pop, K-pop, anime, gaming, and trance influences.
As JVNA puts it, “I see life like a video game, and we are all given the option to take on different quests.” We were fortunate enough to link with JVNA, so we could gain insight into the mind of this musical maverick. Join us as she shares her journey of breaking free and setting fire to her enemies' worlds through Play With You.
Check out iEDM's exclusive interview with JVNA below.
iEDM: Your newest album Play With You marks a significant shift from your debut LP Hope In Chaos. Can you share the inspiration behind this evolution and the decision to embrace a more empowered and villainous persona?
JVNA: The music I write is always a reflection of who I am as a person and the subconscious parts of my personality. During the writing of this album, I was going through a change in character of self discovery and empowerment. This album is about being a formidable woman who takes charge of her own narrative, whereas my last album was about the healing journey of a victim.
iEDM: The concept of taking control and breaking free from constraints is a central theme in Play With You. How did this theme impact your songwriting process and overall creative direction for the album?
JVNA: I had a lot of fun writing these songs. I thought to myself: what is something that I can create that I haven’t seen yet? Being one of the only females in future bass, I felt it was my duty to write empowering songs driven from the female perspective. While I do have some ballads in this album, I wanted to experiment on producing future bass in a feeling that was feral, dancey, dark, mysterious, as opposed to the usual emotional, feels, uplifting style.
iEDM: Play With You draws influence from alt-pop, J-pop, K-pop, anime, gaming, and trance. Can you elaborate on how these diverse influences came together to shape the unique sound of the album?
JVNA: My tracks “Demon Time”, “Play With You”, and “The World is Mine” all have elements of K-pop/J-pop in the verses. I have female rap in these tracks and alt-pop type drums in the beginning verses. In “The World is Mine”, I definitely went experimental with that song. I wanted a future bass drop where I sounded like I was screaming into the unknown.
iEDM: What was the biggest challenge you faced in regard to fusing multiple different genres together across this album, and how did you overcome it? What advice would you give to rising producers on how to merge preferred genres when cultivating their signature sound?
JVNA: The biggest challenge I faced was mixing “The World is Mine”. It was hard for me to choose what to focus on in the drop because I had a lot of melodic layers going on, yet I wanted the screaming vocal to punch through.
My advice would be to not sit on a song for too long because if you listen to the demo too much, you will eventually get attached to it even though you initially knew it wasn’t the right sound. I got attached to the original mix a lot and went through so many versions after. But we got it right at the end so that’s all that matters!
iEDM: Your musical journey began with remixes of anime and video game soundtracks. How did your experiences with these remixes and anything you may have learned from making them contribute to the sonic landscape of Play With You? What initially drew you to anime and video games as something you wanted to musically reinvent?
JVNA: I went to school studying music composition at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. There an emphasis on film and game scoring in my program. I have always loved the music from video games like Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and most recently, NeiR: Automata. I loved anime OSTs as well. This music is who I am at my core, and I think I translate that naturally in anything I create.
iEDM: Being raised in California by Taiwanese immigrants, in what ways is your heritage tied into your music and the stories you aim to tell through your songs? Is there a specific track or moment in Play With You that fully embraces your cultural background?
JVNA: I put Mandarin lyrics in “The World is Mine” because I wanted to embrace my cultural background. There needs to be more languages other than English in future bass!
iEDM: The album's title track, “Play With You”, introduces a new chapter for you. What is the story behind this song and how does it set the tone for the rest of the LP?
JVNA: Visually, upon writing this song, I pictured an anime demon seducing her enemies and defeating them. I think that being a female in the industry, a lot of men think they can say really degrading things to me. I was 23 when I started touring and I used to be extremely docile as I had quite sheltered upbringing. As a result, I was constantly afraid of saying the wrong things and always doubted myself. Furthermore, I still wanted to be nice to men who put me down.
At this point in my life, I don’t tolerate any BS and am not afraid to say what I want to say to anyone who disrespects me. This song is driven from that feeling of my inner growth, which also drove the entire concept of this album.
iEDM: What role did your background in classical piano and film scoring have in your approach to producing and arranging the order of the tracks in Play With You?
JVNA: I have a piano in almost all of the songs. I love piano, it is what I’m best at, and I think I will always want to incorporate piano in most of my songs!
iEDM: We loved reading your quote centered around Play With You: “I see life like a video game, and we are all given the option to take on different quests. In this album, I imagine myself breaking free from the prison my enemies have put me in. And setting fire in their world with laughter! Muahahaha.” What sparked this gamification of life concept? If you could go on any dream quest or adventure in the real world, what would it be?
JVNA: Life can be hard as we all know it. The way I sometimes deal with it is by not taking it so seriously. I like to think to myself “ah maybe it’s all a video game and we’re just in a simulation”. When I try to not let emotions rule over my life and treat it like it’s a silly video game, decisions become easier and life feels a bit more fun.iEDM: You have a large presence on platforms like Twitch. What do you enjoy most about connecting with your fans through live streams, and how do these interactions affect your career as an artist?
JVNA: I love that I get to know them a bit better and they are honestly all so sweet and supportive. In my discord, people have become friends with each other and they will do meet ups together if people don’t want to go to a show alone. It is so cute and I love them so much.
iEDM: How does Play With You pave the way for your future projects and musical journey? Is there anything you can hint at that is in the works for your fans to look forward to?
JVNA: This album is quite fun, feral, and dark, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing happy songs or topics about love again in the future. I think it just depends on who I am as a person in the next era we will see and find out!
Photos courtesy of JVNA and Nachi Lee.