Get some dice earrings, and get ready to be made whole – Vitakari is an LA based multimedia artist on the rise, and a bossbabe you won’t forget! She’s explored all different types of artistic mediums, such as painting, art installations, music and more. Now she’s bringing it all together in her fantastically retro music video for her new single, “Bad Weather.”
We had the opportunity to sit down with Vitakari to talk about her new video, her artistic inspirations, and her journey with art therapy.
Get to know Vitakari
You’ve been described as a multimedia artist. What kinds of mediums have you dabbled in, and which are your favorites? Which ones do you like the least? Which ones have you not tried yet that you would like to?
My most recent medium has got to be AR – augmented reality. I’ve mostly making filters on Instagram, and that type of thing. I just started dabbling and experimenting, and making filters – which is super cool! I can literally make anything. I get to take some of my collages and paintings, and stuff like that – any visual, and put it on my face. It’s just been really interesting to blend augmented reality with the IRL world. It’s definitely cool!
I’m thinking of doing an augmented reality art show in the future as well, because it’s been really fun. Of course, I love music, I love to paint, I love literally everything. I just feel like if I can see it in my mind, then I can make it in the world. I just love creation anytime.
You know what, to be honest, I used to love sculpture, and now I’m not making traditional sculpture as much. I’m mostly making more installation type pieces, but I wish I could embrace more of that. I was so intimidated with painting for so long; I actually started painting in 2018 around the same time I started music. I definitely feel like that’s a more difficult one.
I haven’t tried sewing with a sewing machine, because I’m intimidated by it, and I would like to get past that. You can make so many cool, crafty things with that. I have so much respect for the process, because it’s so diligent. I also like how it was this thing that was done at home with the women and domestic lifestyle, and now it’s been taken and reclaimed in our culture today in a cool way, and now it’s a gender neutral thing – I like all of that. I like customizing stuff too. I’ll grab clothes to customize them, like paint them, but I never really get to sew stuff on, like patches. I would love to be able to do that.
Can you talk a little about your creation process, and how it differs from painting, to making music, to any of your other mediums?
In some ways it kind of feels like in all the ways I create, it can feel like the same process, although, of course, they’re very different. Painting is very different then creating an installation, which is very different then making music, which is very different then making a music video. It all kind of feels like one, big, well-rounded version of creation.
It’s kind of all the same concepts too, like layering ideas on top of each other and putting it out. You’re creating a concept, and you’re seeing it to the end. Of course, music I’ll do with a mic in a studio, and writing is different from painting – but I feel like it’s all one big project with everything I do.
Let’s talk about your new video!
In your new video for Bad Weather, it appears that many of the sets and props are handmade. Did you work on these production pieces yourself? What gave you the inspiration for these pieces?
I made almost everything you see. It was awesome – I actually had the Vitawood show in that art space, called The Ulo. The woman that owns the space, Dani, loaned me the space, and curated it for that month. The whole thing was just the concept of Vitawood, which is my own version of LA – or playing with reality anyway. It was just interesting, because I was looking at all my storyboards – because I drew all my storyboards out before we filmed it – and it was literally everything.
Every image in that video, I had drawn out to a T. So it was interesting to just see it go from the storyboard to the visual. Of course I had a lot of help doing that. I work with my friend, Yuki, from Atlanta, who helped film it. Him and I are great creative collaborators. He produced my other video for “So Above.” I’ll just give him a crazy idea, and he’s like, “alright, let’s bring this back down to Earth. How do we make this a reality?”
The night before we shot, I was literally up until 6am, set to shoot at 10am. I was up making those clouds, and paintings, and everything…I spray painted the guns, and just everything you see: the sets, that bee-mask thing, all the props. The space had some cool, creative backdrops, and I was just able to play off that, and turn it into this bigger world. It was just so much fun, and I had so much help.
Every person in the video helped, and it was just some of my really amazing team of friends here in LA. They helped on the Vitawood project as well. I had a pallet of what I wanted, that soft glam, Y2K type style with make up; that euphora vibe – and they just went off, and got it done. We put vaseline on the camera so it would look like that vibe. It is a creative vision that’s in my head, but it takes so many hands on deck to make it through. I’m really blessed to have that support for sure.
I really love moving visuals as a piece of art. It’s cool to think of it like that. I think music videos in general are so fun; they’re like mini movies. To be a visual artist – and also to be able make music, and to have that as the language – and then use the video as the big “sum it all up in one project thing”…it’s awesome! I love it, I really do.
Image Source: Vitakari
The video contains several visually interesting ideas (such as using “positive” drugs, and shooting “negative” feelings). Where did these ideas come from, and how did they beat out other potential ideas that you may have had?
I really love the idea of self-love and wholesome energy. I think people describe me or my events as wholesome, even though so much of it is incredibly sensual, and has that edgy nature of what it is to be an artist. I like that idea of playing with the juxtaposition of that really crazy visual. We had all that little heart candy, like Valentine’s day style, and crushed that up, and snorting it and pretending that it was drugs with the credit card – it has a message that I’m like a “love-dealer” in the video.
The video happened because I wrote this song about breaking up from this relationship, and what happens after that. What do you do after a relationship? You have to refind self-love within yourself. You see the guy with the bee-head, and it’s like the “b-friend” – boyfriend/beefriend – and he is there in the video. To get over him, you need to find these things. You need to sort out that negativity, and find that self-love, and it’s just a really weird output visually of those things. It’s corny! It’s kinda corny to be like, “Oh, Bro, I’m gonna work on myself.” It kind of makes this really wholesome idea interesting. An almost inappropriate example of it, but in a way that I thought was fun to play with.
Bad Weather seems to be the story of a relationship (not necessarily romantic) that ended badly. Was there a specific person in mind when you wrote this? Can you share a little bit of the story which inspired the song?
A lot of the lyrics in the song were actually based on a real life situation I had with somebody. We were not compatible as romantic people, but now we’re actually best friends, which is dope. That’s a good outlook.
I’ve been through a lot of breakups. I love the roller coaster of LOVE, and I think there’s a lot of us who don’t see good examples of relationships. We like, fall into this up and down of infatuation, like “I’M SO IN LOVE” and then “uhg, it’s just crashing and burning!” I hope I’m moving away from that, but at the time, that is what fuels a lot of my art to be honest. That up and down of “I’m in love!” to “I’m so heartbroken!” In a way, it’s like fetishising the romantic process.
I definitely exaggerated some of those feelings, because I wanted to make a song where it was something that I really felt, but also had music that makes you feel good. I feel that with break up songs, there’s not always a great example of that. I love ‘Pumped up Kicks’ because it’s a negative song with fun format. It was a real situation, though. It was just a really fun application of something negative, which is something I’m trying to do more in my life.
Take negative things, and turn them into the positive, but still retain the creativity behind what that means. That was that situation. I literally wrote this song the day after I ended that relationship, and it was…I mean, we got an awesome song out of it, and the dude and I are still good friends. I think a lot of people related to some of the words, for sure.
Mental Health and Vitawood experience
In your recap video of your Vitawood experience, you spoke about your experience with mental health. Do you feel that your exploration into your art has helped you cope with your mental health? Can you talk about how creating and art therapy has helped you with your experiences?
Back in the day when my mental health was negatively affecting my life in a bigger way – you know I talked about the bug-head imagery in that quick video. At the time I was really struggling; I was an art student at NYU, and I was just really struggling with my psychosis. I would look in the mirror, and see bug-heads on my head, and I was horrified by it.
I guarantee you, I would not imagine that I would be here now a few years later using that imagery so holistically in my art, and it resonates with so many. I think it just has really helped me reframe what, at the time, felt like a curse. Music is a language, and I love to speak it and make it for the fact that it can be for others.
When it comes to visual art, it truly is such a product of my hallucinations that I had at that time. Because of that, there can really be nothing like it. And I like that. It’s really a product of something that at the time felt ugly, and it’s created something that’s a beautiful thing that I can share with the world, and refrain from myself.
Making art is one of the most healing things in the world, and in my life. Music especially. I was always a poet; for most of my life. I started singing a little bit later. Words, in general, are like painting, so to share words – even the words in this song. It’s like a fun little bop of a song, but there are definitely some pretty words in there that definitely represent how I was moving on from the situation. The whole process of art in itself – music, film, visual art – it’s just a way to heal from anything.
We see the Bug-Head in the video for Bad Weather as described by your mental health experience. Was this your idea, and what was the reasoning behind it? Do you see the Bug-Head as something that you’ll continue to include in your work moving forward?
I’d like to continue working with the image. I’m working on a new painting now, where I’m doing another bug-head type thing. I like the idea of it, because – well, initially, I had the whole bug-head thing when I was doing these paintings. I made the masks that you see with the guy in the video; I made, like, four of those.
So I had some friends of mine perform with them. During my performance, I came out with a bunch of friends that were dancing with me, and everybody wore a bug-head when they came out – which is so weird! It’s like this pop music with this weird visual performance art piece…it just doesn’t get seen a lot in that way; especially the world I’m in.
I think that a lot of the music I perform at the shows I perform at, you just plug in the aux cord, and perform. There’s no band; it’s usually just the singers, rappers. There’s rarely any bands at any of these events that I perform at. It’s totally acceptable for anyone to make music, which is absolutely amazing. You just plug in your production and go. So, because of that, I kinda get the freedom I need to explore and play with that visual imagery in my performances, and do performance art as well.
The first Vitawood I did in November, when we came out everyone picked the bee masks up, and lifted it off a handheld mirror, and showed the mirror to the crowd. It was like, in people’s faces and stuff, and you just don’t see that at any type of rap/r&b/pop music shows. It just does not happen. So it’s been a really fun thing to play with.
I think as I continue, it’s definitely going to be a part of my paintings moving forward. Also, it’s something I’m going to want to continue doing performance art with, because I love that element of juxtaposition; this uncomfortable thing within this positive music. I like that idea, you know? It’s a “confronting your fears” thing. I’m also allergic to bees; like, deathly allergic. I don’t know if that plays into it. I just feel really good about the bee-heads right now, and I think I’m going to stick with it for quite a bit. It’s slowly starting to become part of my soul and identity in a way. I kinda love it.
Influences and inspirations
Your music seems to have a lot of 80s and early 2000s influences; a modern sound with retro influences. Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations?
I LOVE the 80s. I love so much different music, but a few of my favorites and who I’m inspired by Curren$y; that type of rap genre of music. I love Money Man…something like those rappers, that are super exciting and fun. I love Fleet Foxes, and a lot of that indie music from the 2011 era; MGMT, that type of thing. I love old school R&B, you know, Tammi Terrell, as well as like some more newer age music. Summer Walker was a huge inspiration for so long. I love Kali Uchis, she’s a huge inspiration. Dojacat, I absolutely love her. I’ve been following for a long time. I just really love what music’s become in general. There’s just so many examples of artists now that are just so widely creative.
I’m also inspired a lot by my friends that make music, and that’s probably the majority of what I listen to on the regular. My friend, Swsh, that’s an amazing nonbinary artist, who is absolutely amazing, and has this incredible voice. My friend, Ka5sh, I listen to. Slim Guerilla, and a lot of the rappers I started making music with. I feel like my love for music is just so holistic. A lot of different types of music, I just absolutely adore.
Music has been drastically changing from genre to genre, from decade to decade. What do you think might be the next big thing in music? Are there new trends that you think are going to become more popular in the next decade to come?
I think we’re gonna see a lot of the 2000s style, like R&B, come back. Definitely a lot of that. I think we’re also gonna see a lot more rise of pop in kind of what used to be like the way of a pop star, but in a very different form. King Princess is a great example. They create pop music, and they’re just so creative, and a lot of gender fluidity. I just think the next thing, to be honest, it’s going to be a genreless thing, because everything is becoming more fluid in the world, and music is no exception. I think that newer artists, like Blood Orange, that defy any type of genre. Even back in 2011, Animal Collective, I think was really like, one of the first artists that did this.
Music can be whatever you want it to be. I think there’s this idea with music that, especially people like me growing up not really playing instruments, that you can’t be a musician. You have to go to the gatekeepers of music, and beg for acceptance into the world. But that’s just not the case, especially now with music being so accessible. You can just download it, and make music on your computer, and sample stuff.
The internet era of rap – which especially in LA – has been so formative and important. It’s allowed the doors to be opened for artists, singers and any artists that can make music from their bedroom. Because of that, what music can be is truly being reclaimed by the creators of music; and the creators of music are also the consumers of music. So, I think it’s going to turn into a creative and fluid idea of what that means, and it’s just not going to be as genre specific as it we’re seeing now.
On the flip side of that – what are some music trends you think are dying?
I think you are seeing less bands, for sure hands down and a lot of that has to do with access to music, and now is more in the public domain, you’re seeing less traditional instrument usage. I have a lot of respect for anyone who can play an instrument. I think it’s amazing; when I see someone play guitar, it’s like, “Oh my gosh, wow!” I do see instruments though, just way less. I think out of all the shows I’ve played at in the last two years, I’ve only played one or two shows where there was a band on the showcase list. Even as somebody that puts shows together, it’s harder when somebody has a whole band coming with them.
One of my really amazing friends and collaborators, Fih, is an LA artist and great friend of mine. She’s worked with a band, even though she does more R&B music, so you see it. Band culture is just less and less as we move forward. Which isn’t good or bad; I think anybody who loves music should have the space to do so, and have that platform. I think it’ll come back.
There’s still bands. My little sister is in a band called Plastic Cactus, based out of Portland. Band culture is still alive and well there. I wonder if it’s just the world that I’m in; it’s not so band-centric. That could be another thing. I think in general though, the larger artists of today, you’re not really seeing as many of the Blink-182s, and as you’re seeing solo artists who work with different people and have collaborations, you know?
I think that’s why Pop is so powerful too. There’s, of course, a guideline for what you wanna do, you want to have song structure intact; but you get the freedom to do whatever you want. If you want to have a band, go for it. If you want to do everything off the computer, go for it. There’s so much freedom and creativity in pop, which is why I love it so much. I think band culture is still alive, but you’re just seeing less.
I think also, with the rise of Hip Hop becoming more mainstream, that you see different band culture. The bands I listen to are “back in the day” type stuff. A lot of the artists that are hitting mainstream – and with that, even a lot of the artists I work with – that’s the culture we grew up on, that emo-pop-punk type; all that Fall Out Boy type of music.
Taking Back Sunday was my self-indulgence, one of my favorite bands of all time; the Pixies even! We grew up on all this, and now people are utilizing it. Lil Uzi is a great example of who kinda took this idea of emo music and emo band culture, and brought it to rap in a really interesting way. I think that you’re still seeing a lot of the influences, just not as a rock band format.
I’m still adjacent to the rap and R&B community, especially the rap community. Because of that, I feel so much punk rock, and great alt and emo stuff in that world. You see it in pop culture too, but it’s just a different type. It’s kinda the same ideas and vibe. You still see moshpits a lot. Every rap show I go to with boy rappers, you’re going to see a moshpit. It’s so interesting to see how everything has just been reworked, and it’s similar to those groups that were so formative. A lot of the musicians today were inspired by those groups.
If you could choose three bands/music artists to collaborate and/or go on tour with, who would it be, and why?
Oof, Wow! I love these questions. I would LOVE to work with Frank Ocean, of course that’s a dream for anybody. Also, I love Tyler, the Creator. I would love to work with Dojacat or Kali Uchis and to get a video with Mindless Self Indulgence and Jhonen Vasquez, who’s the creator of Invader Zim. I love his style, and I would love to collaborate on a visual musical project with him. That would be amazing. That would be an insane collab.
I just love so many different artists, and I just love music in general. I would also love to collab with a lot of the mainstream rappers we see today. I would collab with Lil Nas X. He’s iconic. I actually met my partner that I have now, because we were both in the Lil Nax X “Panini” video. We’re in the back on the plane of that video. You can only see the top of my bun, but I was back there. it was so much fun, to say the least. Lil Nas X is amazing, a stallion for sure.
Do you have other artistic inspirations outside of music? Who else inspires you?
I’m so inspired by so many items, but what are the best ones? I’m really inspired by late 90s manga. A lot of the storytelling you’d see in Peach Girl or Paradise Kiss. Any of these mangas of the past, in the late 90s, early 2000s, were all just formative pieces of art. Of course, Dragonball Z has been a huge inspiration of mine creatively. It’s inspired me in so many ways, and I resonated with that storyline forever. I was really inspired by a lot of the storytelling you see in manga in that way. It’s an artform that I’ve never dived into, but I respect it a lot.
There are so many small pieces of art that I feel like I’ve picked up along the way. I really like video games as well. A lot of the indie games – well, not indie anymore – but what felt like indie at the time; the early 2010s, you know like Portal, for example? I think that’s why I like working with augmented reality so much. I love the artistry that goes behind Portal and Orange Box, or even like Bioshock Infinite. That was such a creative reality! I love any art form that takes you into a creative reality. That’s just something I really admire and love.
I love Dragonball Z so much for so many reasons. I love the character development. In Super, Goku’s always like, “Come on guys, we have to go deal with this mess I made!” and Vegeta’s like, “Dude, I’m trying to raise a family, I can’t do all this.” I love the character development. Also, I just love creatively how beautiful it was done.
I love Majin Buu; I like a lot of the Majin characters, but the Majin Buu saga in general is just an inspirational visual art for me and I love the pinks, and the outfits and everything. Actually, for Halloween this past year, I was Android 21, but the Majin version of the character; she’s only a character in a ZFighter, the game. But I had so much fun with that, and the imagery. I love that it’s a theme in pop culture that connects so many. Even kids now are watching Dragonball Z, and loving it. Young adults are still obviously loving it. It’s just a cross-generational love for this universe that’s just been completely created.
In some ways, Vitawood was like an idea of an alternatively created universe you step into. A lot of that is like watching TV shows like DBZ into adulthood, and having fun with that. That was the idea, that you can literally create the world and the universe, and exist within it. That’s a beautiful thing to me, and I think that’s a really powerful artform, for sure. There’s so many music videos too, ‘Bombay‘ by El Guincho is one of my all time favorite music videos. This video came out a while ago, but it inspired me so much, because they created a universe within this video, and it was the most beautiful storytelling I had ever seen. That’s why I love music video art so much; you just get to create your own versions of these things.
Things starts to get bigger and louder
Have you started getting recognized on the street? Do you have any funny, interesting or strange fan recognition stories?
Oh my god – it is the craziest thing when somebody comes up to me. It happens more often than you would think, which is crazy to me! Once in a while, someone will want a pic, which I think is absolutely crazy, but I love that. It’s fun and super cool. It’s totally like a flex when I’m around friends who’ve been with me since before I made music, or my family. My dad, for example, comes to every show ever, so he sees the interaction with the supporters and everything. He just hasn’t seen it happen on the street. It’s just a fun time when we’re out, and that happens. I love it though.
To be recognized for doing what you love by some random person…and I’m always decked out in like, purple, dice earrings, I look crazy everywhere I go. Because of that, I think it’s easier to recognize me. It definitely makes me feel super grateful.
Recently, I was back in North Carolina. I lived in the South for about five years, and somebody even recognized me out there, which was kinda fun. Then coming back here, and being back in my hometown in Los Angeles after so many years of being away, and to move back and have that happen was super exciting. It happened in a Target recently. It’s a feeling of, “okay, I’m on the right track!” It is hard to be an artist, emotionally, you know? It’s scary, you’re taking a huge risk with your life, financially, in the early stages. Those types of moments make you feel fulfilled. I have so much gratitude for anybody that supports me in that way.
Even the people that come out to the shows too, I want to make it feel like a community vibe. I think you go to a lot of events in LA and New York, and there’s some type of social hierarchy. There’s this feeling of, “Damn, am I cool enough to be here?” And I’ve felt like that. I don’t want anyone to feel like that when they walk into my events, I want a free space for expression, gender-expression, fluidity, positivity…I would love to make that type of community vibe. Anybody that comes up and says, “Hey,” to me, I’m going to be friends with them.
What would be your dream venue to perform in, and why?
To be honest, my dream venue would be to create my own. Maybe not my own venue, but my own experience. I think what I love so much about shows and stuff is that element of experience and performance art. I think that I would love to have access to a crazy space. You know, like, Madison Square Garden, let’s say, but I just get to make it into an installation. That would be soooo tight. That would be insane.
I would want a whole entire building with multiple entries. That’s kind of what I did with this last Vitawood show. You had to walk into this living room, and my friends were trying to find their way through this secret door. People knew that they were going to a show, like they were going to see music and stuff, but you’re not going to expect to have to find your way in through a performance art door.
I had a couple friends acting, and pretending to find the door, and letting in people in groups at a time. I think people were completely confused as to what was happening. Then somebody would find the door, and once they did that, they had to go through all these tunnels of art, and had to see all of this stuff before they got into the main room.
It was kind of like a maze, and I think that is the type of show that I will forever like to continue throwing. It was so fun. Any type of show that my friends throw, it’s going to be an experience that’s on a larger scale, but the same concept. You have to navigate through different rooms, and go through a whole experience before you get to see the music and the showcase.
There’s an artist friend of mine from Atlanta, who sends these coordinates to secret shows in the forest. It was this huge listening party and performance art – I was like, “wow. This is a vibe, this is a wave, this is different and crazy.” I love the idea that you have to find your way, and it’s part of the experience.
I also really like social media. I think it’s a powerful tool for art and sharing yourself. But at the same time, we don’t have a lot of experiences on social media where we really have to have experiential moments. You can kind of do it with filters, but more so, an experiential thing; an immersive experience is just so unique, especially right now when so much is being centered around virtual stuff. I think to have an experience where you literally have to find this place, and find clues, I want to create more stuff like that. Intentionally, real experiences.
Well there you have it! Vitakari is on a mission to remind us of our self-worth, while engaging us in an interactive experience to stimulate all our senses. We wish her the best of luck with her video release of “Bad Weather,” as well as all her work to come.
Did you see Vitakari’s new video? What did you think? Let us know what you thought in the comments below or tweet us @thehoneypop!