Youth in Revolt – An Interview With Victoria Canal

The narrative of young people showing up to lead is not a new phenomenon- in the past few years alone Malala Yousafzai, Emma Gonzalez, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez (to name a few) have become household names. One thing that is new, however, is the growth of the digital world and the technologies through which we access it- none of which have been put to greater use than by the upcoming generations who have adopted them as a way to amplify their voices and call for social change.

One such person is Victoria Canal, a 20 year old singer songwriter who uses her platform as an artist to empower young people to celebrate their individuality. She’s had a busy first two decades of life (she’s lived in nine countries, learned seven languages, and played at the Red Rocks Amphitheater and The Apollo) but what is most striking about Victoria is her ability to connect with people both on stage and through her music.

Victoria’s social media pages are outlets through which she manages to amplify her message, a quick scroll through her feeds and it’s not hard to gain a sense of the “enjoyably awkward human being” she describes herself as. Fittingly enough, it was through social media that Michael Franti was first introduced to Victoria- resulting in an invitation to collaborate that led to them joining forces on a tour. Back in the summer the Come To Life crew caught up with Victoria in Eugene. Articulate and poised, Victoria talked with us about her music, what she’s learnt on the road, and more. You can read our interview with Victoria below.

Come To Life: We had a quick look at your bio on your website, you’ve managed to pack a lot into your first 20 years. You’ve lived in 9 different counties and learned a number of different languages, what impact do you think this has had on you and your music?
Victoria Canal: Developing relationships with a lot of different kinds of people, from everywhere, helped me understand that I will never know all the answers, but that there’s beauty in always searching and staying curious. Traveling just opens your mind to so much out there that you would have never thought about had you stayed in one place, simply because every person across the globe is living a different experience than you and is part of a different culture than you. We have so much to learn from each other, and I guess being continuously reminded of that has influenced my music and my mission a lot.

CTL: What drew you to learning the piano and to sing, and what inspired you to carve out a career in music?
VC: My grandma was a piano teacher and I always used to hear her play for church. She (still) has this beautifully carved wooden piano in her living room that I will always identify as the piano that got me into music. Also, my parents and brothers were all huge music fans – they’d listen to albums that rang through the house, ranging from Maria Callas to the Michael Jackson’s Essential Hits; Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder; Kings of Leon and Queen… the list goes on and on. Listening to those songs and eventually discovering that I could write songs myself is what made a career in music inevitable for me.

CTL: How do you use art to share an important message?
VC: I like to create art in homage to the way I receive art. The most powerful way I’ve ever been touched by art is by a single songwriter, on stage, telling a story and being vulnerable with his audience. I always want to do the same, because showing that it’s okay to feel weak or to not have control can really help someone find their own inner-strength.

CTL: What’s the role of art in creating positive change in the world?
VC: Art has the ability over anything else to unite people, and above all, create dialogue to further progress the way we view each other and ourselves in the context of our world today.

CTL: You’ve recently released a single, could you tell us a little about its inception?
VC: He Won’t Know is about my grandpa who has dementia, and how someday he won’t realize that my grandmother has been his wife for 65 years, that they’ve shared a life together. She’s his caretaker through it all – and the song is from her perspective, loving him. The way I wrote it, though, can also translate into my own long-distance relationship and how that can eliminate chances of showing someone just how thankful you are for who they are, on a daily basis.

CTL: How do you juggle being a university student and a touring musician?
VC: Well – I’ve left university behind for the moment since I was studying to do exactly what I’m doing! It will always be there if I choose to go back, but when I do, I’ll probably study something else. I am learning so much through touring and being an independent artist, it’s like school in itself. I’m taking these experiences on the road as university lessons – they’re real-life scenarios in the real world.

CTL: You’re about to hit the road again with Michael Franti and Dustin Thomas, can you tell us about your experience touring with them so far?
VC: Both artists have made such positive change in their communities. Every audience member lucky enough to see them perform live leaves feeling a heightened sense of hope and promise for a better future. I love being a part of that and learning from them every single day about what it means to be a light in the world.

To check out Victoria’s music, see if you can catch her on tour, or follow her on social media head to her website.