By Nicholas Jason Lopez
An intense mixture of fuzzy keyboards and heavy, guitar-based beats, Los Angeles-based artist Vanilla Sugar has made her name on her stage presence and eclectic styles incorporated into her songwriting.
With the COVID-19 pandemic stopping all tours, she has kept busy with weekly live-streaming, YouTube vlogs and sharing vegan/gluten-free recipes on her social media pages.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with her about what she’s been up to lately and more.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Vanilla Sugar – I had a couple tours lined up for this year, one for the U.S. and one for the U.K.! The U.S. dates were originally scheduled for April, then postponed to September. As we got closer to the rescheduled date, they were then cancelled. Hopefully, we will get to reschedule the U.S. tour next year! The U.K. tour was originally scheduled for November, but has been postponed to July of 2021. I can’t wait!
Music Bugle – What has been the most productive thing you’ve done while in quarantine?
Vanilla Sugar – The most fabulous thing from quarantine has been being able to interact with fans more. I stream a live AMA on Facebook and Instagram every Thursday at 7 p.m. PST. I have been able to broaden that scope with this downtime during quarantine. I now livestream video games and chat on Twitch every Monday night at 7 p.m. PST and host a live cooking show every Saturday on YouTube and Twitter at 1:30pm PST. It’s great to be able to chat with fans and share an experience together!
Music Bugle – If you had the chance to go back to this past New Year’s Eve, what would you tell yourself about 2020?
Vanilla Sugar – I would tell myself to get ready for impact, because this year is gonna be wild! Also, to be ready to sit down and wait!
Music Bugle – What do you miss the most about performing in front of a live audience?
Vanilla Sugar – I miss the energy in the room more than anything. It is such an amazing experience to feel everyone fall into this rhythm together and just vibe with the music.
Music Bugle – What excites you about your style of music?
Vanilla Sugar – I love that it can be whatever I want it to be. It’s very electronic, but the electronic genre is now so wide. I grew up loving metal and that growl type of vocal. With the music I am playing, I can add that growl type of vocal over some gnarly synths and it just works. I also love pop – especially early 2000’s pop – and can mix that style with heavy bass and it is just pure magic.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Los Angeles to someone who has never been there before?
Vanilla Sugar – LA is definitely the land of opportunity. There is always something going on. I shoot concert photos when I am not on tour and being out here – before COVID, I was shooting shows almost every night! It’s so awesome. Before quarantine, there were different genre shows happening all over the place. The landscape out here is so perfect for promo shoots and music videos. You have the ocean, mountains, desert and forest, all in one place. The city also makes for great backdrops as well. Almost everyone out here usually comes here to pursue their artistic endeavors, so you make a lot of friends who have similar passions as you. That’s always great for networking and helping each other succeed.
Music Bugle – How did you get your artist name?
Vanilla Sugar – There’s two versions. The PG-13 version is that the name “Vanilla Sugar” sounds sweet and innocent, when the music is actually raw and in-your-face. The X-rated version – the 100 percent honest version – is this – I wanted to create an alias that was me, but not my name. My nickname has always been “JPVanilla,” hence, the first part of “Vanilla Sugar.” The second is a play on words for the term “Kitty Sugar.” Feel free to Google that when you’re not at work. Adding the two together created Vanilla Sugar!
Music Bugle – Does social media make it easier or harder to stand out as a musician?
Vanilla Sugar – I think it makes it easier. You can reach a more expansive audience via sites like Facebook and Instagram. With social media, I am able to share my music anywhere with a click of a button! I do a lot of my own tour booking and wouldn’t be able to do it without social media, for sure. It makes it easy to find what bands play in which city, what venues exist, etc.
Music Bugle – We see that you’re passionate about making vegan/gluten-free food – what inspired that?
Vanilla Sugar – Yes! Yum. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called celiac disease in 2013. It really changed my world. If I eat anything with gluten, I have a horrible reaction and could possibly die. I have found myself in the hospital hooked up on morphine at least twice since I have been diagnosed. I am so sensitive, that if I even touch gluten, I break out! I had to change my diet to all gluten-free dishes. Most of the packaged gluten-free foods I have found taste like cardboard and are just not great. They do not taste like the real thing. I wanted to start creating my own food from scratch, so that just – maybe – it would taste better. I am also an ovo-vegan. I eat eggs, but that’s it. I also have found that a majority of vegan meals I have had from the grocery store, or going out to restaurants, haven’t been that great. I decided that I would cook with scratch ingredients and make gluten-free and vegan foods so good that even someone who ate meat and gluten wouldn’t be able to tell the difference! I started cooking live on YouTube and Twitter during the pandemic. I ask for fans to submit things they would want me to try to make and I take whatever they suggest and make a version that is gluten-free and vegan. The biggest challenge would be cooking for my Dad and brother. They can both tell when something is gluten-free. I haven’t been able to cook for them yet since the pandemic, but I’m hoping whatever I make passes the test! (Laughs)
Music Bugle – What has been your proudest moment so far in music?
Vanilla Sugar – My proudest moment was my album release show. I felt so much love in the room and the show was awesome. Everything was perfect, from lights, sound, to how the whole night went. So many months were spent in the studio and a lot of blood, sweat and glitter went into the album. It felt so good to be able to share it with everyone that night together.