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photos / Danielle Holbert
story / Erica Russell + Koko Ntuen 

Adia Victoria is the ghost of blues, and rock’n’ roll’s past, present and future. When the tall, dark-haired wonder walks into The Mercury Lounge, all eyes are on her. She walks like someone who you can’t help but see, but doesn’t always want to be seen. Even with a slightly off posture, she floats through a room like a breeze, draped in a cotton white kaftan, with two gorgeous braids down her shoulders. A voice behind me whispers, “That’s Adia…wow she is so beautiful.”
Raised in Nashville, Victoria’s past is peppered with churches and southern rituals. Her father is Trinidadian and she was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist. When her family left the church she dived into music and her own world. She started making music when she was around 21. Her deep, ghostlike vocals incite a chilling tale of generations of suffering, love, loss and pain.  When you close your eyes and listen, it feels like you could be at some religious sacrifice, deep in the delta swamps. A voodoo like spirit fills the room when she howls through the microphone. Goosebumps.
Beyond The Bloodhounds is her dark, eerily debut. The album circulated through music blogs online, and her live shows were filled with fans swaying to the haunting cacophony of sounds, emotions and hammering beats worthy of a Johnny Cash guest appearance. Lyrically the album is a poetry collection and can stand alone from the music with its commanding tone and words. On “Sea Of Sand,” she bemusedly croons, “Here’s a song for the landlord / I am sorry for the holes in the wall / Here’s a song for my friends / I hate every single one of y’all “
On stage her narrative writhes and riles to her own gritty enchanting voice into a transfixed crowd, “Do I know anyone out there?” She dips into the audience like a preacher baptizing obsessed disciples and when you leave you actually feel anointed with her haunting spirit. I get to meet the artist who left me possessed.

Tell me how poetry and creative writing helped create a safe space for you when you were younger.
Literature allowed me to empathize with certain sides of myself I had been taught to shun. As a kid coming up in the church I was subjected to a very narrow swath of personalities. The characters in my books and poems were much more vivid than the people around me.
Do you feel music also operates as a safe space for you as an artist now?
It’s a space. I don’t know how safe it is. But it allows me express myself.
Do you feel like the music media — or even listeners — try to pigeonhole you or your sound?
I don’t particularly enjoy talking about music journalists or my image in the media. It isn’t productive or interesting in my opinion.
I hear a lot of pain and vulnerability on this record, but more poignantly I hear power, triumph and catharsis. Do you feel personally liberated by any particular moment(s) on ‘Beyond the Bloodhounds’?
I wrote the lyrics to “And Then You Die” while watching a very close family member die a hard death from cancer. I feel very close to her when I perform it. The song allowed me to make peace with her passing. I was able to express just how gutted her death left me, but in a way that was constructive for me emotionally. That was extremely liberating.
What sort of headspace were you in while writing the record?
I was in several headspaces. But mostly I knew that I had to bring these ideas and sounds and lyrics to fruition. I imagine pregnant mothers to know the feeling of preparing to meet your child. That was where my mind was at, and all the same time I had to maintain a life — work jobs, go to class, deal with relationships.
What story do you ultimately hope to tell with this debut album?
I want to give the girls and the women in my family our own legacy. I want to change the narrative from “This happened to me” to “This is what I made.”
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