Though she’s only released five songs, singer/songwriter/producer Sarah Winters has already captivated listeners from L.A. to New York with her mystique. Releasing music under the name vÅx (pronounced “wokes”), the Minnesota native creates haunting tracks with streamlined, yet forward thinking production. Her music is not, however, too experimental to deter the average listener. Here, we are pleased to premiere vÅx’s sixth single, “Get Down,” which Winters wrote after a breakup, but about the same relationship that inspired “Put the Poison in Me.”
“That one I wrote when I was still in the relationship,” she says of “Put the Poison in Me,” “which is even more fascinating because I don’t think at that point I had really admitted the relationship wasn’t working. It took me a while.”
Her musical moniker came after years of searching, when she glanced down at a tattoo on her fingers: “vÅx et praetereÄ nihil,” which translates from Latin to “a voice and nothing more.” Emblematic of Winters’ music, the tattoo echoes the fact that her production occupies a large portion of her songs, although her voice could easily stand on its own. Her ability to waver from a crooning high soprano to soothing low alto remains in the forefront even amongst intricate sonic landscapes.
More than making music, Winters also has a strong interest in visual art. She’s previously collaborated with photographers Parker Fitzgerald and Karla Varley, and the slideshow above marks the debut of her collaboration with Shaira Luna. We spoke with Winters over the phone to learn more about her mysterious persona.
NAME: Sarah Winters
CURRENT LOCATION: Los Angeles. I’m at the office. My secret day job is in music publishing.
ALMA MATTER: McNally Smith College of Music in Saint Paul. I went there for music business.
“GET DOWN”: It’s about a relationship I had a few years back. It was very toxic; it’s the concept of feeling like you need to be punished in a relationship or you deserve that pain that someone is giving you and not being able to get out. It’s a cycle that you get in. That’s where “Get Down” came from. I wanted to make it a really strong song, compared to how weak I was as a human in that relationship.
ON WRITING: Lyrics come first for me. I started out when I was a teenager writing poetry, so that was always first before I ever added music. I fell in love with production when I was on tour with this Cincinnati band called WHY?. They have kind of a crazy genre and they opened up my mind to the music they were into. I started listening to a lot of electronic music and producers. I came back from that tour knowing I wanted to delve into that. I started working with Josiah Kosier, who co-produces with me. We’ve been exploring it together. He had never done electronic production either, so we both were completely new to it.
GROWING UP… I was a very private and quiet kid. I spent a lot of down time alone. My father’s a computer programmer, so we learned a lot about computers and technology at a very young age; I spent a lot of my time online, discovering music, and talking to people in different chat rooms about music, trying to find artists that no one had ever heard of. That got me deep into music at a really young age. I remember finding all this strange music that other people in my hometown were like, “What is this? Why are you listening to this?” [laughs]
FINDING HERSELF: I grew up in a town of 13,000 people, so peaceful, but a very slow life and very hard to find people that you connect with because you grow up with all the same people and you know them from first through 12th grade. You can’t really change there as a person, so I feel like I didn’t really grow up until college when I made a completely new friend group and I could be who I actually wanted to be.
L.A. LIFE: I feel like the biggest difference being in L.A. is that there’s so many more opportunities than in Minnesota. People who are here tend to know that and come here for that reason. Everyone is working really hard, everyone has goals. You can’t coast by because it’s so expensive. In Minnesota, you can really coast by. If you’re an artist, you can really be lazy and not really pursue it—just kind of work your day job. That’s cool, that’s fine, but it’s easy to fall into that rut and not make as much as an artist as you want to. I find it both [inspiring and intimidating]. I would say it’s more inspiring, though. It’s an energy. Everyone else is working really hard.
VISUALS: I’ve always been pretty interested in visual art. I’ve always been a big fan of fashion. In high school, I would have Vogue magazine and tear out photos from it, but I didn’t realize I could pursue both things simultaneously until recently. I never realized how getting deeper into modeling for my own art would change everything. It’s made me a more confident person. It’s changed my stage persona. Once you know how to move your body, almost in the way a dancer knows they look good doing a move, a model knows when they look good to the eye. I feel like that’s really improved a lot of aspects of me being a musician.
MY FIRST NUDE ART SHOOT…was with an artist that I was a really big fan of. His name is Parker Fitzgerald and he’s an amazing photographer from Portland. He does all of these collaborations with a florist, Riley Messina, and arranges beautiful nude bodies with flowers. We shot out in the desert. There were other ladies as well, and none of us were really models, per se. We were also artists, so we also understood where he was coming from with it. It was too cool of an opportunity to pass up. I was like, “This is the time where I gain that confidence and make it happen.”
STATE OF SHOCK: Everything about this project has shocked me. I had never done anything like this, especially the live performance. I had always been a really, really shy performer. I think the most shocking thing is just how much you can change if you point yourself in that direction.
FOR MORE ON VOX, VISIT HER SOUNDCLOUD.