Bio : Victoria Reed
“Healing is always possible,” says Victoria Reed. “Even when it feels utterly unimaginable, even when the darkness seems overwhelming, I’ve learned time and time again that there’s always a brighter place we can get to.”
With her entrancing new album, ‘Aquamadre,’ Reed is ready to light the way. Recorded at home in Mexico City with producer Autre Ne Veut, the collection is lush and dreamy, an ethereal ode to self-love and personal growth from a songwriter willing to bare her most vulnerable self in all its tender, honest beauty. The music is equal parts pop and experimental here, built off swirling synthesizers, slinky guitars, and hypnotic beats, and Reed’s performances are breathy and captivating to match. At times angelic, at times haunting, she sounds otherworldly, but her writing is very much grounded in the emotional reality of modern womanhood and the seemingly impossible contradictions it demands. Reed is the first to admit that in the past, she nearly collapsed under the weight of the existential quandaries she finds herself grappling with on the album, but if nothing else, ‘Aquamadre’ is proof that true strength comes not from having all the answers, but from knowing when to ask for help.
“My experience with therapy has been life changing,” says Reed, “but I’ve also drawn a lot of strength and understanding from more esoteric practices like tarot and astrology. They’ve all taught me to accept who I am and my unique path, to hold all parts of myself and embrace the journey I’m on."
For Reed, that journey began in Detroit, where she was born into a Greek and Italian family that believed strongly in the power of the mystical. She was surrounded by music from an early age (her father, Alto Reed, rose to fame playing saxophone in Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band), and in middle school, she began writing her own songs as a way of working through the emotional tumult of adolescence. When it came time for college, Reed moved to Chicago, where she added guitar to her repertoire and continued to write music on the side until dropping out midway through her philosophy degree.
“The day I dropped out of school turned out to be the day I got invited out of the blue to go record in New York,” says Reed. “I decided I should trust the signs I was getting from the universe, so I flew across the country and ended up recording the first two songs on what would become my first album, and meeting the man who would become my husband on my first day in the studio.”
Such improbably cosmic alignments are nothing new for Reed, who developed a passion for astrological studies in her youth. In particular, she found herself drawn to reading birth charts, which aim to provide guidance by analyzing the placement of the stars and planets at the exact moment we arrived in the world.
“I had my first birth chart reading when I was thirteen, and I can’t really remember a time since then that I haven’t been seeking out more information,” says Reed. “I don’t rigidly rule my life by it, but astrology has always been a lens through which I view the world, and it’s always been there for me as a tool for self-reflection and perspective.”
If Reed had any lingering doubts about the move to New York, they were erased in 2016, when she released her debut record, ‘Chariot,’ to universal praise. Vice Noisey called the album “near magical,” while Paste raved that it “bleeds authenticity,” and Popdust hailed it as “bold, daring, and visceral.” The record landed Reed dates supporting the likes of Citizen Cope and Mason Jennings, among others, and earned her festival slots in both the US and Europe. Busy as she was supporting the album, Reed continued to write throughout her time on the road, and she began work on a follow-up to ‘Chariot’ almost immediately after it was released.
“I’m the kind of person that’s constantly writing songs,” she explains. “It’s never been a conscious decision. It’s just a natural function of my being.”
Around the time she began work on what would become ‘Aquamadre,’ Reed found herself diving deeper into an aspect of astrology known as the North Node. While the sun and other important placements in Reed’s birth chart landed squarely in Leo, her North Node was in the opposite sign of Aquarius, which proved to be an important revelation.
“Your North Node represents what you’re meant to embrace in this life to feel fully fulfilled,” explains Reed. I’ve always understood myself as embodying these archetypal Leo characteristics (confident, passionate, the entertainer) but have found tremendous value in consciously releasing any of the lower expressions of the sign, and instead opening myself up to more of an Aquarian perspective, which is all about the collective, about spreading helpful messages, and leaning into that which makes me unique over that which makes me special.”
Inspired by symbols like the sign of Aquarius and the Queen of Cups in tarot, (hence the title, ‘Aquamadre’), Reed began penning material that reflected her transformative process. Drilling down beneath the bedrock of her psyche, she laid bare pains and anxieties she’d buried for years, sharing her own personal struggles with doubt, insecurity, and femininity in the hopes that they might help others feel less alone. It was around this same time that Reed and her husband left Brooklyn for Mexico City, starting life over again in a country that had captured their hearts and would prove essential to fueling their creative endeavors.
“There’s a certain openness to the lifestyle here that’s been so freeing for us as artists,” says Reed, who collaborated with her husband extensively on the album. “It’s a beautiful city with a beautiful culture, and recording at home with Autre Ne Veut producing just added to that relaxed, comfortable atmosphere.”
That comfort was integral in creating ‘Aquamadre,’ which required Reed to dig deep in ways that quite frankly frightened her. “I’ve never been brave enough to simply be myself,” she sings on album opener “Same Way,” which serves as a gorgeous introduction to a record all about what it takes to show kindness and generosity to the face in the mirror. The hazy “Does It Show” aims to separate self-worth from external validation, while the sparse “Do It For You Too” works to embrace the personal darkness we’re taught to be ashamed of, and the spellbinding “If You Can Love” looks at the harsh and unforgiving way we often treat ourselves.
While much of the record looks inwards, Reed writes with a gentle, empathetic touch, and it’s easy to feel as if her narrators are close, personal confidants. The meditative “Heal Your Pain,” for instance, offers a lifeline to anyone struggling with a trauma they just can’t seem to move beyond, while the mesmerizing “I Will” is a rallying cry for perseverance in the face of disappointment, and the soothing “Fall Away” recognizes that, at the end of the day, our ability to support others is circumscribed by our ability to support ourselves.
“I used to assist a psychic whose constant refrain was, ‘That which does not belong to me falls away,’” says Reed. “I wrote this song as an affirmation to remind myself of that. It’s great to show up for other people, but you’re not equipped to do them any good if you’re not showing up for yourself, too.”
With ‘Aquamadre,’ Victoria Reed is finally showing up for herself, and in doing so, she’s inviting the rest of us to do the same, to see ourselves the way our loved ones see us, to venture forth in search of our own North Node.
“It may take a lifetime to get there,” says Reed, “but it’s worth every drop of trying.”