Most would give up their souls to have the life that Venetia Pristavec was living several years ago. At the time, her career with a little startup called Airbnb had begun to escalate quickly to heights that herself and company weren’t expecting so quickly. The opportunities given to her by the company featured traveling all around the world, showcasing the benefits that Airbnb could offer others. Pristavec was also hands-on with creating silly, short videos that presented her charismatic personality.
A normal, routine appointment with the doctor back in 2013 wasn’t supposed to become life-altering, in Pristavec’s eyes. She explains that she told of a lump that was located within in throat. After some extensive examinations, Pristavec was informed that she had thyroid cancer. To remove the tumor, she would need to have her vocal chords closed for an extended period. Reflecting on the time of recovery, Pristavec shared her thoughts when being at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York in our phone conversation. She mentions in detail of seeing young children having to fight for their lives in the same way. She carefully took stock in observing who was there for support. Seeing all this along with coming to grips with what she was feeling was tough for Pristavec.
On the other side of the fighting the disease came hope and new beginnings for Pristavec. “It forced me to rest because I had to heal. I realized that I had depression, panic attacks, and I haven’t been sleeping. I forget to eat half of the time. I had to stop taking care of my body a long time if I was really honest with myself. The fact that I wasn’t using my voice as I wanted to say…I felt like when they cut cancer out of my throat, I did sing myself to sleep. I told myself that I needed to do music. I don’t need something this close to my vocal chords to remind me that life is fucking short,” Pristavec explained. “That was the start of the next chapter, and I’m still in it.”
Four months before our conversation, she learned of a benign tumor located within her jaw. Pristavec has been going about healing in a different direction, searching for cures that are done naturally and through energy. As for her music, Pristavec has been pushing forward despite the latest setbacks. Her stunning album GLO is a story based odyssey that echoes death, expression, and love within the lyrics. Pristavec has performed the album as a part of the project titled “The GLO Show”. Attendees of the art performance are witnesses to a multi-media, part electronic musical, live docu-style experience. According to Pristavec, “The GLO Show” is a “magical journey through the darkness of self-doubt, breaking free of the shackles-of-should and ultimately confronting and accepting death as a catalyst for living more.” An electronic dance party is integrated after the show, allowing people to dance with one another.
Life continues to work in mysterious ways for Pristavec. However, she is making sure that it’s on her terms.
Before you started playing music full-time, were you writing anything? Just toying around with the idea?
I was also writing and playing, but I was always stuck on the expression part where I was saying ‘it doesn’t sound good’ or ‘it’s shitty.’ I have over 650 voice memos of songs; one airplane flight, I wrote them all down into a long list. I’m still always writing songs; whatever they see the light of day is the journey that I’m on now because of my fear that I’m working through. I thought that I was younger, I sucked so hard at music (laughs). I thought, ‘I’m so bad, and no one is telling me. They are just nice.’ I would fall apart if I played something and I didn’t get the response that I really wanted. I had a lot going on growing up. I was so fragile that I would fall apart based on what other people thought me; if they thought I was a fraud, if I wasn’t any good. It was all in my own fucking head. I’m compassionate to that person now. I was in an environment that didn’t foster confidence and so why would I be confident in music, ya know?! You have to find that again when it’s lost. I think that’s been my journey, coming home to myself.
Without being too nosey, was it family issues that you were dealing with growing up?
I was a vibrant, expressive, sensitive child and there was no safety, no way to calibrate in my environment at all. And my life was filled a lot of sicknesses, loss, and what I call moments between where…do you know how there’s always a moment where everything can change and that moment time is suspended? If the thing happens like say, someone has a stroke. Are they going to wake up or are they not? My life was always filled with moments like that. I would call them “hinge moments.” Everyone close to me I had a hinge moment where I was always thought everything would be taken from me. Thank god most of the things always turned out the next morning to have worked out. Those hinge moments fucked with me really hard. Now I’m getting back to calibrating into a place in my life to a safe world; psychologically even based on all of that trauma growing up. That’s what a lot of my art is about. You gotta go through the drama. You can’t go around it, and you can’t put it in the closest because it grows alone. My art and my music is let’s go through it together. I do believe on the other side of it is much more peace and joy. I have a great relationship with my mother and father now. They were right next to me during my fight with cancer.
Listening to your album, it is very empowering and open. From what you are talking about being more accessible, the songs are beautiful.
Thank you. I can feel even in the last song I’m more open than the first song, and I wrote them all in order. I think that when I hear it, I know where I was in my own journey. The album took over a year and a half, and it became autobiographical to what was happening at the time.
Did you have doubts about getting involved in music now?
I think that it took a long time to find my voice if that makes sense. The first part is becoming aware that you want a voice and you don’t have one. The second part is if I am to have a voice, what is it? It’s almost like you haven’t been feeling for a long time and you say ‘Do I feel things? Do I feel anger? I honestly don’t know’. You have to become aware that you aren’t feeling anger in order to realize, to rediscover where anger is, and that’s how I felt like in the first part of the journey. I was doing acoustic and some coffee houses and wasn’t doing it for me. It was not bold enough. It’s not in my chest…in my heart. It’s not bouncing through my bones. That’s where I was where I wanted to do more electronic music and switch entirely away. So I ended up feeling that and wondering where one goes. I met a guy at a wedding three weeks later, and I told him I wanted to do electronic music. He told me that he does beats. We collaborated on two songs right away to see what that was like and loved each other.
The album was produced by two different people on purpose. The beats in the middle are from another person in Australia. I distinctly wanted the album to feel like three different pieces. The second part is the darkest and also the most ethereal, weird. I had found a guy that does music and listened to his sound and asked if he could produce the four songs in the middle. The other guy at the wedding does the four on the front and the four on the back. It was a really cool process; after I wrote the first four, my boyfriend said that it was telling a clear story. So we then started to write the album as a story. My notes would be something like, ‘This is the part where the death fairies are around her, and she is around the alternate realms, and it needs to feel a little vindictive’, and I would say, ‘Alright this is the part where she is waking up, so it has to be a little drowsy. Her heart has stopped. We need her to be getting into her sexuality, but she’s not quite sure yet’. They wrote the beats as the story unfolded over the course of the year and a half. The things that were happening in my life were driving the songs.
You currently are on the platform Patreon. What has your experience been like so far?
I personally think that it’s the future because I have this whole thought around what I’m calling “thriving, not starving.” I really want us all to do stop being okay with starving. It’s not okay. Stop saying ‘starving artist’ and stop expecting my life to be in the back of a van driving up and down the West Coast for my whole life. It’s not fair. My whole thought is you need to find that number per month and find the people that understand you are doing what you are doing. The world is eight billion people, so you really need to find a thousand to fifteen hundred people that will give you five dollars a month, which I know sounds a lot. But it’s not over the course of three to five months a year. I do think that there’s a lot of potential there.
Venetia’s album GLO is out now. For more: