Artist Interview: Vanessa Hartley

It was a cold blustery day in November when I met up with old friend Vanessa Hartley in a Starbucks. It had been a year since I’d seen her last, and she hadn’t changed much.After treating ourselves to tea and lemonade I sat down to begin my first official interview with a truly inspiring young person, one of the few people who took a great leap of faith and didn’t go with the flow.

So Vanessa, tell me what you’ve been up to since leaving school, I know that you were attending 6th form and you stopped, why did you feel like you needed to do that?

Vanessa: Well I had been in 6th Form for a couple of months and I was sat in a lesson, last lesson of the day and I just thought ‘what am I doing here?”. I just didn’t genuinely have an idea of what I was doing there and since then I spoke with my Dad about it and told him it wasn’t right for me, prayed about it a lot and I believe I got spiritual guidance from the Most High to leave 6th Form and I did. In the past year I haven’t really been doing a lot that many people would be proud of, but I’m proud of it, I’ve been thinking and processing my life and what I believe I’m supposed do with it and I believe I’ve got a lot of clarity at the moment. I’ve been working on a music project that has many songs inspired by this journey and years before I went to and dropped out of 6th Form.

What kind of things are on this album, what thoughts and feelings did you put into this?

Vanessa: They’re all real, they’re all based on truthful feelings even if some of the stories and songs have nothing to do with my personal experience, but the the feeling felt really true. It’s just honest; some of it’s about despair and not knowing what direction you want to go in life,  that was definitely inspired. There’s a song called ‘Looking up or looking down’ which is based on me trying to figure out how to be my future self and how do I get there. It seemed really hard to see where to go and I also wrote about how my future self would look at my past self. A mixture of feelings, some of joy and feeling like I have a helping hand in my creator that’s been telling me what to do. There’s love too, peace, hope,  joy too!

It sounds really exciting, almost Christian-y…ish!

Vanessa: I wouldn’t call it Christian-y. I would just say it’s truth, it feels really honest and that’s the train of thought I’m going on.

What do you think of the word ‘Christian’ I see you stumbled on it?

Vanessa: Well I wouldn’t consider myself a Christian, I wouldn’t label myself that. It’s not about not wanting to be labelled – that’s really cliche. I have a lot of common faith with Christians but there are lots of things I don’t agree with and identify with. But yeah I believe in the basics: Jesus died and rose again etc.

Can you see how you’ve grown, not doing what everyone else thought you should do?

Vanessa: Definitely. It’s hard to explain – i think being in school I was used to looking back at the year and saying “woah! that went quick”. This year hasn’t gone quickly or slowly either, but steadily and I can actually look back and see the growth and my perspective changing to see more around me ad who I am as well. The songs I’ve written during that time also chronicle what I’ve been going through.

So, on the theme of rebellion, what would you say you were rebelling against? Were you even rebelling?

Vanessa: I wouldn’t call it rebelling, someone who may have thought that would be my mum. It doesn’t feel like rebellion, more like I was being stubborn or even trying to take control of my own – this sounds really cliche again – destiny. Trying to take control of where I’m going, which as a 17 year old you think your’re quite mature – and you are quite,  but when you’re in school you’re only thinking about school. Now I’m not at school I have to think about life because I’m not at school anymore. I felt like I was trying to get away from everything so I could be quiet and get a moment of clarity, so it doesn’t feel like I was rebelling. More like I was taking my free-will and my right to choose what I want to do.

So you really weren’t into the education thing?

Vanessa: No. I’m happy I got one up to 6th Form but I’ve always hated school as long as I can remember. I don’t think i really knew what that meant till I got to 6th Form! It works for some but it wasn’t for me.

Do you feel more free now you’re doing what you want to do now?

Vanessa: I feel a lot more free, different. I remember the feeling when I finally left 6th Form and I felt so free. It was cool and liberating but also daunting as I had my whole life ahead of me and I didn’t know what I was going to do, so I felt really free in like a – not a bad way – but a scary kind of way. Now I feel freer in my outlook on life, in a complete way.

That sounds really amazing! Have you got any projects lined up at the moment now you have the time?

Vanessa: Just the album project. It has 10 tracks and that’s all I’m really focusing on at the moment!

You can read all about Vanessa on her website vanessahartley.com and also check out some of her originals and covers on YouTube.

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One thought on “Artist Interview: Vanessa Hartley

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