Soundscapes Volume 1 : A conversation with New Chance
Victoria Cheong is a Toronto-based artist working in music, video and performance. She produces and performs electronic music as New Chance. Her work in music has also included DJing, remixing and a long time collaborative practice in contemporary dance.
We recently connected with Victoria to discuss her work. This insightful conversation offers a look into her process, the importance of relationships between artists and the complexities of identity in one’s practice.
LD: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me! We first connected over a year ago and i'm really happy to be able to sit down and learn more about your work. You mentioned earlier that you've worked in different mediums, tell me about your experience in film and what prompted the shift to music.
VC: I don't still do film, really, but I think about it sometimes lately, which is interesting because that's been like a very long hiatus. I've done things like make my own video when I released a record a couple of years ago and I made a video for myself during the pandemic. So I can. It's still in my world, for sure. I guess I just felt like the world of making films wasn't really open to me in my mid twentys and I didn't feel like being aggressive. That's not really my nature to bust down the doors in a certain way that felt like I would have had to do to make films. Probably mostly because of the money involved or just the world at that time was different even than it is now.
LD: Do you think film is more accessible to artists now?
VC: Yeah, for sure. Totally. I think now when I reflect back on those times when I was working in that world of moving images I'm like, “oh my God”, there were no women. I mean, it was when I was in school, it was just very token if there would be a woman director.
And now I'm sure, that world has only changed a little bit. But I do think in general, there are more opportunities and more recognition of the fact that we live in a patriarchy, we live in white supremacy, you know?
LD: How did your beginnings in film/images lead you to exploring sound.
I was always musical. I always was musical in my approach to working with images. The thing that would excite me so much would be incorporating different kinds of music…I'm more of an editor. Editing is kind of what I specialized in when I was in school and that also feels connected to music and musicality. I was a DJ for fun when I was in university, I had a partner that was very in the music world and I had a lot of friends that were aswell… my whole world was kind of music. It was just sort of was there for me to receive me. When I wanted to start doing my own music, it was a smoother road than other endeavors that I had had in the past where it just felt like more impossible.
LD: In evolving/shifting mediums, did your style of expression come naturally to you? Was there a search for identity in how you wanted to express yourself and through work?
VC: I feel like I'm always searching for that in a way. It's hard to know how you're perceived, or I find it hard to know how I'm perceived and where I fit or something, but I've always just kind of followed my curiosity. I do think that people have their kind of inherent frequencies or their inherent rhythms that, resonate with them, in their body or in terms of their spirit. And so I think that that's kind of what I draw from. It's been a good enough amount of years that I'm starting to get a feel for, like, OK, I kind of can occupy this space, which is still full of complexity. It's not so straightforward in terms of identity or whatever.
When you decided to pursue your art, was that a conscious decision or one that just felt instinctual to you?
VC: Yeah, the only thing I remember about that time was that I just felt very strongly that I needed to do it. I also sort of anticipated that it would be a lot of work and that it would be really hard and that it would take a long time. It was like, “okay, I'm going to do this thing and it's going to be a lot of work”. And I didn't have like, a game plan about how it should go, but I think I already knew that I was. an artist, on the fundamental level that I can still kind of rest on. I just know that that's true, whether or not other people perceived me that way.
A lot of artists, especially when they're younger, aren't sure if they're comfortable to identify as an artist because it feels like this very heavy thing that maybe should be bestowed upon you by somebody else. But it's like, who? And I think, at least now I'm at a point in my life where it would just be really absurd to see to pretend that I'm not an artist.
LD: Having an understanding of this purpose must be liberating and also help in identifying your community. Through the past few years we’ve all been forced to reconsider what life looks like and im sure that has affected your practice. How are you feeling now that physical events and experiences are coming back?
VC: Yeah, the last couple of years have now proven of offer this really interesting contrast where I can really feel the difference of going into a physical space to work and being around people or, touring and traveling. I mean, that's definitely very new. And I'm still feeling that out, that feels complicated still. It's the fact that it's just like there's still a lot more risk involved. And I find myself questioning still, is this the right thing to do? Is this good? Is this going to continue? Should I just do it while I can?
For me, I much prefer, in person interactions and in person performances. I like to be in a room with people, especially with music and for sure with dance. Having those things move online, there's some space there for it to be interesting for me, but mostly not. And I think a big part of it is because of the kind of corporatization of the Internet and the way I don't want to really brand myself or, like, think of myself or have to frame myself in this way that feels very fixed. Or just to become an image and feel like I need to become some kind of idealized image of myself. It's too much. I'm, like, 40 years old. I can't, like…I don't want to take that many selfies.I don't want to lie. I think some people really embrace the way that you can just lie about yourself on the Internet , but that's too slippery for me. I'm not into that. So, yeah, I really do prefer the old school way.
LD: There seems to be a common struggle amongsths artists with this concept of branding/commodifying one’s self. Do you feel pressured to have social media or use it in a certain way?
VC: I think I have before, but I don't really know. I want to be able to communicate with people or like share news and that kind of thing. I think it's good for that. I do find it a chore in general. It's not my inclination, really, but I still appreciate it for that reason. But I think the pressure thing can be real. I think that having a presence on social media can lead to more popularity or whatever and maybe potentially, more sales. Sure, I guess that's true. But then it's not the only way. I still think it's not the only way. It's kind of like how I don't go on dating apps.
LD: Im so with you on this. I think there is so much power in connecting in person. It’s not to say that digital connections aren’t valid, useful and very real. There’s just so much power in the physical. We can’t deny the presence and power of the digital world and the opportunities to creatively approach merging the two. With that being said, are you more inspired to create in a more personal enclosed environment or do you feed off of being out in the world?
VC: I think I need to be in the world. I definitely draw a lot from being around other artists in all kinds of disciplines. And that's also become clear after being more isolated. If I take in a musical performance, I'm getting a lot more out of it than just, like…I don't know .. maybe it's from being deprived that now it just feels like everything feels very, very rich.
And it's also a relief to see that artists are still doing things and still it's still just always being to see people express themselves or, hear people express themselves.There's just so much there to draw from. So I do, like, my alone time, but I also it's so important that we do things together and that we do have collaborative practice in some aspects of our lives. No matter what it is, whether you're an artist or not, because we have to work together and share this planet and everything. We can’t just be isolated. We won't survive that. So, I like to go hide away and have my private time or my personal reflecting/ interior time. But I also think that relationships are really important. Sometimes I do get this sense that, some people don't want to deal with the challenges of relationships the same way. Like, some people don't want to deal with the challenges of the body. And so sometimes these technologies offer us this way out in a way…or this kind of loophole or something. I don't think that we can escape; the challenges of those things. I think that that's part of the work of life.
LD: In your more personal/introspective time, are these elements or rituals of your process that you that fou feel you need in order to focus/tap into your projects?
VC: I think Well, you know, I don't have, like. I don't have those things completely sorted. It's kind of like I'm feeling into that process every time, but I definitely have the things I sort of have. Like, I need space and privacy and time. Like a good amount of an endless amount of of time, theoretically, or like a long amount of time to kind of get into something. And I do believe in getting into the body and kind of preparing for performance or preparing for a creative or like incorporating that into a creative practice where it's, I definitely need to kind of be able to get into the flow or something. And that has to do with just the body going for a walk, for sure, like taking breaks. I have a dog, so he disrupts my work flow all the time, so there's no problem there in terms of taking walks or whatever. And it is ultimately really good. It makes me do this thing that is really good for me. I do love walking, and even if I'm working on music, I'll listen on headphones and walk. That's like a huge part of my life, for sure.
LD: When you've been working on something, how do you know when that project is completed? I think that can often be a difficult element to the process. Personally, I can hold onto something for too long because of a want for perfection or a vulnerability in the release. What is your relationship with perfectionism/timing?
VC: I think it's always kind of different. I think that I'm, like, a reasonable perfectionist. I don't know if that's real thing, but I think that I do strive to do my best. I also have to be compassionate towards myself and recognize what my best is. And sometimes my best is not the highest high ideal of my whole life journey. And that has to be okay because I think you get to a point usually when you're working on something where it's time to let it go. I don't want to hold onto this forever. I don't want this to ever feel like, a burden or like I'm stuck. Sometimes you have to take breaks away from things, or things take the time. I really am a strong believer in timing and good timing and bad timing or depending whatever it is that you're trying to achieve. And so I have an inherent respect for that whatever time I might be on, it's really not up to me when things are ready or when things happen. There's this sort of collaboration with a more universal time. It’s like you were saying, it's taken us many months to finally sit down and meet like this, but it doesn't feel wrong. It feels like now is the right time.
Listen to Soundscapes Vol. 1 featuring New Chance on our Soundcloud.
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