How trauma has led me to make my own music

by Vaena

How trauma has led me to make my own music by Vaena
Photo: Terence Sengers

I remember the bullying. I remember them hurting me, but also me hurting myself. Have you ever had a period in your life where you feel like you just don’t belong anywhere? That’s the feeling I’ve been having all my life. Although it’s obviously not a very nice feeling, it’s led me to think in a big way & do great things, like a few of my biggest achievements: writing my own songs & releasing my first single.

Listen to the songs while reading the text.

A lil’ background
I was born on April 13th, 1996 in Maastricht, The Netherlands. It’s a small town, filled by equally small minded people. My mother is Dutch and my father is mixed Burkinabe-Indonesian. My parents got divorced when I was 5 years old and I lived with my mother during the week and went to my father every other weekend.

It was nice, until I got older. That’s another story, though, but I can definitely assure you that my mother’s an absolute angel. I have one brother (from anotha motha) who’s 12 years older than me. My parents and me always listened to a lot of music, like Massive Attack, Maria Callas, Deep forest and lots of other kinds of music.

“I was never the ‘pretty girl'”

Other kids usually weren’t very nice to me and I’m still not sure why. I guess it’s because I was a girly-girl and a tomboy at the same time. I still am. My mixed heritage and the bullying might be the cause of me feeling like I don’t belong anywhere. I was never the ‘pretty girl’, I always felt like I was the tallest, the biggest. When I went to middle school, I started listening to metal and emo music. I guess you could say I turned into an emo/scene chick, until I was aroun 16 years old.

My mom and I used to listen to classical music when I was a toddler. She played a Vivaldi CD and I would tell stories that fit the music. I also loved playing pretend and doing a live singing performance in the living room. When I just turned 6 years old, I started playing the violin and I absolutely loved it for 10 years. I also took some singing lessons, but I didn’t really like them, so I quit after a few lessons.

As mentioned before, I was an emo chick. I listened to Stick To Your Guns, Chelsea Grin, Bring Me The Horizon, and so on. If you haven’t heard of them yet, you should definitely check them out: artists like XXXTENTACION, Post Malone, Chynna and Vaena myself, are infuenced by these types of bands. The bands’ lyrics are mostly telling stories about depression, trauma, heartbreak and being an outcast.

I could relate to the lyrics so much that I started to write and tell stories, most of the time about me being a famous artist, committing suicide but surviving it and, because of that, everyone loving me. Now, that’s some fucked up thoughts for a 12-year-old. On the other side, I listened to artists like A$AP Rocky, Chris Brown, Kanye West, Beyoncé, Elephant Man, Popcaan and 2pac, which made me feel like a bad bitch and a little gangsta when I was by myself.

“My mom played a Vivaldi CD and I would tell stories that fit the music”

In high school, I loved music, art history, drawing and painting: expressing my creativity was a must for me and I aspired to be a tattoo artist. Although I loved singing more than anything, I just never thought it could be ‘a thing’ for me.

In The Nederlands, people are very…. grounded. We call it being ‘sober’. Dutch people are hard workers and they are usually quite smart, so I just felt like I couldn’t tell anyone about my true ambition of being a singer. I just left it for what it is and stopped singing.

My mother was asking me constantly, almost begging me to start singing again and I guess that made me want to continue quitting music even more (teenage rebellion, lmao). I just started drawing more tattoo designs and sang quietly in the shower.

Men have always played a big role in my life and they fucked me up big time. I started really liking boys from what I think is quite a young age; around 8 years old. My father also had other priorities arond that time, so it basically was just me and my mom. She did a great job on raising me and I always got everything I needed, even if that mean that she’d have to eat less for the rest of the month, or skipping that really fun party she was supposed to go to. Props to you, momma.

“My mom always got me what I needed, even if that meant she’d have to eat less for the rest of the month”

So, after hundreds of conversations about safe sex and the cons of promiscuity and some ‘holding-hands-kissing-on-the-ckeek’-type of relationships, I had my first real boyfriend when I was 15. The relationship lasted about a year and I ended up being with his best friend for 2 years. It was the sweetest relationship you could wish for, but it just didn’t work out. No biggie.

In 2014, I took the worst decision ever by getting into a relationship with someone who I like to call ‘the devil’. It started out really nice, but he turned out to be as narcissistic as it gets. I was emotionally, physically and sexually abused for 2,5 years. I finally gathered the courage to get out of the relationship, but the memories stuck and they cut my mind like a knife. Months of substance abuse and promiscuous and workaholic behaviour followed.

The journey
One evening after the break-up, I was standing in my brother’s garden (I was living at his place at the time) and I just looked at the clouds and the moon, and I asked for guidance. My gut feeling gave me the urge to just write everything down, and so I did. I just didn’t want to write anything; I wanted to write to music, just to make the lines flow. I looked for some free beats on YouTube and just started writing my feelings down. It went surprisingly well and soon, another song followed. I recorded it with my iPhone and uploaded it to Facebook. Everyone loved it!

Since then, I have made a lot of progress. I’ve been consciously integrating influences from the music stated above into my music (mainly into the songwriting), and I released my first single ‘SADGRL’ a few weeks ago. I’m currently working on a lot of writing projects, collaborating with some very good producers. This is my purpose. I will never stop. It heals me and helps others around me.

Peace, love and positive vibrations to you all.

IG: vaenamusic
Soundcloud: vaenamusic


Vaena, Category: Artist, Singles: Sad Girl, Top Tracks: Sad Girl, Monthly Listeners: 22, Where People Listen: Maastricht, London, Kerkrade, Amsterdam, Northampton

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Artist’s Note
Netherlands, Maastricht, Europe
R&B, Hip-Hop
Story, trauma, Music, sad girl, EMO, art, Metal, biography, single, Rock, Hip-Hop, depression, mixed, dutch, vaena, sadgrl, R&B

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