Positive Voices is a regular blog feature showcasing emerging, young artists who embody the Above the Influence message of staying true to one’s self while inspiring other young people in healthy, positive ways.

Victoria was the very deserving first place winner in last year’s Teens Make Music Contest! Coming up on a year since her big win, we wanted to check in, and let you get to know her like we do.

Tell us about the inspiration for your winning song, “New Day”

“New Day” wasn’t necessarily inspired by one experience. I had felt almost immune to peer pressure, until I started high school and was exposed to it first-hand. I saw that it was beginning to change those around me. I realized that so many teens around America and around the globe go through this same period in their lives, and they are all affected differently.

I wanted to write a song that would help teens realize that it is their right to live a happy and healthy life. I wanted them to recognize the influences around them, especially regarding peer pressure and bullying, and reassure them that it’s okay to be different. But mostly, I wanted them to see that each and every day is another opportunity to make healthy decisions and be true to themselves.

You got to go to the GRAMMYs and perform at Warped Tour! What was that like?

The fact that I attended the GRAMMYs is still so surreal to me. I think the best part of it, was seeing the contrast of the empty arena on rehearsal day and the huge crowd of talent and love on the night of. There was such a great energy in the room, that I can’t explain in words. It is the most important night for music every year, and having a chance to see the things happening behind the scenes and on stage in person, inspired me to work even harder in the hopes of being recognized in such a monumental way someday.

Preforming at Warped Tour was nerve-wracking before I got on stage. About a year prior, I had posted a cover of “Lost It All” by Black Veil Bridesand it had been shared by the band twice, so I was excited to preform it only a few tents away from their stage. But, in the same year I had found my own sound and I was nervous that my Pop/R&B style wouldn’t be the audience’s cup of tea. But they were super accepting, and even helped me sing some of my original songs! It was crazy to see my name on a set list at a huge festival like Warped and surreal to see the faces in the crowd multiply. I was even asked for autographs, which was the most stressful part, because I hadn’t practiced my signature before! Haha!

You’re pretty successful for a young person. Did you feel pressure to achieve a certain level of success so quickly? How did – or do you – manage that pressure?
I think that passions and ambitions spark determination rather than pressure. Pressure only comes around when people feel threatened. In other words, I think that if you believe in who you are and what you could accomplish, you won’t feel the pressure to do something first, or on a larger scale. It’s more about the quality and authenticity of it all.

Do you feel like you have to maintain a certain version of yourself online or on social media? What is something about the IRL version of Victoria that would surprise people?

Social media is a huge part of my life, not only because I am a teenage girl, but also because I use it as a platform to share my music. Like everyone, I prefer putting up selfies taken at the correct angle (LOL), but I try to be as genuine as possible on social media.

Something people might not know is that in real life, I talk in accents approximately 60% of the time (I’m only good at Russian, but that doesn’t stop me from butchering the rest). Also, if I could ban a food from the Earth, I’d pick tomatoes.

You’re pretty far ahead of the game, and have a lot figured out for yourself already. Have any words of advice or encouragement for teens having a tougher time figuring out who they are, or want to become?

The best piece of advice I could give, is actually a quote from my former choir director, Mrs. Rawlings. She told me, “You’ve gotta spend your life doing the first thing you think about when you wake up, and the last thing you think about before you go to sleep.” That’s always stuck with me. It’s okay not to know who you want to be as a teenager, but everyone has something they love to do. They say that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. But I think more importantly, if you do what you love, you’ll never run out of love to give.