The sister duo began their channel during one of the era’s peak years in 2009. Just one piano and two synchronized voices was all it took for their viewers and support to take off. Their 90s medleys and acoustic covers caught the attention of millions and in turn they shaped their R&B influence into their own sound to shift gears from covers to original music.
YouTube has given young talents the exposure to go from singing behind a camera to performing and being signed alongside artists they once covered in their bedroom. Tori Kelly, Chloe x Halle, Queen Naija and Trey & Ar’mon to name a few started on the platform and are now living out their dreams.
What once began as simply putting their talent out there now allows them to reach an even wider audience than they could have imagined with their music created through sleepless nights, strenuous hours in the studio and above all, their tireless passion for their craft that was the seed to their journey.
VanJess’ own journey was similar to many artists where they had to decide if they were going to follow the crowd of what sound is “in” or stay grounded in what they wanted to create.
“At some point we got lost and lost who we were. Then all of a sudden recently we found our sound,” Ivana revealed to Pigeon and Planes in December 2017. Now fast forward to July 27th, the release of their debut album, Silk Canvas.
“Silk represents the smoothness of our voices...and the canvas, we’re starting over, it’s a blank slate, a new beginning.”
The album features artists GoldLink,Little Simz, Masego, Berhana and Leikeli47. And producers Kaytranada, Kurzweil, IAMNOBODI, Da-P to name a few.
Z’s Top 3 Tracks
VanJess have always been vocal about their Nigerian culture, but they have now immersed pidgin into their lyrics about a complicated love where they can’t choose between falling deep or cutting ties.
Fellow Nigerian artists such as Tiwa Savage and Odunsi (The Engine) have introduced the fusion of pidgin/Nigerian languages, such as Yoruba, into R&B and VanJess are further pushing the sound past Nigeria to the states.
Along with singing about the relatable ups and downs of love that we all experience, VanJess touch base on the time in our lives where we get so wrapped up in others perception of us that we begin to lose ourselves. Ironically, the track makes you groove while the lyrics revolve around faking who you are for others whether it be through filters on the gram or putting up a fake smile while going through a rough patch in life. It’s a testimony to the fact that we’re all going through it despite the “high” moments we choose to show the world.
Hence the title, the track is truly addictive. IAMNOBODI and Kurzweil seamlessly intertwined R&B and Hip-Hop to compliment both VanJess’ chill yet sensual tone. “The melodies and arrangement actually embody our core sound. When we created it, the rest of the album sort of just came together,” VanJess expressed to OkayPlayer.
With their TV love reference of Dwayne and Whitley to the harmonizing breakdown at the end, “Addicted” is a signature 90s-esque VanJess track.
Silk Canvas is an album that meshes elements from genres outside of R&B, but still comes together all-in-one to be sonically pleasing for R&B fans. While VanJess pushed aside initial fear of exploring past their R&B/Soul background and into unfamiliar territory, their bold choices in turn opened their listeners to other genres like House music, which is how “Touch The Floor” came to life and is now one of their fan favorites.
VanJess have been praised for being apart of the movement of bringing back 90s feels to R&B and are being compared to Zhane, who gave us the classics “Hey Mr D.J.” and “Groove Thang”. Although comparisons can be humbling and rewarding, the two should really be praised for conquering the challenge of bringing originality to their 90s influence and not for the nostalgia alone. The attention for listeners should be fully centered on VanJess paying homage to an era that gave birth to their sound while creating their own legacy in the industry by proving there’s levels to R&B if you’re willing to take risks.
What are your favorite songs on the album? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!