A Conversation with Vassy

Posted in News on June 13, 2024

Australia-born singer/songwriter/producer Vassy (otherwise known as Vasiliki Karagiorgos) started off her career in music playing a distinctive brand of indie pop. After collaborating with songwriters from the dance community, the scope of her music took on a whole new trajectory, launching her as a pivotal name in EDM. She’s since had her music featured in major motion pictures like Tina Fey’s Admission and Disney’s Frozen, hit television series like ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and multiple advertisements. But it’s the dance floor that remains her sweet spot, as evidenced by her winning the ICON Award at the 2023 Electronic Dance Music Awards, as well as the Platinum Plaque from the National Music Publishers’ Association.

BMI caught up with Vassy to discuss her wild and varied ride from indie pop to EDM prominence and all that she’s learned along the way. Here’s what she had to say.

Hi, Vassy! Thanks so much for sitting down with us! To start, we wanted to congratulate you on your NMPA Platinum Plaque. How did you feel receiving such a prestigious award?
It was such an honor! Those plaques are very hard to get, they are gems. My publisher, The Royalty Network, organized it for me and I was like a kid in a candy store. It was for my song “Bad,” which I wrote, that went platinum in the US, RIAA certified. 

Your music spans across genres. How do you navigate the challenges of incorporating different styles into your work while maintaining a cohesive and authentic sound?
I personally love several genres; from jazz, to soul, to Latin to classical, opera to afrobeat to world music, house, urban and the list goes on. I first emerged on the music scene as this quirky pop indie artist.  My career took off in the dance space when certain songs I wrote became global hit records, putting me on the map globally as predominantly a “dance artist” or “Queen of EDM,”’ as many have said.  As much as I love making dance records, there is a part of me that misses having the freedom and versatility to create records that fuse elements of jazz, island, reggae, and indie vibes to acoustic and so on. But luckily, this year I released an LP that reveals this side of me more. I worked on it last year and indulged in making an eclectic LP that would give me the chance to reconnect with more of my eclectic side. It came out in February, and it’s called The Supreme LP.

That is how I stay authentic. I basically just allow myself to be an artist in whatever way I am feeling in the moment so that I may have that creative expressive outlet.

You’ve collaborated with various artists. Is there a particular collaboration that stands out as a memorable or transformative experience for you as a songwriter?
The art of songwriting really comes to life when you collaborate with a creator who you are compatible with. I find it most effective to partner up with someone whose strengths are your weakness, and your weak spots are their stronger points. The repercussion of this juxtaposition can be a magical and transformative experience enhancing your creativity and giving you the ultimate end result.

Working with David Guetta on “Bad” was a significant milestone. How did that collaboration come about, and how do you think it impacted your career as a songwriter?
I had already written “Bad” before Guetta came on. I remember the first day I wrote it, I knew at that moment there was something very unique and special about this record, that hook rolled off my tongue.

Most people don’t know that the vocal on “Bad” is original to how I recorded it in the studio when it was first created working with Canadian producers Sultan and Ned Shepard. We were just messing around in the studio, and it stuck, and so when Guetta heard it after an A&R rep from Atlantic played it to him, he fell in love with it. Let’s just say it got stuck on him, too.

The first time Guetta met me and played me the first version, he had Will.I.Am on it with me. No one ever heard that version, it was so dope.  He later wanted more of a festival vibe on it, and so Showtek jumped on the production, and it went EDM. We really did create a unique record, at the time, that sparked that big EDM sound. “Bad” has had over two billion streams. It was a monster record, bigger than anyone anticipated, with no hard push from the label. It just took off organically, every DJ around the world had this song in their set. I love performing “Bad” live in my shows. Literally anywhere I perform it, the crowds instantly take over.

Can you walk us through your creative process when approaching a new song? How do you typically find inspiration for your lyrics and melodies?
Finding inspiration for a new song can vary and at times strike you at the most random moment. I find myself coming up with melodies and concepts while stuck at an intersection for example or at home cleaning up or doing something completely unrelated to songwriting. It’s not always in the big sexy studio that you have all the creative moments. Some of my best song ideas evolved this way and became hit records.

Being the first woman to win the ICON EDMA Award in 2023 must have been such a great feeling. Reflecting on your solo career, are there specific moments or achievements that you are particularly proud of, and how have they shaped your artistic journey?
Yes, winning the ICON Award at the EDMA Awards in Miami at WMW during Ultra was something very special. I am the first woman to get this award.  Being a non-DJ and a woman in the dance space is definitely rare and hard ground to hold, especially on your own as a solo artist.  So, I am very proud of myself for holding my own and remaining true to myself as an artist and, by doing so, I had multiple #1 records on dance radio and on Billboard in the US, Australia, the UK, and a couple multi-platinum records. Meanwhile, to think back to when I was kicked out of school choir as a kid, I was told I didn’t have what it took to be a good singer, and here I am a multi-platinum, award-winning international artist.  That is why I always say “never crush a kid’s dream.”

I must admit, receiving my songwriters BILLIONS Club Award from APRA for the recognition of “Bad” reaching the billion-stream milestone felt good to be “Bad.” Hahaha, sorry I had to say that.  It’s an elite club to be part of, to say the least. The awards and plaque recognitions for “Bad” going 17x platinum around the world and my song “Secrets” with Tiesto going #1 in over 30, 9x double platinum and RIAA certified gold in the US, these accolades make me proud that my hard work paid off, shaping my artistic journey.

Not bad for an Aussie/Greek girl coming all the way from a humble little town up north near the outback in Australia to pursue her career in the land of the dreams, America!!!

What challenges have you faced as a songwriter in the music industry, and how have you overcome them?
Well, years ago, I was forced to go into a lot of sessions that just did not fit my vibe so, at the end of the day, I had to step away and do what felt right, even if that meant not taking up all the opportunities. 

I’ve also had ideas stolen. You can easily get exploited as a songwriter and artist in this business, so please be careful not to sign bad deals. I’ve also had people try to take advantage of me and, of course, there’s always going to be people that just want to belittle you. I had to pull through and figure it out on my own, reminding myself why I came to this country to pursue my artistry.  The thing about America is once you come to this country, you’re literally no one all over again until you become someone again. It is very competitive.

Are there specific techniques or exercises you use to overcome writer’s block or to keep your songwriting skills sharp and innovative?
Not really, but I’m also someone that’s not in the studio every day like some people I know who are relentlessly amazing. I used to do that years ago and burnt out, so now I just let the ideas flow and come to me organically. When it does, I then flesh it and go into the studio with my engineer to cut the ideas once I feel in my gut I have a song.

I also keep a very balanced lifestyle by getting out in nature, having a personal life, and having friends that are not in the business. Practicing a health and wellness lifestyle and spending time with loved ones and my dog. It’s important to remain humble and true to yourself. I know a lot of other people that basically live in the business day in and day out. I simply can’t do that.

But hey, each to their own. I remember when I was on the road with Tiesto years ago doing all the big festivals like Tomorrowland and Ultra, it was intense, and you have to go hard to keep up and you feed off the crowds big time. It was fun, but I would always feel happy coming home. I’m not a big fan of being on the road, but I love the fans.

Do you have a favorite lyric or song from your own catalog, and if so, what makes it special to you?
Yes, there are definitely favorite lyrics from bits and pieces of my songs. I am very much enjoying a lyric from my current single “Off Switch” … “I wish my heart had an off-switch cos boy I don’t know how to stop this.” It’s just such a passionate and beautiful lyric. I love a lyric from a song of mine called “Concrete Heart” that went #1, a while back, it was inspired by my dad who passed away over 20 years ago.

Also, my recent single “Pieces” that went #1 last year, was inspired by my husband and my favorite lyric is… “I was lonely, lost and broken and incomplete, and you put me back together piece by piece, cos every single tear it made me stronger & every single fear I had to conquer ......... but you build me up in piece by piece.”

What advice would you give to aspiring songwriters who are navigating the music industry and seeking to develop their own unique voice?
I would say stay true to yourself, work hard, and put in the time. If you believe in yourself, it’s just a matter of time, opportunity and hard work always pays off. You will have many rejections but just know they are simply redirections.

I had several voices over the years tell me what to do, who to be, how to sound, but I stayed authentic to myself and am glad I did. Just don’t forget that it’s your journey, you are the boss.  Oh, and stick to Plan A. If people keep bugging you by saying “what’s your Plan B? This music gig is never going to pay bills, blah-blah-blah,” you tell them, “I don’t have one, only Plan A!! Period.  Because Plan B already compromises Plan A.”

Can you share any exciting projects or collaborations on the horizon, and how do you envision the next chapter of your career unfolding?
I just got off a Live Nation tour with iconic pop group Aqua across the US. It was so much fun, but I’m definitely enjoying not being on the road and spending some time in Los Angeles before having to go to Miami to perform at the EDMA Awards, then shows back in California and then off to Australia for one of the largest festivals up north.

Right now, I am finishing up some new records for my new releases. I must say I am indulging, working on songs that I genuinely enjoy making with such talented UK producers such as Duke and Jones, who produced my single “Off Switch,” Punctual, who produced my single that came out in April, folks like Billen Ted and more names in the mix, I can’t say yet.

I’m excited for this next chapter and enjoying the process of working with amazing new artists, producers, and other songwriters , surrounded by positive vibes and good people.

SOURCENews TAGS Dance Spotlight


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