Speaking just above a whisper, South Florida artist Venus Amor waxes poetic about the peaks and valleys of her young life. The mixed Boricua heiress of South Florida R&B rarely speaks in superlatives, and yet her music often reflects both the pain from her past and the persistence and perseverance that inform her present and future.
Venus describes her days as quiet. She often spends them in a candlelit room making music and taking things day by day as incense burns slowly in the background. Her work functions as a vessel for the intense emotions brewing underneath an otherwise reserved exterior. It’s a way to share her profound journey with an adoring crowd.
Born in Southern California, Venus and her mother fled a tumultuous life at home and moved to South Florida when she was just a toddler. But her family’s struggles weren’t confined to the West Coast, as evidenced by the evictions and intermittent periods of homelessness that awaited them in Miramar, Florida. “[Homelessness] makes me stronger when it comes to making music. I’m talking more about these things – the rough times, my mom being a single parent, growing up poor. I’ve learned from my mom and how strong she is.”
Still, to focus exclusively on the difficulty of her past is to gloss over the resilience she exudes in facing those challenges. Through those trials, she remained steadfast in her commitment to her craft, often making music alone in her room on an outdated HP laptop equipped with Fruity Loops and not much else.
“I’m still learning as a person and as an artist.”
One of her early standout tracks, “Drink To This,” features melodies you might expect from Monica and Aaliyah, all layered over slow-moving, trapped-out production from OGSEAN.
Like much of her earlier work, the song showcases her range as a singer and the stinging pain of young heartbreak. The accompanying visuals are film festival-ready, highlighting the raw emotion and vengeance we often fantasize about inflicting on those who play with our emotions.
Fast forward to the present and newer tracks like “Runnin” feel less melancholy and more indignant, less surprised by the shortcomings of others and more defiant in the face of shady behavior. “I feel like when I was making music a year ago, I was a little sad girl and hadn’t really experienced everything as an artist. I’m still learning as a person and as an artist.”
When she started out, Venus Amor often found herself opening local rap shows, performing her heartfelt tracks for hip-hop heads usually expecting the turn up. It was an early step to where she is now, one that didn’t feel quite right – but it was necessary in the universe’s grand scheme of things.
“That was not the right thing to do, but also the completely right thing to do. I met a lot of people who were mostly attracted to me as a woman physically, but when they’d hear me perform it was appreciated. It let me know where I was at and it showed me that I deserve to be on a different platform.” With “Runnin,” the first release from her upcoming In This Church EP, the band-aid has been ripped off and the wounds of a past marred by heartache are exposed to the world in honest detail.
“I think my earlier music was me trying to fit in with the R&B scene, but me and my producer decided to do something different, to be ourselves.” That detour means her music has become less palatable to audiences craving the druggy R&B that dominates mainstream radio. Instead, her storytelling has become more nuanced and empowered, without losing traces of the hedonism so popular in today’s R&B universe.
Venus Amor is still a student of the game, a fan of artistry in its truest forms.
She explains the creative process that led to “Runnin,” one that, by most definitions, was undertaken on a whim. “With that song, I was kinda just in my room and started producing and playing around with stuff. It was completely ass and then I wrote a hook and did some reference work and brought it to my engineer. He was like, ‘This is really dope,’ and we went from there.”
The result is an experimental track with psychedelic guitar riffs evocative of the next step of her career. The vocal control and gossamer melodies of her early music are still there, but so are traces of Kid Cudi’s Indicud era and FKA Twigs’ poetic take on songwriting.
“I used to listen to Cudi and I appreciate that you truly have to sit and understand his music to appreciate it, but I really enjoy FKA Twigs’ approach. She writes in poetry and forces you to pay attention to what she’s saying, gives you more feels.” She says this with a sense of wonder and excitement palpable even over the phone. It’s apparent that Venus Amor, despite her growing success, is still a student of the game, a fan of artistry in its truest forms.
The spiritual singer goes on to explain the conceptual thinking behind the title of In This Church. “When you go to church, you’re really talking about going into a building and praying, and that’s how I want people to see this project – to see me in my own atmosphere, how I cope with things,” she notes. “It shouldn’t have to be an actual church and you shouldn’t feel bad for the way you cope – pray to your higher god how you want, wherever you want.”
The muted pinks, sunsets, and roses that adorn Venus’ social media accounts – a quiet simmer of colors and arthouse aesthetics – feel like a carefully curated glimpse into the most vulnerable parts of her life. Despite it all, she’s been able to come out on the other end even stronger.
Venus remains colorful despite the shadows, the shade, the stormy nights. She is defiantly colorful without being bright, boasting a self-awareness that life isn’t always so smooth and sunny. Like nightfall, the disappearance of the light becomes tolerable with the knowledge that, like clockwork, the sun will come up in the morning.