Singer Vianney Randrianarison, whose island style of music reflects her Malagasy background, is a sophomore at the University of Colorado, Denver, studying Music Business. She performs as Viannason, a monicker that comes from the combination of her first, middle and last name, and she recently released her first EP, titled “Ca C’etait Avant,” in collaboration with her record label, Bentley Records.
Growing up in Madagascar, Viannason fell in love with music to the point where she couldn’t go to bed without her mom playing her songs. Over time, her passion for music continued to grow until she knew that she wanted to have a career in the field, and she felt that doing so without paying homage to her unique background would be impossible.
As a result of her international childhood, Viannason speaks four languages, including her native tongue, Malagasy, English, French and Spanish; she even sings in multiple languages, switching between English, Malagasy and French the most. In addition to helping her distinguish herself from other performers, incorporating the languages helps her represent the blending of cultures that produced her. Even though her music doesn’t have a definitively Malagasy sound, she incorporates elements of her home country when she sings in her native tongue and when she adds an fast-paced island vibe to her music.
After leaving Madagascar, Viannason spent some time in Senegal, Africa, until her mom made the decision to move them to Colorado to give Viannason more opportunities. When the young musician made it known that she wanted to pursue a career in music, her family wasn’t the most supportive at first—they wanted her to look toward a career in the medical field. She tried to make science her focus in school, but found that she didn’t have the love or passion for it, and knew she needed to set her sights on the entertainment industry instead. Her parents thought a career in music was risky, but once they saw her putting the effort into music at school, writing her own songs and performing around Denver, they started believing in her passion; now they attend her shows and listen to her music.
She decided to focus on a degree in Music Business, rather than just Music, because she wants to be prepared for the roller coaster of a ride that is the entertainment industry. “I want to be sure I know what I’m doing before I go in and work with big people,” she says. However, much of the information that has been covered so far in her classes are details that Viannason already knows, so she feels a little stuck in the degree.
In addition to feeling unchallenged in her degree, the UC Denver student has also found herself unhappy with her home city. According to Viannason, the Colorado capital has little love for local artists, which makes it difficult to be recognized for her music. “Denver works for rock, metal and classic bands,” she says. “For R&B and pop, Denver isn’t the place.” The music scene in Denver also isn’t very large, which can make pursuing a music career a struggle. The singer says that she would love to live in New York or Atlanta, the former because of the huge opportunities for singers, and the latter because her label Bentley Records is based there.
She got signed to the label through Reverbnation, a networking site for musicians and fans, because the company was hosting a contest to connect labels with talented musicians. Bentley Records reached out to her after a few months, which surprised Viannason, as she had forgotten that she had even entered the contest. When she received the offer to sign with the Atlanta company, she was ecstatic, taking the recognition as a sign that the music she’s making is good, just not reaching the right people.
Its its style, her music has been compared to Rihanna’s. Though Viannason sees some of the similarities, and is of course flattered by the comparison, she stresses the differences in their sounds. Where Rihanna’s music captures a laid-back, Afro-Caribbean dancehall vibe, Viannason’s music is a little faster-paced, like a mariachi band with a more sultry mood.
On March 23, she released her first EP, “Ca C’etait Avant,” a French phrase that means “that was before.” The EP is very autobiographical, as it centers around Viannason’s personal issues and relationships, as well as a few of her friends’ struggles. The EP gave her closure and allowed her to move on in life. “Hopefully, people can relate to it,” she says. “I want to share my music with the world.”
The EP includes songs with strong R&B vibes and electronic beats. The song “Till the End (Hatraminy Farany)” incorporates the island swing that Viannason likes to include in her music to represent her island roots. “Empty Minded,” a smooth song with a catchy melody, really showcases Viannason’s accent, as she sings about needing a partner who’s never around. She slows down her music in “Better,” which shows off the strong R&B element in her sound. The mariachi tone that Viannason incorporates in her music is really noticeable in “I Wonder,” where she shows off her range and ability to sing at a very fast rate.
In order to help fund her music, Viannason has a day job working as an eligibility specialist, meaning she helps others determine whether or not they qualify for Medicaid. While medicine has never been her passion, she loves helping people and has discovered that, in many ways, the fulfillment she gets from working with the sick mirrors the satisfaction she gets from playing music. If music were to fall through, she would consider a career path in public health, and may even change her major to a similar field just in case. Still, her heart is set on writing, singing and performing her material, and she has nothing but confidence that her dream will win out.