The girls of VanJess are R&B’s hottest sister act of the moment
Nigerian-American sisters Ivana and Jessica Nwokike, better known as VanJess, are a singing duo that is bringing their soulful R&B sound into the music industry.
These siblings who are just 15 months apart in age got their start in 2008 on YouTube covering popular tunes and putting their own spin on it. Eventually, releasing their own music they gave their fans exactly what they’ve been waiting for.
Their single “Touch The Floor” featuring Masego dropped at the end of 2016 and genuine made you want to get up and dance! If that wasn’t enough, they now has a video go along with it to put it back into your summer playlist. The sensual house-influenced record gives you vibes from another dimension and a taste of what’s to come on their project that’s expected to release this fall.
Check out their video and our interview with them below and see what’s in store!
When did the love for music and singing come into play for you both?
Ivana: It really started when I heard “Return of The Mack” play at my fifth birthday party. My parents say I was singing before that too.
Jess: It really was since we were young. Our parents tell us we were into it really early on.
Who are your favorite musical influences?
Ivana: I love funk. Some of my influences are The S.O.S. Band and Charlie Wilson. I’m also really influenced by music from the 90s like Jodeci and SWV.
Jess: I’m inspired by anything with soul. Michael Jackson is a big one for me.
How would you describe your sound separately and as a duo?
Ivana: I’d say I’m funky and smooth. As a duo, we combine smooth and sexy with a hell of a lot of emotion.
Jess: Genre-wise, we aren’t much different. I think it’s really our tones and style of singing that vary. I tend to sing more laid back and my tone has a rasp to it.
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Are those killer vocals home grown or did your parents enroll you guys in classes?
Ivana: We actually took vocal training for a year. However, I would like to think our vocals are raw and homegrown.
Jess: Other than that, we just learned stuff from listening to our favorite artists, writing and finding the best way to channel our own voices.
If you had the chance to swap lives for a day, what would you do as the other?
Ivana: If I was Jess for a day, I would definitely try to write a million songs. She’s so good at writing. It’s ridiculous.
Jess: If I was Ivana, I would spend hours on the piano and freestyling vocal melodies. She’s so good at that.
How would you describe each other’s fashion sense?
Ivana: I’d say I like to show case what I was born with in a flattering way. I love color. Orange and yellow have been my go to this summer. I enjoy a good pair of matching sunglasses to go with some dope track pants and a pair of vans.
Jess: Ivana’s style I’d say is sexy casual.
What is your favorite genre to do when doing covers?
Ivana: There is no particular genre that is more enjoyable. If the music moves me or inspires me to be creative, I’m gonna come up with something special.
What was the hardest song to cover for you both?
Ivana: For a very long time we covered “Halo” by Beyoncé. Any Beyoncé song is quite challenging to be honest.
So, you’re starting to release your own music. How do you plan to separate yourselves from the rest of the up-and-coming artists?
Ivana: I don’t think that’s something I could answer because only the listener can decide whether or not our music stands out. I will say that we are being completely ourselves in the music and I hope everyone will connect to us through the songs.
Jess: I think trying to separate yourself of be different is kind of silly. That’s how you get lost and start being inauthentic. We just do what we feel and try to stay true to ourselves as much as we can.
Will you ever venture off to do your own thing or stay together as a duo?
Ivana: We are a team and that’s not gonna change. Two heads are always better than one, right?
Jess: We’re staying together without question.
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What inspires your personal sound?
Ivana: I’m inspired by the games men play. Thank you, fellas.
Jess: Our lives, friend’s lives, and sometimes we just tell stories that come to our minds through the music too.
Ivana: Goodness, Drake would be so dope.
Jess: Doing something with Brandy would be crazy.
What things does your sister do that’s annoying asf?
Ivana: Hmmm, she can be pretty stubborn.
Jess: When I ask her to record a show I like when I’m not home and she forgets.
If you had to create a girl band who would your members be?
Ivana: Oh man. I’d choose Da Brat, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. That would be crazy.
Jess: My sister and I.
What trends are you looking forward to for the fall season?
Ivana: I can’t wait to pair my outfits with a dope jacket. I’m super into vintage Adidas jackets.
Jess: Oh, I’m ready for the cold so I can wear sweaters and turtlenecks again.
What have been your go-to beauty products this summer?
Ivana: I’m so in love with my Foreo. It honestly gets in the skin and helps get rid of all the remaining makeup.
Jess: Setting powder and matte lipstick.
Finally, what should we be expecting from you for the rest of 2017 and early 2018?
Ivana: You can expect a lot of new music, a full project and a lot more VanJess.
Jess: You can also expect new visuals.