BANGKOK — Singing English language songs, Violette “V” Wautier seems to have hit her stride and found both her niche – and voice.
The 26-year-old is already the most-streamed English-language Thai artist on YouTube. Speaking in a recent interview, Violette – a Thai-Belgian – said she wanted even more people to discover her through singing in the world’s lingua franca.
“I want people to be able to listen to me anywhere in the world,” she said. “Maybe some people who’s not Thai could be listening. … It’s really cool when people come up to you and say, ‘I love your music’ and ‘Your music helped me get through some stuff.’”
Her latest release was an English-language single and the first in two years, “Brassac.” With one verse in French, one of her native languages, Violette sings of a summer romance in a small southern French town with what she called a “Call Me By Your Name” vibe.
“Brassac is a town in Tarn, in the mid-south of France, not far from where my grandparents live. Each summer I would go visit them and during summer they would have parties in each town,” Violette said. “I thought if I wrote a song about summer romance it would be really, really cool. The place just inspired me.”
She first shot to stardom when the then-19-year-old on The Voice Thailand in 2013. Her rendition of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” has since garnered 47.2 million views.
With her former record label necessity of singing commercially, Violette released a number of Thai singles, even if she felt more comfortable expressing herself in English – her frank words in English became cheesy platitudes in Thai.
“I did it, but I didn’t feel like it was really me,” she said. “So when my contract finished I became independent, I thought it was the new chapter of my life and I can release something that is really my own.”
Songs and acting credits stacked up, and she won a Suphannahong Award for Best Supporting Actress award for her role in Nawapol “Ter” Thamrongrattanarit’s “Heart Attack” (2015). Her line to her motorcycle taxi driver – “Let’s go, P’Suchart” – long since entered pop culture lingo. In reality, though, she said she relies on ride-hailing apps instead of a go-to motosai.
Her first English single was “Drive” (2018), followed by the “Smoke” in the same year. In September, the YouTube video for “Smoke” hit 53 million views, breaking the record for the most-ever views for an English song performed by a Thai artist on the platform.
Apparently many people resonated with the idea of wanting some private time with a cigarette-holding bad boy.
One of her most-viewed performances is a cover of “Habits (Stay High)” which has more than 181 million views. She also featured in the song that heralded top Thai hiphop artist Daboyway’s return to the hip hop scene, “Deep Down” in November.
While lookkreung celebrities in the Thai entertainment industry are common, rare are those who speak up about their health conditions. Since becoming famous Violette’s been known to talk openly about her experience with scoliosis since she was diagnosed with the disease at 14.
“I’m proud of my scoliosis because it proves that I went through a lot,” she said. “It’s a part of me. I feel like I should embrace everything about myself. If I don’t like myself, who else is gonna like me?”
She hopes that her speaking out about it will inspire someone to go through the operation like she did, even if they are scared. How would she feel if a little girl diagnosed with scoliosis said, ‘If P’Violette can do it, then I can’ ?
“I would be damn proud. I would be really proud and very honored that that little girl looked up to me. ‘Cause that’s why I’m talking about it that’s why I’m being outspoken about it,” she said.
Violette’s first full album, which will be entirely in English, will be released in May. Keep up with Violette on her Facebook.
Violette’s Facebook post about her scoliosis:
Our live interview with Violette: