Victoria Zolotukhina, otherwise known by her musical alter ego vivienxo, is fiercely feminist. But her new single, bubbly “TTYN” (that’s “Talk To You Never” in internet slang), stemmed from a bad relationship and even worse breakup with a man who intentionally didn’t treat her well. In other words, to borrow from internet slang again, he was a classic fuckboi.
“Which is so lame to say!” the Russian singer-songwriter laughs, Skyping from her home in Helsinki, Finland. “I wish I could say I’m writing these abstract songs about human experience. But it was literally me getting heartbroken and saying, ‘I’m going to write a song, and it’s going to be a lovely song that everyone is going to be listening to, and they’ll thinking about this guy, and hating him!’ That’s my goal.”
Please note: That last part was delivered with a dramatic eye roll. As the kiss-off lyrics (“Do you really think I’m still crying about it?/ Sitting in my room and remembering you?”) and 1980s John Hughes-meets-dancefloor production of “TTYN” implies, she’s not waiting around for Prince UnCharming. So much in fact, that after the initial mourning and writing process, Zolotukhina began to wonder if she had gone a bit too far. Taking the track through the writing processes and production (with an assist from Femme En Fourrure), the song became bigger than a breakup.
“I wanted to write the lyrics that would be self-empowering,” she explains:
I wanted it to be a little bit mean. I actually wasn’t sure about the chorus where I’m using the word “fuckboi.” I was like, maybe this is too harsh or rude. But it’s not. It’s actually exactly what I want to say. The song doesn’t sound aggressive… It’s just not a nice identity, being the girl who’s complaining about the guy she’s been dating. It’s much nicer to be singing about your successful relationships and how much in love you are. Or how wonderful your boyfriend is. Or maybe singing about a heartbreak, but it’s slightly more acceptable to be singing about a heartbreak in a pining sort of way. “Oh my god, we were so good together, but things didn’t work out.” When you’re angry, you’re seen as bitter. And it’s not a good look.
Not that the musician is overly concerned with what people think when she uses vivienxo to explore emotionally touchy territory. Last summer she released a single called “fvck me,” where she breathily commands “fuck me until I’m not sad anymore” against a reverb-drenched electronics. One reviewer called the behavior an unhealthy way to deal with sadness. Which, as Zolotukhina explains, is exactly the point. “Not everything you do will be perfect and non-problematic,” she muses. “Of course it’s problematic to be having sex because you want to escape your depression or sadness or anxiety. But at the same time, a lot of people do that. And I do that. I don’t want to feel restrained from writing a song if the topic seems problematic.”
There’s more where that came from. In a few weeks, she’ll experience her first recording session in a professional studio while she works on a new EP. And thanks to her continuing relationship with Femme En Fourrure (who Zolotukhina praises as being the kind of friends you can work on music with for five hours and then break for a beer), the new tunes will have the same 1980s effervescence as “TTYN.” As for all that sadness and emotional gunk? For her, making music is about liberation—not meditation.
“Once you start writing the song, the inspiration is singular,” Zolotukhina notes. “When you get into production, and when you spend so much time working on a song, it doesn’t feel like you’re writing about this particular experience anymore.”