In a small one-bedroom Brickell apartment, Elizabeth Ann Clark, dressed in all white, sits in front of her studio equipment — a Virus synthesizer, a voice box, a MIDI controller, and a couple of microphones that feed into her Mac Pro.
"Let me play you the track I worked with Niko on. It's called 'Dive.'"
Over the speakers, her angelic vocals and productions come together with Niko Javan's heavy drums and bass.
How did she — a newcomer to the scene — pair up with Javan, Miami's rising electronic musician and producer?
"He saw me at III Points last year," she says. "I guess he thought I looked interesting. I then became friends with his sister while waiting in line, and she was like, 'You have to meet my brother.'"
Clark says that soon, the two came together and wrote "Dive." For her, the experience was natural. "He's always trying to bring in artists who are doing interesting things. Our worlds collided very nicely."
If you aren't familiar with Clark or her pseudonym, Virgo, yet, don't fret. You aren't behind on local music trends. Except for a handful of shows at Bardot, Electric Pickle, and the Garret, Clark is still pretty much undiscovered. But her music, which closely resembles acts like Grimes, Planningtorock, and iamamiwhoami, is perhaps some of the most nuanced dance music coming out of the Magic City.
However, Clark, a California native who grew up in and around the Mojave Desert, hasn't called Miami home for very long, having moved here only about a year ago.
"When I was living in L.A., I had met so many people that had come from Miami. So all I heard was negative things."
Despite dissenting opinions, Clark, who at the time was involved in filmmaking, had an opportunity to head east after two of her collaborators, South Florida musicians Eric Lopez-Zareno (AKA I Still Feel It and Teepee) and Albert Ovadia (AKA Red Traces), returned home. "I was doing film stuff with them, and then I just started writing my own music."
Despite having grown up playing piano and admiring classical composers like Frédéric Chopin, Clark admits she had never thought about writing music until she moved to Miami. She says the city has been a major point of inspiration for her as a musician and the reason Virgo came together.
"Originally, [Virgo] began as a film project. I wanted to do a series of short films that would include music. I was just going to compose the music and thought it would be more instrumental. In the demo process of creating that, it started to turn into full songs, and I started adding emotions and lyrics."
That creative process has lead to a series of tracks released on Virgo's Bandcamp page and collaborations with other artists. The project is also more than just Clark composing and singing. She makes all of Virgo's imagery, including photos and visuals. She's also wrapped up a five-song EP that will likely raise her profile both locally and nationally and hopes to have it out before the end of the year.
When she previews a cut called "Disappear," paired with visuals she created on videogame developer program Unreal Engine, we are taken back by the confidence shining through in both her lyrics and instrumentation. It's the kind of song that could be equally effective on the dance floor or in the bedroom. But with critical reception being such an important part of launching a young songwriter's career to the next level, is she nervous to send her music out into the harsh world awaiting it?
"Other people's criticism doesn't bother me," she says matter-of-factly, adding that music is something she does for herself, not critics.
That confidence will be on display when she emerges at III Points later this year, where she'll hope to stand out as part of a very large local lineup. Her set at the Wynwood music festival will also serve as her formal introduction to most local listeners.
Armed with a shiny new arsenal of songs, Clark is ready to tackle the next step in any fledgling music career: getting noticed. "I do want to reach more people," she admits. "With the new EP, I want to work on really promoting it."
But with songs of such quality, she might not have to work as hard as she thinks. It might just be that Virgo could become Miami's next big thing.
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