Going Her Own Way
As a guitarist, singer-songwriter, producer, recording engineer and respected A&R scout, Vanessa Silberman has done it all. Passionate about music from the age of four, Silberman began writing her own material as soon as she got her first guitar. Her return to songwriting comes on the heels of years of DIY hustle on all sides of the music industry.
Silberman was fortunate to have been raised and surrounded by free-thinking entrepreneurs who allowed her to make her own choices. Inspired by punk bands and label owners, she sought internships in the industry, and moved to Los Angeles in 2001 to study performance and music business. A year later, she started her band, Diamonds Under Fire, and dove into every internship she could find, including stints with Warner Chappell, Favored Nations Entertainment (Steve Vai’s label) and Epitaph Records, where she landed her first music job.
She enrolled in recording school to learn more about the process, lasting only two days before dropping out to find a studio and learn by doing. Her first gig was at a small studio where she helped discover bands and make production deals, followed by a receptionist position at Conway Recording Studios. At Conway, she met producer Lukasz Gottwald, known professionally as Dr. Luke, and worked as Gottswald’s assistant for over two years.
After meeting Foo Fighters team members while on tour, Silberman landed a job helping behind the scenes on Back and Forth, a 2011 documentary about the band. Manager Scott Parker connected Silbeman with John “Lou” Lousteau to record, which led to her position as engineer and A&R assistant at Studio 606. Always looking to forge her own path, Silberman says, “You need to create it for yourself––know what you want or who you are––and that takes a lot of time to figure out in life.” In 2013, she launched A Diamond Heart Production, nurturing bands while they grew, and has boosted the careers of Down and Outlaws, Repeater, and The Love Dimension.
Silberman stretched herself again in 2014, walking away from her dream job as a full-time engineer recording many of the bands and musicians she looked up to while running her own label. “I feel like I have a voice and I need to create the songs that I'm feeling,” she says. “I want to be myself so that perhaps other people can be themselves. I think over time in the music business, you just have to wipe the dust off and ignore everybody who is going to have an opinion.”
Silberman’s band had run its course after 12 years, and some great opportunities followed, including work as guitarist/bandmate to Ginger Shankar (granddaughter of Ravi Shankar), a collaboration with Kidforce on his “STFU” track, and a hip-hop recording project in Africa under her label, in collaboration with BOP Recording Studio. About switching gears to solo tours, she says, “I wanted to start out alone, because I didn’t want to be locked in or worrying about other people slowing it down.” Silberman toured for almost five years, recording on the road, doing tour packages and booking herself, playing 150-200 shows annually.
In 2019, Silberman moved to New York to focus on writing new music. She began crafting her songs differently from previous projects by using samples, midi and synthesized instruments, and taking the time to get feedback from collaborators. In 2020, she released seven singles with the help of drummer and musical partner Ryan Carnes. When a track is between 60 and 80 percent complete and there is a solid skeleton of the song, she sends it to Carnes for feedback. “We seem to have adapted really naturally [to remote work],” she explains. “It’s still me constructing and creating all the music, but he gives me a really good outside perspective when my ear has been in the music too long.” Having pivoted from prolific touring to production, Silberman’s latest result, the hypnotic single “My Love,” showcases a polished, immersive synth-pop sound.
“When it comes down to it,” Silberman says, “the biggest risk in life is not taking a risk on yourself and following your heart.”