It’s a long way to the top. Just ask VASSY.
With a slew of Billboard No. 1s, billions of streams, a special performance on an NBA court, and collaborations with the likes of Afrojack, David Guetta, and Tiesto, the Australian singer and songwriter is right at the peak of EDM. And she’s travelled further than anyone to get there.
VASSY (born Vassy Karagiorgos) grew up in a Greek household, and calls Darwin home, the remote, top end capital of Australia’s Northern Territory. Population — 150,000, or thereabouts.
Now based in the United States, VASSY grabbed her own slice of history last month when she won the Icon Award at the 2023 EDMAs in Miami, becoming the first woman to do so.
That latest honor came after she reigned over the Media Base Dance Radio Chart with “Pieces,” the sweetness and light club number with Bingo Players and Disco Fries. “Pieces” went to No. 3 on Billboard’s Dance/Mix Show Airplay chart.
“It really is so special, to be recognized by my community and acknowledged in that way. I just feel really proud because I’m the first woman to ever receive an Icon Award,” she tells Billboard. “Look, the dance genre is so male-driven. I mean, it’s a boy’s club, let’s be real. And it’s a DJ-driven genre. And I’m not a DJ, I’m certainly not a boy, even though I could be a tomboy, but definitely not a boy,” she says with a laugh.
“I just want to open that door now.” The door that enables female artists to be recognised for their role, perhaps their iconic role, in a DJ-fueled culture. “It just makes me really proud.”
Pride has created a powerful internal force for VASSY. Her father died 20 years ago, but continues to provide inspiration.
“He taught me a hard work ethic,” she recounts. After completing a degree in architecture, which saw her saddled with over A$150,000 in student debt, VASSY moved ahead with fulfilling her dreams. “I had to figure it out. I really had to figure it out on my own.”
Roughly ten years ago, she took the leap to the United States, re-starting from scratch. “The thing that I’m the most proud of is that I did everything with integrity. That’s so important, because I owe my father that. He worked so hard, as an immigrant to Australia, to give us the life that he couldn’t have. So I have to honor my father’s legacy.”
She has done that, and more.
Around the time of her relocation, VASSY in 2013 became the first Australian artist to hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart with her solo number “We Are Young.”
Her hit the following year, 2014’s “Bad” with David Guetta and Showtek, has eclipsed one billion streams on YouTube, and a whopping two billion plays across all platforms.
She’s gone on to land six No. 1s on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart (including “Bad” and 2018’s “Lost” with Afrojack featuring Oliver Rosa), she’s had songs synced to film and TV, including the trailer for Disney’s Frozen, and joined APRA AMCOS’ The 1,000,000,000 List (she’s an ambassador for the PRO).
An artist album is something VASSY and her teammates are “talking about right now.” But first, a batch of new records are in the pipeline. “We have so many different things going on right now,” she admits. Decisions will need to be made on whether any of those forthcoming tracks will appear on an LP, and “then who we do the album with? We haven’t decided yet. But there’s a lot of new conversations taking place right now that in a moment.”
VASSY headlined Sydney World Pride last month, further shows and tour dates are on the cards, including a return visit to Australia for a festival in June. And some further opportunities with the NBA are in the offing. More on that to come.
This EDM icon has sound advice. Mistakes, make them. Bad business relationships, get out of them. Stay focused, be a boss, believe.
“I always say to the ladies, be a boss. Don’t be bossy, but be a boss and know what you want, what you don’t want,” VASSY explains.
“The rejections will come; rejections are simply redirections. Every single rejection I’ve received in my career has truly been a blessing in disguise.”
When she came to America, “I was young, I got burned, I got exploited, made mistakes. And here I am, like an icon. And I just want to inspire other people that you can do it, you can really follow your dreams. And not just in music, but in anything. If you believe in yourself.”