Vanja James
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Vanja James

San Diego, California, United States | SELF

San Diego, California, United States | SELF
Band Rock Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Not the Same as Other Ladyfests (2012)"

"In terms of gay/straight/lesbian acts, we didn't book anybody because of their sexual orientation," Tour Booker Annie says via email. "We booked the acts because they play good music." This Ladyfest, she says, is not the same Ladyfest that the San Diego Gay and Lesbian Times called "the mother ship of feminist/ queer/trans activism" in 2005.
There were several other such Ladyfests this year, in Boston, the U.K., Riverside, and Paris.

"This Ladyfest is a Ladyfest that was put together by myself and local musician Vanja James," says the Austin- based music business entrepreneur. When I point out that the original Ladyfests began in the 1990s amid the so-called riot grrl movement and then spread out to cities around the world, Tour Booker Annie (she prefers to use this over her given name) says this:

"We did not take any history of the feminist music movement into account when booking this. We only wanted to round up a bunch of talented local female musicians who do good work." The message behind the coming three-day chick-band fest, she says, is about women making music. The one festival requirement is that all the bands have at least one female in them.
"Some of the bands are fronted by guys but have female drummers." Why no man bands? "We're doing this to highlight that San Diego has a lot of great bands with girls in them."

This version of Ladyfest is actually the brainchild of Vanja (it's pronounced Vanya) James. Born and raised in San Diego, the singer/songwriter has been performing acoustic and electric blues rock since 2002. She describes her current sound this way: "Led Zeppelin and Wolfmother meets the White Stripes, but with female vocals." She lists Tour Booker Annie as one of her employers on her Facebook page.

"Vanja wrote the managers of Bar Eleven about the idea," says Annie, "and they gave her the okay. From there, lots of friends chimed in with bands they recommended, and bands that got booked recommended other bands they thought would be a good fit for the event."
Ladyfest takes place over three days in June at Eleven on El Cajon Blvd. and features a lineup of some 15 bands from Los Angeles and San Diego, including Erleen Nada, 2 Bit Radio, Lady Parts, Some Kind of Nightmare, and more. Vanja James will also perform. During the final week of Ladyfest pre-production, we schedule different times to talk but by press time, James and I were not able to connect.

Tour Booker Annie says "This is our first time doing the event on our own. We don't know what the turnout will be. We do know that the event has gotten lots of positive response on Facebook and that 150+ people have said they are attending." A strong showing, however, would be a sweet deal for the acts. After all, it's their money.

"Proceeds from the door go to the musicians who play the event."

Ladyfest: Eleven, Friday June 1-3. Schedule: Fri June 1: shows at 5pm and 9pm. Sat June 2: shows at 4pm and 9pm. Sun June 3: 5pm 619-450-4282 $4/$6 - San Diego Reader Blog

"Vanja James Wednesday Ladies Night Debuts Feb. 1 @ Eleven (2012)"

"I was thinking of telling dudes they could come DJ Ladies Night IF they come in drag," says Vanja James of her new Wednesday DJ residency at Bar Eleven. "By drag, I mean, the whole bit. It has potential to be hilarious."

Debuting February 1 with DJ Christy Huber and a live acoustic music set by Veronica May, the weekly ladies-only open mic DJ event will run from 5pm to 9pm. "It'll be females playing whatever the hell they want! Any women with good taste in music can sign up to DJ," says James, "but preference will be given to local female musicians who are in bands, local songwriters, etc."

To inquire about the DJ list, James can be contacted via Facebook or by email at . "We'll also have at least one songwriter a week performing, and then we'll open DJ tables afterwards. DJs must sign up beforehand by email, so I can promote them on the flyer and on Facebook."

"Bunco will come in time...DJs can bring your iPod, and make your own setlist of your favorite guilty pleasure tunes. DJs get free beverages. Vegan and vegetarian friendly food will be available. Just consider it a chill way to hang out with some other female musicians and whatnot."

She suggests that prospective DJs bring 60 to 90 minutes of music.
- San Diego Reader Blog

"Vanja James needs a Christmas Present (2011)"

If you were to load up Vanja (pronounced Vonya) James’ Christmas stocking this year with any spare coin you may have, she’d like that very much. The San Diego based singer/songwriter is in the middle of a new recording project, due for release in February, and as all such projects, it is cash-hungry. To that end James is asking for donations via direct emails sent to her fan list and on YouTube with a holiday video she made for the occasion. She has a PayPal donate button on her web site ( and she accepts all major credit cards.

So why not just do what zillions of other creatives like her have done in the past and launch a funding drive on Kickstarter?
“This is a different project,” she says, “with a name other than my own, and with a different sound. She calls it Led Zep and Wolfmother meets the White Stripes, but with female vocals. “It's coming together quietly, but with a lot of support from the people who count. I'm giving my fans an opportunity to quietly show their support via album pre-orders, private show bookings, or sponsoring just because."

James calculates a need to complete the record at somewhere in the ballpark of $3,000. “Also, donating things like restaurant gift cards, Starbucks cards, or gas cards so I can keep the band fed and caffeinated during practice days would be a huge help.” So far, she says three fans have made donations. “Three or more, depending on how you look at it.” James says she’s just now beginning to get the word out.

As with many such independent projects, James has self-financed in the past by putting recording costs on credit cards. “But this project is paid for all in cash so far,” she says. “Much less stressful.” Does James have a Plan B in case this particular scheme fails to produce?

“My plan usually consists of the majority of the alphabet.”

Reaching out for fan love in the support of art and music is certainly not a new idea, not even in the digital-indie world in which we live. It may seem that way, but the only thing new about Kickstarter is their web platform; otherwise, strip it down to the basics and you’ll find that public radio has been doing the pretty much the same thing for years via their on-air pledge drives. In recent days a number of web sites have emerged to collect and administer such fan donations. The list includes SellaBand, SlicethePie, ArtistShare, and more.

Busking is possibly the oldest form of raising money in the music business. And those of us who played in perpetually cash-strapped high school marching bands know the drill of having to sell candy bars door-to-door or helping out at fundraisers like pancake breakfasts and golf tourneys in order to gas up the bus for those all-important conference games.
A pop musician named David Bazan years ago launched his own fundraiser to get an album made. Donors got a T Shirt: "I Helped Bazan Make a Record. They also got their names listed in the liner notes as executive producers.

Once, I met a punk rocker in Hillcrest, standing on the corner of Fifth and University holding a hand lettered sign: Kick My Ass for a Dollar. He was stranded, needed gas money to continue his band's tour, and the sign was generating a lot of action. He was getting his ass kicked up and down the sidewalk. My girlfriend at the time gave the boy a dollar but did not kick him. Rather, she advised that he should be nicer to his posterior.

“Love your butt,” she said. “It’s been good to you.”

Vanja James is a San Diego native, says she grew up in La Mesa. When she's not on the road, she stays with her mother in La Mesa or her brother in South Park. Over the years, she has gigged locally at the Casbah, House of Blues, Bar Pink, Tin Can, Ruby Room, Eleven, U-31, and more.

Kickstarter, like PBS, David Bazan, and many more before them encourages participating artists to think up and provide schwag for their donors as incentive. Does James plan anything like that for her backers? “Of course. A private house show, an acoustic recording of an electric song, lunch with the band,” she says. “Ideas are welcome.” - San Diego Reader Blog

"Must Hear (2012)"

Anyone who doubts that San Diego has become a thriving music center need only head to an Acoustic Alliance showcase for proof. Scheduled to take place Aug. 12 at Brick by Brick, the event features a dozen performers, each offering up their best four songs, plus three more pre-show and intermission acts. Among the highlights this time out will be Tolan Shaw, best known as a member of the indie rock group New Archaic, here in solo troubadour mode, with an arsenal of great folk, pop and rock tunes. Other favorites on the bill include Vanja James, Jeffrey Joe Morin, Ivan Cheong and The Mighty Sun. This show is a great way to see and hear a broad range of local artists in one fell swoop, as well as an excellent opportunity for up-and-coming performers to interact with more established musicians.

• Acoustic Alliance takes place beginning at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 12 at Brick by Brick, 1130 Buenos Ave. 21 and up. $8.

Read more: San Diego Community News Group - Must Hear - Bart Mendoza,

"Sounds in San Diego (2012)"

"This was my first introduction to Vanja James and I was immediately struck by her voice. Of course, since it was just her and a guitar there wasn’t much to interfere with the varying power and frailty of her vocals. There was an endearing vulnerability to both the set and the starkness of a solo chick rocker pouring it out in neon pink tights. I’d gladly see her again and hope she succeeds in putting a band together. And as well as having talent, she’s also freakin’ adorable. “Beautiful Mess” was a sweet ending to her brief performance." - Sounds in San Diego

"Local Music Love - Vanja James (2012)"

The first time I saw Vanja James she was standing solo on the dimly lit Casbah stage. That cave of a room enveloped the petite girl-rocker wearing bright pink tights. Wielding an impressive guitar, James’ look displayed an endearing vulnerability that contrasted starkly with her powerful music. On stage, she is capable of blasting out fast-paced, guitar-heavy rock that manages to complement her strong vocal abilities without over-powering them. James' appeal is complimented by her witty banter between the hard-hitting songs.
During her weekly Wednesday night residency at Bar Eleven, Vanja James tries out new tunes, polishes others, and rewards fans with favorites. In addition to thoughtful songwriting, she has been careful to surround herself with talented musicians who add rich instrumental textures to her sound. Drummer Haley Allen, of local band Black Market III, is an up-and-comer who has balanced James’ recent performances with energetic beats and striking solos. “Thrill Less Nights” highlights the sexy songstress’ impeccable vocal range and delivers well-rounded guitar and bass licks. “Beautiful Mess,” is an older song, that is a tender departure from other tunes, but is equally potent with its heartfelt delivery.
In addition to her energetic live shows James is excitedly working on her forthcoming album, one she has been waiting years to make. “I wanted to wait to learn as much as possible about the industry and touring before I made the album of my dreams,” the singer explains. “And the planets finally aligned and the right people have crossed my path and it’s finally happening.”
You can catch Vanja James at a new downtown music venue, The Propagandist in June. And keep up-to-date on the album release, upcoming shows, and even donate money to help fund recordings at - Scoop San Diego

"Vanja James Goes off on Her Own"

Contributor Mary Leary profiles San Diego-based musician Vanja James and her life on the road.

On the first of May, one of San Diego’s most beautiful, unassuming and determined musicians filled the tank of her beat-up SUV and started driving north. Her guitars, an egg cooker, and laptop were installed in the backseat. She also packed a few boxes of what has come to be known as merch, or, as Vanja enjoys saying, “schwag,” including Vanja James t-shirts, Vanja James CDs, and Vanja James posters.

One of her most radio-friendly songs, “On Your Own,” seems to foretell the journey she inserted into a business plan years ago, even targeting the month and year of May, 2009. The stated mission: To get her sounds heard by as many ears as possible. I believe, as far as keeping expectations low, that she meant that statement. I also believe that her dreams around this tour went, and go, far beyond that stated goal.

Here are some lines from “On Your Own:” ‘Navigating all these unknown roads / flying solo’s always best when not too far from home / while making all these brand new friends / I realized my old life had to end but I found one soul, one soul I had to mend.”
Vanja James reminds me of a stealth bomber. Two years ago, I suddenly and spontaneously accepted the work of booking a new café. With about 10 days in which to find and select a month’s worth of quality performers, I was furiously MySpacing, where I bumped into Vanja’s profile. She’d posted a very Jackie O. profile photo of herself with an up-do, sitting as primly as the sort of woman who knows to stop at two cocktails, wearing a classic early ‘60s dress. I contacted her, thinking she’d be about some sort of vintage style (If you’re under 30, or new in town: San Diego has a tradition of musicians obsessed with vintage clothes and cars, who usually emit jazz, rockabilly, swing or something influenced by at least one of the above).

Turned out that in person Ms. James is somebody different: for one, she’s even more striking than the Jackie O. MySpace pic. But her music is solidly contemporary, and her threads are pretty basic – with what I’d call hippie, or early ‘70s, leanings. When we were planning her show she had the sense to ask if several other female performers could share the bill, ensuring a good crowd. She had the sense to include the brilliant Gayle Skidmore. She took her place in the show as one of the lesser-known’s with noteworthy grace and serenity. She accepted the fact that, that night, if anyone was the star, it was Gayle.
Vanja exhibited a sense of timing, the big picture, and how to help others while helping herself that seemed miles past her undisclosed but gotta-be-under-32 age. When she finally got her turn on the small stage, her song writing and juicy, gutsy voice, along with a sort of essential simplicity, managed to be memorable in a sea of talented, compelling women.
Her sound differed from that of that evening’s other three female performers. Vanja’s a belter, with a medium-to-soft finish. “What she sounds like” is such a predictable music piece question, but you probably want to know – a bit like KT Tunstall, with maybe a dash of Amy Winehouse. Vanja has admitted her admiration of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Aretha Franklin – and while pretty, Vanja’s voice definitely has soul at or near its core. It sounds like she’s listened to all sorts of music. What I found most compelling was her onstage mixture of authentic vulnerability with intuitively-timed strength and chain mail, a balance some women strive to reach all their lives.

Several years ago, Ms. James arrived in a scene dense with aspiring singer-songwriters, many of them female, and most of them far more talented than used to be the case in local coffeehouses. Yet I’ve rarely detected even a speck of uncertainty regarding her right to a place in the music world. In a rather quiet, very hopeful, sometimes sideways fashion, she has simply barreled forward, filling arid spaces with creativity and keeping a positive attitude. As such, her current solo tour is a natural outgrowth.
We’ve all heard the songs and stories from touring bands about the exhaustion of nightly tour stops, crowded vans, crappy food, and sleep deprivation. In Vanja’s case we can add that she is doing all the driving along with booking nearly all her lodging (frequently, someone’s couch) and shows.

As I am writing this, there is ongoing “breaking news,” to wit: an agent in North Carolina is interested in Vanja’s music and is giving it several listens. Someone else has invited her to join a year-long junket, complete with street teams and an official tour van. This is very quick success, and to other musicians it’s inspirational. It suggests that Ms. James is probably doing what she’s meant to be doing.
To me, however, these high points may be less meaningful than her account of a stop at a biker bar in Reno where she only received $2 in the tip jar… to discover, later, a $100 bill someone had slipped into her purse. And a lot of kindness and camaraderie. Or the way a guy in San Francisco gave her a “Santa Claus bag” that included a skateboard. Or how she rides armed with merch with her pictures and names on it, saying her tour blog exists to keep her sanity and “as my gift to all of you,” which is a level of self-importance that has tended to elude me, personally – it’s rather fascinating in someone who seems rather humble and generally level-headed. Maybe most interesting, to me, is the latter coupled with how Vanja accepted the need, during a very dry point in the tour, to ask people to watch her show, and to give away CDs when they weren’t being purchased, and to be grateful, at one venue, for the attention of two or three people.
The most startling lyrics I’ve heard from Vanja go far beyond the chutzpah of a performer some have chosen for comparison: Janis Joplin. From “Deal With The Devil”: “I said, ‘I would do anything for one ounce of the magic that you bring / Take my soul, take my heart, anything to make my mark’ / I made a deal with the devil today / the angel over my shoulder looked away / I made a deal with the devil today / I’m not compromisin’ any longer / I made a deal with the devil today / cross my fingers I am so sincere / it’s hot as hell but damn, it’s good down here…”

When I asked Vanja how many phone numbers she’s been offered on this tour, I expected to hear that she’d received hundreds, or at least a figure in the double digits. Her typically somewhat cryptic answer, which was brief and included no number: “I’ve met like…one dude, who thinks he can make me famous.”

Before a show in Olympia, Wash., Vanja decorated her own cupcake with three colors of purple sprinkles. That’s the kind of musician who may end up writing the first truly successful song about sunset. Or who will just keep surprising us — shifting colors, casting off what doesn’t work and shrugging into what does while maintaining a solid core of Vanja-ishness. It’s an interesting journey, one I’d recommend following – starting with her music. She says she’s already written two songs while on the road. I’m waiting to hear what arises from the stories she’s living right now. - San Diego Entertainer

"Vanja James to Showcase her Organic Music Style"

There is no shortage of local performers who fall into the category of singer-songwriter, but there are precious few who work to subvert the genre.

With much of the singer-songwriter boom coming in the wake of Jewel’s mid-90s success, it’s easy to see why so many artists rely on the simple guitar and vocals mix to get their message across. And yet, it’s artists who push musical boundaries that keep this music interesting.

While it’s the road less traveled, for musicians like Vanja James, who performs at Dream Street today, Feb. 5, the quest to make their music a unique statement through arrangements and instrumentation sets them apart in an overcrowded field.

James came to music through a church group, taking part in their worship services when she was 16.

“They had a really good modern worship team with good guitars in the program and that sort of piqued my interest,” James said.

Already in college, she quickly added classical guitar as part of her studies.

Currently preparing her debut album “Vanja James Music” for release, she is also taking part in as many musical projects as she can. In addition to her own music, she is also singing with an another pair of bands — the Gift/Curse and Laserwolf and the Thunderbolt.

“I’ve known them all for a really long time,” she said. “So it doesn’t feel like anything bigger than hanging out with my friends, but it is a lot of fun. So I’ll keep doing this sort of thing as long as they let me.”

Her album has been over a year in the making, but James was determined to make a quality product, no matter how long it took. The 15 songs on the disc include contributions from over two dozen guest musicians.

“It’s my recording debut,” James said. “It’s covering the span of what I can do stylewise. It took time, but getting it to sound good was more important than how long it took to do.”

For James, it was important to use real instruments instead of using computer shortcuts.

“You could describe my music as ‘organic,’” James said. “As in, real instruments played by real people.”

The length of time spent recording could also be attributed to working on off hours.

“I was working with my own money so I was paying as I went along,” she said. “The studio I was using was pretty busy, so I was at their mercy.”

Additionally her choice of violinist went on tour in the midst of the project.

“Sometimes people got scheduled over me, which can be a little frustrating,” she said. “But I did the budget plan, so I was willing to be patient and I probably saved a little money that way.”

James is prolific to a fault, composing anytime, anywhere.

“I carry a digital recorder in my car to capture any particularly good ideas,” James said.

While a crucial part of her creative process, this practice can sometimes cause other motorists amusement.

“I was doing a vocal warm up while I was on my way to a show downtown,” she said. “My mouth was open really wide when I looked over at the car next to me. They were laughing really hard,” she said.

With a debut album imminent and touring planned for the year ahead, the future appears promising for James. But she is determined to make it on her own terms.

“Music is sort of a universal language that you can use to connect with people,” said James. “I get pretty sad when I don’t sing or play music with people. It’s a happy thing for me.”

She considers music to be her mission in life.

“I’m blessed with it,” said James. “My life always seems to come back to that, so it seems like it’s something I was meant to do.”

"Five Star Review for Vanja James Music"

Vanja James could become the next big female singer/songwriter. Her self-released, self-titled debut album is a powerful composition of pop-rock and indie ballads that are instantly pleasing. James’ powerful vocals are backed beautifully by a diverse cast of musicians on her promising debut.

The album opens with the fast-paced, acoustic guitar driven pop-rock of “On Your Own.” The song has a simple, but fun pop rhythm. It has a stripped down sound that really allows James’ vocals to come through. James has a voice that will remind of you of other singers like Sara Bareilles or Alicia Keys.

“Craptastic” and “The Bayou” share the same light-hearted, fun pop-rock sound that “On Your Own” has. These songs would be right at home on pop radio.

While James can definitely write a successful pop song, she also shows a great deal of diversity on the album.

“August” is a fantastic indie rock song that plays with Appalachian melodies on harmonica. It’s definitely a uniquely composed song that later cuts loose with a horn line. Likewise, “Mouthful” shares the same country-rock feel as “August” by using smartly crafted slide guitar.

At other points on the album, James writes heart breaking songs like “To The Man” and “Beautiful Mess” that use delicate arrangements of guitar, strings and piano. On these songs, James establishes herself as a fantastic singer and truly shows how promising she is.

James continues to surprise you with diverse songs throughout her album. The piano filled, jazz influenced “Deal With The Devil” sounds unlike any other song on the CD. However, James sounds right in her comfort zone with the song.

Late in the album, James even proves she can do straight-up, electric guitar fueled rock with “War Song.”

Vanja James delivers an incredibly talented debut. Her ability to succeed in a variety of styles is refreshing. James is definitely an artist to keep your eye on.

"Wildy's World Album Review"

San Diego's Vanja James was a child prodigy, graduating from high school at the age of 15 and college at 19. Consequently her musical exposure was a bit different than most of the folks she grew up with. In her adult life, James continues to blaze her own trail, doing all of her PR and booking on her own in addition to making music that has earned her the reputation as one of the gems of San Diego's Indie music scene. James has a voice that's bigger than life, and a personality to match. Her debut album, Music, finds James creating music that runs across genre boundaries with distinctive instrumentation and an eye for detail that's rare in popular music.

James opens with the vibrant acoustic rocker On Your Own, belting her way through a quintessential rock song with an anthemic chorus. James' voice is truly a treat, warm and lush but able to turn on the power at a moment's notice. Beautiful Mess is one of the more interesting love songs I've heard this year (or any year); an honest invitation from one imperfect person to another. I can imagine this tune ending up in a film or TV soundtrack without any difficulty at all. Craptastic is an amusing song about finding the good in even the worst of days. It's a great Country/Rock arrangement that's highly entertaining and even danceable. James displays a sort of hard-edged grace here that's very appealing in a performer while making you feel like she could be singing about your experiences as easily as her own. Deal With The Devil finds James on a jazzy turn that's surprisingly powerful. This might be her best vocal performance on the album.

James turns highly personal on Won't Let Me Love You, one of the most emotionally moving songs on the album. The simple, compact arrangement of Won't Let Me Love You houses a melody with a simple, elegant beauty that stands out. James calls on listeners to get out of the doldrums on the bright, airy Sunshine. This is another track that seems destined for the licensing world; don't be surprised if you start hearing covers of this song down the line. The Bayou is an escapist fantasy in song that alternates between the peaceful moments of a getaway with the exciting pace of city life. I didn't necessarily like The Bayou the first time I heard it, but its one of those songs that grows on you with successive listens.

Sandman is intriguing; a song that wants to have a distinct Latin flavor but doesn't quite get there. Nevertheless it is an amazing song, driven by the diva-esque vocal performance of James herself. Vocals aside, it's the best pure songwriting on the album, but James approaches the vocal veracity of Grace Slick without hesitation. On War Song, James makes some very astute and intelligent criticism of war without falling into anti-war hyperbole. It turns out to be a powerful song and the vocal line is killer. James closes out with Avalanche, a big-time rocker where she proceeds to rip off the roof with the help of Clyde Bromarepps of Laserwolf & Thunderbolt on vocals.

Vanja James is a distinctive talent with a voice many performers would commit anti-social acts to have. As a songwriter she has some amazing moments but also a few that are more mundane. Her debut album, Music, is a great introduction to James as an artist. There are four or five songs here with serious commercial punch, whether for Radio or the licensing world. I expect big things of James in the future. San Diego's hidden gem can't stay hidden for long. - Wildy's World

"Fiery Independent Music"

Vanja James makes fiery, independent music on her self-titled debut. Opener "On Your Own" sees her singing at the top of her amazing voice to a choppy beat. "August" is bluesy and a little like early Dar Williams, and all the better for it. "Deal With the Devil" comes along, a song with a jazzy highlighting her cool vocal. She's really a vocal powerhouse, but can rein it in when she needs to. "The Bayou" is energetic yet sunny and has an amusing lyric. It's a bit old-fashioned country and that works well. James has crafted an impeccable debut.
- Luna Kafe E Zine

"FM 94.9"

Vanja James/The Finish made theire Radio Debut on FM 94.9 on December 25th, 2005 with their Christmas song called "Snow in San Diego." You can check out the song list for that evening here:

She has since been played on the radio, at least 12 more times on 94.9 and 91x since then featuring songs such as "Stay Like May" & "August." She has also been interviewed on 94.9 and performed live. - FM 94.9

"Musolist comments"

Vanja - wow. Your voice is that of a celestial marriage between the queen of the seas and the king of very tall trees. Beautiful. I can't wait to see you live ...

Vanja. I'm so glad you joined Musolist. I love your voice, it reminds me of early Grace Slick & the Great Society live recordings I have from a SF session they did.

"Myspace Commentary"

"I cant stop telling people how f*cking amazing halloween was because of you! You are soooooo amazing. Your voice is gospel and absolutely amazing! No words can describe how great it was to watch you totally JAMMING out on your guitar like nobodies business and singing your soul out. Too impressed.. just too impressed. Cant wait to go to entire show and watch you for an hour. " -Jessica

you guys rock my heart "

"holy hijacking vanja!
you guys= awesome!"

"Awesome song! Can't wait to hear more! "

"What a BEAUTIFUL song!!! Can't wait to check you out live. Peace, VinaBlue "

"The Finish, What a tight band name...and your music totally represents the name. Thanks for the invite. Your music is seriously melodic! peace ~SFD"

"Simply lovely. "

"Hello to The Finish. Thanks for the add. Your music is fun like a horse race! love- Movie Script Ending. " -


Vanja's debut album, "Vanja James Music" can be found on itunes.
She is currently in pre-production for her 2nd album (2012)



Hi. My name is Vanja. That sounds like Vonya.

I put out my own solo album which features 15 songs.

Currently I am in pre-production for my 2nd album.

When I play my electric guitar, I get comparisons to Janis Joplin, Joan Jett, HEART, PJ Harvey, Nico Vega, Florence and The Machine, Pink, or even Katy Perry.

Acoustically my influences run across the board but I've heard many mention everything from Fleetwood Mac to Joss Stone, Diana Krall when describing my music.

As for what I call it, I like to think that I just do my own thing and don't really think about what other people are doing.

2012 has been a good year - I've gotten more press this year than I ever have - I've had at least 6 writeups or mentions in local publications, I've been invited to play many of San Diego's established community events such as the Artwalk and San Diego Music thing, and I also got nominated for a San Diego music award this year for the first time.

I have been playing a weekly residency in San Diego every week since February, either with my band at Bar Eleven, or now solo at Riviera, and I think playing every week has really helped to get my name out on a local level.

I've toured a lot, though not since 2010.
I would like to get on the road ASAP and start touring as much as possible, open for bigger artists, and also get my music placed in TV and in film.

One of my goals is to eventually write music for other artists, but my passion is in live performance and in making records, so I would really like to put out as many great records as I can.

-San Diego Citybeat (Plan A, for Ladyfest 2012)
-San Diego Reader Features in December 2011, Spring 2012
-Mission Valley News (Summer 2012)
-San Diego Downtown News (August 2012)

Music played on KPRI 102.1 fm (live interview)

Featured live on San Diego Union Tribune's Morning Show (September 2012)

Art on Adams - Spring 2012
Artwalk San Diego - Spring 2012
Artwalk by The Bay - San Diego - Summer 2012
San Diego Music Thing - Summer 2012
Residency at Bar Eleven - February thru July 2012
Residency at Riviera Supper Club - July 2012-Current

Tour History:
this year alone I played in 33 cities and did 36 shows. Between the tours I've done in the last two years, I think the only US state I haven't been to is Maine!

I've toured solo style (just me and my guitar in an SUV), I've sung backup vocals with a cover band called Cash'd Out (Johnny Cash cover band) as their June Carter, and did a punk tour with a band called Nothington (which was a blast.)

I LOVE to travel and play music.
Currently I am working on getting together an all girl Beatles Cover band. We will be looking forward to traveling and doing shows in the near future.