Valentina Cytrynowicz from the first episode of The Four spoke to us exclusively about her new music and on-camera feud with Zhavia and Diddy. Since then, she has been working on releasing a new EP and growing from her negative experience on the show.
Here is her audition from The Four, to refresh your memory:
Diddy and Zhavia both had some pretty strong opinions on Valentina’s performance. But many fans at home didn’t think their comments were justified. And Valentina agreed! Below is our interview with her about this experience, how she’s learned from it, and what we can expect from her new music (which is out now and FIRE).
Talent Recap: Thank you for talking to us today! Let’s talk about your new song, “Powerful.” In your post on Instagram, you say that it’s about your experience on The Four. Why did you write this song?
Valentina: I wanted a song to perfectly describe how I felt after the show and after that experience. I called the song “Powerful” and I wrote about being powerful because I felt like that’s what happened after I was told I wasn’t good enough. Having thick skin and going through experiences like this is what makes someone stronger. I want to be able to show other people that you can twist something that might seem so terrible into a positive thing.
TR: Totally, that’s such an important message. So what was it like being on that stage and getting the judges’ feedback? Relive that moment for us.
V: I did not know I would be so controversial for the judges! I was not expecting anything more than constructive criticism because I was watching The Voice to prepare for this show. It didn’t seem like anything that specifically Diddy said was nice or could have helped me. He just said I’m not good enough.
TR: Definitely, we saw a lot of fans commenting that as well. You handled it with such grace and carried yourself very well though, so it’s great to hear that this new song addresses that. As a younger artist, what do you think the message of this song is?
V: The song is meant to empower people who are being told that they’re not good enough. Everyone goes through a time in their life when they’re told that they’re smaller than they are, they are belittled. This song is for anyone going through that. It’s definitely for some people I’ve crossed paths with in the music industry as well. There are a million bumps in the road you have to go through before you “make it.” This song is for all the people who have told me I’m not good enough.
TR: Going off that, what do you think some of the biggest challenges you’ve had to deal with are, aside from The Four?
V: I’ve had so many managers in this business. I’ll be open about that. I’ve been told so many times who I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to write about and what kind of person I should portray. Nothing drives me crazier! And it’s so frustrating having to go through that and stay so strong about who I am during this process.
TR: I’m sure it’s inspiring to other up-and-coming artists that you’ve stayed so true to yourself through all this. You mentioned that you watched The Voice leading up to your appearance on The Four, would you suggest to other young artists to be on shows like these?
V: I would say absolutely f***ing not. It’s like shooting yourself in the foot so that next time you’ll feel a little less pain, but it’ll hurt just as much. There’s no reason to put yourself through something like that. It makes no sense. The producers definitely encourage you to be someone they want you to be. They don’t encourage your real personality, they didn’t let me sing any of my original songs. When I look at it now, that isn’t me on that stage. That is my voice and I did respond as me, but that’s not 100% me.
TR: Yeah, it’s crazy because The Four especially focuses on the “brutal honesty” but that also makes people turn off from it, while shows like The Voice are so positive. What’s your take on The Four‘s more negative approach to the feedback on the show?
V: I think a very big selling point for the show was the drama. They cared about that more than anything. And part of creating drama for a show is being harsher than you need to be. Yes, you will encounter people like that in the music industry, but those are the people you run away from. You stay as far away as possible from them. That’s not a good environment to grow in. Being rude to anyone is not okay and they were just plain mean.
TR: Speaking of the feedback from the judges, did you have any experiences with the judges that we didn’t see on camera?
V: Well, funny story actually. I met Diddy a couple months before the show and he was super nice! It’s random but my sister is a director. She was directing a music video for Snoop Dogg and she was filming at his birthday party. I work as a photographer sometimes so I was also there. And I know Diddy remembered me because he waved and gave me a smile. We had exchanged a few words and he was nice. But he was a completely different person when he was on TV.
TR: What about the other contestants on the show? Did you have any on- or off-camera experiences with them? Zhavia was on that same episode and basically agreed with Diddy’s harsh criticisms.
V: Yeah, she was asked on the show about my performance and she said, “If you’re gonna sing a cover, you have to sing it better.” I think just the competitive environment that the show cultivated led her to say that. I’m not sure if she’s like that in real life but I do not agree with putting other artists down. And I understand there was a lot of pressure in real-time to say something mean but I would never say something like that to another artist. But also, it was definitely obvious Zhavia had everything the show wanted in an artist. And that’s perfectly fine, as long as you’re not rude.
TR: Well, it’s definitely been a crazy road you’ve had to navigate to get where you are. But with this new song, “Powerful,” out now, what else can we expect from you in the future? Is there anything else in the works? What kind of music should we expect?
V: I’m actually releasing my EP at the beginning of May! I haven’t even announced it yet, but I’ll be posting about it soon. It’s influenced by artists like Jessie Reyez and Bishop Briggs. This EP really just screams empowerment and “f*** you” to a lot of people. A few songs are about building people up and a few pertain to love as well, but I like to think they are also empowering.
TR: We’re excited to hear it all! Is there anything else you want to share? Any fun facts about you for our readers?
V: Yes! Actually, I produced, recorded, and wrote the whole EP, including “Powerful,” in my room.
TR: Valentina, it was such a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview! We wish you all the best and can’t wait to spread the word about “Powerful!”