They say big things come in small packages. That much is true when it comes to Nirvana Golberdhan, a.k.a Vana Liya: a 5'2″, 24-year-old badass reigning from Deer Park, NY. Now under LAW Records, Vana Liya doesn't have your average entrance story into the mad world of music. After posting a cover of Pepper's “Too Much” in June 2017, Vana is still trying to wrap her head around all that has transpired since. Within a week of her posting that raw, self-made ukulele Pepper cover, the band reposted it. People have taken notice of this tiny girl and her soft, comforting voice that was covering songs with an insanely unique approach.
Vana Liya doesn't have your average entrance story into the mad world of music.
Vana grew up with her grandmother, playing old-school Calypso music with lots of steel pan drums and began singing at the age of 12. Her mother, with whom she openly calls her “best friend”, attends concerts with her daughter and prefers rock music. Two years older, her other bestie and partner-in-crime is her brother. Like a good brother should, he introduced his sister to Blink-182's “Stay Together For The Kids” while teaching her how to drive. Let's just say that punk side never left Nirvana…
As she got older, Vana started digging music by legends like Sublime, Pepper and Slightly Stoopid; her music repertoire growing massive in size as a result. So, like any amazing mother, Vana's mom saw her daughter's gift and, at 19, bought Vana a Mitchell guitar. Trying to play the acoustic guitar was difficult for such a small girl and around 2014, she made the switch to the ukulele — a choice that ultimately changed the course of her life and journey.
Fast forward to March of this year at Reggae Rise Up Florida 2018. Far from where I was standing, I saw a small but familiar human walking my way. Without knowing who it was I screamed “Nirvana” and sure enough, it was the fearless Vana Liya. A simple “What's up?” was her reply, as if we were picking up on an old conversation. We decided to hang for a little and I found myself walking around Vinoy Park with my new friend. We even got to enjoy the Summer Survivors set together from the photo pit. Living in Florida now, I watched as this young woman won over each and every person she met. The Sunshine State is just waiting for an official Vana Liya Tour now, so that the masses can come out and show their support!
… this little ninja is well-qualified to take on anything.
Since her marriage into LAW Records shortly after RRU, she has released three singles. Working with the talented Greg Shields and Nick Guzdan of Kash'd Out, she couldn't have been in better hands as she began the lyric and songwriting process. A full album is expected to be released in the spring of 2019.
Let's not forget her band, consisting of Steve Shaw (keys/sax), Logan Whaley (bass), Santo Puleo (drums) and Cody Stern (guitar). With these guys in tow, Vana's voice has never sounded better. If you're lucky and make it to a Vana Liya show, you may even hear “Yahtzee” screamed! Don't you worry — it's just a pre-show ritual this tight-knit band has already started. Not only is Vana a major talent musically, but she also is one belt away from black, so be prepared; this little ninja is well-qualified to take on anything. Little did she know that also meant playing a quick game of Questions over the phone:
Ok, Converse or Vans?
- VL: Vans.
Indoor or outdoor venues?
- VL: Both. But, if I had to pick, outdoors.
Biggie or Tupac?
- VL: I don't listen to rap enough to be qualified to make a decision.
When you started this journey, alone in your bedroom, where did you see this going?
- VL: I never thought I would be here, but wherever I end up, I don't think it's where I thought I would be.
What a perfect response. Be on the lookout for gigantic things from this tiny human! Top Shelf Reggae cannot wait to see Vana Liya fly high like the songbird she is. In the meantime, watch for her full album to hit digital outlets next year and check out her latest catchy pop-meets-reggae single “I Don't Care What You Do” below.