They Left No Name is a stunning debut single release for emerging British pop artist and songwriter Vic May.
The composition is clear and open, with sounds of windswept dream pop to the skylike lyric “Angels never die,” followed by all the energy and heart of the chorus “They Left no Name and when their lives were taken they never had a choice.” This section of the song is making reference to those prisoners of consciousness, mostly those who practice Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, in China, who have lost their lives through live organ harvesting.
May says: “Many Falun Gong practitioners chose not to give their names to the prison guards when they were arrested. This was to protect their families, neighbors, and workplaces from receiving persecution or punishment. Many thousands of these ‘nameless ones’ disappeared during detention. Their families never saw them again.”
This heartbreaking reality that they didn’t even leave a name and then they were killed, stuck with me. And so the song goes: “They left no name, they left no voice, and when their lives were taken they never had a choice.”
‘They Left No Name’ dedicated to Falun Gong practitioners
The song is dedicated to the many millions of Falun Gong practitioners who have suffered brutal persecution by the Chinese Communist Party. In the music video clip, we see footage of the persecution of Falun Gong in China, cut between the ethereal imagery of Vic May walking up the chilly coast of Hayling Island Beach in the UK.
Vic May is also an actress, presenter, and commercial model. During the height of the pandemic, while all the work temporarily was on hold, she decided to use that time to create and produce a music single with a beautiful positive sound and hard-hitting human rights message.
The journey itself to create this piece was one of having to let go of some past notions of fear and self-doubt, but throughout this process, May proves anything is possible and the biggest hurdles are in your mind.
Listen to They Left No Name:
Vic May very gracefully agreed to answer some of our questions — here is what she had to say:
|What first got you into music?|
I’ve always loved singing since I was a little girl. I also learned piano and taught myself some basic flute as a child. If I hear a song, I get an involuntary urge to sing lol. I recently found out my late grandad was the same. I never met him, but apparently, he was notorious for singing all the time. I’ve always written poetry and I feel songwriting and poetry are very much connected. That’s also a family trait actually. My father and brother write poetry too. My dad would sing to us quite a bit when we were little and I grew up thinking everybody sang. My uncles were good singers and I loved trips up to Yorkshire to visit my uncle and aunt as a child, as we’d always sing together with my uncle’s guitar or piano and my aunt’s lap-harp to accompany.
I honestly loved any song I could sing the words to at the time. But even though I’d sing all the time, I didn’t have much confidence in my singing ability. I also experienced a few people in my life getting annoyed if I’d sing. I guess I was probably a bit loud and inevitably repeated the same lyrics quite frequently; they may not have even been the right lyrics knowing me haha — I can see how it might be annoying, but the consequence was that it affected my confidence quite a bit. I took lessons for a few years, but that was focused on musical theater singing, as I trained in acting. I never saw myself as a singer, and so it’s been quite an incredible journey for me. I love singing and songwriting. I honestly never expected this to happen.
How would you describe your music?
When I first wrote They Left No Name it was going to be a little folk/country song. I imagined it with guitar and the chorus initially had a slightly different melody. Then I met JANKOVSKY, a pop producer, and he turned it into what it is now. It’s a pop track, soulful with a sort of Enya vibe to it. It was an unexpected journey, but I absolutely love what JANVOVSKY did with it. We are going to work on some more songs together with a similar soulful pop flavor and I might do other collaborations too. I guess my aim is to create music to touch peoples’ hearts.
What was the inspiration behind ‘They Left No Name’?
‘They Left No Name’ is a song dedicated to the millions of Falun Gong practitioners in China who have suffered brutal persecution by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Those brave and incredible Falun Gong practitioners were my inspiration. They are people who try to live their lives by the values of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, and yet the CCP punishes them for it. Arrested, imprisoned without trial, tortured, forced labor, brainwashed, raped, forced to denounce their beliefs, organs forcibly removed, and killed.
Shockingly, the persecution of Falun Gong in China still continues to this day. Many Falun Gong practitioners chose not to give their names when they were arrested. This was to protect their families, neighbors, and workplaces from receiving persecution or punishment. Many thousands of these nameless Falun Gong Practitioners disappeared during detention. Their families never saw them again. This heartbreaking reality that they didn’t even leave a name and then they were killed, stuck with me. And so the song goes: “They left no name, they left no voice and when their lives were taken, they never had a choice.”
Can you tell us about your creative process?
Gosh, well this song was really the first time for me (though now I have more songs I’m working on). I didn’t even have the guts to really try it properly before. I’ve always occasionally recorded the melody and lyric ideas in my voice notes, so I guess the ambition was always there, I just didn’t think it was possible.
What made me try to write a song properly — well I blame my boyfriend lol. He’s a singer-songwriter, James H. White, and when we were getting to know one another, he had this idea of creating a competition for singer-songwriters around themes of human rights and told me I should have a go at writing a song about what’s happening in China. My thoughts were, well it’s a nice idea, but I’m not a songwriter lol. Anyway, I told him I’d give it a go nonetheless.
Very quickly a melody and lyrics came to me. I can’t really explain how it works. I just sort of think of the feeling, the situation, and words and melody start to come to my mind. I recorded it as a Capella. I surprised myself with the song and once I created it, I knew I had to do something with it, but I wasn’t sure what exactly.
About a year later, I was introduced by chance to JANKOVSKY, an Estonian-based pop producer who had just graduated from Abbey Road, London. I sent him my song with no expectation, just in case he had an interest in helping me produce it. To my surprise, he loved it and saw genuine potential. Together, we worked on a demo before getting my vocals recorded professionally. He helped turn the song into something I never could have imagined.
I’ve found since, sometimes an idea for the chorus comes first, sometimes the verse and when that happens, I always record it on my phone. I have so many voice notes on my phone it’s ridiculous. I guess it’s a bit like being a writer, you never know when the inspiration will happen. I wasn’t actually sure if I was going to sing on They Left No Name.
I was worried if my vocals would be strong enough and had the thought that if they weren’t, we’d find another singer. David English, a music producer based in Durham, UK, helped mentor me and coach me through it. He really gave me the confidence to believe I could do it. One of the best things I did was to have David there to help me with my vocal recording. He did such a great job and gave me the confidence I so badly needed.
Do you sing in the car or shower? What songs?
Oh my gosh, all the time. I have an odd collection of songs I regularly sing to myself in the shower haha — this feels very revealing! I enjoy singing ballads — so definitely a bit of Whitney- she’s my go-to, but also Adele, Leann Rimes, sometimes Simon and Garfunkel, and I’ll also sing more classical songs. there’s an Italian opera song I love, but I have no idea its name — I sing that, well parts of that — I don’t know all the words! Sometimes Christmas hymns happen. There are also even a few Chinese songs I like singing — again, more classical in style. And I still love singing songs from musicals. In the car, if the radio’s on, I’ll sing to whatever is playing; it’s difficult to control myself lol.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I am very fortunate to have many friends who are musicians who inspire me. A few of them I’m hoping to collaborate with at some point. As for famous musicians, it’s difficult as the industry has become quite corrupt and I want to create music to lift people up out of that. I’m acutely sensitive to music and sound and if the energy gives me a bad feeling, I can’t listen to it for very long. I find this difficult, as I love music, but there’s not much I can listen to these days.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
With my singing — not to worry about what other people think so much and just enjoy it. Singing feels incredibly vulnerable to me and exposing and really I want it to be a gift for others. So because I want it to be for others, I worry in case they won’t enjoy it. But I guess I can’t control that, so I should just put my own heart into enjoying it and those that enjoy it with me, well that’s great.
What’s next for you?
I have a few things in the pipeline. James H. White is working on a new song that he wants me to sing with him, JANKOVSKY and I are discussing another song collaboration, and I’ve also written the chorus of a song that I’m starting to develop further too, possibly with another musician, though it’s early days so I can’t say too much! I definitely want to continue to write and record music. The journey for me is ongoing and I’m excited to see where it leads.
For more about Vic May and her music, check out:
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