Check out our interview with breakout musician Piera Van de Wiel, who has captured the attention of the United Nations to raise awareness of the domestic violence spike due to Covid-19 quarantine through her breakout new single “USED,” with all song proceeds going to the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women. With each impactful lyric, Piera sheds light on the dark reality of domestic violence by giving women around the world the voice they deserve.
“USED” is an emotional rollercoaster of how one can feel so safe when you let your barriers down only to feel used, abused and taken for granted, but ends with a lasting positive message of strength and hope.
The United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women mission is to prevent violence against women and girls by empowering groups especially at risk of violence, including adolescent girls and indigenous or ethnic minority women, and engaging strategically with boys and men as well as traditional and faith-based leaders to prevent violence.
Piera is a singer-songwriter and actor passionate about social impact and storytelling. She is the founder “Stronger With Music,” a collective that promotes the importance of music and mental health and music and social impact.
As an actor she has worked in Hollywood on films including period drama “Strip Clara,” 1950s film “Tainted Choices” which are both on the film festival circuit, Fox Films “Amsterdam in Anatolia”, and performed at the prestigious Rose Theatre in London, London Salvation Army Hall, South Hill Arts, Atlantic Stage 2 with the Atlantic Acting Company in New York, and her leading role in Off Broadway production of The Three Musketeers as Milady De Winter with the Classical Theater of Harlem.
Follow Piera at @pieravandewielofficial
Hi Piera, please tell us a little about you?
I’m Piera Van de Wiel, British Singer-songwriter, actor, writer and filmmaker. I am the founder of the collective Stronger With Music that promotes the importance of music and mental health and music and social impact. I also love to tell stories!
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Loving loyal weirdo
We’re sure you have been asked this million times but how did you get in the industry?
My first professional acting role was playing the villain Milady De Winter at the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Off-Broadway production of The Three Musketeers. It was right after I graduated from the Tisch School of the Arts with my BFA in Acting. Playing the antagonist is such fun especially in a corset and wig in the high heat of summer! For my music I started singing in competitions when I was young, and then invited to perform at gigs, events, and concerts. I discovered my love for songwriting, and passion in sharing the power of music.
Describe your sound in 3 words?
Smooth rich whisky! I’m half scottish afterall 🙂
Who influenced you and why did you choose to make music?
My family. My grandparents and parents always encourage me to sing. When I was very little my Grumps (my Grandfather) used to find me in the playroom singing on a karaoke machine. I was singing I Could Have Danced All Night, and he used to say that once I got to the high notes I would hide behind him. He asked “why are you hiding, Piera?” and I said “I’m afraid of my high notes.” He laughed and told me to have confidence and sing out. Having support from your family is the most important thing and I have been so lucky. My grumps, my grandma, my granny, my papa, and my mum and dad encouraging me.
Do you play any instrument?
I love picking up my ukulele or sitting down at my keyboard. My grumps helped me buy my first keyboard. It allowed me to start playing around with chords and learning from scratch.
Do you ever get nervous?
Of course! I always want to do my best, and connect with anyone listening to my music. I love to feel present and in the moment when I’m singing so I always do a full body warm up!
Tell us about your breakout new single “Used?”
“Used” is a song that is an emotional rollercoaster about how one can feel so safe, that when you let your barriers down you can feel used and taken for granted; but ends with a lasting positive message of strength and hope. It is out and available to stream on all platforms. It came out in May during mental health awareness month.
What’s the story behind this song?
Through the spotify fundraising initiative I am raising funds for the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women. During Covid-19 people have had no choice but to quarantine inside their homes, which means some people have been trapped with their abuser and suffering from IPV (intimate partner violence). According to the UN Global Compact Summit which I was able to join, they said that domestic violence is the shadow pandemic. IPV is a silent but salient issue that needs our attention.
Therefore I wanted to connect my song “Used” to this cause.
About the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women:
The United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund EVAW) is the only global grant-making mechanism exclusively dedicated to eradicating all forms of violence against women and girls.
Since its establishment in 1996, it has supported over 550 initiatives in 140 countries and territories aiming to improve access to services for survivors of violence, changing harmful norms and attitudes to prevent violence and making laws and policies work for women.
Every year, approximately 8 million people, including women and girls, men and boys, government officials and the general public, are reached by projects supported by the UN Trust Fund.
In the context of COVID-19, there has been an alarming increase in violence against women and girls, as virus containment measures have exacerbated the shadow pandemic of violence against women. The UN Trust Fund provides life-saving support to women’s organizations, identified as first responders to women and girls who are victims of violence.
What are the five things you can’t live without?
Family, crisps, my notebook, bears, new music playlists
What’s next for Piera Van de Wiel in 2020?
To move forward with my causes and bring awareness and education to a wider audience of the power of music, and continue to compose songs pertaining to social impact. My new song “Dear Mrs” an LGBTQ+ Pride song is out on all platforms 26th June.
What is your favorite song? And why?
For months during quarantine I was stuck away from home and from my family, but a gorgeous Australian family who I had met once before took me in and looked after me. They shared a song with me, “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree. When I first heard the song I fell in love with it. It’s now on repeat, helping me get through the day with power, positivity and drive. After months, these friends are truly family now.
Now tell us about your project “Stronger With Music?”
Stronger With Music is a collective and company that promotes the importance of music and mental health and music and social impact. We have worked with NGOs globally including Barefoot College International, Aspire Artemis Foundation, Impact NYC, Applaud Our Kids Foundation, and raising funds for humanitarian relief efforts for the Abaco islands with my “Come Back Home (Abaco Relief Song)” that was destroyed by Hurricane Dorian. My relief song went on to be awarded the Silver Medal for Outstanding Achievement for Listener Impact at the Global Music Awards. My goal for my music is to achieve that listener impact, as with impact comes action.
Why and when did you decide to create this?
Stronger With Music was inspired when I was 15 years old. I lost my best friend to a tragic accident. Through the encouragement of my music teacher Nigel Gaston, I was able to start writing lyrics and writing my first song. Songwriting was a voice to my grief and helped me through this dark time. I felt stronger with music. I then developed my company later on, by looking further into the study of music and our mental health, working with music therapists, and writing songs pertaining to social impact.
Any advice to entrepreneurs out there?
If you have an idea, there is no idea too big or too small that you can focus your efforts on and develop. Through networking and development you can make things happen.
Any loves other than music?
I used to be a ski racer, so I have a passion for throwing myself fast down a ski slope!
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Glenn Miller, he was an amazing trombonist, composer, bandleader who brought hope to people and soldiers during the war with his beautiful and hopeful swing band music!
Best advice ever given?
“When you’re up against it, and your hopes sink low, that’s the time for courage, that’s the time to show, just what you are made of, how much you can dare, how much you will live for and how much you can care.” (Old scottish prayer)
What is your favorite song to belt out in the car/for karaoke?
I love artist Faouzia and her song This Mountain!
What is your own definition of happiness?
For me family and friends are the foundation of happiness. I have learnt that happiness comes from the love you give out, the more love you give out the more love you receive in return. Yes I’m a little squishy! 🙂
Do you support any charities?
I support many organizations through my music and with Stronger With Music. My aim is to create listener impact and continue supporting current and future causes.
What is your favorite healthy food?
I’m popeye, I love spinach!
Where can we follow you?
I can also be found on Instagram @pieravandewielofficial, and if you would like to get involved with my mission of music and mental health and music and social impact, please reach out and follow @strongerwithmusic
Quote: “When you’re up against it, and your hopes sink low, that’s the time for courage, that’s the time to show, just what you are made of, how much you can dare, how much you will live for and how much you can care.”
Movie: The Slipper and the Rose
Travel Destination: Abaco, Bahamas (to help rebuild the community after Hurricane Dorian)
Sports Team: Supporting Ski racing – as an ex ski-racer I am always watching ski sunday and championship races!