LARISSA VIENNA AND THE STRANGE CHATS ABOUT THE BAND'S NEW RELEASE NEPTUNE VII BY: STEPHANIE STEVENS
A girl starts her dreaming of being a performer and musician with one look at Shirley Temple. Not the typical influence you would think of when it comes to the rock music world but the petite little LARISSA VIENNA is not your typical artist. Starting her career as a solo artist back in 2008 writing and producing her own music in the Denver music scene, her creativeness was in full swing. Slowly but surely, she added and found band mates to make THE STRANGE; a family and a group of artists that are creative, experimental and talented just as she was. Vienna calls the music they make “spooky rock” which simply means these guys bring Somber, rock, pop and eccentric visions to life through music. Bringing in a violin just enhances the essences of the dark elements, the beautiful elements and the vision of what this band is trying to bring to the rock community which is change, creativeness and thinking outside of the box.
NEPTUNE VII is the newest release of the band and has emotional rock elements, personal heart endearing elements and just beauty with the combo of pretty violin and the distorted guitar tones and when you combine it with Vienna’s varied vocal abilities you get something very special.
I got to chat with Larissa Vienna about her band members, the new record and her influences and how they impacted her.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BE A VOCALIST AND PERFORMER? -Shirley Temple was the artist who started it all for me. My earliest memories are dressing up like her, tap-dancing, and singing. You couldn't get me to stop performing. My dad built me a little wooden stage to put on our front lawn so I could tap-dance and sing for all the cars that were driving by.
HOW DOES SHIRLEY TEMPLE INTERTWINE WITH THE PERFORMER YOU HAVE BECOME? -Shirley is a legend, she defined an entire era. President Roosevelt even said that as long as the world had Shirley Temple, everything would be okay during the Great Depression. The fact that her talent could make people so happy in such a tough time, that always stuck with me. I've always wanted to provide that sort of happiness for people through my music.
WHERE DOES YOUR MUSICIAL INSPIRATION COME FROM? -I really love artists who are constantly evolving, like David Bowie or Lady Gaga. I'm a chameleon, and I used to be so insecure about never having one "thing" I was doing. Every time I play a show, I look different, my current album is always different from the last, and I've realized that that's okay to not stick with one thing, as long as you genuinely love what you're doing at the moment.
WHO IS THE STRANGE AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THESE PARTICULAR MUSICIANS TO BRING ONTO YOUR PERSONAL JOURNEY?
-THE STRANGE is Nick Workman, Aaron Mendoza, Luke Wolff and Vanity Welch. They're the only lineup I've ever had as LARISSA VIENNA AND THE STRANGE, and I'm very lucky for that. We all get along great. Nick has been playing guitar for me for eight years now - it used to be just him and I at one point. Aaron used to be the bassist of a different band, and I admired his skills so much, the minute he left his previous band I scooped him up four years ago. Luke became a part of THE STRANGE in 2014. He is the most dedicated musician I know, he's constantly practicing and learning the craft of his drums. In fact, he's downstairs practicing as we speak. Vanity, my violinist, was such a gem to find. I met her at a show, she started out as just a fan. She told me she played violin and that music was her passion. I called her one day to see if she would be interested in playing with us, and she already had the songs learned. She came to practice and nailed it. I am so lucky, because not only did I find talented artists, they are my best friends. They are constantly improving and they make me so proud. I wouldn't trade any of them for anything.
THE NEW ALBUM NEPTUNE VII HAS BEEN NOTED AS YOUR MOST PERSONAL PROJECT TO DATE. WHY DID YOU DECIDE THAT THIS WAS THE TIME TO REALLY BRING OUT THESE STORIES?
-I don't exactly think that way. I never have a "concept" for an album, each album just happens to reflect what my life was like at the time I was writing it. Writing NEPTUNE VII was an emotional time in my life. I had heavy episodes of depression, I reconnected with people in my past who I thought I'd never speak to again, and I had such a thirst to push myself as a musician. I'm always honest in my music. I can tell you what every single song is about. The people who listen to my music often are experiencing very similar things that I was experiencing, so it helps us connect to each other. I was hoping in this writing process that I'd be able to help someone, even if just one person, not feel alone.
HOW WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD GROWING UP AND WHAT DO YOU FEEL IS THE TOUGHEST THING ABOUT BEING AN ADULT AND GROWING OLDER?
-My childhood was interesting to say the least. I moved a lot and went to a new school every year - which is where I think my constant need for change comes from. My family was very distant and unaffectionate. We didn't know each other at all. I was the youngest kid and the only girl - my brothers are a few years older than me, so I spent a lot of time alone. To be honest, I can't remember if I was happy or not when I was growing up. I lived in my own world, and I was very creative, I at least remember that. The toughest thing about being an adult is pressure from society, especially as a woman. It's hard to escape. I wrote NEPTUNE VII in the mindset of a child, back before society told you who to be, back when you were authentically YOU because that's all you knew how to do. The hardest part of growing older is losing that. I don't want to lose that.
DO YOU FEEL BRINGING IN THE SOUND OF A VIOLIN HELPS TO ENHANCE A TYPICAL ROCK SOUND AND HOW HAS IT HELPED YOU GUYS IN WRITING?
-Vanity is an amazing violinist. The first couple of EPs we released, she was more of just a rhythm section. Now, she takes the lead in a majority of the songs, the way a guitarist would. It adds a different atmosphere to the music because it's so pretty, yet with the distorted guitar behind it, it's also hard and emotional at the same time.
YOUR MUSIC VIDEOS HAVE BEEN A SUCCESS DO YOU FORSEE HAVING A HEAVY CONTENT OF THEM FOR THIS NEW DISC? -Yes! If I had it my way, I'd make a music video for every single song. I can't wait until the day that I have a large budget so I can build sets and the costumes that I visualize so I can fully bring my world to life for everyone to see.
IF YOU COULD TAKE ONE SONG OFF THE NEW DISC TO REALLY DISPLAY THE GROWTH OF YOU HAS A MUSICIAN WHICH ONE WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
-I'm torn between "HAUNTED" and "SURRENDER".HAUNTED is the catchiest song I've ever written - it's more hard-hitting than anything we've released before and I think that's why it's getting so much attention. I am so proud of that song because even though it's rock, the melodies are very pop, and every band member gets to shine with their instrumentation. I use many different parts of my voice in the song, and I know lots of people were pleasantly surprised to hear that range from me, since I used to shy away from it. I also choose "SURRENDER" because in my opinion, that's the best song we've ever released. My guitarist Nick wrote the instrumental, which is different since I usually do that, and I wrote the lyrics, vocals and melody. Everyone in the band sings on the song. It's really our first ballad we've made. It took Nick about 4 hours in the studio to record all the guitar. The violin is complex, as well. Everyone pushed themselves to record that song, I honestly can't listen to it too often because it makes me tear up. I'm so proud of everyone.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TOUR PLANS FOR THE NEW RECORD? -We'll be hitting the road in 2018!
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD WANT FANS OR MUSIC LOVERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR BAND?
-I'd like the fans to know that I really believe in all of you. So many people come up to me at shows, or send me messages about how they'd like to be a musician, or an artist, or whatever their dreams are. None of us in the band were born with a special set of circumstances that allows us to do this, we simply just do it. You can, too. Go out and create, put your heart in it and never apologize for being passionate.