Week in Pop: Daddy, Mike Sempert, VA Violet

Sjimon Gompers

The incredible, expansive & introspective bedroom pop world of VA Violet; photographed by Oksun Kitagawa.

VA Violet

The latest from VA Violet; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Regular readers/listeners/perusers will no doubt be already familiar with San Francisco’s own VA Violet, fronted by Yoodoo Park that offers a first listen to the anticipated album Is It Really That Strange? that hones in on the more intimate & introspect aspects of song construction. An artist who has already dabbled in the maximalist arrays of garage pop big productions to acoustic works & personal bedroom recordings blends together a brilliantly evocative economy that takes the audience inward along with the artist in an exploration of feeling propelled by pop tones.

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Is It Really That Strange? begins with the motorik road-tripping track “Berlin” that sets the album into full rhythmic motion in a reaffirmation of reckoning with life’s own truths & meanings as they make congruent sense in the mind’s eye & ear. Next stop is the cooped up motel blues of “Mirror” that is the sound of late night exchanges & expressions that can only really be shared in those serene silences felt in the midnight hour & after. “Angel” is an electric dive into the continuum of happiness & sadness where the pangs & pull of depression are ascended through hopeful chords like a moment of clarity where one receives a whole new lease on life. Further musings on life’s reckonings emerge on the cut of kindness, weaknesses, with notions of demeanor & more arise on the guitar shred fest of “Unkind”, as Yodoo wraps the audience gently in the arms of sleep on “Asleep” that seeks something more than the regiments & routines that are beautifully exploded in the perfectly dissonant & at times melodically distorted. The closer “Together” is power pop ballad of the back & forths of faded & broken promises that exhibits the high-flying rollercoaster of romance that feels like it could have been the biggest radio jam of 1997. This song cycle from VA Violet is one of the greatest bedroom pop journeys to the core of the sentimental sides of the spirit & heart that Yoodoo Park described to us with the following introductory words:

I’ve been taking a lot of influence from singer songwriters like Elliot Smith and a reflection of my progression with recording.

San Francisco’s talented powerhouse—VA Violet; press photo courtesy of the artist.

While touring about Australia, we had a chance to catch up with VA Violet’s Yoodoo Park via overseas cables:

Tell us more about the reckoning & strangeness that informed Is It that Strange? and what perspectives you gained from the recording process.

Going into this project, I was recording a lot at my house in San Francisco. But I officially started VA Violet at my friends apartment in Japan when I moved to Kyoto for half a year to work on music with more isolation. While recording these songs, I realized that a lot of my influence came from being able to roam the streets of Japan.

Interested in hearing too about your own solo recording process in drafting & fleshing out songs as VA Violet.

Most of these songs, I recorded in my garage in California after coming back from Japan. I realized a while back that I worked a lot better when I was isolated and didn’t have any distractions. So moving to Japan definitely helped me concentrate on my songwriting a lot.

The brilliant bedroom pop & sentimental circumstances painted in sound by VA Violet; photographed by Oksun Kitagawa.

How have you found your other acts, collaborations & inspirations have further inspired VA Violet?

VA Violet seems to be inspired from the lack of influence from other music. It feels a lot more genuine because I’m not recording these songs trying to find an exact sound. But experimenting with the song to capture the feeling of what I want to convey.

What is the challenge in channeling introspective feelings into cohesive & economically minimalist pop vignettes?

I think the more simple a song can be, the more pleasing it is to enjoy. Minimalism is the key to recording.. and even life.

What is next for VA Violet?

I’m recording two more full length albums to release as soon as possible.

2018 hopes & wishes?

I hope/wish the world doesn’t end in 2018.

VA Violet’s Is It Really That Strange? will be officially available November 2.

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