We had the pleasure to talk with Nashville indie-pop trio VEAUX about their upcoming single (due 11/16), what it takes to survive as a band in this day and age, and how the band continues to refine their sound.
IVM: Well, thanks guys for taking some time to talk. How is everything going tonight?
Aaron Wagner: Great
Andrew Black: Pretty chill
Dominick Wagner: It’s super spooky outside right now
IVM: Spooky? Because it’s dark early or is there something else going on?
DW: it’s just very rainy and foggy out, something out of a horror movie, haha
IVM: Sounds about right for this time of year. At least it’s not snow, right? On that topic, how has the move from Denver to Nashville been? What was the biggest driving factor for that?
AW: The move has been great. It’s nice to be surrounded by creative people. Colorado, while beautiful, just doesn’t have a ton of infrastructure to support all of our ambitions within the band and projects we do outside of the band such as producing, co-writing, touring, etc
AB: It’s been invigorating. When we moved to Nashville, it felt like we got greater measures of creativity and our career became real to us.
IVM: I’d love to hear a bit more on the projects outside of the band a bit more. I know it can often be challenging for fans to see the human side of musicians and the greater scope of their craft. Most of us wish we could commit to one creative endeavor full-time but rarely is that the case these days.
AW: I opened up a studio with my dad when I was 17 years old and have just been doing it ever since. I love producing other artists, I think it just gets me out of my own way and allows me to serve another artist and their vision. I also hire both Andrew and Dominick for projects I have going so there’s quite a lot of records out there that have us on them. I also this year have done a little touring with other artists as a musician. I have a deep fondness for hotel living.
IVM: Very cool – great to see you branch out a bit and really go all-in on that kind of passion. You guys are going to release a new song on Friday – tell us a little about that.
DW: I think it’s a really great song. I enjoyed the creative process we used coming up with it. We took the song and built it up three different times and picked elements from each version we liked best. We rarely have time to be able to sit with a song that much. We’ve really settled into the idea of there not being right or wrong answers, we’ve become okay with patience in the creative process. Sometimes a song needs days, sometimes it needs years.
AB: We started the year off with a song of ours called “Wander” that talks about leaving home and so the message of this particular song kind of wraps up the beginning of our saga, so to speak. “Show Me The Way Home” captures where we are now, that maybe home is something that can only be found within yourself: sometimes it’s a place, sometimes it’s people, a career. Maybe the answer isn’t so concrete but subjective and it’s okay to take your time figuring out what that means for you.
AW: This song is pretty special to me because I accidentally wrote it for my wife for a major movie that’s out right now. We missed the deadline and that’s why its not in the movie but the song just felt too special to hurry it. We all grew up in the Christian faith tradition which is wonderful but comes with a lot of barbs. It’s hard to believe in a thing and automatically be signed up for a lot of other things that you don’t believe in as well. This song for her and I was completed accompanied by much conversation, tears and whiskey. Not to sound too melodramatic.
IVM: I definitely appreciate the vulnerability of your responses and just how much work has gone into this song. I appreciate the linearity with Wander, even if it wasn’t planned. I feel like that’s something that is increasingly-lost in today’s music. It feels like with the advent of streaming, albums have really started to die off and we’re seeing a lot more singles and EPs as a result. Is this something you’d agree with as well?
AB: Absolutely. The attention span is just not there. It takes a lot of time to make a record, especially a good record and in that time, for us independent bands, we can lose the attention of our audience.
DW: I would piggy back on that, as a new band, we have to grab people’s attention over and over because things these days are minute to minute. We don’t have the capacity to wait years between releases.
AW: it makes it really hard to be a band in 2018. We are album people. I still don’t listen to playlists much. I listen to album on repeat for weeks, get sick of it, move to the next one, etc. and even then, I will revisit those records often over time. But what especially makes it hard to be a band is that sonically things have gotten so slick and homogenized, which don’t get me wrong, I love. I dig straight down the middle pop music but we also listen to quite a bit of Radiohead. 2018 was a year of just trying a lot of things. I think sonically the songs are different and my voice is really the only common factor between them. We used the single approach to work with different producers, try different processes and hopefully find our sound. We are gonna keep releasing singles in 2019 while making a full record in the background full well knowing it might only be enjoyed by the “super fan” but still a creative process we feel we need to undergo.
IVM: All very good insight. You answered my next question about what’s next. Let’s talk about your sound – 2016’s Olympia was a huge release and seemed to incorporate a lot of diverse influences into an album that ultimately still felt cohesive. How would you say your sound has shifted since then and what have been some of the catalysts for that? Sticking with the subject, what are some of your favorite bands/artists right now?
AW: MEDIC was interested in delay and reverb and hitting really, really hard. That was literally the driving force in our sound. I think VEAUX was interested in almost going against that “wall of sound” tendency we had. It’s easy to hide behind volume and I think we wanted to explore simplicity and subtlety.
DW: We just wanted to be more mature.
AB: …to make music for a broader audience.
DW: I feel like the stuff we are writing now is the music we thought we were writing then. We wanted to be making pop music but almost didn’t know how. We grew up playing prayer meetings in church and our sensibilities reflected that.
AW: There’s nothing worse than a relative listening to a song we put out and saying “That was really neat, I don’t get it”. It’s pretty deflating. I honestly use both my 17 year old sister and my parents as a barometer for the message getting across. I wanted to get better at just saying exactly what I meant and not using poetry to hide my true feelings. I think the stuff we have done like “Wander” and “If You Could Feel My Love” is some seriously heart wrenching stuff for me personally to write about but its also nice to level with people like that.
AB: As far as what we listen to, I am so boring. I listen to deep Brian Eno tracks, I found a kid named Oliver Tree that’s great, and then the new Troye Sivan has been on repeat for me
DW: I’ve been listening to the 1975, Francis and the Lights and Tame Impala. Also a lot of pop music from India.
AW: As we do this interview, Whitney Houston is on. She’s pretty mind blowing. I also love the Black Panther compilation record that Kendrick Lamar did. Other than that its always a blend of Coldplay, U2, Miike Snow, The Killers, Kanye, Copeland, Stevie Wonder and a smattering of friends bands that are doing cool stuff.
IVM: Mind sharing a bit on some of these friends’ bands so readers can check them out as well?
AW: Daniella Mason is doing great stuff, Human is such a great song– there’s a Denver band that has long broken up called Popcult that is still one of my favorite EP’s of all time, you can’t find it anymore but they did make an EP under the name Sunboy that’s really cool. My friend Charlie has a project called Hollow Hum, great stuff. Tigerwine from Colorado Springs is amazing.
IVM: I’ll have to give some of them a spin. I’m familiar with Tigerwine, that’s another case of a big change in sound – if I remember correctly, some of the members were in a post-rock band a while back. So just to recap, “Show Me The Way Home” releases Friday. Is there anything else coming up for you guys or any closing thoughts for our readers?
DW: we have our first headline show in Nashville on November 28th at the High Watt that should be a good time!
AB: We are really honored about the way the music has been received this year and are excited to wrap up with this song. I think that 2019 is gonna see a lot more shows and music from our camp.
AW: We are really excited about all the music. This song is probably the most personal for me though. Emotionally it took a lot for me to dig up and process. I hope it gives some sense of solidarity to anyone that’s looking for their place in this world.
IVM: We’re definitely excited for what’s next as well! Thanks for all your time and enjoy the rest of your night!
Listen to all of the band’s releases below and stay tuned for “Show Me The Way Home”!