VISTA Transcends with Sophomore EP ‘Long Live’

 

By Paula Araujo

Last month, up and coming rockers, VISTA released their sophomore EP Long Live. Fronted by Hope Vista alongside with Greg Almeida the two have created a refreshing and thrilling record that is far from any sophomore slump. The music dives in deep lyrically and the production is transcendent giving the listener a real vivid experience. If the title track of the record is any indication, VISTA is taking the idea of Long Live to heart and without a doubt making sure they’re heard. They’ve got a headlining tour starting later this week, that is not to be missed. The passion that is active in their music, amplifies when you see them live.

For tour dates, check out their website. For now, read on to find out more about the duo, how the EP came about, what they’re listening to these days and more!

Hello! Please introduce yourself and your role in the band.
Greg: Hi! I’m Greg, some call me Groogles. I play guitar, sing, and kind of put together a lot of the instruments and sounds for VISTA.
Hope: Hi! I’m Hope. Lead vocals. I also do the band’s press, booking, a lot of branding work, and write all the music with Greg!

How would you describe yourself and your music?
Greg: Straight up bipolar. I can write the most bubblegum pop tune, or the craziest darkest shit.
Hope: Yeah, his writing range is pretty extreme and very impressive. I’m naturally a pretty dark and weird writer, that’s what flows out naturally. But oddly enough I’m SUPER into late 90’s bubblegum pop culture and the boy bands from that era. Opposites attract, I guess!

How did you meet?
Greg: Me and Hope met via Facebook, then met up and jammed.
Hope: Super anti-climactic.

What was your favorite aspect of creating this EP “Long Live”?
Greg: I think it when it was done, being able to listen to it all. The back half of it was great.
Hope: Listening to it made me emotional, honestly. There was so much frustration when we made this and I came out of it tense and mentally drained, so getting to listen to it all from start to finish was the most relieving feeling everrrr.

How did you decide on the title for the EP?
Greg: To be honest, Hope just suggested the idea for it and I was like ‘That sounds great. Let’s do that.’
Hope: “Long Live” is just what popped into my head when I thought about what VISTA had experienced thus far and where we were headed. The EP title came first, before anything was even written or recorded. I had this original idea for a concept album called “Decay” first, we explored some topics for it and just scratched it all, it wasn’t working. And then I thought like, ‘what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of where VISTA currently stands.’ The words ‘long live’ just flashed in front of me and I was like…. Oh. This could be really cool if we create a whole concept based on these words and have some super strong branding.

Was this idea/theme of forming an allegiance and finding an ‘oasis’ among a dystopian society something that came together naturally?
Greg: Kind of. We really wanted to resonate with those who have felt pretty upset about today’s weird world that we live in. So we wanted to do it through music.
Hope: Yeah and like, that concept kinda just fell in line with the EP title. Greg and I have both felt affected by the current state of the world and society in general, so we made a conscious decision to write about it and explore the different sides of a dystopia. Which is really petrifying to think about, but it’s becoming more and more real.

Do you have a favorite song on the EP? Why is it your favorite?
Greg: Either ‘Long Live’ or ‘Hellbent’! Hellbent is just a kick in the teeth and it’s so fun, Long Live is a really good anthemic tune that came together so quickly.
Hope: Mine is definitely “Long Live.” I’m really emotionally attached to that song, it kicks me in the heart in a very powerful way. It ties together the whole record and truly describes what VISTA is and where we are. Long live VISTA, babyyyy.

What have you discovered about yourself throughout the process of creating this new music?
Greg: Sometimes, you just have to let go and wing it. It’s weird, but that’s how things work sometimes, and you can be happy with the results.
Hope: I need to try and not be so hypercritical of myself. I beat myself up in the studio time and time again whenever I’m doing vocals, even if it’s just the first try on something. I want everything to be the best it can be, so if I mess up somewhere on something, I’ll be the first to start beating myself up and criticizing myself. I had to figure out how to tone it down and try to keep my thoughts at bay, which was REALLLY hard!!

What is your favorite song to perform live?
Greg: So far it’s been Henchmen, but let’s see if that changes.
Hope: I always loved performing the original version of Dominance, so I’m stoked to do the new version, but I’m also biased on that one.

What are you most proud of so far in with your career?
Greg: Playing that Irving Plaza show with Against The Current. That was sick.
Hope: 100%.

What is your workflow like? What does a typical day/week look like?
Greg: Just me and Hope texting each other either not at all or rapidly about everything at once.
Hope: Yeah to be honest, Greg and I actually don’t really see each other that much. We’re both so busy individually, so we text a LOT, almost all the time honestly. If I don’t hear from Greg in a few hours I get concerned. Whenever one of us is really excited or really concerned about something, one or the other, it’s typically a phone call!

What has been the most challenging thing so far?
Greg: Just finding each other’s middle ground when writing. Seeing what ideas will work for VISTA, what ideas won’t. That sort of thing.
Hope: Oh yeah. We argued quite a bit when making this EP, we are both very headstrong and commanding, so it took a bit of time to get into a groove and find compromises on everything. There is a lot of compromise on this new record.

What do you want people to take away from your music?
Greg: We want people to feel inspired by the time they’re done with our EP. We want them to feel like there’s a fire inside of their chest.
Hope: I just love when people feel it. Like really, really feel it; whether that be emotionally or physically, like they feel the bass lines pumping through their blood. If we can make you feel, we’re accomplished. Especially with a record like “Long Live.”

What is your advice for other artists out there? What was the best advice you’ve been given?
Greg: Be social, be nice, be courteous, and don’t burn bridges. Just be nice.
Hope: It is so important to be able to identify and define your individual brand, what makes you unique from everyone else. And also wear whatever you want. Don’t put yourself in a box.

When was the moment you knew you wanted to pursue music?
Greg: Probably when I was able to play Bamboozle in 2011 with my other band.
Hope: I knew when I was really, really young. Like age 3, it’s just something I felt in my bones and it’s hard to explain. But I have never passionately wanted to do anything besides makes this a career.

What new music/releases have you been listening to lately?
Greg: I’ve been listening to the new CHON and SZA albums on repeat. I just found out about this sick band called paris_monster today. I’ll probably listen to their stuff.
Hope: I’m addicted to this frickin new Shawn Mendes song right now, I haven’t listened to anything else for like the past 12 hours.

Lastly, Pancakes or waffles?
Greg: Not even a question. Waffles!
Hope: GREG WE AGREE ON SOMETHING, THIS IS PIVOTAL.

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#WomenCrush Showcases Manhattan’s Hidden Talent

By Rhiannon Levengood, Photos By Paula Araujo

As a movement against the male-driven world we live in, Ashley Kervabon has created and launched an organization of women that supports and promotes female artists in the music industry. #WomenCrush–aptly named after the hashtag “WomenCrushWednesday”–gives up and coming musicians a chance to showcase their talents in a comfortable environment.

#WomenCrush originated in Portland, Oregon, where its founder resides, but has gained the attention of local media outlets in major cities across the States including Los Angeles, Nashville, and even New York City. Every month in Portland, Ashley hosts a showcase for a handful of musicians to perform in, and she’s recently started a showcase in New York City as well. The very first east coast showcase was on May 20, 2017 and exhibited three artists alongside Ashley herself.

In a small nook in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Katie Zaccardi was the very first woman to take the stage at Rockwood Music Hall. Accompanied by a solo guitarist and her trusty ukulele, Zaccardi set the vibe with an angelic voice and an acoustic set of her own songs. In the midst, she performed a flawless moody cover of the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

Next to take the stage was Jackie Paladino, whose music is soulful and poppy. Supported by a single guitarist, she performed her original songs with glass of wine in her hand and her soul as vulnerable as her bare feet, giving the illusion of a young and endeavoring Amy Winehouse. Her set mellowed out and won the hearts of the growing crowd.

Kiirstin Marilyn was the third artist in the lineup, and by far the most energetic of the four as she dominated the tiny stage. With a dubstep backing track, lead guitarist, and powerful political message, she bewitched the crowd both on and off the stage.

And finally, #WomenCrush founder Ashley Kervabon herself took the stage, sitting at the baby grand piano with a tattered song book and her heart on the ivory keys. She brought the audience back down with sincere and personal songs, both in English and Spanish, bringing the New York City showcase to a well-rounded close.

The #WomenCrush NYC showcase was enthralling from start to finish. For those interested in becoming part of the movement, there are links down below! The ladies at #WomenCrush are welcoming, empowering, and open to help women get started in the music industry.

 

For more on #WomenCrush check out these links:
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For more on Katie Zaccardi:
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For more on Jackie Paladino:
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For more on Kiirstin Marilyn:
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For more on Ashley Kervabon:
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Marcio Novelli’s Never-Ending Evolution of Music

By Rhiannon Levengood

Born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario hails family man Marcio Novelli. With the diverse range of talents he possesses, he brings us a recreation of his first full-length studio album It’s Not an Excuse, It’s a Reason. This new release of older material is entitled The Reimagining, Vol. 1, and can be described as stripped down versions of the original songs. Or in the eyes of the creator, reimagined versions.

Novelli explained to us, “There should never be only one definitive version of a song, at least not for me. I think music should be ever-evolving and the same song can exist in many different forms. I discovered that I really love being able to present my songs in at least two different forms.” As a proud Pisces (a symbol of two fish swimming in opposite directions), this makes a lot of sense for him.

You can listen to both versions of each song here:

Along with his re-release, Marcio is giving us a brand new music video for his song “Better (Reimagined)” that was directed and produced solely by himself. He shares with us his triumphs and struggles to create a final product:

“[It] is the first and only song from this EP to feature a completely original video. I’m glad to finally share it with everyone because I’ve been sitting on it for over a year now and most of the footage was shot two years ago. Speaking of which, the camera op I hired for the main shoot accidentally deleted an entire memory card with 90% of the footage we shot. This left me with the insane task of making use of very minimal footage and turning it into a presentable behind-the-scenes video. I had to shoot a few inserts and utilize some self-shot footage but, with a lot of work and finesse, I think it really came together.”

As Novelli works on his second full-length record, he hopes that his fans can find satisfaction in his absence with his first volume of Reimagining; and he promises a second volume to follow his next album.

Below, you can read the rest of our exclusive interview with the man himself.

How did you get into music? Was there a specific moment when you knew this was what you wanted to do?
My earliest memories before the age of five include listening to music and singing along to my favourite songs. By age seven, I had already written my first poem and before my tenth birthday I was coming up with song ideas. I knew by then that I wanted to make music and that sentiment was solidified when I was around thirteen years old and wrote literally hundreds of songs in my eighth year of elementary school. It was a means of therapy for me to deal with the traumatic things going on in my life at the time.

What has been your favorite aspect of your career so far?
I love everything about the creative process from writing songs to bringing them to life in the studio to performing them on stage. Each of the three major stages are gratifying on different levels and for different reasons.

What’s the most challenging thing about your career? What’s been the most rewarding?
The fact that I’ve been truly independent for all these years has been both challenging and rewarding all at once but it has definitely posed more challenges than rewards by far. I spend the vast majority of my time doing all the behind-the-scenes work that is aggravating and stressful so I can make music. I’m very much looking forward to the day that I can just be the artist with an extremely small focus on the administrative side of things.

What prompted you to recreate your original album It’s Not an Excuse, It’s a Reason?
It’s been over five years since I entered the studio to record It’s Not an Excuse, It’s a Reason. Since then, I’ve become a father twice and experienced a series of setbacks that have regrettably prevented me from focusing entirely on my music. The idea to record an acoustic EP that reimagines my previously released material spanning my three solo releases came to me not long after my first son was born in 2012. I had been performing my songs solo acoustically live and I knew I wanted to focus my energies on being a dad so I figured this would be a project that allowed me to be creative while representing the core of the songs and characteristics of my solo shows. This is one of the reasons I opted to produce the EP myself, without a co-producer like my last two releases, in order to capture the vibe that only I knew how to. I chose to reimagine songs from my catalog that were previously only available as full band arrangements. This EP also allowed me to share a new release with my following while I finish my upcoming second full-length album.

Which song from The Reimagining, Vol 1. are you most proud of?
I’m really happy with how the EP turned out as a whole but I’d have to say that the reimagined version of Doctor, Please really stands out to me as something special. I wasn’t happy with it for a long time until, just before wrapping up the EP, I came up with the new piano part that really sets the new version apart from the original allowing it to stand on its own rather than just being an acoustic version of the song. There’s a reason I didn’t just call this EP “Acoustic Versions” because these recordings are so much more than that. I wanted to strip the songs down to how I had originally wrote them then dress them up in just enough sonic clothing to make them look different yet still familiar like an old friend you haven’t seen in years who is still the same in a lot of ways but has matured with time.

Do you have any favorite lyrics from your newest EP?
With a few minor exceptions, there really aren’t any new lyrics on this EP but I can name a few that I really enjoy. The lyric that has resonated most with people is “Perfection is a flaw”. Most of the people who have tattoos of my lyrics have opted to permanently ink their skin with those words. As a whole, I really love Doctor, Please because of its honesty and ability to relate to my situation again and again. As a concept, Siren Song is really fun because I strongly allude to Homer’s The Iliad to help paint what I was experiencing in my life at the time.

I understand that you’re very hands-on when it comes to your material and art. Have you faced any struggles when filming or editing your videos/music?
I usually bring in a co-director to work with me on set for my music videos, particularly for the scenes I’m acting or performing in. The only struggle I’ve faced is the push back from other filmmakers not being used to sharing the creative control and direction on set. I’m very comfortable collaborating but, at the end of the day, it’s my video and it’s going to be the way I want it to be.

What have you learned from it?
I’ve learned the importance of making it very clear in advance what I’m looking for from anyone I bring onto my video projects so that there are no surprises.

Would you continue co-directing in the future?
I would prefer to direct but I will also be happy to co-direct with talented filmmakers who share my vision and help me bring it to life on film while being able to leave their ego at the door.

Do you have any long term goals? Would you ever like to do a full tour?
Oh god, yes. It’s so much more complicated than it seems, especially when I have a wife and two kids at home that I’d be leaving behind. I balance my time between being a full-time father and artist so there are several specifics that need to be addressed in order to make a tour possible. I’m working on it though.

Which artists inspire you the most?
It really depends on the day but, over time, the people who have inspired me the most as artists are Jared Leto, Marilyn Manson, Billie Joe Armstrong, and Brandon Boyd.

Who inspires you to pursue your passions?
My kids, more than anything, inspire me on a daily basis to be a better person and work even harder than I already do. I used to do this solely for myself then, as people took notice, I did it for them as well. Now, my kids have worked their way into the reasons I’m still doing this crazy thing in one of the most unforgiving industries in the world.

How do you deal with criticism?
I used to not be able to handle criticism at all but, at this point, I take everything with a grain of salt, both good and bad. I’d be lying if I said that there aren’t times I obsess over something someone has said to me, particularly if it’s negative, but, I’m much better at letting things roll off my back than ever before. I think that our ability to handle criticism as artists and people in general is directly proportionate to our level of confidence and sensitivity to the particular aspect of ourselves or our work that is being criticized. After making music for the better half of my life, I really just can’t find the time to dwell on anything other than my life as a dad and songwriter.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received that you’d want to pass on to other up and coming artists?
Focus on your fans, not labels and other industry people.

Do you have a favorite tv show?
The way my wife and I wind down at the end of the day when the kids are asleep is usually to watch some shows we love. We really enjoy well crafted series that play out like a long movie. One of our all-time favourites is Shameless which is such a fantastic show. There are too many to name though. A personal favourite of mine is Archer. It’s seriously so good. I’ve always loved animation and that has not changed in my adulthood.

Which character from that show do you identify with most?
From Shameless, I’d say I relate to Lip the most. He’s smarter and more capable than his situation would suggest and he’s constantly self-sabotaging himself and holding himself back without being consciously aware of it. I know I’ve definitely done that more times in my life than I’d like to admit.

Who are your top five favorite bands?
I’m into so many different artists so I’ll just name the five that have stuck with me the longest: Incubus, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Tegan and Sara, AFI, The Used.

What is an instrument you’d love to play?
I’d love to work on my drum skills and better my ability as a guitar and piano player in general. It’s really just a matter of time. There’s never been enough to go around but, once you become a parent, that time is cut down to a bare minimum so you need to use any free time wisely. In fact, there is no free time, you’ve got to set aside time to do what needs to be done and use that time wisely. Right now, that extremely limited time is being dedicated to somehow finding a way to finish my new album. I’m nearly five years into this dad thing and I’m still figuring out how to manage my time to simultaneously be the best father and artist I can be.

And finally, one question I always ask: waffles or pancakes?
Although I have pancakes once a week, I’d have to say that I probably enjoy waffles more and I used to eat a ton of them when I was a kid.

Stay up to date with Marcio by checking out the links below:
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