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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Z100’s Summer Bash is a Smash

By Paula Araujo

On Thursday July 28, fans gathered and shut down a block next to Madison Square Garden for Z100 New York’s annual Summer Bash. This year the line up featured Hey Violet, MAX, and Fall Out Boy.

Getting things started that evening was Hey Violet! They treated fans to songs like, “Hoodie” and “Guys My Age” off their latest album From The Outside. They also covered Ed Sheeran’s, “Shape Of You.”  Following their performance was New York’s very own Max. He hyped up the crowd with his vibrant and energetic performance. He played recent singles such as “One More Weekend” and “Lights Down Low.”

Closing out the night was Fall Out Boy decked out in their purple gear in honor of their new album M A N I A. Another special treat for everyone was the Empire State Building lit up in purple in their honor. Fall Out Boy treated the crowd to fan favorites such as, “Uma Thurman,” “My Songs Know What You Did The Dark”, and “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” plus their latest single “Champion” from their upcoming record out this September.

It was an incredible evening and Z100 definitely knows how to throw a summer bash!

Spotlight: Macedo

By Paula Araujo
Photos by Ryan West

When it comes down to choosing between pancakes or waffles, twin sisters Michelle and Melissa Macedo both agree on waffles. That’s not the only thing they agree on either. They’re remarkably passionate about music, acting, and activism. Twins are known to have similar commonalities, traits, and personality. While they are very much different, ultimately it is how they blend their differences that truly makes them shine as artists. Michelle and Melissa stand out in the crowd with their unique approach to their craft.

You may recognize them from Netflix’s original show, Girl Boss. Soon enough, you’ll find them as leading ladies in James Franco’s upcoming film Blood Heist. On the musical side of things, they’ve recently released their new single “Truth Of It” along with a music video. An upcoming album Ghost Town, is expected later this year in which the duo wrote all the songs for. A heavy theme surrounds the record, Michelle elaborates, “I had just ended a very long relationship and was experiencing health issues. I felt so terrified and alone. I cut myself off from the world for about 6 months just writing constantly. That utter isolation (besides from Melissa) brought about Ghost Town. It is a reflection and exploration of the ghosts that we all have and the ways in which we are haunted by our pasts.“

Read on to find out more about this talented duo and their journey with not only acting and music but self discovery, and what’s to come.

Hello! How is your summer going so far?
It’s going great! We love summer and here in Los Angeles it’s a great time to head to the beach or get outside for an outdoor movie and picnic. We’re heading out to NY soon to work on a movie so we’re currently preparing for that.

Who are Macedo? How would you describe yourself and your music?
We are an indie duo based in Los Angeles made up of twin sisters Michelle & Melissa Macedo. We would describe our style as Regina Spektor/Feist meets Lianne La Havas with a classic vibe. What makes us unique is our harmonies and songwriting style. Since we are twins, our voices blend well together; combine that with a piano driven, lyrical sound and you have Macedo.

What was it like creating your latest single “Truth of It”?
We wrote the song “Truth of It” together. It was really very conceptual from the beginning. We wanted the verses to feel like the reality of the situation and the choruses to feel fantasy. It was written about a relationship that just wouldn’t work. There can be a lot of mixed feelings towards the end of a relationship. One minute you’re trying to talk yourself into staying and the next you are trying to get out as soon as you can. We wanted to capture that manic duality.

“Truth of It” Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gHFQF8xV6o

Do you have any favorite lyrics that you’ve written?
Personally, our favorite lyrics are from “Take Back the Night”. “Take Back the Night” is an important song about sexual assault. So many people experience it but there is so much shame and silence surrounding it that it’s not often talked about. It’s incredibly difficult to talk about and we wanted to give people the courage to share their stories. We couldn’t get through the song without crying. We only did one take on the vocals for that one.

How did you decide on the art direction/aesthetic/theme of your last three singles? What was the process for shooting those covers?
I think the imagery for “Ghost Town” was an idea we had brewing for a while. We are both very into the occult, witchy aspect. Melissa actually reads Tarot Cards. We wanted it to represent the inner ghosts that people battle every day. We had an incredible team help us as well. We were privileged to work with a photographer named Myriam Santos who really helped bring our ideas to life. Jason Adduci designed the cover art and Chandra Dyani styled us. We shot in a haunted old mansion in Los Angeles and we both feel very powerfully connected to the witchy femininity of that imagery.

Can fans expect an EP or album soon?
Yes, they can expect one this upcoming fall. Stay tuned on our social accounts for more details.

What is your favorite aspect of creating or working on a new piece/project? What has been the most challenging thing?
We feel like the songwriting process is like alchemy, turning pain into something beautiful and honest. Melissa will see me experiencing a relationship and she will get an idea about a song and then we can finish it together. Michelle has always written poetry as a way of expressing herself and so experiences naturally come out in words. It can be very therapeutic and cathartic. As sisters and as musicians, we are so deeply connected that one of us will supply what the other one needs. That is just a part of who we are, our relationship is integral to our art. The biggest challenge has been staying true to our vision. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to really figure out what it is that you want and then stick with your vision. This album is about putting out what we want and representing our true selves.

What have you discovered about yourselves throughout the process of creating new music?
There are always plenty of discoveries when creating new music. Something telling was just writing how we felt and reading it back. That was very cathartic and therapeutic. It was a deeper insight to our psyche. We discovered we are incredibly resilient when faced with opposition.

What is your favorite song at the moment?
“Die Young” by Sylvan Esso.

What are you most looking forward to the rest of this year?
We’re most looking forward to the release of our album “Ghost Town” and the movie we’re both starring in films  August and September in New York! Also, the release of our film “Blood Heist” we starred in with James Franco is coming out so there is a lot to look forward to.

What are you most proud of so far with your career?
On the music side of things, I think we’re most proud of this upcoming album, we really stood up for what we believed in and worked hard to make every single song what we wanted. In terms of the performing side, the privilege to work with James Franco in Blood Heist and all of the fantastic people on GIRLBOSS (Kay Cannon, Britt Robertson, Ellie Reed and Johnny Simmons). We’re very proud of those accomplishments.

What is your workflow like? What does a typical day/week look like?
Everyday is so different. We start off with some exercise and meditation to get grounded and get our bodies going. Some days we are on set, some days we are auditioning. Other days we are recording in the studio or practicing. We are always meeting new people and going to new places. The cool part about our jobs is that it never gets boring!

What has been the most challenging thing so far?
Being a woman can be a challenge in the entertainment industry. It can be difficult to endure the pressure and expectations placed upon women. It’s important to find our own voices and be unapologetic. It’s a blessing to have each other. We really support each other and move each other forward. That is what gets us through the ups and downs. As long as we are true to ourselves and compassionate, kind people we’re able to keep things in perspective.

What has been the most rewarding thing so far?
We feel very strongly about women’s issues. We have always supported RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) and Melissa used to be a Rape Crisis Counselor for them. We interviewed hundreds of women and men and co-created a theatrical show called “Dirty Talk” with our theatre company (World Kin Ensemble) about the spectrum of violence against women, ranging from catcalling to rape. We acted in and toured college campuses around the country with that show. We also performed it as part of USC’s Visions and Voices. We feel strongly about any organization that supports and empowers women. It’s exactly what we try to create in our art. We think as artists it’s important to help the world empower the otherwise marginalized and silenced. That has been such a rewarding experience.

What are your long term and short term goals?
We want to be creating art as much as possible. We would love to go on a world tour with our music and continue acting in films and television. Our ultimate goal is to continue to do what we love, in both music and acting.

What do you want people to take away from your music?
We really hope our music connects with people and helps people to empower themselves. We hope it helps people if they are feeling isolated or disconnected. I think the message of the music is to accept imperfections and that humans are incredibly resilient and beautiful as they are. If the song speaks to one person or helps one person connect to themselves in a way they haven’t before, I think it’s worth it. We hope to achieve that goal by being as truthful and honest in our songwriting as we can.

What is your advice for other artists out there? What was the best advice you’ve been given?
The best advice we’ve gotten is to stick with it, keep your head down, keep going and focus on the work, on what inspires you. Treat yourself kindly through the whole journey and trust you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Which artists inspire you?
There are so many people who really shaped and influenced us. Some of those people are the people that challenged us. So much of our growth has come from creating art out of difficult situations. The songwriting of Joni Mitchell, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor, Claude Debussy, Otis Redding, Billie Holiday and Radiohead were huge influences. We really appreciate amazing songwriting and we feel like all of those artists tell a story in the most impactful way. They are real and honest and can structure a song so effectively. The first time we heard Tidal by Fiona Apple we were completely blown away. It was like she was singing our lives and feelings especially “Never is A Promise”. We knew that’s what we wanted to do, to be so honest with ourselves that we had no choice but to feel connected.

Do you find it difficult to switch gears from music to acting?
We really feel like one craft just makes the other one better. The more we strive to be better musicians, the more that bleeds into our acting and vice versa. It’s all practicing this self expression that is truthful and we think that helps in all formats. We are inspired when we are doing both so we grow as artists.

When was the moment you knew you wanted to do this for a living?
It’s interesting because we always knew. We grew up making music and being so inspired by films we saw. The raw vulnerability in both mediums really spoke to us.

Do you recall your earliest memory involving music or acting?
Our earliest musical memory is sitting at the piano with our dad. It’s this amazing antique piano that my mom inherited, it has this beautiful, haunting quality to it. We still write on that piano sometimes! We started writing songs together when we were about 10 years old. We had both been playing musical instruments and singing together for a while. Michelle had been writing poetry at that point and it just made sense to just put it all together. Even then, we were writing harmonies together. It sort of happened naturally because we work together really well. We also always knew we wanted to act, we got involved in all the school plays and honed that craft in college and beyond.

And lastly, pancakes or waffles?
Great question. Waffles!!! Always!

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