electronic pop with soaring vocals
music review and artist reflections
More Vik Levak and Jody Quine:
Jody Quine The Hollywood Demo (2003)
Jody Quine Interview (2002)
Vik Levak Interview (2002)
Balligomingo Beneath The Surface (2002)
Jody Quine Star (2000)
review, interview and HTML © Russell W Elliot 2005
Images © viia music 2005
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Last updated: 22 March 2005
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Musical Discoveries editors have followed the work of Vik Levak and Jody Quine through their evolution since discovering their work in Balligomingo's Beneath the Surface. The duo have recently announced a new project named viia. Read our review of their brand new eight-track demo and exclusive interview with them below.
Background. The launch of the new millennium marked the start of a new musical collaboration, that of Vik Levak and Jody Quine. Jody met Vik while recording a solo project at Levak's Hush Sound studio. At the time Vik was also working on an electronica project called Balligomingo, conceptualized and created by Garrett Schwartz. Soon after, Vik lent his talents to the project as a co-producer, writer and musician. Rapidly, Balligomingo's sound became undeniable and within a year the project secured a worldwide record deal with BMG/RCA, now BMG/Sony.
Upon hearing Jody's voice, Garrett expressed to Vik his interest in having her join the handful of vocalists featured on Balligomingo's debut CD. This spawned the musical collaboration of Quine and Levak. The initial effort, for the Balligomingo album, proved successful as it produced "Purify," a track that came to the attention of Bob Jamieson, president of BMG. Tremendously excited, Jamieson quickly earmarked "Purify" as the first single to push the world-wide launch of Balligomingo's Beneath the Surface CD.
Prior to the CD release, the record label sent "Purify" to several renowned DJs for alternative dance remixes. Concurrent with the CD launch, four final remixes were pressed to vinyl and distributed to top club DJs in the United States. The Gus Gus remix of "Purify" blasted onto the Billboard Breakout Club Charts at number three, transferred to the club play charts where it quickly escalated to number 28, attained rotation on Australian MTV, climbed to number four in the UK charts, and found placement on several compilations and television shows.
Having achieved early success with a harmonious collaboration, Levak and Quine bounced around the idea of starting a side project. One of the first compositions under this project, "Frozen," leaked out to cyberspace, created an early buzz, found placement on a major motion picture Human Cargo and had fans of Levak and Quine calling for more. However, other commitments, including Balligomingo, consumed their time until the summer of 2004. As the season shifted into autumn, Levak and Quine shifted into gear to get their musical concept off ground; thus the arrival of viia, a powerful musical concept fusing elements of pop, electronica, and infectious melodies, creating a distinctive sound with subtle traces, reminiscent of Annie Lennox, Sarah Mclachlan, and U2.
Musical Discoveries: Did you two meet on the set of Balligomingo or had you worked together before?
Vik: We met about 8 months into the Balli project around May 2000 when a producer friend called me to do some engineering and mixing on Jody's solo project.
Jody: Ah, those were the days.
So you liked working together and there were some demos you pulled together. How did that evolve into viia?
Vik: Jody and I had talked about putting the viia project together in Jan 2002. In March Jody came back to Vancouver and sang on five rough musical ideas.
Jody: And then over time, we just kept coming back to it until October of 2004 when we put it into overdrive, straight on ahead.
What other projects have you each been involved in since the Balligomingo album was completed.
Vik: Since Balli, I;ve done some guitar production/mixing on Kristy Thirsk's latest release. I have written songs for corporate clients in the US as well as some TV movies here in Canada. Currently I'm working with the band Loverboy who some will know for their "Working for the Weekend" 80's hit single.
Jody: As well as still working on my solo stuff, which I seem to be taking the most time to get out there, I have been working with Justin Elswick on his Sleepthief project. I was the first vocalist to get into the studio with him and I think that's a definite reason why I'm featured on three songs. Two of them I co-wrote and the third Justin wrote, "Tenuous," which is one of my favorites, for sure. "Eurydice," the third song we recorded, was a great experience because I was heading out to shoot the video for "Tenuous" and suggested that since I was coming out, perhaps I could work on another song. So Justin hopped at it and sent me something. I finished writing the lyrics just hours before going into the studio, as we were crunched for time from the start. I'd spend my days shooting the video and the evenings in the studio. I think it's turned out just amazing.
So we've got to ask, where did the name "viia" come from and what does it mean?
Vik: Well I think Jody came up with the name. "Via" actually means street and or destination in Italian. We just added an extra "i" and there you have it.
Jody: I spent a summer hanging out with a girl named Olivia. I always thought viia would make a great name.
Now that you've got an eight track sampler pulled together, what's next?
Vik: We just have to fine tune some of the current tracks on the sampler as well write a few more songs. At the moment, I'm working on a track that is tentatively titled "Photograph" which has a bit of an edge to it. Should be interesting to see how that one turns out. We've also just completed a basic outline of the cover song "verybody Wants To Rule The World" by Tears For Fears. What a great cutting edge band they were!
Jody: Demo? Man it's just about a full record. So, that's the goal. Finish up another song or two and release the puppy. We've been talking to labels, but we're leaning more and more to an independent release at this point. Labels get you heaps of exposure, but no real financial future.
How would you characterize the material thusfar?
Vik: It's a blend of electronic colors, organic sounds and pop melodies with a lot more guitars than Balligomingo. Its really more of my style in terms of song writing.
Jody: I think the sound is kind of a blend of U2, Sarah McLachlan, and Maroon 5. Upbeat pop, with some beautiful vocals. That is if I do say so myself, tee hee.
Do you plan to involve any other artists or is this going to be a Vic and Jody special?
Vik: Well for now it's the Jody and Vik special. A friend of mine Keith did play drums on a couple of tracks. We actually might get Mike Reno from Loverboy to do some vocals on "Everybody Wants To Rule The World."
Jody: Yes, it's a collaboration from just the two of us. We had success with our first co-write, "Purify," and a good time doing it, so onward and upward.
How would you say the viia work compares to other work you have done individually or together?
Vik: Its certainly my favorite work to date. Not to take away anything from Balligomingo. Its just more of my style adding the pop elements like the guitar colouring.
Jody: There's always a taste of me when I work on things. Co-writing is always a challenge I find I grow from, and then I can take that back to my work when I'm writing for myself. I like the upbeat energy on some of these tracks and Vik is a very talented guy, so it's been a great experience, alas, when I sit down at the piano and sing my heartfelt diddies, I'm happiest.
What are your plans for release?
Vik: Well we plan on releasing earlier this year a full length CD. Currently just reviewing options on distribution,record label scenarios, and the possibility of self releasing.
Jody: Promote promote promote, take the money and run.
What were your specific roles on the project thusfar?
Vik: I basically write and produce the music as well as help out with melodies.
Jody: Lyrics and initial melody ideas, and of course vocals. I handle and co-ordinate a lot of the business and design aspect for visuals and web as well.
What kind of music--or artists perhaps--has influenced your own?
Vik: Artists like U2, Coldplay, and George Michael have really inspired me as of late.
Jody: I'm realizing that whatever I have on repeat usually comes out of me later that day. I listen to a Canadian band called 'pilate' a lot. And, Ryan Adams still. Of course, viia and sleeptheif, so I guess I'm also influenced by myself!
If people like what they hear by viia, what other artists would you tell them to be listening to?
Vik: I guess the most obvious artists would be Sarah Mclachlan and Dido. Might as well throw in U2 and Coldplay. All of the above artists have created some of the best memorable atmospheric songs in our times. It would be great if viia one day can do the same.
Jody: Hopefully we're a place they visit and never want to leave.
How has the reaction to this new material been by your online audience?
Vik: The reaction has been great. Especially with Delerium fans since our music has taken a more pop direction than Balligomingo. Its been quite inspiring with the support we've been getting.
Jody: It's really exciting how well it's being received. A lot of fan support out there. In just 5 1/2 weeks, we cracked over 13,000 hits on our site. I haven't had more than 10,000 on my jodyquine.com site in the last year, but almost!
Can you tell us how the other performers were selected and a little bit about your experiences working with them.
Vik: In terms of Mike Reno, I actually met him through a friend of mine Jerry Wong, a talented producer in his own right, who has been working with Loverboy for over five years. Mike is such a down to earth guy especially for all the success he has had. When we're not working, it;s nothing but good times and laughter.
Jody: Vik's brother Rob has been a great help. He has a lot of business acumen and great ideas. His exuberance helps keep us motivated.
Is there a song that sticks out for you?
Vik: "This Girl" really sticks out for me. I just love the interaction between melody, lyrics and music. In simple terms, It's a great feel good song for me.
Jody: I love "Invitation." I love the feel of it. And "Frozen" as well. Oh, and fade, the harmonies. Ummm, do I have to pick just one?!
Do you plan any live performances? And if you've been out there already, what has it been like for you?
Vik: No live performances as of yet. Right now we're just taking one step at a time and looking at writing songs and completing the CD.
Jody: We may gear up to perform on television. It's good to get out there. But no tour in the plans as of yet.
Do you think the internet will help your musical career?
Vik: I think the internet has great marketing potential. So yes of course. On the other end of the spectrum, I feel music fans in general are starting to get accustomed to purchasing music downloads rather then file sharing for free.
Jody: We have balligomingo fans all over the world, that we would have a really hard time telling about the new stuff. As well as fans we're attracting with just the viia. The internet I believe is the sole reason being able to share all of this.
Do you have day jobs that our readers might be interested in hearing about?
Vik: Im actually a cab driver during the day. Just kidding. Trying to get some laughs. My gig is music whether its producing, writing, playing guitar, mixing, programming, arranging, engineering, washing dishes, sweeping. I better stop here! I could go on and on.
Jody: Not really. Though, I do spend a lot of time helping out with my boyfriend's son. Female role model and guide I find is a very interesting and rewarding job.
What are your hopes, plans and dreams for the rest of 2005?
Vik: To make music that everybody loves and sell millions to make millions. Im not sure which is hopes or which is dreams . Can't take life too seriously. Just have to live it to the fullest!
Jody: To give up my uninteresting day jobs.
Thanks for having us and, all the best to Musical Discoveries!
Viia's eight-track sampler was provided to reviewers to help establish a buzz for the full length album that is soon to follow. Musical Discoveries editors have supported Vic Levak and Jody Quine with reviews since the Balligomingo project and has had insight to the development of this stunning collaboration. Jody's characteristically soaring vocals are perfectly joined by Vik's guitar textures. The upbeat material is certain to appeal to a broad audience and is certain to delight established fans and newcomers alike.
The tracks are graced with the shimmering quality of Vik Levak's guitars, electronics and crisp percussion beneath Jody Quine's solo and multilayered harmony vocals. Quine's voice is undeniably one of the finest in the genre and is immediately identifiable whether it's her solo work, contributions to Balligomingo or with Vik Levak in viia. Our demo CD opens with the varying textured track "Again" with introspective verses and upbeat choruses. A more thickly guitar laden track entitled "Fade" follows, Quine's vocals searching evocatively and exploding in the lush choruses. A lovely keyboard melody provides the foundation for crystalline lead vocals backed with everso quiet harmony layers in the standout track "Dream."
"This Girl" is a longtime favourite track that has been lushly arranged (yes Balligomingo-style) for the debut viia project. Characteristic harmonies reminscent of the duo's work on "Purify" add substantial texture to the track. "Never Wanted" is further graced by Jody's crystalline lead vocal and is more lightly accompanied by Vik's shimmering guitar and supported further by her own self-harmonies. The tempo reduces in "Invitation," with guitar and keyboards backing Jody's tenderly delivered ballad.
The pace picks up slightly and textures thicken in "Star," Jody's richly layered vocals soaring heavily and well atop the lush keyboard washes and guitar stylings, as the conclusion of the disc draws near. The demo concludes with the now famous downbeat track "Frozen." Jody's soaring lead vocal is mixed well above the piano-driven foundation. Shimmering guitars and further vocal layers add texture in the melodic choruses.
Clearly viia show tremendous promise in this eight track sampler. Samples available in mp3 from their website are already drawing significant attention from enthusiasts. Read the latest news of the duo's progress, see additional photographs and read further reviews there. Certain to be one of the best of 2005, we can't wait for their full length album to be completed released!
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