I feel it appropriate to preface this glorious Q&A with the ever lovely Ms. Viveca Hawkins that I recently scored (score!) with this clip rather than the actual music video for The Memorials smash single “West Coast” because, well wow, the whole band is just so charismatic you can’t help but crave seeing them perform this tune live. Here’s to hoping 2012 brings big things for the band, as they enter the adventure of recording a second album, and that they also wash up on Australian shores some time REAL soon to promote it. Woot woot!
CH: The video for “West Coast” is pretty notorious! Seems like you guys really enjoy a good night rage or two. How’s the life of a rockstart treating you?
VH: Lol indeed! We like to party! We work hard though. That vid was cut from one rockin party/rehearsal and a few gigs we did! All were big fun and meticulously planned. I’m still workin on my rock star status. Life is good though. I’m constantly working on being a better me.
CH: Is there a climate for creativity in the music scene in Cali at the moment? What other scenes on your tour circuit really set you on fire?
VH: Home is where the heart is… I put it all into the music. I can write just about anywhere though. There is inspiration everywhere. I love Texas! We always have great shows there!!
CH: How are the kids responding to your live performances? Which songs have really been setting them off?
VH: The crowd really varies from place to place. Many people show up looking for the Mars volta and, or have no idea what they are about to witness. They often stand there in awe and then burst into applause at the end of the song. Others come and know all my lyrics and sing along! I’ve started a mosh or two even! Lol GTFOMF, Why Me, and Fluorescence get the party Crackin! ;)
CH: What’s your favorite song to perform live and why?
VH: I love singing GTFOMF because it has such brilliant range. The ups and downs take me on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Depending on my mood it can even bring a tear to my eye.
CH: You say you did a stint at Berklee School of Music with not much else but a few suitcases and handful of cash… What was that experience like and how did it shape you as a musician?
VH: Yea, when I went to Berklee I was totally winging it. I had never really studied music outside of voice classes and that didn’t require much theory or anything. It made 8 classes that much more difficult in my freshman year. I found out so much more about myself than anything else. My musical education brought me closer to Thomas and I think that’s the most valuable thing I took from it. Networking is key.
CH: When Thomas approached you to form The Memorials, what was his sales pitch? How well had you guys known each other before then and had you already built up some trust?
VH: When TP hit me up about the band I was working at a pretty awesome job living in the matrix. He offered me the pills… I swallowed… (pause) lol. He asked if I wanted to take a shot at Rock? He told me it would be a chance for me to get away from all the stereotypes of R&B artists and be myself. He told me I could be as weird as I wanted to be and that made me feel comfy! We absolutely had built up a fair amount of trust by then. We had known each other for over 10 years by then. We met in church and as I see it there has always been some sort of divine connection between us. Blessed to find…
CH: Thomas tends to play some pretty funky time signatures. As the bands singer, what has the writing process been like for you?
VH: Thomas is surely one of the most complex drummers on the planet. I have really had to take my time with these songs. He’s always complaining about how long it takes me to write our records, but it’s really hard!!! I feel like I first have to really internalize the rhythms. I have to feel the music because I can’t begin to count it. Then I like to listen for what the song is saying to me because the music speaks to me. I always try and go where it takes me. There is a lot of writing and rewriting… Sometimes I will take direction and sometimes I have to stick to my guns, but I always try and ask for input from the rest of the band. I want all of us to be able to be proud of these songs.
CH: What’s the inspiration behind your solo album, CHIPS? Are you a gamblin’ type of women yourself?
VH: I titled Chips after my song “Chips” because I love that song and I was really taking a gamble putting the record out the way I did… It was super guerilla style and I wasn’t sure how it would all work out. I have never been one to gamble much. Never had the $$$ to waste. As TP says “I like to keep my $$ in my pocket.”
CH: What bands did you grow up listening to? Who’s been your biggest influence?
VH: I began singing in church when I was a little girl. Gospel music was a huge part of my vocal development. I’ve been told that I am a child of New Jack Swing. I was jamming out to bands like “Tony, Toni, Tone” and “Mint Condition”! I also always loved bands like “Foo Fighters” “No Doubt” and “Greenday”. Then there was my soulful Donny Hathaway and Nina Simone. Or Funky Sly and his fam. Then who can leave out my divas like Whitney, Chaka, Tina, Aretha and Mariah! I could go on and on…
CH: Who are you listening to now?
VH: I had a gig the other day and I was listening to Cage the Elephant in the car on the way. I like them. I find myself often listening to Fela. I also have been listening to a crap load of The Memorials because we are in the process of mixing our second album!!!
CH: See any bands live recently who gave you the chills?
VH: A few months back I went to see Jordan Ferreira at Elixir on Mute show with some friends and Jon Reshard was playing bass with him! They were going nuts on stage and all I could think about was the fact that I was soon gonna be on stage with them!! It was sooooo exciting! Totally gave me the willies J
CH: And lastly, what’s next for you? With your fingers in all sorts of fun projects, including your own, how will your time be divided?
VH: Our second record is well in the works and we are hoping to get back on the road by 4/20/2012! I am getting into my conditioning mode because when we make these songs I don’t really know them. I have to learn them all over again after we finish and I have to be able to run around the stage while I’m singing them! I’ll be working out, shopping for new gear for the road, singing a lot, and preparing our merch for the road! Yea that’s right!! I’m making T shirts Kids!!! How many artists really make their own merch!!? Weeeeeeeeeeee!!
CH: How’s a trip to Australia sound, if we can manage it??
VH: I have been to Australia twice now. Both times I loved it!! I came on tour with Blackalicious in like 08/09!! I can’t wait to get back out there!!! As soon as you all can manage WE ARE THERE!!!! Can’t wait to see you!!! Thanks for hitting me up!!