INTERVIEW: Violet Crime Discuss Refining Their Sound on "Paper Queen"
The music of retro pop band Violet Crime could be described as a modern take on vintage sounds, and their latest EP, Paper Queen hones in on that unique sound more than ever before. The group, comprised of Jeff Mills (vocals), Selina Doran (vocals/guitar), Tom Goier (lead guitar), Kasey Gandham (bass) and KevinNagel (drums), have been praised for their powerful dual vocal performances, as well as their blend of indie, pop, soul, blues and jazz into one unique retro-pop genre, and with pop-punk legends Sam Guainana and Derek DiScanio partnering with the band on their newest release, they’re poised to reach great heights. With Paper Queen out now, Violet Crime have their sights set on the future, with a show coming up on August 10th and even more plans to (including some tour dates, hopefully) in store, they’re showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Can you tell us a little bit about Violet Crime for anyone who might not be familiar?
We are an indie pop band from Chicago! We're inspired by lots of artists - Hozier, John Mayer, Fun., City and Colour, and Vulfpeck to name a few. We like to put on high-energy, interactive shows that just feel like a huge party. We absolutely love playing music in Chicago and are so excited that people are listening to our music!
Last month, you guys celebrated the release of your new EP, Paper Queen. What are you most excited for fans to hear on the EP?
The evolution of sound. Our first EP was just a hodge-podge of emo-ey pop tunes. We really wanted to apply ourselves musically on this new record. We want to show our fans we've got groove, soul, and chops. I think that came out here in Paper Queen, everyone definitely gets to shine musically.
Did you have any major goals in mind for Paper Queen?
The top song is nearing 10,000 Spotify plays, which was one of our initial goals as a band...awesome to see just one month into the release of the EP! Since the release, we've been getting a number of inquiries about playing support for much bigger acts...we'll also be looking to get on some medium sized festivals next summer. We're very picky about when we play, if you've seen our shows, you know why!
For the new EP, you guys partnered with Sam Guainana and Derek DiScanio who are both well known in the pop-punk scene. What were they able to bring to the table?
Derek is a melody master and helped a lot with vocals/lyrics. He comes from a much more pop-centric background, and we chose to work with him for that reason actually. Sam really dug into our songs, took the time to understand what we wanted, and then gave us the tools to achieve that. He pushed us in our writing, he pushed us in our studio performances, and really pushed himself in the mixing and editing process.
Did you learn anything new from Sam or Derek that you’ll be able to apply to future releases? Do you think they were able to help you step out of your comfort zone?
Don't get too attached to stuff when you go into the studio. You play your songs a certain way for so long and when it's time to record them, you have to be able to let go and trust when your producer suggests anything from small change to a complete "back to square one" call. We also learned that we can really use the studio as an instrument and let ourselves get creative.
What was the most exciting or rewarding thing about working on the EP?
Co-writing for sure. The songs were all pretty much completely written when we began recording, but Sam and Derek definitely weren't afraid to make us re-write things or to add their own spin. It's one of those things where it's like "your methods and ideas have been successful before, so I'm just gonna trust what you're saying."
You also signed with Play Together Records for this release, which donates a portion of your sales to Intonation Music. What makes this important to you?
It's a privilege to play music, especially in a good community. We wanted to help give kids in our city opportunities an resources to learn their craft and fall in love with music. The best part about this relationship though has been our performances and interactions with the students, who are all junior high through high school in age. The Intonation Music all star band played a set with us at the Bottom Lounge and they've become our good friends by this point!
With Paper Queen out now, do you have any other big plans for the summer? Any upcoming shows or tour dates?
We have a show on August 10th at the Tonic Room with Manasseh and the Fellas, and Grace Coletta! Tickets are going fast and we expect to sell it out rather soon. Hopefully playing some out of town shows in the fall. Which reminds me, I have some emails to send...
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
If you're a fan, thanks for reading and all your support! We love Chicago and take so much pride and ownership of our music community. Can't wait for what the next year has in store for Violet Crime!