Viva K

Viva K

Monday, 30 October 2006

Viva K is a four piece whose sound range from dancy electro to psychedelic rock and George Harrison inspired melodies. The Los Angeles quartet comprised of frontwoman Ween Callas, guitarist Ravi Dhar, Sitarist/beatmaker Evan Haros and bassist Scott Skoda have gone from humbly playing Eastside venues for a couple of people three years ago to a residency at hipster haven, Spaceland as well as opening for local favorites, She Wants Revenge amongst others.

I sat down with Ween and Ravi at the Casbah Café in Silverlake (where Evan happens to work and was kindly serving us) to discuss the band’s past and present.

TS: OK…Let’s start off with, what is the “K” and why do you want it to live so long?

W: It’s a shortened version of Vivekananda who was a Hindu philosopher. He was the first guy who had the balls to bring Eastern thought to the West at the turn of the last century. He actually started huge movements and helped to open minds.

TS: So, by naming your band that, are you saying you plan on opening minds as well?

W: Well…I’m just a huge fan of his and it was about naming the band about something that meant something to me and us.

TS: As opposed to something that just sounds cool…

W: Yeah, It’s V-I-V-E actually…so it was just a reference to that and a couple other things…

TS: Hmm…

W: (Laughing) No! no, not the drug!!

TS: Alright, so you’re not the Viva Special K! What are you guys working on now?

W: Well, we’re working on some remixes. We’re talking to a couple of people.*

TS: When will you get back to touring?

W: Well, right when the record came out, Ravi broke his finger and that was bad timing, so we had to scramble to get back on it. It’s just now getting better. Basically, the doctor told him he would ruin his finger forever [if he played], he was going to have surgery and it wouldn’t be the same.

TS: How did you do that?

R: I fell…I fell and I hit a table and it snapped my finger back, ripped it and I played the next day at Sunset Junction.

W: He didn’t know it was broken yet.

TS: It’s tough when anything happens to your hands as a musician because we’re so jealous of them. Any twitch of pain makes you think, “Oh no…not arthritis!” or something. It’s very tough.

W: Especially when someone tells you you’re not going to be able to play.

R: It was really hard.

TS: My theory is we all have some thorn in our side and we have the grace to handle it. Whatever the universe throws your way, you can either handle it negatively and spiral downward or get through it. The artistic process is laborious but you have to stick with it. How do you guys write? Is it just one person or collaborative?

R: We write very stream of consciousness…

W: Well, you were around during those days, do you remember?

TS: (Laughing) The midnight jam sessions?

W: Yeah! We’d just pick up whatever was around and play!

TS: Those were fun times. I remember being on the theremin once…

W: (Laughing) Yeah, those jam sessions. Everyone got sick of coming over every Friday and it was just the four of us. We kept playing and we recorded what we played.

TS: And Evan on the sitar…

R: I think a huge element of our experimenting with texture started with that. We would sit around [the sitar]…that sonic quality is so different, it challenged us.

TS: Well, with sitars, if you don’t do it right, it sounds like overkill. It’s interesting to get into the dynamics of songwriting, because for some bands it is so meticulous and strategic. Yet for others as yourselves, it’s far more organic.

W: To me, if you don’t get something in one shot, you need to do something else. If it doesn’t happen spontaneously then trying to make it happen is not going to be that good. I’ve never been one to work and rework and rework a part, to me it seems to take and take from the song.

TS: It’s interesting, when you record practices, you look back and hear things on the first take that you would have thrown away or never remembered had you not recorded.

R: Our record is definitely that way. We didn’t go in and rework the songs, rerecord it and do demos and demos. We just let it be what it was because there were elements to it that were very delicate and fragile.

W: You can’t rerecord what’s happening in the moment.

At this point, Viva K sitarist/beatmaker Evan Haros walks up to bring us some more coffee and sit for a bit.

TS: Evan, what do you have to say about your band…right now…in this moment.

E: It’s fun. It’s exciting…

Ween starts giggling, as she is prone to and Evan continues,

E: I feel pretty lucky actually. It started pretty innocently, doing something that we did on Fridays evolved into this band and these songs. It was all so natural. I’ve had other bands before, where it was like, “OK, we’ll write some songs…then we’ll put them out there…” This was just so innocent and purely for creative play. I think because of that initial seed, everything associated with it has that vibe. So, it’s never troubling or boring or old. It seems like it’s full of promise.

* Ed. note: The covert ops behind Viva K requested that I not mention the artists behind their impending remixes. I will say, they’re fairly well known acts, the remixes are indeed happening and they’ll be discussed at a later date.

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