Vacationer Interview

by on November 30, 2012

Posted in: Music, Talk

Last month, WRMC introduced the first annual Grooveyard- a new tradition for the radio to host a concert on Halloween weekend. I sat down with Kenny Vasoli, the singer of Vacationer, the show’s headliner. An old-timer in the music scene, Vacationer is Vasoli’s new project hailing from Philly, with a shoe-gaze, Beach House-inspired vibe. The band’s album “Gone” was released in March. We talked about everything from the band’s conception to “pumpkin pie almonds”..Here you have it. Many thanks to Kenny for sitting down to chat.
What do you do musically in the band?

I’m the singer and I’m the bassist and writing wise I wrote the bass lines and the guitar lines and the vocals. And I have two writing partners— Matt, who’s playing vibraphone with us, and his partner Grant. They’re in a band called Body Language and I started writing with them in the summer of 2010 and that’s how this came about.

That’s really cool. Where are you stationed?

Well, all of us, besides Matt, we live in Philadelphia.

So how do you fit into the music scene there? Philly isn’t really what I think of when I think of the music from vacationer.

No, no [laughs] yeah, we’ve pretty much cut our teeth playing in new york and Brooklyn so we’ve only played Philly three times so we’re trying to, y’know, trying to build up a scene there and um trying to throw some parties and get the word out and sort of cut our own little notch in Philadelphia but it’s still a work in progress

With this type of music– you said you wanted to do electronic– were there any certain influences that drove you to that point or is it just sort of wanting to do something new?

Well I’d always really liked electronic music, since like 2005. I think it was around then that I started discovering, y’know, Four Tet and Aphex Twins, even Venetian Snares and all sorts of stuff like that, and I was always a huge radiohead fan . I always loved the way they integrated electronic music in with rock ‘n’ roll. And then once 2009-2010 rolled around, then I started getting heavy into bands like Beach House and Radio Department– the shoe gaze side of electronic music.

The idea of “vacationer”- you guys have songs called “Trip” and “Gone”- do you see this band as a concept project or is it just a result of writing low key music?

It definitely- the concept is pretty apparent …it almost feels like concept is kind of a dirty word.But, I think it’s more just the “vibe”, y’know?

When we set out to do this it was really something just so I could get away from the usual music that I was playing and sort of give my ears a vacation from, like, such loud banging symbols and distorted guitars and stuff like that, and having to not yell at the top of my lungs, y’know?

What is it like having the anonyminity of a new band-If you try to look you guys up online there is zero!

Yeah and there’s way more now that there used to be. When we released “Trip” there was nothing.And I was so thrilled that people started listening to it and started blogging about it not knowing that it was me.  Like, certain people had hints because they knew my voice well enough. But that made me really excited that I could still write music that people would be excited about just by hearing it- not like, having to ride the coattails of things that I’d done before.

As far as the songwriting goes, how does it work? You said you do the lyrics and the bass- do you guys all just sit down, do you come with different pieces and try to piece it all together?

We have. Yeah, it kind of spans everything as far as that goes.  More times than not, Matt and Grant will be up at their studio and they’ll just kind of be in the box on their computer just messing around and then they’ll send me one minute loops, 30 second loops. And then I’ll take the loops and I’ll put them into my computer and cut them and paste them in a little bit of a different way, or just extend them and then put my guitar, bass, and vocals on top of that and send them a rough idea of what I have. And then they’ll be like “Alright, this is good” or “maybe not this” or something like that- just throw me a bit of direction. And usually, by that trade and correspondence, we will get together and lay down the final version.

Are you on a label or is it self-released?
We’re on downtown records.

And how did that come to be?

Once we released “Trip” then we were reached out to by a few labels and Downtown was one of the first ones. And by that point we were like “wow”. We were like “what could really be a more ideal label for us than them.” And they don’t really sign many bands, so they were very excited about having us on the label. And very quickly— once we realized we were one the same page as them and that they had the same vision for the band that we did— we pretty much just made that our home.

What can we expect from a live show? What’s the- well, I don’t want to say “vibe” because the vibe is pretty apparent from the music but…How does it switch up from the recordings?

I’d say that the danceabiity is a little more apparent live once you see us kind of grooving to it.  And with all the live instruments it’s slightly more hyped up than the record.  Like the record is pretty minimal as far as instrumentation goes.  We expand on that. We try not to crowd the sound but we just try to have it a little more dynamic live and have it pop a bit more.  We also have some visuals too.

Yeah, I saw the big screen set up for the show!

Yeah, we have like old archive, basically vacation footage that we tripped out with some after effects. It’s like psychedelic vacations.

Did you just find the footage?

Yeah, most of it is found. Some of it is from movies- just from like public domain servers.

Ok I’m going to do a quick round of “Halloween Favorites” because this is our Grooveyard concert. 

Favorite scary movie?

“The Shining” is really great… Kubrick is great. Anything Kubrick.  I don’t know if you’d consider it a scary movie— I like creepymovies like “Blue Velvet,” any Lynch films. Yeah, stuff like that. And we just saw one of Kronenberg’s first movies called “The Brood”; we took our projector into a hotel room and Mike had “The Brood” on his computer and we were watching it on the hotel wall and it was so freaky. I definitely recommend it around Halloween time.

Favorite Halloween costume?

Uh, I’ve been a Frenchman the past two years- we didn’t realize that it was a costume party! So we dropped the ball on that. But the French man, if you have a striped shirt and a beret an eyebrow pencil then it’s a pretty cheap and easy costume.

Favorite Fall Food?

Oh man… Oh, you know at my supermarket they have like these pumpkin- covered almonds?

How do they even do that?

It’s just like pumpkin pie flavored almonds. This is like chocolate covered almonds but take the chocolate and make it pumpkin flavored.

Ooh that sounds so good.

Oh yeah, it’s reallygood.  I’ve been annihilating them.

 Well on that note, I guess I’ll let you get dinner. But thank you for the interview.; it was awesome. Talking to you. Thank you.

Yeah, great talking to you too. Thank you very much!

Vacationer-Trip