ML: So, first things first: Who is Vantana Row and how did you both get started on this project?
Vantana: We are Vly on vocal, Jmy on drum. This project started after a bunch of abandoned sung (clean vocal) band names/projects. This was the third or fourth after Witch/Warlock(2010), Mrs.Rage(2011), MothChild(2014), The Volly Jamey(2014). I guess the fifth, huh. Here’s to the ability to count! Guess we don’t look back before Vxrow too much
ML: Rad! So you got some music history together it sounds like. Most artistic projects are an improvement of the one before it, I like to think. I read you guys formed in 2018? How many drive by shows have you played so far? Do you have a most memorable performance?
Vantana: Yeah, just wanted to bring the history up to note how many times we’ve had a project in relative alignment to pop song structure and clean singing fall short of our current project to the point of near immediate abandonment. This one has been going since 2015 but we mostly claim our 2018 re-establishment after parting with a former manager. Wouldn’t want to try and count the drive bys at this point but there was a time in Portland when Jmy didn’t put the car in park before jumping on the drums so we start the song and realize we’ve been inching forward, almost to 5mph before regaining control over the vehicle. That was the only time we’ve done a ghost-ride-by.
ML: Portland is a lot of fun. Weird shit always happens when I go there, so the ghost riding the whip incident sounds pretty classic. Also for the record, how many releases have you two put out under Vantana Row? Also, do you record in the van, or do you have a studio you go to?
Vantana: We are not sure…. 😔 and they are a bit difficult to trace, even for us. We DO know that the Vantana Row Bandcamp has 22 including the six sub-only exclusive tracks. Recording and rehearsal spaces, we’ve had a few main ones that we’ve tracked drums (on 4ourIVer for example) until I think 2017, where we brought the kit into the van for good. Vocals have been recorded in the van since the beginning though. Our new album, Siccan was recorded completely in the van! The Real Rasta OG feature was even recorded in the van! He did libs for nearly the whole record and they were recorded in the van too. Features from Omnigone, Eichlers and Quentel The Cryptid were the only bits I can think of that were not. But I seriously doubt you’ll be able to tell the difference, because the ENTIRE record equally sounds like shit. Just shit. Shit.
Vantana: We have recently sensed that Siccan has too few, far too few slap. Slap is lacked. The 808s don’t hit at all. Ever. I take that back: Unpack Emotional Zip (feat. The Real Rasta OG). But, other than that, not like before. Friend’s are murmuring that we have lost all possible edge we may have ever had. We’re bottoming in this show-less climate. And panicking. We’re bottoming AND panicking.
ML: Seriously! The lack of shows is some bullshit. Like 50% of my nightlife was seeing live music. It sucks big time. But I gotta ask, you guys seem sorta set up for a “social distanced” performance. Have you done any drive-by musical onslaughts in 2020? Or plan to?
Vantana: We have not, though we did a video for “Emp’s New Grewv” on this concept! In a world where shows never come back: Target Tour 2021, a Norcal to Socal tour consisting only of Target store locations lol I even think in theory we would visit several Target locations per city lol A tour like that could easily include a lot of suburban towns that’ve never had a music venue! We have seriously discussed safety precautions with distance and making sure we don’t form crowds, but the conversation stops at other’s autonomy. It’s hilarious to play at, probably a few dozen targets per-day for a week, on paper. It’s different than pulling up to a show or a First Friday or a fest. These people are there for groceries, not loud music. Sweaters and tacky swimwear. Imagine some dad holding the biggest flat screen tv a person could possibly carry on their own, we click off into that fat-down with sub full volume; it’s just not what we do drive bys for. Believe it or not, this is not a prank, this is one of the many desperate methods we have used trying to emotionally present our songs to music fans. It started as a busking experiment to get our songs to more people in between shows (regular stationary shows), just something we can do while waiting for shows to book. It’s always been a risk, whether or not people on the street hate you, hurt you, kill you, applaud, or genuinely crave the niche that they’re just now discovering you also bring. We’ve taken chances on whether or not others would be happy with us, unexpectedly pulling up from 300 miles away, just to crash their show in between sets, buy some merch from the acts inside and leave. A lot of the drive by shows we do are local, a friend’s band’s in the line up or someone dm’s us to pull up last minute. But other times we follow Deafheaven on a Spring tour because we genuinely find their music magical and hope that their fans waiting in line outside hear a similar thing. A compository brilliance, maybe. Just a shitty version instead. Just shit.
ML: The Target Tour sounds super hilarious. And guaranteed would be the most significant event all year for most people in rural/suburban america. As for your attempt to get your music out in the world, I certainly think you found a niche. I remember outside of Gilman when you guys pulled up, everyone, including myself were a bit confused at first….Then slowly but surely people were feeling it. It’s quite a unique approach and I think it leaves a positive impression on people. I mean, that is why I reached out to interview you guys. I noticed you guys have quite a few youtube videos too. I especially enjoyed the “New Years Special 1”. Any chance for a continuation of this series? Maybe with the Target tours?!
Vantana: Hahaha “New Years Special 2” is pretty good too. That’s when Vly finally resorts to getting entirely out of the car to scream at Cradle Of Filth fans. Yes, the Target episode/s would probably be great entertainment lol
ML: So, what did yall do to keep busy during 2020? I’m sure you’ve been cooking up some new stuff this year too. What should people expect from Vantana this year?
Vantana: 2020 was really us writing Siccan and releasing it late December for the most part. Since then we’ve shot some promotional videos that Xtian-TikTok told us to turn to Christ for. Not sure how much these videos are promoting the album actually, but Jmy has been working on instrumentals for the new live set and Vly is drawing for our new print-on-demand merch line. We believe we’ve learned our lesson and are actively trying not to upset Christians or Latter Day Saints with our upcoming merch line…
ML:Maybe it’s time to upset the Mormons?? As for the video and album, i’ll have to pay that a watch/listen. It’s crazy how much work it is to promote music now, and because of the insanity of the internet everything feels like a drop in the ocean- really hard to get it out there. But as my mom says “as long as you’re having fuuunnnn”. Which you seem to be succeeding at.
Vantana: On TikTok, it’s ALL ABOUT that Christian comment section. Not just educational. Not just edifying, or entertaining. INSPIRATIONAL. Fire. Burning. You know, that classic condemnation we know so well! The superficial insults infused with self-righteous condescension. Actually, if you haven’t got a whiff of that type of interaction yet we definitely won’t spoil it for you anymore. tiktok.com/vantanarow
ML: What bay area bands are you guys into? And what show would you like to do a drive-by at in the future ?
Vantana: Bay Area bands, hmm, there are a lot of West Coast groups/artists that come to mind: Omnigone (Norcal punk), Quentel The Cryptid (Norcal goth), Qlippothic Oracle (Norcal bap), Florida Man (PNW grind), xrawrx (PNW core), Floral (Socal math-gaze), Ursula (Socal core), Half Slug (Norcal core). We’d love to play with or drive by any of these, immediately after social distancing, for sure. Maybe an unexpected one to mention is Trixie Mattel. We actually had a date (this month) in L.A. planned for the past year and a half to drive by Trixie and it’s of course getting post-poned, for the second time, but we seriously plan to be down there on the rescheduled date. Really! We honestly think sliding through with “Emp’s New Grewv” might get The Novo going. Who knows.