Jeff: We’ve got lots of exciting things happening soon and can’t wait to talk about it.
Can you talk to us more about your new single “Paper Queen“?
Jeff: Paper Queen is the title track of our EP. It’s a song that we’ve had for a long time and have been working on for a while. Everyone in the band really gets to shine in this tune and we think it’s a great summary of the sound we’re going for.
Selina: Paper Queen is a song we’re really proud of. It evolved so much in the studio. It was hard to let go of the original sound and arrangement at first, but we really trusted our producer Sam Guaiana and now it’s a favorite on the record.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Jeff: This was actually my first stab at writing a song that was more like a fictional story rather than a real personal event.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Jeff: Yes! We brought a team of videographers with us to the studio who made some really cool content, Paper Queen was released with a sweet studio video.
Why did you decide to name the record after this song in particular?
Jeff: We ended up focusing on this song a little more than the others during the recording process and we felt like it exemplified the genre we’re going for the best out of all the songs. The general Paper Queen theme will be referenced a lot in different ways in the album art and video content that will be coming out soon, too.
How was the recording and writing process?
Selina: We spent almost every minute of every day together! We were locked down in that studio all day, every day, and spent all of our free time at the Airbnb re-writing songs and refining the changes made each day. We’ve always been close as a band, but being in such close quarters for 10 days created an even more meaningful bond because it was the first time for all of us to have the opportunity to record with such a respected producer like Sam. We created something that we’re all so proud of, and I feel like we’re a little family now because of that experience.
What was it like to work with Derek DiScanio and how did that relationship develop?
Jeff: I almost couldn’t believe it when Derek decided to work with us. We wanted someone from a more pop-rock background to help make our retro indie songs sparkle a little more, and that’s exactly what we got. It was a privilege to work with someone who’s accomplished so much like Derek.
How much did he influence the album?
Jeff: Sam Guaiana was our primary producer, and he was incredible. Derek was amazing as well, and mostly worked with us on vocals & lyrics. He pushed me a bit out of my comfort zone when it came to lyrics and melody, and it was all for the better.
How do you go on balancing your retro roots with the modern aesthetics?
Jeff: We have a lot of respect of the musicianship of artists like Hozier, Vulfpeck, Leon Bridges, and others in the genre…but we wanted to take that genre a big step further into pop. We had a vision of blending jazz, indie, and neo soul influences with the production qualities we love in pop rock music to make a unique blend of what we call “retro pop”. We’re proud of the end result!
Can you tell us more about Play Together?
Selina: Play Together is a social impact record label that creates collaborative audio-visual releases, produced by a musical artist and visual artist. Profits from the sale of any project merchandise go toward supporting youth after school music programs in Chicago.
Play Together was started by our bass player Kasey and his wife Jessica, who are education entrepreneurs. We’re very excited to be on the roster and support investing in the next generation of Chicago artists. For our Paper Queen EP released via Play Together, we’re paired with the exceptionally talented artist Julius Bautista who will create a run of limited edition giclee prints around our EP. Our profits support Intonation Music which is an after-school music program located in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago.
Aside from monetary support, we’ve done guest lectures with their students, and students from Intonation Music have even played concerts with us! It has been so special.
What role does Chicago play in your music?
Selina: Chicago has been the origin of so many legendary musicians over the years and it’s such a cool experience to be in the music scene here today.
We take a lot of pride in playing a primary role in the music community. Aside from bigger shows we organize, we’re regular attendees of the open mic Makespace Chicago (where we all met), and regularly play the secret acoustic show series SoFar Sounds. In our careers and jobs, we’re all pretty involved in the Chicago startup community. We also apply that entrepreneurial spirit to how we function as a band.
Between all that, and our record label Play Together, we hope to play a big part of shaping music and art in Chicago!
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Jeff: When it comes to lyrics, I’m really inspired by Hozier, Fleet Foxes, and The Notorious B.I.G (for real). Their lyrics have a captivating rhythm and flow that is separate from what the words are actually saying. I really admire that in lyricists and try to use that in my songwriting.
Any plans to hit the road?
Selina: Right now we’re keeping it local, but we’re looking forward to potentially doing a mini tour featuring a few Sofar Sounds shows in the Midwest. We love playing small, intimate shows to an audience that values art, music and community, so having the chance to travel and support Sofar would be a blast.
What else is happening next in Violet Crime’s world?
Jeff: Our single release show is Friday, April 26th at The Store on Halsted in Chicago! For our single release show, we wanted to have a vibe that’s more of a packed intimate party. Instead of a 3rd band on the bill, we’ll be jamming late into the night.
Selina: Two more singles are coming after Paper Queen! One in May, and another in June. Our full EP release show will be Saturday, June 29th at Bottom Lounge, our biggest venue yet. We’ll be playing lots of Sofar Sounds throughout the spring and summer, too. It’s gonna be a crazy year!