MATTERS OF THE HEART AND SOUL WITH ROMY VAGER AND RVG By Sandra Castillo
There’s something inherently mystifying, albeit humbling about a person who would characterize one’s self with an observation which is clearly an understatement and one that sits in stark contrast to the veracity of who and what that individual is all about. Case in point-when that certain someone just so happens to be one of music’s rising stars and has captivated the lion’s share of the concert-going market just from the strength of her live performances, alone, one may be compelled to challenge her reply.
“I’ve never felt like the kind of person that people are attracted to or intrigued by, but, y’ know, I’m trying.”
Obviously, Romy Vager has a thing or two to grasp about the impact her talents, as a vocalist, has on so many others. For starters, she possesses a certain je ne sais quoi that fuels her beautifully brooding, intelligent fire, the haunting kind that burns and smolders in rumination. Second, as soon as she parts her lips to sing, one is immediately drawn into her orbit, a place of nirvana where mind, body and soul unite as one. Chief songwriter and lead singer for RVG, the band from Melbourne, Australia that has been together since the end of 2015 and is generating the kind of mainstream buzz and commercial attention that draws high praise from critics and their fans alike, Vager is a dominating force, a quiet storm that unleashes herself in the rapture of the moment. Of note, RVG creates the kind of pulse and excitement that inspires their musical contemporaries, endowed with indie-rock/shoe gaze tendencies, to step up their A-game and get on board.
RG Magazine recently connected with Vager to delve deeper into the psyche of the one whose lyrics and music shimmer and resonate powerfully with those who not only listen with their ears but with their hearts as well. This is what she shared with the publication….
How did RVG come about?
We’ve all been friends for ages and have known each other from playing shows together in other bands. I had some songs and the guys were all supportive of my music in the past, so it was a no-brainer to ask them if they wanted to be in a band with me.
You’ve been hailed by music critics for your compelling, impassioned vocals. Where do you, as the front person/lead singer, draw strength to breathe fire and life into your songs?
I dunno, I guess I like to think of it as some kind of big, cathartic release. As a person, I’m pretty shy and quiet, but like anyone, I’m angry and sad about the world, and I want to communicate that. I hold it all in, and then it sort of comes out on stage in a way that people seem to like.
Let’s connect the dots and go back to the beginning, when RVG first performed around Melbourne.
Our first gig was in 2015 at this co-op kind of share house called The Bank, where me and Reuben (guitarist for RVG) used to live. We rehearsed there and played a lot of gigs at a bar called The Tote, where we recorded our first album. The Tote was like our second home through 2016, and our album launch in early 2017 was a sort of culmination of playing there heaps.
Around that time, we started playing interstate and leaving Melbourne to play shows in the rest of Australia. In 2018, we came to the U.S. to play SXSW, which was amazing, and did a couple of European tours, too. 2019, so far, has been the same. We’re back in the U.S. now for a tour, and I get to see a lot more cities than I did last time.
It’s time to introduce the band.
I play guitar and sing. Reuben (Bloxham) plays guitar. Gus (Bell) plays bass and Marc (Nolte) plays drums.
Give us the lowdown on some of the songs included in RVG’s set list.
I write the songs. “A Quality of Mercy”-It’s a lot about the unjust nature of state-sanctioned executions and right-wing media, but it’s also just generally about how people treat other people. “Alexandra”-It’s our new one. It’s sort of about the people who get forced out of having a normal life just for being themselves. It’s a desire for stability when your life seems to be about chaos. “Vincent Van Gogh”-It’s a song about doing damage to yourself and being completely unaware that you’re doing even more damage to everyone who cares about you. “That’s All”-It’s a lot of emotions in one. I guess it’s the desire to be that kind of person that people like. I’ve never felt like the kind of person that people are attracted to or intrigued by, but y’ know, I’m trying.
Who are some of your musical influences?
The band was initially very much influenced by 80s bands like Echo & The Bunnymen and The Go-Betweens. There’s also a lot of local Melbourne artists like Scott & Charlene’s Wedding and Caroline No that have really influenced the way I write.
2019 looks to be a great year for RVG, given the band is travelling extensively throughout parts of Canada and the United States, including a stop in June at the Soda Bar in San Diego, California. What’s it like to travel thousands of miles from home and play shows in a country as large, diverse as the U.S.?
It’s incredible! Before playing in this band, I never thought I’d ever visit the U.S., but to see so much of it is a blessing. There’s an energy and a passion here that you don’t get anywhere else in the world. It’s definitely an adjustment though. Australia is a very quiet place, and you have to get use to the intensity over here.
Have you always wanted to perform music?
I’ve always wanted to write music, I guess. I’ve always written stuff and sung a bit, but I was never really that good at it, until a few years ago. It’s grown with time. Having people appreciate my music has definitely given me a purpose that I didn’t know I had until fairly recently.
What do you hope to accomplish with your music in your journeys as a performer?
I love travelling and playing wherever I can. I’d like to do a lot more of that. I’ve still got a lot of stuff I need to say, and I’m trying to fine tune it in the songs that I’m writing. We’ve never looked too far into the future with this band, and that’s always worked in our favor.
For more information on RVG, visit https://rvgband.bandcamp.com