Monday, April 15, 2013

Q & A with Neo-Funk Rock Violinist Adia

I recently got turned on to the work of neo-funk rock violinist Adia.  The Chicago based musician caught my ear with her insane skill.  Her violin sings and wails like an electric guitar and left me saying 'hold up, I've gotta hear that again!'  My curiosity was peaked and you all know what happens when I’m curious, I ask questions.  We sent some questions over to Adia and this is the result of our e-chat.

Quirky NY Chick (QNYC): Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started playing violin?

Adia: I began playing the violin when I was 3 ½. I was always musical, singing or sounding out melodies on the piano, so my mom decided to put me in violin lessons. I really enjoyed playing it and fell in love.

(QNYC): How would you describe your sound to those who may be unfamiliar with your work?

Adia: Its basically a reflection of my diverse background, a mix of alternative rock and soul and funk I grew up with.  I like to call it neo soul rock.

(QNYC): I was blown away by how much you make your violin sound like an electric guitar. Do you play guitar as well? 

Adia: To answer your question I do not play the guitar.  I had a sound in my head so after years of researching violins, amps, and pedals, I decided to custom build my 5 string violin.  It kind of looks like a guitar and by the time I run it through a Marshall Amp and a cry baby wah pedal - like you said , it sounds like one.  I guess its a guitarolin.  And that was the whole point.  My entire playing style and sound was inspired by electric guitar and the guitar gods I learned everything from.

(QNYC): Most people think of classical music when they hear the word violin. Did you always know you wanted to step outside of the traditional box? Or was that something that happened over time?

Adia: Classical music is my bread and butter and holds a place near and dear to my heart. But Yes, I always knew that I wanted to play different types of music. I tried, jazz, hip hop, but the transition to rock and soul happened over time.  I mean it kind of sounds crazy now but it wasn’t until college when I first heard Hendrix, and then everything changed after that.  

(QNYC): Who are your musical influences besides Jimi Hendrix?

Adia: As far as my music its a mixed bag.  So many, Nirvana, Stevie Wonder, Pearl Jam, Erykah Badu, Cream, Zeppelin, Prince, The Black Keys, nothing unusual I guess.  And same as far as playing I guess, Hendrix obviously is number one, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Slash, Albert Collins, Jeff Healey, Jean Luc Ponty many more.

(QNYC): What inspires you to write? Does it tend to be more from personal experience or more from observation?

Adia: A bit of both.  Songs like Hustler and Demons are definitely inspired by personal experience. Harold Newman on the other hand is a song about a character I knew.  Its just whatever I feel at the time, could be personal, could be an observation. 

(QNYC): What comes first, the lyrics or the music?

Adia: The music, always.  Whatever emotion I am feeling I’ll express it through music first.  To me lyrics are more challenging.  You know the emotion you’re going for and you know what you want to say, but to say it right or even close to it, that usually takes the longest.

(QNYC): What's the least likely thing you've gained inspiration from?

Adia: I don’t know if its the least likely but I learned a whole lot from my father-in-law Nikola Sarapa, who happens to be an amazing guitar player.  He got me onto Hendrix, taught me his tricks and helped me learn how to improvise.

(QNYC): You released a live EP last year, if I'm correct. Are there plans for another EP or maybe even a full-length offering?

Adia: Absolutely, we’d love to get back in the studio and record an album. But right now we’re just taking it one concert at a time and enjoying the ride.  We have more than enough material for a full-length, but we also want to wait for the right opportunity.

(QNYC): Time for the infamous “What was the last...” question.

What was the last… you intentionally listened to?  
Junip, Line of Fire

...record you bought?  
Black Keys, El Camino    

...concert you went to? 
My good friend Zara’s band, she’ also a violinist and plays latin gypsy jazz.  It was amazing. you read? 
Autobiography of a Yogi. you watched? 
Moonrise Kingdom.  Awesome.

(QNYC): Is there an artist or song people would be surprised that you listen to?
Adia: Ha!  That’ a tough one, surprised?  Maybe Dolly Parton?  I like her.

(QNYC): In parting, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?

Adia: Well, without them and their continued support none of this exists.  So I just want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.  I think this means something to them, and that right there means everything to me.