Interview with Cori Elliott, Guitarist for The Vim Dicta on their new EP Von Tango

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The LA trio, The Vim Dicta, has been making great strides in the LA music scene and is set to release their new EP Von Tango on October 21, 2013. In addition to their new EP, they have also been busy filming their new music video for their single “Stallion” off of the new EP.

The Vim Dicta has been garnering much attention by the media for their electic style of music which they describe as psychogroove. Cori Elliott, guitarist for The Vim Dicta, explains to us in this interview the meaning behind their style of music and the recording process for Von Tango. When listening to their new EP, I was reminded of my teenage years listening to my older brother’s vinyls which included Santana and Jimi Hendrix and definitely heard the Latin influences in their music. And Cori’s sultry vocals add the final touches to their pyschogroove style!

The trio is made of up of Cori Elliott (lead vox, rhythym and bass guitar), Matt Tunney (lead and bass guitar, vox) and Chris Infusino (drums). The band teamed up on the new EP Von Tango with Shelly Yakus (John Lennon, Tom Petty, Patti Smith) and Niko Bolas (Neil Young, Warren Zevon, Fiona Apple) and was recorded 100% live at Capitol Records Studios in just two days!

We had a chance to chat earlier this year with guitarist Cori Elliott about how she began her career in music, and recently caught up with her to find out more about their new EP and music video.

GGM:  We chatted back in July about your then new single “Point Blank.” How was the feedback on your single? I really liked the vibe of it.

Cori:  It was great. It’s a longer song and we wanted to release that song first to establish the fact that we are a performance kind of band and to show our more artistic side first. Then, possibly release new songs that are a little more accessible…not that “Point Blank’s” not accessible…it’s just that it’s a little heavy for a single.

GGM:  So you went back in the studio and recorded some new songs and are now releasing a new EP titled “Von Tango” next week which contains your prior single “Point Blank.” Can you tell us a little about what your fans can expect on this new EP? 

Cori:  Most of the songs on the EP are older songs that we revamped with the new drummer, so our dynamics are different. It’s a good balance of heavy and light. There are five songs on there and we’ll probably release two of them as singles separately later on, but for now, we’re releasing all five of them.

GGM:  What was the inspiration behind “Von Tango”? What was the writing process and can you give us a little background into a couple of the songs?

Cori: “Von Tango” and “Teaspoon” are two songs on there that kind of go together. When we play them live, they sync up. We play them as one song even though they are really two. They have a very Latin-rooted bass line to them which is why we often call then “the Spanish Pair.”  “Teaspoon” was actually the first song that Matt and I wrote that attracted our manager Dan Nash’s attention as far as our having real potential as a band. “Stallion” is also an older song; we wrote it during the same timeframe that we wrote “Teaspoon” – when we first started writing together in 2010. It’s kind of a surreal, dark, dreamy song, but still very intense toward the end. “Name of the Game” is another sort of Latin-rooted song that is super fun to play, and “Point Blank” has a jazzy kind of vibe up front and gets really heavy at the end.

GGM:  Yes, I love the vibe of “Point Blank” and how you change tempos… from the upbeat to the jazzy, smooth melody. It’s really captivating.

Cori:  I like playing that one live a lot. People always think it’s over and then we come out of it with this slow part and they’re like “Oh, OK!!”

GGM:  “Von Tango” was recorded with the same engineers you used on “Point Blank,” Shelly Yakus and Niko Bolas. How was the recording process for the new EP?

Cori:  It was so fun… it was awesome! We were just there for two days at Capitol and we set up our stuff in different rooms and we did everything live. I remember the first day that we were setting up and Shelly is really well-versed in drum sounds. He sat down at the control board and all the drums were set up and the mics and stuff were all set up, too. He asked the assistant to turn on Tom Petty’s “Don’t Do Me Like That” (which he engineered) and said, ‘can you play this song?’ So the assistant turned it on and Shelly just put his head in his hands and started listening to the song for like 30 seconds… and then he said ‘all right, I got it’… and then he went on to get the drum sound! That was a really cool moment for me – very surreal. Just to turn on this classic Tom Petty song was pretty amazing and get the sort of vibe for that on this recording was great.

And then Niko is a really, really fast worker and totally knows how to deal with bands. There were times where we would play the songs multiple times to get the right take… the right feel. And he would be like ‘you know, you guys are playing the song way too perfectly.’ And we were like, ‘what?’ And he was like, ‘yeah, too perfectly…just let loose a little bit.” And he turned down the lights in the studio and it was pretty dim in there and we just really got into the zone. That’s when we got the takes…when we were not just focusing on what we were doing and we were just really into the song. So those are some of the highlights… It was really, really fun and I just love those guys.

GGM:  Well, that’s great. It must also help to know that you have worked with them before so they really understand you and your music style and you understand them and are getting more comfortable working with them.

Cori: Totally. Definitely.

GGM:  Is there any one particular song on “Von Tango” that is especially personal to you, and if so, why?

Cori:  “Name of the Game” and “Point Blank” are the most personal to me. It’s because “Stallion” and “Teaspoon” were more of a collaborative thing with lyrics, and “Point Blank” and the “Name of the Game” – I wrote all the lyrics and they kind of just came out. I didn’t really have an idea of what they would be about, but once I wrote them out, it was like ‘wow, this is kind of weird.’ so it’s open to interpretation. But “Name of the Game” is about a relationship between a girl and a guy, and the girl taking a reverse roll. You know how the guy is always the one in control and seeking out the girl and sort of teasing her and getting her or whatever? But for me, it was about how a girl can be just as much in control as a guy in any situation. It’s kind of like a self-confidence type of song…

GGM:  There’s been a lot of buzz about your new music video for “Stallion.” You had quite an impressive team behind you. Can you share with us the process for the filming of the video?

Cori:  It was on a Sunday after we had finished recording. We were pretty tired at that point and it was at night. Our friend, Jesse Meeker, came in with two other dudes with cameras – and they actually brought in a crane! We set up the stage with a “Beatles/Let It Be” type of thing; and there were big lights which kind of put you in the mood when they’re shining right on you. We played the song once and it was good, but we were just so tired at that point. We were like ‘let’s just do it one more time’ and really make it count! And that take was when our last bit of our energy came out because we wanted to be done. I think it added the intensity to that video — I’m really proud of it! And, of course, later, Jesse did the editing and everything and he really nailed it on the fading in and out on our faces. He knows the song really well so he knew just how to edit it to make it flow perfectly.

GGM:  Any “behind the scenes” memorable moments?

Cori: Honestly, there was this camera in my face the whole time and I pretended it wasn’t there and just sang the song. There was a cool moment when we had to do another take where we lip synched to it so they could get a couple more angles and they used this really cool camera where the lens moves around in any direction that you want it to and it has this fuzzy, ethereal kind of look to it. You can see it in the video… it was right up close to my face and lips. They shot it like that the whole time and that was a little weird, but it was so much fun. You never know how things are going to turn out, especially from that perspective when you’re playing. Then you go back and watch it and you’re like ‘whoa, that actually looks pretty good!

GGM:  I think it turned out great!  You’ve described your music as “psychogroove.” Can you define that for our readers?

Cori:  You always get that question when you’re a band, ‘what is the sound?’  I think that we have so many influences that it is really hard to just pinpoint it in one sentence. So psychogroove encompasses Psychedelic, Blues, Latin and Rock. We just wanted to come up with our own genre to have people maybe wondering what it is and to make it more exciting for them to check it out. I think it sounds enticing…

GGM:  It definitely does. Can you tell us about your gear set-up?

Cori:  I use an Epiphone Casino in Cherry Red. I have a Fender Blues Deluxe amp and I ‘a/b’ that amp with an Ampeg Micro CL which is a bass amp. I usually have them on at the same time to enhance the bass frequencies when I turn on my POG octave pedal. I also use a floor Pickle guitar pedal and a T-Rex reverb pedal, and I just got a new one – TC Electronics makes it and it’s called ‘Gravy’…it’s like tri-chorus and vibrato. So, that’s my guitar set up. I also use a vocal effects box…. I have a TC-Helicon VoiceLive Touch 2 where I kind of mess with my vocals.

GGM:  You’ve been together as a band for several years now. Do you feel your music has changed since you and Matt first started the band?

Cori:  I think the stuff we’re writing now is still the same, but more involved. It’s also more mature and I think our grip on songwriting is becoming a little better because when we first started out I was kind of oblivious to it… I was just kind of ‘writing,’ you know? And then over the years our older songs changed for the better… structure-wise and dynamically.

GGM:  Do you have any plans for a future tour and if so, where can our readers find out more about it?

Cori:  Yes, we are planning it now, so hopefully starting in December and early next year. We’ll probably stay on the West Coast, though I overheard something about doing some shows in the Southwest…

GGM:  In one word, tell me what music means to you.

Cori:  Emotion.

GGM:  Thanks for taking the time to chat with us and good luck with the new EP! 

Cori:  You’re welcome and thank you!


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