5-23-19 Asheville’s VIA New Single, Film Release Helps Girls Rock Asheville

An Asheville band is set to release the first track from a new album – and a short film – to help cultivate the next generation of local music makers.

Following the success of Vessels of Sound: Volume 1: She Knows in 2017, VIA will soon put out Firefly from the upcoming Vessels of Sound: Volume 2: Morse.”  The companion film for the song creates a full sensory experience, with visuals that evoke female empowerment and how circumstances experienced during childhood shape us into adults.

“VIA is and has always been about bringing people together via sound. Love is a frequency. Tune in,” says singer/songwriter Karen Austin, one half of the band with Steven Gaona. “Firefly naturally embodies our vision of empowering, standing up for and giving voice to women and children worldwide.”

Self described as “electronic shoegaze,” VIA’s music is characterized by layers of dreamy vocals, layers of guitar and pulsating tribal beats that together envelop the listener in an intense mix of ambient and industrial sounds.

Firefly the short movie  stars actor Katie Cassenti, an Asheville native now living in Atlanta, and features 16-year-old dance choreographer and Western North Carolina native Olivia Joy Harris. VIA’s Austin is also in the film, along with securing the perfect location. It was shot in Atlanta at the estate of former Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO J. Paul Austin, her grandfather. Austin chose the location to honor him, and pay tribute to his legacy.

In fact, the song samples Coca-Cola’s iconic “Hilltop” commercial from 1971 (“I’d like to buy the world a Coke). It was the brain-child of Mr. Austin’s leadership.

An Asheville band is set to release the first track from a new album – and a short film – to help cultivate the next generation of local music makers.

Following the success of Vessels of Sound: Volume 1: She Knows in 2017, VIA will soon put out Firefly from the upcoming Vessels of Sound: Volume 2: Morse.”  The companion film for the song creates a full sensory experience, with visuals that evoke female empowerment and how circumstances experienced during childhood shape us into adults.

“VIA is and has always been about bringing people together via sound. Love is a frequency. Tune in,” says singer/songwriter Karen Austin, one half of the band with Steven Gaona. “Firefly naturally embodies our vision of empowering, standing up for and giving voice to women and children worldwide.”

Katie Cassenti

Self described as “electronic shoegaze,” VIA’s music is characterized by layers of dreamy vocals, layers of guitar and pulsating tribal beats that together envelop the listener in an intense mix of ambient and industrial sounds.

Firefly the short movie  stars actor Katie Cassenti, an Asheville native now living in Atlanta, and features 16-year-old dance choreographer and Western North Carolina native Olivia Joy Harris. VIA’s Austin is also in the film, along with securing the perfect location. It was shot in Atlanta at the estate of former Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO J. Paul Austin, her grandfather. Austin chose the location to honor him, and pay tribute to his legacy.

Olivia Joy Harris

In fact, the song samples Coca-Cola’s iconic “Hilltop” commercial from 1971 (“I’d like to buy the world a Coke). It was the brain-child of Mr. Austin’s leadership.

Firefly is the first in what will be a series of short films featuring VIA music, starring Cassenti and Austin.

You can see the debut of the film at the Firefly Release Party from 1 to 4 pm Saturday, June 15 at The Grey Eagle in the River Arts District. Tickets for the all-ages event are $5. The afternoon features women and non-binary fronted bands, Miss Jean and the Love Cats, Kathryn O’Shea, Moonlight Streetfolk and Rooster joining VIA. Proceeds support Girls Rock Asheville, a nonprofit camp that empowers female, trans and gender non-binary youth through music education.

 Ken Ulmer - The 828

5-12-19 Girls Rock Fundraiser & Film Premier, 103.3 Radio Interview

VIA DEBUTS ALBUM TRACK AND SHORT FILM “FIREFLY” ON JUNE 15

The Asheville-based duo will host the premiere of the film at a live music showcase and

fundraising event for Girls Rock Asheville.

ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (April 3, 2019) – Following the success of “Vessels of Sound:

Volume 1: She Knows” in 2017, VIA is set to release the first track off their new album along

with a short film. “Firefly,” from the upcoming “Vessels of Sound: Volume 2: Morse,” asks the

listener to reflect on the message of Morse code. The film converts it to a full sensory experience,

with visuals that evoke female empowerment and how circumstances experienced during

childhood shape us into adults.

“VIA is and has always been about bringing people together via sound. Love is a frequency.

Tune in.” says singer and songwriter Karen Austin, one half of VIA with Steven Gaona.

“’Firefly’ naturally embodies our vision of empowering, standing up for and giving voice to

women and children worldwide.”

Self described as “electronic shoegaze,” VIA’s music is characterized by layers of dreamy vocals,

layers of guitar and pulsating tribal beats that together envelop the listener in an intense mix of

ambient and industrial sounds.

“Firefly” stars actor Katie Cassenti, an Asheville native now based out of Atlanta;

It also features 16 year old dance choreographer and WNC native, Olivia Joy Harris and Karen

Austin of VIA.

It was filmed in Atlanta, Georgia, at the estate of former Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO J. Paul

Austin. Ms. Austin chose the location to honor her grandfather and pay tribute to his legacy. The

song samples Coca-Cola’s iconic “Hilltop” commercial from 1971, the brain-child of Mr. Austin’s

leadership.

“Firefly” is the first in what will be a series of short films featuring VIA music, starring Cassenti

and Ms. Austin.

“Firefly” will debut at a film release party at The Grey Eagle on Saturday, June 15. The event

from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. features women and non-binary fronted bands including VIA, Miss Jean

and the Love Cats, Kathryn O’Shea, Moonlight Streetfolk and Rooster. Proceeds go towards Girls

Rock Asheville, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit camp that empowers female, trans and gender non-binary

youth through music education. The Grey Eagle is located at 185 Clingman Avenue, Asheville,

NC 28801. All ages are welcome.

11-21-18 Yes! Weekly Phone Interview And Write-up

Playing independent music in an experimental-leaning band isn’t exactly the most practical thing. But, given that, the Asheville-based duo called Via approach the music-making enterprise with a professional focus and entrepreneurial energy. Their music is sometimes rippling and hypnotic, but they have the work ethic of small business owners committed to bringing what they do to the public.

Via is, at its core, singer Karen Austin and guitarist Steven Gaona. The two sometimes perform and record with drums and bass and other auxiliary members, but essentially they are a two-piece. Via will perform at Monstercade in Winston-Salem on Saturday, Nov. 24, on a bill with Bolmongani and No Wammy. The duo configuration plays into their industriousness. They can write, practice, record, perform and conceptualize without having to coordinate around other people’s schedules entirely. Austin and Gaona live together, write and record at home.

The two met in Lubbock, Texas, where Austin had attended school for music business. Gaona was there, having worked for a time as a certified firefighter. Austin had been involved in the indie-music scene in West Texas, but Gaona had never played music before. He started learning guitar at age 22, around the time they moved to North Carolina 10 years ago.

“Basically our goal was to learn how to do everything ourselves so that we could create without having to be at the mercy of anybody else,” Austin said.

In keeping with that spirit, Austin runs a cleaning business that helps provide work with flexible hours to allow for the irregular schedules of many of the artists and musicians she employs.

Building a life that allowed for creative pursuits was always part of the vision.

Gaona puts it this way: “We learned everything on the fly so that we could be self-sufficient.”

Austin and Gaona often assemble their own videos using footage shot on their phones or archival material culled from public-domain sites like the Internet Archive (archive.org). They edit the final products themselves, applying filters and other effects that add to the unified tone and feeling that carries over between Via’s music and their imagery. A live show often consists of a visual experience as well as a sonic one.

“We have a projector, and we have a lot of footage, and we project movies and silent footage on our bodies and on the background,” Austin said. “Our priority is not to be entertaining; our priority is to create a sound and move people.”

Via calls their sound electronic shoegaze, and one can certainly hear a connection to bands like My Bloody Valentine and the Cocteau Twins. But Via is possibly a little more ominous, with overdriven guitar parts that churn and cycle like the idling of a loud engine while Austin’s vocals sometimes drift by in wordless cries and howls. The music exists at a place where industrial and ambient kind of crash up against each other. Sometimes Via sounds like you’re listening to heavy and abrasive music through a mesh of cotton, something that scrubs off the hard edges and blankets everything in a dark hazy cocoon. Sometimes there are pounding drum-machine beats, and sometimes there are cloudy atmospherics. Digital delays, controlled feedback, abstract washes, and mechanical rhythmic pulsations all come together in a dark, dreamy sound. It’s not nightmarish, but it’s not sunshiney either. 

There are samples that float through the music, sometimes buried in the mix, and moved to the front and center at other times. Listen to “Rage,” the final track off the band’s debut 2014 EP.   Ministry-ish drum programming and a cinematic keyboard arpeggiation set the tone, over which is draped a sample of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas reciting lines from his poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.” Austin picks up the phrasing of the poet and turns the lines into a high, whispered and darkly sultry plea. 

Via released Vessels of Sound last year, and they’re working on another release set for early next year. The new record, a sort of continuation of the last one, will be paired with a series of short films, which Austin and Gaona are in the process of assembling in collaboration with other artists from around the South. 

Austin and Gaona don’t go out of their way to make the music about themselves. Really, they seem to want to bury themselves in the music, behind it, inside it, under it. Via doesn’t appear to be on some sort of ego journey involving enlargements of themselves on a stage. Rather, Austin and Gaona seem to be trying to replicate the oceanic vastness of sound that they’ve found themselves lost in as listeners and fans. When Austin talks about her formative musical experiences, she mentions listening to songs from U2’s The Joshua Tree as a teenager who was raised in a strict religious environment on a commune in British Columbia, where secular music was forbidden. She snuck the radio under her dirty clothes and held it to her head. Something seriously intense happened. You could say it rocked her world. She knew she wanted to be involved in getting near and possibly recreating that experience for herself and others.

One doesn’t generally expect there to be a message of empowerment underneath such vaguely brooding music, but Austin and Gaona have a philosophy that’s akin to some minimalist composers and avant-gardists: they’re harnessing sound to make something happen to people, to blast listeners with vibrations that might effect change.

“Our motto for a very long time was ‘Love is a frequency, tune in,’” Austin said.

“We’re here to create an experience that makes people turn off their mind and become so inspired that they’re able to become who they want to be. Sound is the best way that I know how to bring that to people.”

John Adamian lives in Winston-Salem, and his writing has appeared in Wired, The Believer, Relix, Arthur, Modern Farmer, the Hartford Courant and numerous other publications.

3-11-17 TBTCI Interview

O duo Karen e Steve ou para os íntimos VIA, emerge com longas odisseias sonoras, evocando Siouxsie & The Banshees, 4AD sounds, Curve e ícones como Human League e Heaven 17.

Em algum ponto de equilíbrio entre o dançante e o cerebral mas, sempre com sofisticação e elegância apurada, o VIA é um convite para flutuar em terrenos escuros regadas a strobos incessantes.

Dance e medite sob a curadoria do VIA, e claro, boa viagem.

Q: When did VIA start? Tell us about the history... 
Karen: I used to go into my closet with a tape recorder/radio as a child - burrow into the dirty clothes pile and listen to the radio. We were not allowed to listen to anything other than our church service recordings. Then, one day I heard “Where The Streets Have No Name” (U2). My sprit, soul, and body aligned and exploded all at once. I’ve been on the sound journey ever since. Then, I met an old soul with the most beautiful eyes. I fell in love. He was becoming a firefighter, I lured him into music. We’ve been writing, recording, and playing together ever since. That was 10 years ago.

Q: Who are your influences?
Explosions In The Sky, Nine Inch Nails, 65daysofstatic, The Album Leaf, Phantogram, Deftones, Hammock, Sigur Ros, Johnny Cash, Cocteau Twins, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Airiel…

Q. Make a list of 5 albums of all time…
These are not necessarily our top albums of all time, but albums that have kept us doing what we’re doing and kept us on our sound journey. These have been on repeat when we have needed a lot of inspiration and encouragement. The most important soundtracks of our lives…

Explosions In The Sky - The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place
U2 - The Joshua Tree
Sigur Ros - Kveikur
O’Brother - The Death Of Day
Hammock - Oblivion Hymns

Q. How do you feel playing live?
Playing live gives us a sense of being true to ourselves. It’s as if, for that brief half hour, that we’re one with each other and our sound. It’s really the only place that feels like home.

Q. How do you describe VIA’s sound?
A chorusing wall of sound. Tribal drums, soaring guitars, heavy bass, and anthemic vocals. We pull a lot our sound from early shoegaze, but also bring in a lot post-rock, industrial, and dream pop influences. We try to blend all instruments and vocals together to create a cohesive mixture of organized chaos. 

Q: Tell us about the process of recording the songs…
It really depends on the song and how we are feeling at the time. Most of the time I’ll start off with a beat, move on to synths, bass, and electronics, then add guitars at the very end before vocals. Recently, Karen and I actually wrote We Are The People together sitting on the couch with two guitars, then moved on to the rest of the song; somewhat created in the reverse direction than what we’re used to.

Q. Which new bands do you recommend? 
These bands aren’t necessarily brand new, but they’re new to us. King Woman, Nordra, Minor Victories, Ahleuchatistas, Disappears, Kerretta, Sumac…

Q: Which band would you love to make a cover version of?
There are a ton of Johnny Cash songs that we would love to cover. We’re actually currently working on a cover of John Anderson’s Seminole Wind. We should have that wrapped up fairly soon. We’d like to cover a lot of old country and western songs, probably because of their nostalgic value.

Q: What are your plans for the future?
Our plans for the immediate future are to release the rest of our Vessels Of Sound EP then hit the road. Plans for a US East Coast jaunt are underway, and we’d really like to get our feet wet on the West Coast. We can hear Europe and South America calling our name. That is on our list for next year.

Q: Any parting words?
We really appreciate TBTCI for reaching out to us! I’m not sure how it happened, but we have always received a lot of kind words from followers in South America. It would be incredible to meet in person sometime soon and play some shows. 

Love is a frequency, tune in!
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