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San Francisco, California, United States | SELF

San Francisco, California, United States | SELF
Band Hip Hop Pop




"Le Vice is stepping into the spot light with their self titled debut album, Le Vice."

"Led by front woman Alex Lee, Le Vice is stepping into the spot light with their self titled debut album, Le Vice. With a taste of electro, spiced with club invoking bass, this album is perfect top down Saturday music. Writing all of the lyrics, Alex sounds legendary over melodic and crunchy drum lines, futuristic synths and rock/lounge enthused guitar rifts. Singing her hooks and rapping here verses Alex is easily comparable to your M.I.A's or Santigold’s. Le Vice live performances are more then just a show, with Alex’s persona and dialogue, it feels like your actually hanging out with the band. Le Vice carries that same energy through out this album. Imagine for a moment the Black Eyed Peas met N.E.R.D. and Lauren Hill met Kid Cudi, both couples fall in love and have a kid…Le Vice is a product of their generation. I give Le Vice a “5 out of 5”! This album will open many cracked doors for the band! Le vice is going to be an instant classic summer 2010!

-Loren Furbert - Loren Furbert, The Center Magazine

"Le VICE Live Show Review (El Rio SF)"

Backed by the funk infused bass of Sean Stillinger and the hip hop influenced drum beats of Darrin Thomas, virtuoso guitarist Renzo Staiano and front woman Alex Lee of Le VICE kept bodies moving last Thursday at El Rio. With a little help from some friends singing back up and playing keyboards, the band celebrated the release of their self titled debut by playing several tracks from the album including the catchy come on Uh Huh and introspective Why Fight.

Studio SQ also set up shop recording the whole thing on some technological device that baffles the technologically inept [like myself]. Renzo and Alex really know how to work a crowd and the photo above shows a rare moment when the two were not in continuous motion. There was a lot of love exchanged between the stage and the crowd and the band played until well past midnight when the audience continued to press for more.

- Nicole Leigh - Nicole Leigh, The Deli Magazine SF

"Le Vice debuts its first CD at Alternative Café in Seaside."

Alex Lee, MC for the local band Le Vice, doesn’t think its selftitled debut LP—which will be showcased at the Alternative Café on Saturday night—should be labeled as a hip-hop album.

“It’s is not a hip-hop record; it has an ’80s tinge to it,” Lee says. “It’s not an Alex Lee record or an A. Lee record; it’s a Le Vice record. I’m just the front woman in a band with really good musicians.”

Though there are some hip-hop elements on the album, it’s really a Technicolor mash-up of everything from Blondie to David Bowie to dance-pop.

Lee says it’s a product of dynamic and differing tastes among her and her fellow bandmembers, bassist Sean Stillinger, guitarist Renzo Staiano and drummer Darrin Thomas. “We all have different favorite bands,” she says.

“[The music] begins with hip-hop,” Stillinger adds, “but really has roots in funk and electro-pop, like Rick James, so it’s pretty eclectic.”

The Euro synth-heavy “Say A” teeters somewhere between Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer” and Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam,” with an added touch of smooth jazz guitar hovering in the distant background.

For four musicians, all with completely different musical backgrounds, rehearsals are where it all comes together and songs are churned out, quick like.

“We’ll have rehearsal and everybody will just jam,” Lee says. “Something always comes about; usually while [the band] is doing that, I’ll try to work something out in my head and come up with a hook.”

“She Wanna” is definitely in the spirit of Virginian tough-gal rapper, Missy Elliott. Through thick synthetic clouds of grinding MGMT keys, a club drumbeat and cosmic sound effects, Lee sings flirtatiously: “Watcha lookin fo’? Why don’t we hit the flo’?” “It’s not at all about me,” Lee says with a chuckle. “It’s about party girls.”

Having the opportunity to record a studio album was thrilling for the quartet, but Le Vice really shines on a stage, grooving in front of a dancing crowd.

“Live performances are huge because before there’s a record you could put on a show,” Lee says. “The reason I started playing with the band was for the live performance.”

Le Vice spent most of the past summer on the road playing everywhere from The Starry Plough in Berkeley to the West Beach Music and Arts Festival in Santa Barbara. Lee says the most memorable show for the band was in Big Sur.

“The Esalen Festival was so wild,” she says. “The crowd was so down.”

But it was time for an album, so Le Vice set up shop at John Flores’ Studio SQ in San Francisco. NOFX and the Melvins have recorded albums at the same studio.

“The recording experience was fantastic,” Lee says. “We used every piece of gear they had in that studio—all the old synths, all the guitars. It was great.”

Le Vice will use the money raised from the show at Alternative Café to launch a nationwide, college radio campaign. Admission includes food and wine and a copy of Le Vice’s forthcoming CD. - Monterey County Weekly

"The Beat interview with Marc Cabrera"

Talking with Alex Lee of Le Vice is always a treat. She is as focused and talented an artist as I've come across during my five years of writing this blog. Simply put, ya girl is freshtadef.
This convo centered around her latest project, the self-titled debut from Le Vice. As she's come into her own as a well-rounded artist, Lee has opened up different sides of her personality in her music. Sometimes sultry, sometimes contemplative, often confident.
Below is a transcript of our talk, with more after the jump. Le Vice performs an acoustic set at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night at The Alternative Cafe in Seaside. For more info, visit www.levicemusic.com.

Tell me about the musical direction on the Le Vice album, but also, for you personally. You tapped into an emotional vein on this album, talking a lot about relationships, not that you haven't before. You're touching on personal emotions and they seemed to fit in well with the mood of the music the band produced.
The music on this record, I wouldn't call this record like a hip-hop record. It clearly had hip-hop elements. I rap, so it's going to have hip-hop elements, but for the most part, that's the only thing hip-hop about it, besides any parts DJ Traps had to do with. So cuts and scratches and DJing and rapping (are there).
This record, I wouldn't classify it as a hip-hop record at all. What that says is that the music that's there is music.
It's not rap. It's not strictly about swagger, or strictly this and that and just about me in general, or whatever you might think of that correlates with hip-hop music. And even though I've made a lot of conscious hip-hop music too, it's not just about save the world, this and that. It's music, and the music brought out feelings in me.
I wrote this record a lot differently than I've written in the past. I tried to just let whatever came out flow and not force anything. Whatever I was feeling, whatever direction that something took me, I just went with it and that's what came out.
Something I've been really trying to work on is ... just letting whatever comes out naturally come out, you know what I mean? This record, the more relationship oriented songs or whatever, those are some of the last songs I put on the record. To be honest, they were some of the easiest songs to do.
Don't get me wrong. For the most part, everything I wrote always has some type of exaggeration to it. I generally don't write songs to the exact truth, you know? It's music. It's entertainment or whatever.
I might put things together that might be taken from different relationships or stories or whatever and make it into one song. Or I might take what I see in other people's relationships and things that they feel that I feel I can connect with, things that involve the same kind of feelings, and put that into a song.
When you have something real that you can write about, its' that much easier and truer. And it feels better, you know what I mean? Relationships are good to write about (laughs), you know. What can I say? They give you lots and lots of material.

One thing that I noticed about you on your last solo record, “Headphone Heroes,” was that you hadn't revealed a lot of your personality. I feel like on this one, steering away from hip-hop and getting more in tune with the band's sound, it almost brought out a whole different side of your personality.
Everything I do, every project, every song I write, it's growth. I'm 24, you know, I'm not 20. I'm not 16. I'm 24, and I can't help but want to express things that are more natural for me as a 24 year old to come out.
I don't know if I've ever told you this before. I used to make conscious music, and it's really weird because I have steered away from that for the most part, and in a weird way I feel that's a growing thing. Because when I was 17, 18, 19, 20, I wanted to save the world, and I thought I could do it.
Don't get me wrong. I still want to save the world and everything, but I have to worry about me. I have to save my world every day. I have to write what's true to me. While saving the world is always an aspiration and it should be to everybody, I have to worry about myself and I have issues in my own life that take precedence to saving the world.
So that has a lot to do with things. I have to realize things for myself. What are my issues? My faults? Another reason why I steered away from conscious music is because I'm fuckin' hella not perfect. I'm not perfect, and to rap about the perfect world, when I'm not even perfect? What can I do? When I realized that, I started writing about my faults a little more. Not writing directly about them, but just not afraid to seek them out. Whether it be different issues, relationship issues, or like lusty things or whatever, things that aren't' so positive about my life. I feel that a lot of people can really relate to that
I kind of changed a lot of what I've been writing about. To be honest, it feels realer and it feels truer and it feels good, you know.

Last time we talked, you told me about steering away from hip-hop. I know from our last conversation that you've been more into the indie rock scene. Why is it important to make that move and distinction to fans that follow you music? Is it important that you steer clear of the hip-hop tag?
To be honest, it's not that I really want to steer clear of the hip-hop tag, or that was even an intention. It just happened. I haven't been listening to a lot of hip-hop. It's become a bit repetitive for me. Just for the time being or whatever. I ventured out my little ears and started listening to other music.
Not to mention that being in a band with these guys who have very different musical backgrounds and listen to a lot of different stuff, it was bound to rub off on me at some point. So some of the music that they might listen to that I might not have been up on, they put me up on. I know Shawn put me up on a lot of stuff.
And then I had my little Sirius/XM Radio and I had this indie rock station. I never knew any of the (bands that they played on the station). Sure the names came up, but like, all the songs are kind of similar to me. I hate to sound like that. It's like how people that don't' listen to rap, they say it all sounds the same. But there was a lot that I grabbed from that and I liked it.
I needed something different that inspired me to make music, and hip-hop in general wasn't doing it for me. None of my favorite people were putting out much music in general or putting out exactly what I was feeling at the time.
That's just where I'm at right now, and not to mention, talking about the Le Vice record, there's a lot of different musical influences from the entire band. I want to naturally fit into whatever type of music is there that they're playing. You can't write this hard ass rap to some super melodical, if that's even a word, music. The band is not just mine. Sure, it started off as mine, but it's not just mine anymore, and I'm happy.
So now Le Vice is something that I do, something that I'm a part of. Sure it's one of my babies, but it's not just mine and I'm happy to share in the creative process with everybody. I don't want to overpower what is created by all the different, talented musicians in the band.
With that said, it's like, the solo record isn't super hip-hoppy either. It's not like what I'm doing with Le Vice. Maybe the next Le Vice record I'm gonna put more input in and be like let's make it more hip-hop. Who knows? Maybe my next (solo) record will go back to being a straight hip-hop record. It just depends where I'm at. It's whatever I'm feeling. Whatever inspires me will be the direction I go. If I feel I can go that direction safely (laughs), without making a fool of myself or without going too off course that it just doesn't work.
Posted by Marc Cabrera at 4:30 PM - Monterey County Herald

"Le Vice's Review & Interview on Paisley Sound"

Le VICE are a four-piece group from San Francisco, led by frontwoman Alex Lee. They play a variety of sounds, including hip-hop and funky indie rock. Their songs have the spirited delivery of live shows, but with a studio polish.

They'll be releasing their self-titled debut on August 17th, but Alex Lee has already recorded two solo songs that were featured on "America's Next Top Model." And Le VICE just shot a video for "Hard to Be Ill," which should be out soon, and are playing two CA shows in August.

"Shy Guy" is a great song with plenty of beats, rhythm guitar and catchy vocals. "Hard to Be Ill" is more hip-hop, with some funky synth added to the mix.

I also got a chance to ask Alex Lee a few questions:

Le VICE started out as a live project. What's a typical show like?

LV: It carries a lot of energy that you would expect from an indie or a punk band. So it's fun to dance to and sing to. But underneath it has really good music and great players. The fun of indie music with the bourgeois swag of hip-hop and rnb. Think hipsters on a yacht riding fixie bikes and drinking Cristal. That's from someone who watches. None of those words are mine.

On top of that I would say that you're watching friends play together. You can tell we're friends when you watch us play.

You blend a lot of styles in your music. What's your process for writing and recording?

LV: Depends on the day. Sometimes it comes organically. Just playing things and putting it together. Coming to the studio and playing on the synths and with all the gear. And voila, a song.

On other days, we'll listen to a song and say let's make a song like that. But when it's done it sounds nothing like what we were going after.

Generally, I'll write a hook on the spot to get everyone hyped up. Then I'll take it and finish it up verse by verse on my own when I have a little free time in my mornings.

What are some of your influences?

LV: Musically ... everything. When you take the music that the four of us like, it's all there. Hip hop, indie rock, classic rock, jazz, neo soul, rnb, house, and all the rest. We take from everything. No type of music really goes overlooked. - Laura Bradford, Paisley Sound

"Le Vice at The Rickshaw Stop (SF)"

Le Vice (think French speak, not the Miami kind), is a group of six whose sole determination may be to bring back some fun and dancing to live indie shows. On [August 17] they released their self-titled debut Le Vice, an album of ten booty shaking jams that will remind you of the best parts of yesteryears female hip hop leads. Think early Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, or even Leela James. And while I’m not hip on the soul, r&b and rap, Le Vice was pure pleasure on the ears and the vibe. I suspect good things for this group, as lead Alex Lee was sure to get everybody dancing at one point in the night. Visit their website for song samples. - Astronautalis, The Owl Magazine

"Le Vice review by Raised On Indie"

Le VICE is a Pop/R&B group who will be releasing their upcoming self-titled album on August 17. The San Francisco band is comprised of four members, Alex Lee- Vocals, Sean Stillinger- Bass/Keys, Renzo Staiano- Guitar, and Darrin Thomas- Drums.

The band was also nominated for Best New Emerging Band in the Bay back in January on The Deli! - Brian Morris, Raised On Indie

"Le Vice album review by 91.7 WHUS DJ"

I was surprised by how I actually enjoyed this album, the first two tracks are misleading, but start with tracks # 3 and 4

A fusion of contemporary r&b, rap and hip-hop, extravagantly complimented by electro funk beats, good music to mix with house beats for a party, a little jazzy and plenty of attitude. Definitely check this out, I don't generally enjoy r&b, but this is an exception.

Recommended if you dig: Eve, Fergie, Pink, Saul Williams, Dj Spooky - Kelly Bielonko, 91.7 WHUS


"Le VICE" August 2010

"Find You" (Single)

Currently working on Sophomore Record.



Imagine fix wheeled bicycles chained to a yacht, flannel shirts and Remy Martin, Hip Hop and R&B with a hipster twist. This San Francisco foursome has managed to craft an indulgent sound that takes advantage of all the things we love to hate - a little sparkly bling bling mixed with a dash of dirty hipster.

Le VICE is an Indie Hip Hop and R&B band whose determination is to bring a little fun and personality to their live shows and recordings. Their LARGE sound includes throwback 80s synthesizers, Rick James bass lines, angular guitar licks, and 808 drums. This is topped off with front woman Alex Lee's hip hop swagger and soulful singing. The result is part throw back and part futuristic. LV's sound refuses to fit into any 1 genre, but instead seems to borrow from all genres, leaving them with a sound that literally has something for everyone who listens.

Le VICE's band members come from a variety of backgrounds and musical tastes. Alex Lee (vocals) and Sean Stillinger (bass/keys) spend a fair amount of their time riding bikes and hustling in San Francisco's music scene (both actively write and produce Indie Rock, Hip Hop, and R&B at local Studio SQ). Renzo Staiano (guitar) is about as precise and diverse a guitar player as they come. He's studied everything from Funk and Jazz to Metal - and has been known to play with some Peruvian guitar masters from time to time. Darrin Thomas (drums) brings the soul to the group. He's a heavy handed drummer who started playing gospel for his local church as a kid. Later he became a successful touring soul and jazz drummer.

With many crossover groups the "live band" can be something of an afterthought. But what truly makes Le VICE great is that the band is THE CORE. In the end their individual musical talents, experiences, influences and willingness to experiment together all contribute to the unique Le VICE sound that explodes out of their music. The sum of this group is truly greater than its parts.