Von Iva
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Von Iva

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Nobody manhandles a mic stand quite like Jillian Iva of Von Iva, whose all-too-brief set at Mezzanine was worth the price of admission on its own. ... the quartet pounded their way through well loved punk-meets-soul hits like “Not Hot to Trot,” before moving on to “Dance Revolution,” the new darling of local radio DJs.


Von Iva recently had a roaringly successful tour through Japan, and it’s easy to see why: Miss Iva clearly attended the Tina Turner School of Showmanship and received top marks in strutting, gyrating, and singing. The stage, the bar, and the dance floor all become fair game when the band’s in town, not to mention the drum kit, where Iva performed the admirable task of climbing the kick drum in stiletto heels.


In between salacious stage antics, the band rolled out new material, displaying a marked shift in their sound; less from the gospel/soul influence and more towards Franz Ferdinand-inspired angular dance-rock anthems centered on driving bass lines and syncopated rhythms. While Von Iva’s sound might be morphing, their stage presence, as channeled through Jillian Iva, is sure to maintain its same bombastic level.


Connie Hwong - WCP


"Ladies and Gentleman, we're here to tell you what the world ain't got enough of," exclaims Von Iva frontwoman Jillian Iva on the white-hot motion of "Feel It." The San Francisco four-piece delivers a brash mix of soul and rock & roll on their self-titled debut. They sweat soul. ....this six-song EP maintains that love is the drug. It's enough to shake what your Mama gave ya, and then some. "Same Sad Song" gives a riotous welcome with its punk-inspired undertones. Iva is tough and sexy in her performance, much like her favorite, Tina Turner, while also squaring up to current mainstream female artists such as Karen O., Peaches, and Le Tigre. The demands never stop; swivel your hips like it hurts on "Feel It!" and match up to the gallop-like strut of "Not Hot to Trot." Von Iva's brassy kind of soul is pure. ...not too many artists are really making this kind of music, let alone making an honest effort in capturing both the spirit and swagger of rock & roll like Von Iva does. They slap you up good.
MacKenzie Wilson - AMG


Three years ago, Jillian Iva said "see ya" to her job and her fellow secretaries at Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope Films. It was a more-than-decent gig, she admits. But the Oklahoma City native says her rock 'n' roll urges were just too strong to resist.

Recruited in 2003 as lead singer by bass player Elizabeth Davis-Simpson, a former member of 7 Year Bitch, the youngest member of the newly rechristened Von Iva didn't take long to settle into her role. Within months, the band -- rounded out by drummer Kelly "Lay Lay" von Guthier and keyboardist Bex Kupersmith -- was a big, bright blip on the local press' radar, and it had earned a solid reputation as a must-see live act.

The band's MySpace page lists as influences "Devo, Early Tina Turner, Led Zeppelin (John Bonham for Lay Lay ... NOT Robert Plant for Jillian), Sly and the Family Stone, Most ol' school Soul, Shocking Blue, Leaf Hound, the Gories, Grand Funk, Chrome, Wire." After happening upon Von Iva's organ-fueled sound, a high-energy dance blend of classic soul, vintage disco and new wave, Colm O'Ciosoig of Irish-British shoe gazers My Bloody Valentine proclaimed Von Iva "the best band in San Francisco."

And Iva's husky gospel belting, long legs, fancy footwork and prurient shimmy have earned her numerous comparisons to Turner.

Watch Iva succumb to her urges Friday at the Independent, when Von Iva kisses goodbye a year that saw it release a critically praised debut EP, open for pioneering female rockers the Go-Go's and wrap Japanese fans around its pretty little finger.

Earlier this year, Go-Go's drummer Gina Schock caught a Von Iva show and insisted that Iva and her bandmates open for the Go-Go's at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga.

While a milestone for the band, that gig would prove to be Von Iva's toughest show. It's known for igniting sweaty dance riots wherever it goes, but Go-Go's fans, many of them in their 40s and 50s and with small children in tow, appeared to be saving their energy for the headliners.

"It's always hard being the opening act because you're just kind of thrown out there, but this crowd was particularly tough," says Iva, 22. "I mean, I tried everything short of standing on my head to get them into it, but they just sat there with these blank stares on their faces, eating their nachos or whatever. It was awful, but it just made me work even harder. Finally, I just said, 'Screw it. I'm just gonna do my thing and have a good time.' "

By all accounts, Von Iva's October visit to Japan was a smashing success.

"We got the total rock-star treatment," Iva jokes. "People were holding up signs at the shows, and there were girls crying in the front row. I don't know what we were expecting, but we definitely weren't expecting that. I mean, we'd stumble back to our hotel at like 4 a.m. after being out all night drinking and there would be people camped outside waiting for autographs. We were like, 'You're here for us?' It was totally unreal."

A similar buzz has been simmering here at home. Von Iva's blistering live shows helped attract the attention of San Francisco indie label Cochon Records, which released the band's debut EP and landed a series of high-profile opening slots.

Come the first of the year, Iva and her bandmates are planning to finish their much-anticipated full-length album. Then they'll head back out on the road to promote it, playing shows in the States and in Europe, where music lovers and critics are already eating up the band's EP and are hungry for an eyeful of Von Iva's girls-gone-wild experience.

The plan also includes trying to maintain a home base in the Bay Area. While opportunities for bands like Von Iva might be more plentiful in a music industry hub like Los Angeles, Iva says she can't imagine calling anyplace but San Francisco "home."

"This place is pretty magical," she says. "And it's just such a striking city. There's nothing beautiful about L.A. But never say never, right? I mean, one of these days Paris Hilton and I might be hanging out at the same Starbucks or something. You just never know." •

Bill Picture - San Francisco Chronicle


Thankfully, there is no such thing as personal space at a Von Iva show. An ass-shaking mix of soul, disco and dirty, raw rock & roll, this San Francisco band rattles the rafters with an aural love potion that will have you licking glittery beads of sweat from the cleavage of your nearest neighbor by the end of the first song. Former 7 Year Bitch bassist Elizabeth Davis sends the groove straight to your hips, while singer Jillian Iva struts and shimmies as if on a mission to unleash the prowling panther in us all. She gives the audience a direct connection to her soul while conjuring images of Tina Turner in her energy, performance and, best of all, those legs! Even though the floor may get a little sticky with all the lovemaking that goes on, don’t expect your feet to be glued to one spot for long. Panties optional.


-Jen Hitchcock - L.A. Weekly


This San Francisco quartet have made a name for themselves by transforming the city's clubs into full-on disco infernos each time they take the stage with their soul-fueled rock 'n' roll fun. After hearing exhilarating, aptly titled songs like "Solid Gold" and "Feel It!," locals would be hard-pressed to find an act more adept at turning crowds into delirious, sweat-soaked dervishes. For these refreshingly unironic ladies, setting the dance floor on fire isn't just important – it's all that's important. Incredibly, their invigorating live energy translates on the superb Von Iva. Throughout these six bottom-heavy songs, keyboardist Bex, bassist Elizabeth Davis-Simpson (ex-7 Year Bitch), and drummer Lay Lay von Guthier bang out relentlessly booty-baiting grooves while Iva wails like the disco-obsessed daughter of a preacher man. "I got a hundred million different ways to get down," she promises on "Soulshaker," her girl-gone-wild vocals recalling those of Little Eva. "I'll turn you out and spin you around, I'm gonna turn your world all upside down." You better believe it too.


-Jimmy Draper - SFBG


With the energy and inspired soul of a small town gospel choir at a Sunday morning service, Von Iva has miraculously managed to mix rock with a strong gutter-punk sound. As unpredictable as the disco-ball reflection that would fittingly accompany its live shows, Von Iva is a four-piece band of women that have more soul than an entire panel of American idol finalists. Jillian Iva belts out relentless party jams as her bandmates create a nonstop accompaniment of groove-ridden bass, drums and keyboards. Hailing from the Bay Area, Von Iva is sexy, unpretentious, loud and fueled with an energy that I haven't see experienced since I first heard Otis Redding belt out "Try A Little Tenderness." Whoever said that soul music is dead is tryly misinformed.


Von Iva is here, and they've bent an entire genre in half along the way.


-Jay Riggio - Rock


Watching Von Iva perform live is like seeing the band's yet-to-be released dance rock EP Von Iva (Cochon Records) come to life. From the opening note to the last, the San Francisco-based rocknroll divas unleash their soul-shakin', love makin', body manipulatin' dance moves and don't stop until the whole crowd is moving. Their set is short, sweet, and to the point. And if you decide to sit (or merely stand motionless, for that matter) during a Von Iva show, expect an in-your-face visit from soul-belting vocalist, Jillian Iva. 'Cause in Iva's world, it's either get sweaty on the dance floor, or get out.


“It's sort of a party,” says drummer Lay Lay von Guthier of the quartet's live shows. “We want to start a following of people that can have a really good time and check their worries and subconscious insecurities at the door.”


In order for the band — which consists of vocalist Iva, drummer von Guthier (ex-Clone member), bassist Elizabeth Davis-Simpson (ex-7 Year Bitch, Clone), and keyboard-organist Becky Kupersmith — to achieve its goal of creating “a fun show that people will walk away from and not soon forget,” the ladies have to create a buzz, right? And what better way to incite dance riots than to write sexy soulful music that provides heavy disco-dance beats, solid bass lines and raunchy keyboard organ hooks. Throw a foxy singer who struts around the stage wearing a miniskirt and stilettos into the mix and you're bound to have an unforgettable dance party.


“After we play a show we get a really positive response and I think people like it for a lot of really different reasons,” Lay Lay explained, “and that's really exciting for us because it doesn't limit us to what we're able to do and doesn't limit us to the crowd we can attract." She added, “That's sort of what we want to do: we want to get as many people to hear us as possible.”


But when I walked into Howie & Son's Pizza in Visalia (an agriculture town in Central California), I was a bit fearful for that night's performance. Before they arrived, I thought to myself, “Von Iva is not going to want to play here — it's a pizza joint for Christ's sake.” I mean, the group has been proclaimed “the best band in San Francisco” by My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm O'Ciosoig, and has one of the best EPs I've heard in a long time. In the short time they've been playing together, Von Iva has toured through Los Angeles and New York, sharing the stage with Gravy Train!!!!, The Raveonettes, I Am Spoonbender, Metric, and The Hiss. So why would they want to play here? I didn't see a disco ball anywhere in the vicinity.


I was surprised, however, to see Von Iva roll up to the “venue” in their crappy brown and beige two-tone van wearing nothing but smiles.


“This is definitely the weirdest place we've ever played,” Lay Lay laughed as we had a little pre-show chat.


But I think Von Iva felt right at home since fellow Bay Area band So So Many White White Tigers was on the same bill. Following So So Many's thrashy set, Von Iva stepped up to the plate and immediately commanded the audience's attention. At first, the kids just watched in curiosity as Jillian spouted the opening line of “Feel It!” Boy! Can that girl sing.


“Ladies and gentlemen of this city whose name I can't remember ... We're here to tell you what the world ain't got enough of — and that's love,” Iva crooned behind opening beat of the song.


Before my eyes, I saw the stagnant audience gradually move their bodies before breaking out into an all-out dance frenzy — all in the matter of about 30 seconds.


“I think one thing we can all agree on as a band is that we get a lot of our energy from the crowd,” von Guthier explained. “From Von Iva's conception it was always that we wanted to write music that we could perform live that would make feel a part of what we're doing. ... Through that philosophy, I think the shows are sort of a religious experience at some level. We try hard to connect with the audience.”


After breezing through six songs, the highlight of the evening perhaps came during “Solid Gold,” when halfway through song Iva sprinted (in stilettos, mind you) to the side of the room and began to ride and defile a mechanical children's pony on the other side of the room.


“I think I shot my wad on the pony, y'all,” the Oklahoma native blurted, while returning to the mic to sip her large cup of booze.


But that was just one of the outspoken charms of the “tell it like it is” frontwoman. With her powerful voice and eye-catching appearance, Iva serves as 50 percent of what Von Iva brings to the band's live show.


“She's coming from this place that is real,” Lay Lay explains, pointing out that most of the lyrics focus on love, sex, and relationships. “It's really cool because she's very honest in her approach to writing lyrics and her approach to coming up with melodies and vocal hooks.”


Von Iva finished up their set with “Soulshaker,” which trul - Venus Magazine


Discography

"Our Own Island" Full Length album on Ruby Tower Records
Theme song to Logo Channel show "Curl Girls"
"Von Iva" EP on Cochon Records
12" split single dance remix on Princehouse Records (w/ The Vanishing)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Von Iva first made a name for themselves thanks to their eye-popping, heart-stopping live performances, and their rambunctious debut EP grabbed the attention of both critics and fans.

Before they knew it this hard working, D.I.Y band was performing at the X Games and playing to huge crowds in Japan. They have had their music featured on Showtime’s L Word and this summer Von Iva will be prominently featured on MTV’s Logo Channel performing the theme song for the surfing reality show, Curl Girls. Ongoing, the band generates more broad visibility via lifestyle marketing support from Etnies Girl, Dell Computers, Nokia Phones and compilations from Petrol Records and Agent Records.

Now a triple threat with Jillian Iva on Vox, Becky Kupersmith on Keys, and Kelly Harris on Drums, Von Iva has created a genre bending original sound that will move even the most reserved to dance. They have just completed their highly anticipated full length record titled “Our Own Island”.