Parlour to Parlour, Episode 39: Real Vocal String Quartet
On February 17, 2013, I stepped upon the Make-Out Room stage for the second time for a Parlour to Parlour interview, wiser and much better prepared for the challenges of the new format for 2013. With some technical issues having been addressed and a key new member added to our team, we were ready to rock n’ roll with the thirty-ninth episode of this series, again spotlighting a very non-rock group from the San Francisco Bay Area.
Much like last month’s episode with Lutra Lutra, coordinating this month’s interview with Real Vocal String Quartet proved to be quite fun. It turned out that, before they knew they’d be interview subjects, the group had planned to begin their set with a musical procession from the venue entrance up to the stage. As you’ll see in the video, this gave us an opportunity to mash up our styles into an extra engaging introduction to a really fun night of music.
Having released their debut album three years ago, RVSQ has wasted no time in spreading their unique fusion of chamber music, improvising and singing to appreciative audiences both home and abroad. Once you have a chance to sit down and digest the long, impressive list of achievements by the group and its individual members, Irene Sazer (violin), Alisa Rose (violin), Dina Maccabee (viola), and Jessica Ivry (cello), it should appear totally obvious that these ladies have been able to leverage their talents to lend beautiful musical support to Feist, get the attention of Regina Spektor with a lovingly executed cover (Spektor shared a link to a video of RSVQ’s cover of “Machine” on her Facebook page), and serve as musical ambassadors for the U.S. State Department, among other things. In short, RVSQ is as driven as they are talented and charming (which is to say, very).
The song we chose to spotlight, “I’ll Keep You Safe,” is a wonderful example of RSVQ’s creativity, class and professionalism. Although it was introduced as “the very first iteration of this tune in public,” you’d think it had been a long-time part of their set by the sound of it. Irene Sazer had described it as being born out of imagining “a bluegrass vocal trio with fiddling as the backup,” and that’s exactly how it sounds.
Sazer had also added that all four members of RSVQ “grew up playing classical music on stringed instruments, but we all were part of popular culture and our interests in music are far and wide,” explaining how they are able to find it so natural to blend different styles together. And even though Sazer very self-effacingly added that “we pretend that we can play any music,” she and her RSVQ cohorts essentially proved the viability of the whole “fake it till you make it” ethos. Clearly, as you will hear, there’s no pretending going on here. This is the real deal.