On December 8, April + VISTA performs at the Luce Foundation Center as a part of Luce Unplugged, our free, monthly concert series presented in part with D.C. Music Download. Hailing from the DMV (District, Maryland, Virginia), this local band pulls from an eclectic range of influences from trip hop and R&B to jazz and indie rock. April George and Matthew Thompson, April + VISTA's musical duo, spoke with us about why they take musical risks, remix everything, and how diversity within the district fuels creative collaboration.
Eye Level: What inspired you both to form April + VISTA and how did you think of your band's name? Do you collaborate with other musicians in D.C.?
Matthew Thompson: The idea to form a group didn't come until we were almost finished with Lanterns. It's not often that you come across someone who you have so much chemistry with musically; so it felt like the natural next step to become a duo. After we finished writing Lanterns we began brainstorming names.
April George: And we brainstormed for weeks! We collaborate with local musicians separately, mostly with our friends (Sugg Savage, Ciscero, Goldlink, Obiisay, etc.) We're looking forward to doing collaborations with others as A+V soon.
EL: Since you're both from the DMV, what do you think makes the music scene here in D.C. unique?
MT: The greater DMV music scene is diverse. We most closely identify with the hip hop scene. Though we make more alternative music, we support and are supported by our friends' work in that hip hop/R&B/jazz space. The scene is like a small label. We bounce ideas, plan releases around each other, and collaborate often.
EL: While your music is influenced by a range of different genres, who are your personal music icons?
AG: We have so many influences, I'm not even sure if we can list them all in this post! We find inspiration in all genres of music and we look up to a wide range of artists from Oneohtrix Point Never and Nicolas Jaar to Brandy, Marvin Gaye, and Kirk Franklin. One of our biggest musical icons is Radiohead. We look up to their fearlessness and we like to think that we take risks just like they do.
EL: You both aim to push alternative soul music to new heights. What message do you hope to communicate through your music?
MT: At least for now, our music is about resilience-pushing through hardship without losing yourself. Our music is melancholy, but the theme in each song is to keep fighting and remain hopeful, despite the position you're in.
EL: What is your biggest aspiration for April + VISTA?
MT: I want A+V to inspire people in the same way our heroes have inspired us.
AG: Yes, we want to show people that it is entirely possible to find one's calling and fervently pursue that calling. Society has conditioned us to wrap these passions up and store them away, telling us that dreams are some kind of Sisyphean curse. That couldn't be further from the truth. We want to inspire people to try.
EL: How do you prepare before a show?
MT: We try to create a new experience for our fans whenever we perform live, so a huge part of our prep work is reimagining our songs. We remix everything! Once we make the remix, we practice them every day leading to the show.
AG: We also drink lots of cheap beer and eat lots of pepperoni pizzas from Ledo's.
Hear April + VISTA play Thursday, December 8 at 6 p.m. after a staff-led talk on Paul Rand's artwork, "When men can freely communicate their thoughts and their sufferings, real or imaginary, their passions spend themselves in air..." selected by the band. Learn more details about the concert on Luce's Facebook page and access April+VISTA's music on SoundCloud. More of their music is available on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music and Tidal, and a limited number of physical copies of the Lanterns EP will be available for purchase at the performance.