Winnipeg, MB - April 29, 2016
James Hofer, of Viva Non, released his debut album Pure on April 15th, 2016. The romantic, synth-heavy pop music he creates grabs influence from 80's new wave/new romantic acts like New Order, Morrisey and OMD. Hofer created the album with analogue synthesizers, drum programming and vocals. With his roots in hardcore punk, Pure is a step outside of the box for Hofer - although its genuine execution wouldn't have listeners thinking so.
We talk to Hofer about his early influences, favourite tracks off the album, the reception so far and more.
James' Current Playlist
Austra - Painful Like
Christine and the Queens - IT
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Up Jumped the Devil
Braids - Letting Go
Beach House - Sparks
Chelsea Wolfe - Carrion Flowers
Chromatics - Lady
Iceage - The Lord's Favourite
Laura Welsh - Break The Fall
Crystal Castles - Deicide
G: Can you give us a quick description of your sound for someone who hasn’t heard you?
JF: I write romantic synth based pop music. It has a modern feel to it, but I do pull influence from the new wave/new romantic era.
G: What kind of music did you listen to growing up? How did that shape your sound today?
JF: I can remember being drawn to sad music at a very early age. I wasn't listening to the bands that I pull influence from now back in my childhood, but I do remember these kind of songs have always had an affect on me. The hymn Salvation is Created is an interesting example of this. Though I'm not religious anymore my religious upbringing informed my reverence and sincerity when it comes to music. It's still worship.
G: What was it like creating Pure? What sort of life events/moments/bands did you pull the most inspiration from?
JF: Writing Pure was the process of figuring out what I wanted Viva Non to be. It was a lot of experimentation with only a little bit of direction. Once I began to get a feel of what I wanted my sound to be I was able to sift through the material and remove things that didn't fit. The list of bands that influenced this record is a very long one. This list would have to include New Order and The Smiths along with a host of modern bands.
G: Do you have a favourite track of the album, or one that has a good story behind its creation?
JF: I think I'd have to say my favourite track is the single, DFA. This song was written most recently and it came together quicker than any other track.
G: How has the reception been so far? And how was the release party?
JF: I knew this record suited my tastes, but I didn't know how others would receive it. The reception has been great. This whole tour, including the release show, has been really good as well. We've enjoyed the challenge of figuring out the aesthetic and attitude these songs should be presented with. Playing live has helped me further understand what Viva Non is.
G: Moving from hardcore punk to romantic/synth music is a pretty big change, what was the most challenging part of this instrumentally?
JF: The most challenging aspect was being responsible for all instrumentation. I needed it to be a solo project but learning synthesis, rhythmic aspects and production wasn't easy.
G: Winnipeg has this cool underrated music scene, can you give us some names of local artists more people should be checking out?
JF: Yeah, it definitely does. Check out Rayannah, Kindest Cuts and Living Hour. Also, Elizabeth Burt did some vocal work on my record. Her band, Basic Nature, is definitely worth checking out as well.
G: What’s your favourite thing to see in the audience while you’re playing? And do you have any audience pet-peeves?
JF: I'm not particular when it comes to audience participation. It's great when they’re there because they're genuinely interested in the project and want to check it out, but the way in which they show their interest doesn't matter to me.
G: This is an important one, where’s the best coffee in Winnipeg?
JF: That's hard to say, we've got a few really good spots. My favourite would probably be Little Sister.
G: Thanks so much for talking with us, we can't wait to see Viva Non grow!