Currently Volary consists of myself (singer/songwriter/guitar) and Sam Mollica (best bass player ever :) We've been looking for a permanent drummer and/or percussionist for the longest time, so if anyone in the Bay Area is interested, please contact us!
"My debut album, 'Out of Shadows,' was recorded by myself and a lot of session musicians before I met Sam. I was adamant that I didn't want to make a typical singer/songwriter album (very sparse instrumentation, big close-up of my face on the cover), nor did I want to make a typical rock band sounding album (electric guitar, bass, and drums), and I'm really happy with what we achieved. I wanted a distinctive sound, for the album to be cohesive despite the very different flavors of some of the songs, and for it to feel like you'd entered a world of its own. It's very different when played live, of course, since we don't often travel with string trios and horn sections in our back pockets, so come on out and see us if you can! "
We were talking with Volary and she told us that she was reviewed by Music Scene Investigation and seeing how we are partners with them, we figured that would be a good start to this interview.
Which episode of MSI episode where you on and how did you get involved with the great guys over at Music Scene Investigation?
I won Song of the Week on April 17, 2011. I was also a guest on MSI's first anniversary show, where I came in 3rd place for their Artist of the Year competition. I'm one of the regular live viewers of MSI, and during one episode Rich said something to the effect of: 'if any of you happen to be going to an indie show, why don't you interview some artists about what they think about the indie music scene? Send the footage over to us and we'll air it.'
Rich tells me now that he never actually expected anyone to pick up the torch, but I thought it was a great idea. I'd been on the receiving end of a few interviews by then, and I felt like I knew how that worked. I like to challenge myself, so I thought I'd see what it takes to be the interviewer. Let me tell you that it's harder than it looks! Rich does a fantastic job of facilitating MSI every single week.
But one of the great things about being an interviewer is that you get to 'meet' some really interesting people, and to ask the questions that you've always personally wanted answered. It also helps when it comes to be your time to be interviewed. A lot of the time now, when I'm being interviewed, I end up asking the interviewer a bunch of questions and accidentally turning the tables for a bit!
We understand that you are also doing interviews for Independent Music and Media, is that email based, over Skype, tell a little how that works.
The interviews that I've done for MSI have been live video interviews (to check them out the easiest place to see them all is to go to youtube.com/user/volarymusic). Unfortunately, I haven't done any of them recently due to health issues. The interviews that I've done for Independent Music and Media are Skype-based interviews, but we only record the audio. If I could figure out the technology for Skype-based video interviews, that would be another level of interesting.
But I enjoy doing the audio interviews for Independent Music and Media, because I'm more adept at editing audio. Also, because they're Skype-based, I can talk to people all over the world. Artists that I've interviewed for IMM include Kim Jarrett, Bikini Robot Army, Flying Points, and Noe Venable (Noe's interview is not yet released).
The most difficult thing about the interviews for IMM is that we generally interview artists for an hour, but then edit down to 10 minutes or less. It would be nice to include more, but since the internet promotes short attention spans, it's really got to be summed up as much as possible. Sometimes that can make the segues seem awkward. I guess that that's something that will improve as I improve in interviewing technique and editing technique.
Listen to "That Girl"
It must be very exciting to have been nominated for the Artist in Music Awards 2013. Are you planning to attend and perform or just enter music? Which genre(s) are in entering?
It is exciting! I went down to LA to the 2012 AIM awards to do some interviews for Butterflies Radio, and got to meet some of the artists that I previously only knew by Twitter. (These interviews are also available to watch on my YouTube channel.) It was so much fun to finally put faces to names and to get to hang out a bit. The whole event was so well done (kudos to Mikey Jayy!), and looked so fun, that I hope to get be a part of it in 2013.
Please help me to be a part of the 2013 show by voting for Volary in the Best Singer/Songwriter, Best Folk/Acoustic Artist, and Best Music Video categories! You can cast your votes at http://www.aimusicawards.com/#!vote
Are you currently recording or writing new music?
I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, which was right when I was about to go into the studio to record 'Out of Shadows.' My treatments continued throughout 2010, which meant that I really only started picking up the pieces of my life again in 2011. I think a lot of people underestimate the psychological and emotional toll that a cancer diagnosis has, especially for young adults who are suddenly faced with mortality right when they might be finally set to launch their career, or find a spouse and settle down, or are in a routine of partying and clubbing. Then you learn that young adults have higher cancer mortality rates than pediatric patients or older patients. In fact the survival rate for young adults hasn't changed in the past 20 years, whereas survival rates for pediatric or older patients continue to improve.
At a time when you are being bombarded by information and misinformation, if you're lucky, your doctor who will inform you that chemotherapy can render you infertile. So suddenly not only are you trying to face your own mortality, but you have to make the decision of whether or not you want children in the future. To make matters worse, insurance companies won't cover egg preservation for women with cancer, because they don't yet have a history of fertility problems. The fact that these women are about to undergo procedures that may put them permanently into menopause, or otherwise render them infertile doesn't sway insurance companies. I don't know how much it costs to preserve sperm, but it's very expensive to preserve eggs, so there's that financial burden to weigh in to the mix too.
Anyway, that's a little bit off the track, but my point is that I spent a long time in psychological turmoil, which really interfered with my ability to write and create. I eventually found my voice again in 2011, and started to write with the perspective of someone who had been through a terrible experience and was now picking up the pieces of their life. However, I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer (there are only IV stages) at the beginning of 2012, which has set off a whole new collapse of my world.
I'm in the middle of treatment right now, and it's getting better, but it's been tough. For a long time I could barely walk, couldn't shower without help, and couldn't dress myself because of the pain. Even now that my pain is much more manageable, standing up and playing two songs with my acoustic guitar is about my limit. I have been unable to sit for very long before it becomes very painful, so I haven’t been writing, unfortunately. The pain is decreasing though, and I’m starting to feel generally more well, so I hope to start writing again soon. I will definitely write and release at least one other album or EP with whatever time remaining is granted to me. If things take a turn for the worse, it'll be an EP, but if things continue to look up, I hope to begin writing again soon and to release another full length album.
Your friends, family and fans have been very supportive during these hard times, do you have stories to share with us?
Yes, there have been countless notes, gifts, or conversations that have brought me tears of joy in this time. It has been really touching to receive tweets or Facebook posts from musicians that I barely know, or have never even met, who are concerned with how I'm doing. Thank you again to you all for making this experience less lonely.
My biggest rock has been my boyfriend, Alex. He's been my primary caretaker through both of these cancer experiences, and during the tough time in 2011 when I was trying to put my life back together. I've heard some other cancer survivors say that the period after treatment when you're trying to find your 'new normal' is actually the most difficult. I went back to work, but found that my job was now too physically demanding for me (there can be permanent side effects to chemo, radiation, and surgery), and I was concerned that the stress I was under would lead to another recurrence (yes, hello there, stage IV cancer!). I eventually quit, but it was a difficult decision. Thankfully, it was made easier by Alex's insistence that he couldn't bear to see me that miserable, and that he would support me in every way.
One really exciting and wonderful thing that happened recently, is that some musician friends of mine (Robin Yukiko and Rado Randriamamonjy) threw me a benefit concert. They worked so hard to make this a big deal, and in the process made me feel so loved. Initially I didn't think that it would be possible for me to play at the benefit, but one week before the date I decided that Sam and I would play. I had to do it sitting down, but it was just amazing. The support in that room was unbelievable!
Another really nice surprise was receiving an email from a band called One High Five, who did a cover and music video of my song 'Blackbird Fly,' as a show of support. I've never had anyone cover one of my songs before, so that was an awesome gift.
And then another gift was a recording that Rich Wildman from MSI sent me to cheer me up. He wanted to send me something quickly, so he didn't make a music video, but he said that he would soon. He said that he needed puppets for it, though, and had to find the right ones. I'm so curious to see what he comes up with! And Rich, now that I've mentioned it in this interview, the pressure's really on, isn't it? :)
Will you be attempting to raise money for breast cancer organizations with your music?
Yes, ideally I would very much like to, but the question is, to which charity? Have you heard of the term 'pinkwashing?' It's a term coined for companies who purport to be raising money for breast cancer, but either don't, or who themselves make products containing toxins and carcinogens. An example is the Susan G. Komen Foundation. One year they partnered with KFC to sell fried chicken (who thinks fried chicken is a healthy lifestyle choice?) in pink buckets, another year they commissioned a perfume in honor of breast cancer patients that was ultimately shown to contain chemicals listed as toxic and hazardous to human health. Finally, there was the huge uproar earlier this year about their withdrawal of funding to Planned Parenthood. Only a very small fraction of Planned Parenthood's funding goes to abortions; a good deal goes to provide mammograms for women who couldn't otherwise afford them. Thankfully, due to public outrage, the board of Susan G. Komen reversed their decision.Another thing to think about when buying pink items, or items carrying pink ribbons, is that the pink ribbon itself is just a logo. It doesn't actually mean that the company will donate any money towards breast cancer research, treatment, or research. There will be a flood of pink items and items with pink ribbons appearing every year around October (breast cancer awareness month), but look carefully to see who is selling the item and exactly how much they pledge to donate from its sale.Even if a non-breast cancer organization does pledge to donate money to fight breast cancer, what exactly does this mean? Which organizations is the money going to go to? What do they intend to do with the money? How much goes to their own administrative costs? How much money is going to reach the people who most need these services? I believe that on average, only 8 cents in every dollar raised will go to sufferers with metastatic breast cancer, which, from my point of view is far too little. So in my mind, it's very difficult to decide which organization I would most like to donate money to.
What have you got in mind for the future?
I’m excited about the future now. I’m looking forward to being able to write and spend more time playing guitar again, and I’ve also started taking piano lessons. I can’t wait for the day when I first step up to the piano on stage and say that this is my first public performance on a new instrument. I think that it will be helpful to my songwriting too, to have a new tool with which to create.The album that I started writing for before my re-diagnosis, is one which I hope will be like an inverse of Out of Shadows. I’ve described Out of Shadows before as being like a chiaroscuro (a play of light and dark), which delves mostly into the darker side of human emotions, but has rays of light shining through. My hope is that this next album will also be a play of light and dark, but this time with the light predominating. The songs already written for it are written as odes to cancer survivors, and thus deal with darkness, but then triumph.Lately I’ve also been using one of the tools that you’ve provided to musicians riding the Indie Music Bus, and have been submitting my songs to independent radio stations. I hope that more people who might feel an emotional connection with my music will be able to find me that way. Thank you for making such features available to us - and all simply from the goodness of your own heart.
To describe Volary's music is to describe a world full of light and darkness. Most of the songs delve into the darker side of the human psyche, but as in a chiaroscuro, there is always light again. This dichotomy, yet juxtaposition of elements is an apt parallel to the name Volary; an obscure English term defined as a flight or flock of birds, or the cage you keep them in.
The driving force behind Volary is Samantha, a singer/songwriter from Australia. Samantha is now joined on bass by Sam Mollica, an accomplished multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, sitar, saxophone, and drums) from the Central Coast of California. The final member of Volary, is drummer Josh Jones. Although he plays drums for Volary (an alt pop band), he's also a metal, pop rock, and prog rock enthusiast.
Despite their differing backgrounds, these three members come together as one to bring the angst and beauty of Volary to life. Keep an eye on this talented band as Volary steps out of the shadows.
"San Francisco regional winner. Volary, you just missed making the Top 10 National Bands list by 1 point." - Luckee Man, Battle for America (Jul 21, 2011)
"What a great song! Loved the dynamic feel of the song. Very hooky. (Review of Blackbird Fly, which won Song of the Week)" - Ian Husbands, MSI panelist, MSI: Music Scene Investigation (Apr 17, 2011)
Also visit http://musicsceneinvestigation.com