TIDAL Rising: Virginia Wing
Virginia Wing is back at it again.
Made up of Sam Pillay and Alice Merida Richards, the experimental U.K. pop duo’s latest effort, Forward Constant Motion, which dropped seemingly out of nowhere earlier this month, is an eccentric mashup of pop, folk, indie and electronic music.
Interestingly, their diverse and distinct sound actually came to life back when Pillay developed Labyrinthitis, an inner-ear disorder that causes vertigo and disorientation that sonically guides the band’s work. Though this sound is at times exceptionally rigid, it’s interesting to hear how sounds that at first may seem bizarre also manage to come together in the most intriguing of ways throughout.
We sat down and talked with the Rising duo in an effort to get to know them just a little bit better.
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Who is Virginia Wing? Can you please introduce yourself?
Virginia Wing is Alice Merida Richards, who makes the music and Sam Pillay, who also makes the music.
Tell us a little about your new album Forward Constant Motion. What do we get?
FCM is our second album and first with just the two of us. We wanted to make something catchy but also different and potentially jarring enough that people won’t just completely zone out.
You live in Manchester now, but started up in South London, which seems like the place for new music these days. What’s going on?
Yeah, South London was our home for collectively 9 years and we loved living there. To be honest, our favourite places didn’t really have anything to do with music but people should check out Super Unison Studios, Rye Wax, Corsica Studios and, depending on what night they have on, The Bussey Building. This is all stuff that’s been there for years though.
Who were your musical heroes growing up?
Alice: My dad is a huge David Byrne fan and bares a passing resemblance so I’ve always loved him. My dad also gave me my first record, which was his copy of Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane, which made an impact on me at a young age. As a teenager I was obsessed with Riot Grrrl and Kathleen Hanna was of course my hero.
Sam: Depends really. From 4 to 8 Freddy Mercury, from 8 to 10 The Spice Girls, from 10 to 14 Kurt Cobain and from 14 to 16 it was everything from Prodigy from Mobb Deep. After that I got way more into music so there are loads. [Cannibal Ox's] The Cold Vein was my favorite record for years after it came out. El-P [who produced the album] has never done anything I’ve not liked, so maybe he is the all time guy.
When and how did you first get into music?
Some of my earliest memories are listening to tapes in my mom’s car. I remember listening to one she’d made probably about 6 or 7 years earlier with Hounds of Love on one side and the Lost Boys soundtrack on the other. I also remember a Rolling Stones tape that must have been a bootleg in this weird turquoise plastic case. The thing is, she was at university when I was little and CDs were really expensive, so although I always had her down as this voracious consumer of music, she probably listened to the same 10 albums for a while because she had to spend her money on other stuff.
Name an album, artist or experience that changed your perspective on music.
Going back to The Cold Vein, probably that. There had been a bunch of records I was really into up until that point, but it was the first record I heard which really seemed like it had its own defined world, albeit a kind of oppressive shitty one that I’d never want to live in. I just think it taught me that so much in music is about creating an atmosphere for the listeners to immerse themselves in, even if that listener is only ever going to be you.
What’s the best new song you recently discovered?
Either “Heavy Days” or “Acid Ali Khan” from the new Grumbling Fur record, all the songs are good though. It sounds exactly like Depeche Mode, but I’m not complaining.
Can you share a fun fact about you or your music?
Yeah, Alice’s grandfather H.Ty Warner is the creator of Beanie Babies amongst other things.
What’s your favorite activity besides music?
Slowly and consistently stirring something: a bucket of glue, hot soup, anything.
So, what’s coming next for you?
More of the same hopefully. We’ve got a collaborative record planned with XAM Duo, who just released an amazing record. Other than that, we’ll be playing a lot and working on our next album. Just the usual earnest musician stuff.
Looking one year ahead, where would you like to see yourself?
Musically, I hope we either have fulfilled or are in the process of fulfilling the things mentioned in the last question. Personally, I just hope I’m not a John Candy level of fat.
And finally, if your music was a food what would it be?
Hummus. You’re kind of unsure when you first try it but then you absolutely love and cannot live without it but over the years it just seems like it’s everywhere and now you’re completely sick of it.
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