Broke-Ass Band Interview: Victoire

Victoire’s debut full-length album, Cathedral City, received a 7.8 from Pitchfork, but listen for yourself and fall in love with the classical/electro-pop hybrid that this all-female quintet creates. Comprised of founder/composer/keyboardist Missy Mazzoli, violinist Olivia De Prato, clarinetist Eileen Mack, keyboardist Lorna Krier, and double bassist Eleonore Oppenheim, the group has garnered much attention and acclaim, both individually and collectively. Victoire will be playing a FREE show on Monday 10/17 at the Bell House in Gowanus as part of the Imagine Science Film Festival at 8PM. In the meantime, Missy gives us a peak into their world, filling us in on the musicality of kitchen appliances, which band member has a Little Edie impression in her repetoire, and how having good friends can make an international tour possible.

Tell us about your name, Victoire?
Victoire has a lot of different meanings – it’s French for “victory”, which is always uplifting, but is also the name of a wacky 18th century hairstyle and a character from Harry Potter. We wanted a name that was a little mysterious, a little vague and feminine, and “Victoire” seemed perfect.

How would you describe your sound in one sentence?
We create dreamy, classical-inflected chamber-pop with touches of glitchy electronics and romantic orchestral mayhem.

What do you want people to take from your music?
I want people to enter another world when they hear our music. I want it to envelop them not only in sound, but in memories, in emotions and nostalgia. There is a little bit of everything in this music – minimalist keyboard lines, stuttering vocal samples, soaring melodies; I want to draw people in with the familiar and then surprise them with something totally unexpected.

What’s your favorite makeshift instrument?
For our last album I sampled a lot of kitchen appliances, sewing machines and washing machines, then turned them into electronic beats. Machines and drones have always had a rich musicality to my ears.

Who are you listening to right now?
Akron Family, Buke and Gass, St. Vincent, Joy Division, Beastie Boys, and a LOT of Nina Simone.

Talk a little bit about your full-length album, Cathedral City. What was some of the inspiration behind it?
I wanted to create an album that was actually a symphony, something that had separate tracks but could also be experienced as a unified, 45-minute piece. I also wanted it to feel huge, as if an orchestra was playing and creating a little world within each track. The words “Cathedral City” actually sum it up pretty well – there’s the vastness of sacred music and the gritty imperfections of city life, often overlapping and feeding each other.

Where are you from?
I’m originally from Pennsylvania, Olivia is from Italy/Austria, Lorna is from Wisconsin, Eileen is from Australia and Eleonore is from Hell’s Kitchen, but we’re a Brooklyn band at heart!

Which do you prefer during your personal downtime: Summer outdoor concerts or Winter at-home hangouts?
SUMMER ALL THE WAY. We all love bike riding and roaming around outside. I started surfing on Rockaway Beach two summers ago and now dread the winter with every fiber of my being.

What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood?
Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn!

Your favorite cheap bar in NYC?
Mars Bar, when it was open (RIP)… now it’s a toss up between Big Bar on 7th Street and One Last Shag in Bed-Stuy.

Your favorite cheap meal in NYC?
Pakistan Tea House all the way.

What was one of your brokest moments as a band?
During our first tour of the Midwest we subsisted pretty much exclusively on Subway sandwiches and trail mix. We crashed on strangers’ floors and shared beds in some of the worst hotels you can imagine. Seriously. So bad. But now every night in a nice hotel makes us feel like we’ve won the lottery.

How do you save money on the road – domestically and internationally?
We rely on our vast and wonderful network of friends! Even when touring in Europe we often crash with friends and friends of friends.

What’s your pre-show ritual?
We each have a different way of relaxing. Olivia does breathing exercises, Lorna and Eileen look at pictures of cats on their phones, Eleonore does her impression of Little Edie from Grey Gardens and I obsessively touch up my makeup. Usually this is all happening at the same time in a dressing room that used to be a broom closet, so it’s pretty hilarious.

What do you refuse to spend money on?
Our philosophy is that you shouldn’t have to be rich to look fabulous. We’re all obsessive thrift store denizens and we get really creative with our stage costumes (think pipe cleaners and strategic safety pins), but never splurge on clothes!

What do you think a musician/band should spend money on?
Umm… rent? Food? Beyond that, I think investing in a great engineer and a professional studio is well worth it.

What was the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought and why did you make the purchase?
Our first album!! It cost me everything I had, but it was worth every penny.

What’s up next for Victoire?
We’re touring Europe this fall, opening for My Brightest Diamond in Belgium and Paris, and playing as part of the C3 festival in Germany and Amsterdam.

Parting words/wisdom/advice?
The biggest lesson I learned from the ladies in Victoire is that it’s possible to endure being broke, broken, broken-hearted, broken-spirited, and pretty much anything else, as long as you have a community of friends who share your passions. Cheesy? Yes. True? For sure.

Photo Credit: www.victoiremusic.com

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About the author

Tiara Francis - NY Know-it-all

Tiara was born in NYC, raised in NJ, and after studying Comp Lit at Columbia, vowed to never go back to the suburbs. While she has expensive taste, she also has shallow pockets and is always looking for a budget way to be a weekend warrior. Her hobbies include laughing way too loudly, putting hot sauce on/in everything - including margaritas - speaking French at inappropriate moments, and dancing like there’s no one else in da club.