Brian: On DC Music Rocks, we're shining a spotlight on the great songs and incredible people behind the DC region's music scene. So now we get to know Gabi from Vim & Vigor. So Vim & Vigor is an ensemble indie pop band, turning folk apparently, from Washington, DC. They produce a sound that is unique and earnest, with rich harmonies and layers of instrumentation, all bundled together. Vim & Vigor is a band full of team players, so they're often switching leads on vocals and instruments. I was talking with Gabi, she said that that was ... On Going Going Gone, she sings on that one, but not all of the tracks ... they're different vocalists on all their songs, and I love that about the band. Gabi is a rhythm guitarist and vocalist, Sarah is the vocalist, guitarist, banjoist, and percussionist. We've got PJ who's a vocalist and a keyboardist, Alex is the bassist, and Adam is on drums. And in addition, Tiffany joins in on violin from occasion, on some occasions. Vim & Vigor released their self-titled EP in 2016, which is that song Going Going Gone you just heard.
I first came across these guys because I'd seen them around the scene and I played in the same Battle of the Bands with them back in January, and loved their sound. And now it's just such a treat to actually have you here on the show with me, Gabi, so thanks so much for being here.
Gabi: Thank you for having me.
Brian: This is such a treat. So, now, talk about the band. How did it come together? Where did Vim & Vigor come from?
Gabi: I think we came about, it's a story of how everything is just such a small world, because, turns out the keyboardist, PJ, started a music project with his fellow classmates. He was in grad school at GW. And so he just started a band and he knew that I sang and played guitar, so he asked me, and we knew each other from Scranton, Pennsylvania. We're both originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Brian: Nice. Okay.
Gabi: Yeah. Yeah, so when I go down the stairs -- because it was in a basement -- for the first practice, I not only see PJ and his two classmates, the drummer and bassist at the time, but I also see the guitarist who's also from Scranton, and somebody I grew up with, the same neighborhood. So it was just really funny, there was three of us from Scranton in DC.
Brian: And you didn't know that the third guy was gonna be there?
Gabi: I didn't know that he was gonna be there.
Gabi: I was just like, "What are you doing here?"
Brian: And who was, who was the third guy?
Gabi: His name's Brendan. He left the band a little while ago, just to pursue other opportunities, but he's very much still a part of our family.
Brian: Nice. He's part of the Scranton family, so that's a thing.
Gabi: Part of the Scranton family. Yeah.
Brian: I love it.
Gabi: Yeah. And so at the same time that they were kind of starting their project, I had been playing with a friend of mine, Sarah Moore, here in Arlington area. So we started at Four Chords [inaudible 00:02:59] on Wilson Boulevard.
Brian: Yeah, in Chord House, that place.
Gabi: Yeah, so that's pretty much how it got started.
Brian: And it all came together. I love it. And the name, where does Vim & Vigor the name come from?
Gabi: Right. So the drummer and his wife, Tyson, came out to see Sarah and I play a show at Four Chords, and it was kind of, I think, kind of like a tryout to see if we were actually good enough to be a part of [crosstalk 00:03:30]
Brian: A tryout?
Gabi: I think so.
Brian: Oh my god. And Tyson, you were a part of that too, if you're listening. That's amazing. Okay.
Gabi: So, I think we made it, and ...
Brian: Well you're here, so that's a good sign.
Gabi: And so his wife was basically just describing us and she was like, "Oh my gosh, they're so energetic and enthusiastic when playing." So she kind of dubbed us Vim & Vigor, and it kind of just stuck. We've kind of taken that meaning just to be super energetic and ... Not every song that we play is positive, because Going Going Gone has some sad moments, but I think we've turned it into meaning something hopeful. So I think that's what Vim & Vigor is.
Brian: Well if you haven't seen them live, I've seen them live and there is definitely vim and vigor happening on stage when these guys are playing live, that's for sure. Now what about you on the personal side? So when you're not doing music, who's Gabi?
Gabi: Who is Gabi? Well I work for PBS, so I am a project manager, and I love movies, and going to watch movies of all ... any time I can. And that's pretty much it. I mean, the band is definitely a second job, for sure.
Brian: Oh definitely, yeah.
Gabi: So it takes up a lot of time.
Brian: Got it.
Brian: Now are you like, an also like a yoga person, or do you ... are you a member of a book club, or what's other hobbies or things besides movies?
Gabi: I like to run.
Gabi: Can't say that I'm a good runner, but I definitely run.
Gabi: Often. I recently signed up for a half marathon with my sisters. My sisters are very good runners.
Brian: Got it.
Gabi: So I think that's gonna be a challenge, but I committed to it and I paid for it.
Brian: How long do you have until the half marathon?
Gabi: It's in September, so I have some time.
Gabi: But yeah, gotta kick it into gear, so we'll see.
Brian: There it is. 13 point something.
Gabi: Point one.
Brian: Point one miles. Wow look at you go. All right, running. And hopefully you're not running from anything and you're running for fun.
Gabi: I'm running to better my life. Let's just say that.
Brian: I love it. I love it. All right, so now talk about -- there's six, possibly seven of you, on stage -- talk about like a funny moment. What's the funniest moment that comes to mind when you think about the band?
Gabi: I think Sarah, Sarah is awesome, because she can feed off the energy of the crowd and the song, and she will do ... she'll just start kind of jamming on a moment and kind of just go with the bassist and dance with him a little bit. She just keeps everyone on her toes. So I think Sarah just really keeps things lively and every show is kind of a new experience because she just kind of like ... I don't know what she's gonna do. Who knows? I don't know.
Brian: And has she ever done anything absolutely wild in these?
Gabi: I think a couple times she's tried to go into the crowd, but she was limited by the cord.
Brian: So she had a leash, it had to keep her on stage.
Brian: All right. Sarah, you were leashed, I'm sorry. They strategically keep the length of the cord, the appropriate length so you can't run away.
Gabi: It's purposeful. Correct.
Brian: I got it. So I think you should just go get a wireless set and really mess with them one day.
Gabi: Oh man.
Brian: That would be wild. I'd love to see Sarah on a wireless, on a wireless setup, that'd be awesome.
Brian: All right, now what about biggest success moments for the band so far? What comes to mind?
Gabi: I think ... We love it when -- not to say that this happens all the time, but it's happened a few times -- where there'll be people that we don't really know, close friends of ours, singing our songs or singing lyrics from our songs, or really just jamming out and being like, "Oh, I saw you guys last week," or something like that, and coming up to us and just really paying attention to our original music. Because we play covers and originals as well, so when people that we don't know, say something about us with our original music, it's awesome.
Brian: That's cool.
Brian: All right. Now what about ... Talk about a time that you tried and failed. What comes to mind?
Gabi: Well, I mean, I think every show.
Brian: Oh stop it. You do not fail at your shows.
Gabi: Well I will say this, one time we had a show at Iota, which is down the street I believe.
Gabi: It's a great venue. We had a new song. We had a cover of Come Together by The Beatles.
Brian: Oh nice.
Gabi: And we didn't have that much time to practice it, and we just kind of made a last minute decision to just go for it, and I think we bombed it. It was, yeah. We just kind of, we couldn't just ... there was no communication.
Brian: What does that mean? The wrong notes? You didn't ... You just missed cued?
Gabi: Just the timing, yeah. The timing and cues, and there's some chord changes. Because we wanted to do ... we always try to switch up our covers and make them our own.
Gabi: And we wanted to do an interesting jam in the middle, but we just, we kind of forgot what each of us were supposed to do, and it was just bad. So we failed. But you know what? We still play that cover out, and I think it's getting better.
Brian: And now you rock it. So next time you go to a Vim & Vigor show, make sure you request Come Together by The Beatles.
Gabi: Yes, exactly.
Brian: Because that's gonna be a good one. And I heard them do Michael Jackson once, that was awesome too. Ask for that one too. All right. Now what about ... What's something in your music collection that might surprise us?
Gabi: So, I feel like we have such a mix of influences, and one thing that I am pulling for is to do a musical night. We have ...
Brian: Like, musicals like singing, like Broadway musicals, musicals?
Gabi: Yes. Yeah.
Brian: Oh nice.
Gabi: So we, I mean, like I said, we do a lot of covers. I think that's a part of any local band, is doing cover shows, and we love them. It's really fun to play stuff that people know. But, PJ and I are pretty enthusiastic about musicals, so I think just it's a matter of time before we get the rest of the guys on board, and I think it's gonna happen. I think you should watch out for it.
Brian: Okay. And what's the first song that comes to mind when you think about, "Ooo, I want to do a musical song"?
Gabi: It'd be amazing if we could do Elephant Love Medley from Moulin Rouge.
Brian: Oh my.
Brian: All right.
Gabi: I don't know if you're familiar.
Brian: So if you're listening ... Oh I do, I remember the Elephant Love Medley vaguely. I'm not gonna lie, I'm gonna go YouTube this, or Google it, afterwards, so I can check that out.
Gabi: It's pretty epic.
Brian: And then the next time I come to a Vim & Vigor show, I'm gonna make requests and put the band on notice.
Gabi: Sounds good.
Brian: I love it. Now, what's ... So what about you, Gabi? Where does music enter your life? How did you become a musician?
Gabi: So I ... My brother, when I was younger, he started playing music way be- ... when I was really young. He's about five years older than I am. I was a huge copycat and just thought he was the coolest guy ever -- and he is -- and so I just copied him. So I was like, "I need to learn guitar," and stuff like that. So I started playing when I was in freshman year of high school, and he taught me my first song, which was a Dave Matthews song.
Brian: Which one?
Gabi: Lover Lay Down.
Gabi: Because you essentially just play two strings at a time.
Brian: Yeah. Okay.
Gabi: So it was pretty easy. So yeah, that was the first song I learned, and ever since then I started playing with a high school band. Like we had a folk group in high school.
Gabi: So ever since then it just happened, and I just love to write and play out, and it kind of just evolved from there.
Brian: And it all went back to Dave Matthews and your brother.
Gabi: It did, yeah.
Brian: That's amazing.
Brian: I love it. All right. Well shout out to bro, thanks for doing what you did because now we got Gabi here in Vim & Vigor as a result. What a cool story. One of my favorite questions to ask is: if you could offer one piece of advice, what would it be?
Gabi: I think an issue or a challenge that the band comes across a lot, is finding time to keep this going. Because we're all full time, or we all have full time jobs, and it's a lot of time, a lot of effort going to practices and all that stuff. So I say, just find the time, because it's worth it. I mean, if it's something that you really love ... We have such a blast doing it , and even though it's exhausting sometimes, it's awesome.
Brian: Find the time. Don't give up, keep working on it.
Gabi: Yeah. Keep going.
Brian: I dig it. Keep going. And if people want to find out more about Vim & Vigor and follow you guys, where do they go?
Gabi: You can go to our Facebook, /vimandvigormusic. You can go to our website, vimandvigormusic.com. And we have an Instagram, vimandvigormusic, and a Twitter. But mainly all of our info is on the Facebook and website, and you can find all of our upcoming shows, media, any videos that we'll have, it'll be there.