Thursday, February 25, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Kindness of Ravens: Alright, so, first thing’s first—how long have you been veg/vegan?
Jennifer Vega: About 2 years and, before that, on-again, off-again since I was 12, with years of cheeseburgers and steak eating in between.
KoR: What drove you to make that kind of change in your lifestyle?
JV: I’ve always loved animals and felt uncomfortable with the idea of eating them. I tried not to think about where my food was coming from for a long time. About two years ago, I decided to look into how animals were being raised for food. I realized it is unacceptable, and I knew that I could no longer block out what was happening. We can eat delicious and nutritious foods without animal products.
KoR: Totally. Yeah, we both originally made the decision relatively early in our lives based entirely on animal welfare issues. Our reasoning is still based on that and, years and years later (too many, really), our convictions are stronger than ever. That said, as we’ve gotten older, I think our bodies have reaped the benefits of a decision made with them barely in mind at all. Have you also discovered many health benefits along the way?
JV: Yes! I’ve never felt better. I am the weight I was at 16 and I eat whatever I want. I hear so many women still counting calories, and there’s no need to do that when you’re eating a plant-based diet. My skin is so much clearer and brighter too. I spent years running around to dermatologists and spending hundreds of dollars on different face products. When I stopped drinking cow’s milk, my skin completely cleared up.
KoR: Did you find that going vegetarian sort of pushed you into a world of self-reliance as far as cooking for yourself and having to be creative in that sense or were you interested in food and cooking before that?
JV: I decided to start cooking recently because it gave me more variety and control over the ingredients. And there are so many yummy food blogs to get inspiration from!
KoR: Right? I will just tell you, it was NOT like that in the ‘90s. So, like most, I’m sure you know a lot of people who aren’t vegetarian or vegan. What’s your advice to anyone considering going veg?
JV: Be positive and lead by example. I found it helpful to switch over gradually. It’s important to be kind and take it easy on ourselves so that the experience is fun and positive. I eat a much greater variety of dishes now, and I’m even more passionate about food. I recommend spending a little time reading about vegan nutrition. If we eat a diet consisting of white pasta and fake meat, obviously we’d be unhealthy even though we’re vegan. Also, I noticed a big difference in my energy level since I started eating quinoa. I try and replace a lot of the dishes where I would use rice, with quinoa.
KoR: Yeah, we didn’t really discover quinoa until like five or six years ago. Super good and so easy. So, what made you want to start a Sweet On Veg? We know from experience that blogs are a bit of a pain…and ours is often merely held together by bits of Internet tape and twine. So what drives you to keep it going?
JV: I adore food and inspiration. When I realized how unnecessary it was to be eating animal products and how many delicious vegan options there were, I felt I needed to share that with everyone!!
KoR: Well on behalf of everyone, thanks! You tend to post a lot of raw recipes. What do you like about raw foods? I tried going raw for a bit myself and it DID NOT take at all. That said, I enjoy some raw ice cream from time to time and feel like it works for a lot of people.
JV: I just made raw ice cream last night with frozen bananas, raw chocolate and maple syrup! I really love raw desserts, but I could never go without pasta and toast.
KoR: Not together though, right? When you’re not blogging, what do you do?
JV: Hang out with my two dogs, Tibby-Lee & Fifone.
KoR: Working in the world of branding and image, we like to read into names and such. Sweet On Veg seems pretty straightforward as far as how it works. Were any other names in the running?
JV: Sweet On Veg was the one and only!
KoR: Well done then! So, obviously your hometown of Vancouver has very much been in the news lately. Have you lived in Vancouver all your life?
JV: I was born and raised in Vancouver but lived in a few other places like Toronto and England in my early twenties. I enjoyed a few months in your fine city too.
KoR: Oh, well a few months is not NEARLY enough. So, when it was announced however many years ago, how did you and your family and friends react to the news that Vancouver would host the 2010 Winter Olympics? I remember when they were talking about hosting the Olympics in NYC recently, most everyone here was just like, ‘Oh, HELLS to the no!’ Then again, I guess you could rent out your apartment for, what, a bajillion dollars
JV: It’s been a mixed reaction. I wouldn’t have minded renting my apartment out and taking off to Italy for a few weeks of pasta and wine.
KoR: So is your town totally overrun with media and weirdly fit people right now? Have you spotted anyone out and about? Er, oot and aboot?
JV: It’s a different vibe around the city. There is excitement in the air. I haven’t seen anyone famous though. I was hoping to spot Cindy Crawford!
KoR: Hm. I’m not familiar with her. Is she a Canadian skier? Any other favorites that you’re rooting for with the games?
JV: Go Canada Go!!
KoR: Fair enough! I’ve never been to Vancouver myself, but I have to say, I’m pretty impressed by the eastern trinity of Toronto, Montréal, and Quebec. In your opinion, what makes Vancouver awesome?
JV: The ocean, the mountains, delicious local food and the mildest climate in Canada.
KoR: Oh, that sounds like a plus. So, you’re not super far from Seattle, right? Have you ever had Mighty-O’s donuts? Can you mail me some? Like, a baker’s one-hundred dozen? Mmm. Bed of donuts…
JV: I’m overdue for a trip to Seattle. I haven’t been in a couple of years, and it’s only a couple of hours drive from Vancouver. Mighty-O’s will be my first stop!
KoR: And then straight to the post office. Switching scope to fashion, we’re already huge fans of Canadian designer, Dace, who’s based in downtown Vancouver and I believe manufactures everything there locally. Any other local fashion you can clue us in to?
JV: Astrosatchel has some really cute vegan bags!
KoR: Nice. Any word on things to come with you or Sweet on Veg? Plans? World domination through vegan recipes and inspirational quotes?
JV: Continuing the delicious inspiration.
KoR: Alright, time for the lightning round. Best all-around vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver?
KoR: Ooh, that does look good. Favorite local singer?
JV: k.d. lang…I think she’s from Alberta, but close enough and wow, she can sing.
KoR: Oh, right, Alberta. We totally saw a great band recently called the Rural Alberta Advantage. They may be onto something… Web site that’s been keeping you from work lately?
KoR: Favorite TV show?
KoR: Favorite recipe of late?
JV: Toasted tomato & avocado (with a bit of olive oil & salt) sandwiches. Best sandwich ever.
Alright, well that abut does it. Be sure to check out Jennifer's musing and makings over at sweetonveg.com whenever you get chance. Now we're going to go watch some snowboarding.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Monday, February 1, 2010
KoR: First thing’s first, I hear you are in New York?
DB: I am, I’m in a car, driving…well I’m in Brooklyn at the moment, but yeah.
KoR: Hey, Brooklyn, alright. Are you here on business or just seeing the sights? Top of the Rock? Sex and the City tour?
DB: I’m about to head back to Paris later on today. Mostly it was business, but last couple days is a little bit of pleasure.
KoR: Nice. Any big plans in Brooklyn?
DB: We’re now hunting for donuts. That’s the big plan.
KoR: Ah, that’s a very good plan. So, yeah, you’re originally from London though right, but now you’re in Paris?
DB: Yeah, exactly. Well, I grew up in a little village outside London in the country, moved to London for a long time, and then moved to Paris.
KoR: You went to Paris shortly after The Servant broke up?
DB: Sort of at the same time, really.
KoR: Was one the cause of the other or anything like that?
DB: I went through sort of a period of big change and was just like—right, I’m going out in different country, stopped working with all these people, The Servant had lots of little record deals in different countries and they’d all kind of just come to their logical end, so it was just really clean.
KoR: That’s great. So, just really briefly, how did you first start making music or getting into playing music?
DB: Well, it was kind of a gradual process. When I was a kid—my dad is a crazy passionate music fan—so I was always surrounded by lots of vinyl and, you know, he grew up in Liverpool in the 60’s so he came from the world of Merseybeat and the Beatles and all those kinds of bands around then, so there was a lot of the history of music. I kind of knew it without ever sitting down, and…you know, I knew all of Dylan’s music and I knew all of Miles Davis and all these things that, only later did I really appreciate them, but they meant that I was kind of immersed in that and also all around someone who was insanely passionate about music and talked about it in quasi-religious terms. But it took me a long time to grow up and sort of realize, “Oh, I want to do that,” because it was so around me that it was almost like, I don’t know…it was like food or like air, I didn’t really think, “Oh I could do that job.”
KoR: Right, right, you sort of took over the family business of being enamored by music.
DB: Yeah, yeah. And then, when I was a teenager, through this weird turn of events, there was like a broken two-string guitar in my room that someone had left there and I started to kind of record like little riffs that I’d repeat on one string. I couldn’t play the guitar, but the first thing I tried to do was write songs, like record to tape recorder me playing these stupid riffs on one string and then I would take another tape recorder and sing on top. So, looking back, I find it kind of weird or striking that the first thing I wanted to do was try and write songs before…
KoR: No, no, that’s really great.
DB: And I did that for a long time and then slowly, got more strings for the guitar and attempted to learn, you know, proper chords, and then was like, “Oh, I could maybe try and learn other people’s songs.” And then got into the whole world of being in bands around where I lived and then moved to London and was sort of a hustling music whore. I wanted to pay music, something in a band—bass or guitar or anything. So yeah, moved to London, went to study art but it was basically a rouse to get my parents to pay for me to live in London so I could try and get in more and more bands, and that was kind of how it happened.
KoR: Well it worked out, it seems. So, Un, that’s your debut solo album. How did you go about…I don’t know, I guess I’m assuming it differed as far as writing an album, say, with The Servant, and writing Un. Was it a much more solitary experience for you?
DB: Well, yes and no. I mean, actually, I wrote all the songs in The Servant and with a lot of that obviously I spent my time alone doing it. But the difference was that, part of the reason I…or the main reason, actually…I decided to disband the band was that I had a lot of ideas on things I wanted to do that I had gone to them about and I got sick of coming in with things, like, “Oh, let’s try this,” or “Listen to this,” and having people say, “I don’t want to do that idea, I don’t like that.” And basically any idea that stepped out of the world of playing guitar-based rock, alternative sort of rock, indie rock, they were hostile to. And actually, when I began The Servant, it was me on my own with a laptop kind of trying to fuse these weird different things or non-related musical areas that I liked. So when I left that band it was amazingly liberating. So, in a way it was a similar feeling of writing on my own but suddenly I didn’t have to think, “Oh, will these people like it.” And it was sped up, I could just, you know…if I sat there and said, “Oh, I like this,” it was a done deal as opposed to spending two weeks on something and then taking it and having another two weeks of arguing over it.
KoR: Right, right, less writing by committee. And Un was released, what, in July in Europe? Last July?
DB: Yeah, exactly.
KoR: And is it, I believe, coming out next month (February) in the U.S.?
DB: I think so. I’m not very good at remembering stuff. I think quite soon, like the next few weeks, next month, yeah.
KoR: And I know you’re on Polydor in Europe, who’s putting it out here?
DB: There’s kind of machinations at the moment about who, that’s still being finalized. It should be The Hours, but I think Universal will be involved too.
KoR: Is it odd that it’s…like, do the songs feel old for you at this point or is it still pretty fresh?
DB: I mean I’m sure by the end of this year of touring again I might get a bit like, “Okay….” But you know, particularly live I keep slipping in new stuff anyway so I kind of always feel like I’m on the move. But I haven’t sat down and listened to the album for a while. But, particularly when you’re at this stage and starting out, when you’re at ground zero, you’ve got to build it up slowly, so it’s always like a two year thing with an album if you’re going to do around the world.
KoR: Yeah, we love the album, it’s great, but I have to say, one of our favorite songs—I think it’s a B-side?—is 'Junk Food.'
DB: Oh, really? 'Junk Food?'
KoR: Yeah, what is that? Is that just like a B-side you recorded, is that new or old or what?
DB: It was the end of the record, it was like, “We need a B-side.” So I was like, “Oh, okay...” so I bashed that out, but yeah. A lot of B-sides are kind of…the pressure’s off, you know, like, you can just have fun and sometimes they come out better than things you…. No, yeah, I like that song.
KoR: Yeah, it’s a great song. It’s simple but, yeah, really beautiful.
KoR: Okay, this is something that I didn’t really hear about until I started listening to your music, but can you sort of explain to an American audience—What is Wonky Pop?
DB: Well, it’s a club night in London. It might have stopped now, I don’t know, because obviously I haven’t been there for a while, but it’s a club night in London that’s called that, called Wonky Pop, and quite a broad, disparate group of artists have played it and, you know, there’s a sort of vague, half-hearted attempt to sort of maybe say it’s a movement, but there’s nothing particularly…there’s not much common thread between a lot of the bands that played at this place. And I’ve played there a few times. Having said that, the words ‘pop’ and ‘wonky’ don’t feel totally alien to me, so, I don’t completely cringe when I hear that.
KoR: Gotcha, so you’re not married to the term but not offended by it.
DB: Exactly. And also lesser-known is that there was some theme music from a film in ‘80’s called Starman. Like a sci-fi film.
KoR: Yeah, I remember that movie.
DB: Well, do you remember the music?
KoR: I do not remember the music. But, yeah, that’s a great song. I’m not a huge Biggie Smalls fan, so I didn’t recognize the lyrics at first, but I can get the Rihanna thing.
DB: Sure. Well, yeah, originally it was that, and it was kind of an experiment when I started the album, just to try out. There were lots of things I was kind of like wanting to marry and put into my music and instead of trying to write songs that were inspired by them, I thought, “Oh, I’ll just literally Frankenstein’s monster style sew these things together and see if they will work.” And it was kind of a private thing and then some of them kind of that came out of it more interesting than the novelty sum of their parts. So I just posted a couple of these things up on my myspace just because they quickly explained what I was going to try and do and where I was coming from in kind of a simple way. I didn’t even think I’d do much with these things because I just thought there’d be unclearable legal nightmares, but, anyway, yeah. And then Hypnotize was decided to be released and we wanted to release it, but then, yeah, it was vetoed. The Notorious B.I.G. estate said, “You can’t use it,” so I then thought, “It’s my music, I’ll write my own lyrics.”
KoR: Nice, yeah. So no Timbs for your hooligans in Brooklyn anymore.
DB: Exactly, exactly.
KoR: So, you’ve got a tour coming up.
DB: Yeah, yeah, February.
KoR: And you’re starting it here in New York, which is…thanks for that. Any reason you’re starting here in New York?
DB: I’m not that involved the selection or the order of the tour, so I guess…I don’t know, maybe partly they’re going to aim to do it…I mean, it’d be a bit stupid to do it if it was like New York, LA, then, I don’t know, in the middle, somewhere like Chicago. They’re going to try and do it in a logical arc. So, start one side, work your way across.
KoR: Well, I think the correct answer is, “New York’s the best city ever...”
DB: And also, you want to start on the best place on earth!
KoR: There we go! Are there any artists or bands out there we may not have heard of that you think people should be listening to that aren’t getting much play right now?
DB: Let me have a think. Most of the artists I like who are kind of off the beaten track, I’m sure other people know them already. What have I been listening to recently? Hannah Montana. Someone just whispered that in my ear. I’ve been closed in and doing my own stuff at the moment, but I really like the Girls album, and like Wild Beasts’ new record…Major Lazer, but I’m sure people know these things.
KoR: Well, you know, not everyone.
DB: Well, there you go, check them out. Yacht! I really like yacht.
KoR: Yeah, yeah, yeah, they’re really good.
DB: Oh, I know, what about the new Sleigh Bells? That’s really good. That’s a New York band. They’re a new New York kind of hip-hop weirdness. It’s good.
KoR: Alright, well, it looks like we’re nearing the end of our time, so I’ve got a little lightning round here if you want to give me just quick short answers.
DB: Go for it.
KoR: Alright, so, you’re stranded on a desert island, three CDs you’d bring.
DB: Three CDs, jeez... Sign of the Times by Prince, Heaven or Las Vegas by Cocteau Twins, and Hatful of Hallow by The Smiths.
KoR: Excellent. You a dog or a cat person?
DB: Equal. I’m equally a dog and a cat kind of guy. They’re both great.
KoR: They are both great. Favorite thing about being in the music business?
DB: Continual variety of situations and task.
KoR: Least favorite?
DB: Anything that becomes done a lot, repeatedly I start to, you know…. Once I’ve been in a studio for a half a year I’m like, “Fuck, I just want to go on tour, I can’t even be in a studio again” and then when I’ve been on tour for half a year, I’m like, “Fuck, I just want to go in the studio.”
KoR: So you love the variety and hate the lack of variety.
DB: Exactly, when things get repetitive, I hate that.
KoR: Alright, the most un-rockstar thing about you?
DB: God, where do you start? The question is, “What is one rockstar thing about me”? Um, I don’t really drink or take drugs.
KoR: Alright, that’s pretty un-rockstar. Any funny nicknames growing up?
KoR: Bananas? Can I ask why?
DB: It was the shape of my shoes when I was in school.
KoR: That’s excellent. Alright, favorite place in Paris?
DB: Marché des Enfants Rouges. The Market of Red Children.
KoR: Ooh. Can you buy red children there?
DB: Sadly, you can’t.
KoR: Oh, that’s too bad.
DB: But you can buy amazing food there.
KoR: Favorite place in London?
DB: Primrose Hill.
KoR: How about New York?
DB: At the moment I’ve only spent a few days here, so…
KoR: Probably the donut shop then?
DB: Yeah, Peter Pan Donut Shop, which I’m about to try out in Greenpoint.
KoR: And favorite movie ever?
DB: Favorite movie ever? Off the top of my head The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.
KoR: Alright, well I think that’s about it.
KoR: Oh, unless you want to end on some sort of musical note, like…
DB: Like a C#?
KoR: Right, like a C#, there we go. Well thanks a lot for talking with me and we’ll be seeing you at the show in New York.
DB: Excellent, look forward to it.