as not your typical string quartet, the group known as
déVah quartet released their six track debut CD to much
critical acclaim in 2013. Fans of classical based instrumental rock
and exotic instrumental rock-based string quartets will eat this up.
Featuring four dynamic looking women playing instrumental string music
fueled by rock rhythms and enhanced by fuzz, octave, distortion and
reverb pedals, the CD DÉVAH sounds beguiling and one
thing is certain: DÉVAH is a CD that will be played
more than once by those lucky enough to listen to it. Not surprisingly,
the Toronto based ladies of déVah cite a number of progressive
rock, rock, jazz and classical music influences including YES, Beethoven,
Brahms, Iron Maiden, Apocalyptica and Metallica. Talk about eclectic
but with this much zeal and musical enthusiasm these ladies have a
bright future ahead of them. Comprised of Emily Hau (electric
violin), Sharon Lee and Moira Burke (electric 5 string
violin/viola hybrids) and group composer Liza McLellan (electric
cello), déVah is augmented on their CD by drummer Mike Vanderhule,
who adds in what is described as modern breakbeats and metal beats,
no doubt giving these ladies a solid foundation from which to rock.
Clocking in at under a half hour, the CD, superbly produced by prog-rock
legend Robert Berry, consists of six tracks which covers a
range of instrumental classical / rock moves. The only track to feature
some vocals, track 4 Im Far Away is also enchanting
and fits in well. If Beethoven and Brahms were alive in 2013, theyd
surely be grooving to the déVah quartet. www.devahquartet.com
mwe3.com presents an interview
DEVAH STRING QUARTET
Can you say something about each member of deVah and what does each
one bring to the group sound?
DEVAH: Liza writes all the music and is the bass foundation
to the group. Emily, maintains her cool, and does all the lead, shred
solos. Sharon, who also does a fair share of solos, is a fireball
of energy, kicking everyone into hyderdrive especially in our
live shows. Moira is our rhythm guitar, mid-range time keeper and
mwe3: Being that youre all string players how did deVah
come together as a band? Was a shared interest and background in classical
music and a love of rock at the core of the deVah concept?
DEVAH: We got together originally to be a straightforward classical
string quartet. We all have university degrees in classical music.
Our group goal shifted over time, though, and our interest turned
towards playing music that was more mainstream. We applied to Yamaha
to see if there was any interest from them in sponsoring a string
quartet group that went electric. As it turned out, there was! We
then started playing covers literally becoming a cover band,
covering bands like Muse, Tool, Björk, Radiohead, Florence +
The Machine, to name a few...and added a drummer. Then, as our sound
started to develop, we began working on our own originals.
mwe3: What was your first exposure to both classical music
and rock / progressive rock and who were a few of your biggest influences
on both your love of music and your own style of musicianship? How
about music education and what were early musical studies like?
(Liza) - I grew up in a musicians household my father
is a classical bass player and my parents met because my mom was the
singer in my dads band when they were in high school. Consequently,
I got a fair share of Beethoven and Bach, but also music by bands
such as Genesis, Yes, Robert Palmer, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Laura
Nyro and The Beach Boys. My parents were eclectic, and so naturally
I became so. I think it is safe to say that all of these artists have
sculpted how I hear and write music.
mwe3: Your first deVah release is self-titled. How were the
songs written, who wrote the music and what role did Robert Berry
play in the production of the first deVah CD? Where and when was the
album written and recorded?
DEVAH: The songs are all written note for note by Liza; first
by ear into manuscript using a program called Finale, and then brought
to the next rehearsal. From there, each member puts their own stamp
on the sound effects and styles used so all songs are arranged
by déVah. The songs were all written mainly on the road as
Liza toured with another ensemble between 2012-2013. The album was
recorded in November of 2012 at Soundtek Studios in San Jose, California.
Robert Berry played a huge role in the production of our first album.
His high musicianship, expertise and experience helped bring our vision
to a whole other level.
Who else was involved in the album during the various stages and who
was involved in the mixing, mastering as well as album design, including
that great artwork on the first deVah CD?
DEVAH: Mixing: Robert Berry
Mastering: Healey Music
Album Design and Artwork: Jon Lam
Photography: Kumari Photography
Our mentor, Joseph Schenck, played a huge role as well. He was a founding
member of the late 1990s prog-rock band Pangaea, and was the one who
introduced us to Robert Berry.
mwe3: Can you say something about your work with Yamaha as
well as some information about your gear including favorite amps,
mics, and other effects?
DEVAH: Yamaha sends us out on outreach programs and educator
clinics to promote and spread the word about electric string instruments
and their capabilities.
We have a multitude of effects pedals Lizas pedalboard
includes a ZVEX Mastotron Fuzz, a Big Muff, a Boss Octave, a Small
Stone phaser, and an MXR Delay. Emilys pedalboard includes an
MXR 78, TC Flashblack, a Crybaby, a Boss Overdrive and a Holy
Grail. She used a HiWatt SA112 in the recording. Sharons pedalboard
is Boss-filled: harmonizer, digital wah, overdrive, distortion, delay
and reverb. Moiras pedalboard includes an Electro-Harmonix Micro
POG, an MXR and Boss Overdrive, a Crybaby and a Boss Delay. The amps
that were used in the recording are different from our live show amps.
Ampeg, Marshall, Hiwatt and Fender were used in the recording. Behringer,
Orange, Blackstar and Fender are used in the live shows.
deVah has backed up other musicians. What have been some of your most
memorable gigs with other musicians and what do you impart to these
artists? And did deVah work with Brian Wilson and Peter Gabriel? Are
there other artists youre planning to work with or would like
to work with? How about some of your favorite current artists?
DEVAH: Weve gotten lucky when it comes to the people
we have worked with. We did part of Brian Wilsons tour while
he was in Ontario. That was a person we never thought we would ever
meet and it was so inspiring. And being on stage with Peter Gabriel
for his Scratch My Back tour was incredible. He is such
a showman, but backstage, he is actually a really humble, nice guy.
He rode in the elevator with us and was like Nice day today,
eh? The best part of any of these gigs would be the amazing
food spread backstage and the huge audiences. There is such a huge
rush performing in front of thousands of people, and déVah
hopes to be the headliner at these big venues one day.
we could work with any top tier band or artist today, it would be
either Björk or Muse. They are major inspirations for us and
we have so much respect for them artistically and musically.
mwe3: I know youve been written about in Prog magazine.
So how do you feel about pioneering a new form of instrumental classical
prog-rock with strings front and center? And what are you plans for
the remainder of 2013 and into 2014? When can we expect another deVah
CD to be underway and what kind of musical directions are you interested
in or planning to go in the future?
DEVAH: Prog magazine provided us with our first recognized
stepping stone into the prog-rock genre and into the world-front.
It was a tremendous compliment that they even took notice of us, and
put one of our tracks
on one of their compilation CDs. This recognition has fueled our fires,
and we would like to get our music out to as many people as we can.
Wed like people to know what strings are capable of in this
day and age! We are currently working towards recording a live off-the-floor
full-length album. We are also planning on making a few cool music
videos. So please stay tuned we will be releasing some more
musical goodies as soon as we can!
Thanks To DeVah String Quartet @ www.devahquartet.com