Aja Volkman of Alt Rock band, NICO VEGA Talks – Music, Motherhood, Collaborating with Husband, Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons and More!
Posted On 12 Aug 2014
Tag: Aja Volkman, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Artist Interview, Ben McKee, Blondie, Caribbean Queen, Dan Epand, Dan Reynolds, David Fincher, David Lynch, Gavin Rossdale, Gravity, I Believe (Get Over Yourself), Imagine Dragons, Lead To Light, Leeds Festival, london grammar, Neon Trees, Nico Vega, No Doubt, otis Redding, Reading Festival, Rich Koehler, Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay
Nico Vega is an American alternative rock band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 2005 and consists of lead singer Aja Volkman, guitarist Rich Koehler, and drummer Dan Epand. The group has released two albums Nico Vega (2009) and Lead To Light (2014). Billboard described Lead To Light as possessing “some of the most unstoppable pop-rock hooks heard all year.”
Aja Volkman started writing songs while in high school in Eugene, Oregon. Later she moved to Los Angeles and started performing on her own. She had hoped to eventually form a band. That happened when one night after a show in 2005, Mike Peña approached her about singing with him and Rich Koehler. The band called themselves Nico Vega after Mike’s mother. However, in 2007 Mike left the band to pursue acting and enjoy fatherhood. At that point, Dan Epand joined the band as their new drummer and has been a driving force behind their continued creativity.
Nico Vega have garnered a reputation as an exciting live band, touring with Gavin Rossdale (of Bush), Neon Trees, Metric (2010), Blondie, and Imagine Dragons among others. They have also opened for No Doubt. Lead singer, Aja Volkman was lovely enough to take some time out of her vacation to answer a few questions for All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa. Read more below!
Hi Aja! So, where does this interview find you today? What’s on the agenda for you today besides this interview?
Bike riding with my family in Oregon, and a birthday party for my daughter on the river at my parents house.
How did you guys all meet? Was it easy getting the band together? Did you all get along right away?
Rich and I met first. We had immediate musical chemistry and that was great. We have always had a lot of fun together. When Dan came along, the 3 of us really matched each other in spirit and energy. It’s been a long and fun relationship.
How is your sophomore album, Lead To Light, which was released via Five Seven Music different than your last one?
I would say that it’s a little more pop driven. Not quite as rock. There are elements of the first record woven throughout “Lead to Light” but it’s a different sound as well.
On Lead To Light you co-wrote with your husband, Dan Reynolds ( of Imagine Dragons) on the single, “I Believe (Get Over Yourself)” How did that song come about and what was the inspiration for that particular song?
Dan produced the song, and I actually wrote it about him and how we met. It was really fun. It’s a sweet song. Very light and deep for me at the same time.
How do you all manage marriage, parenthood, and alternate careers? I understand Rich moonlights as a DJ and Dan directs film, which include the last three Nico Vega videos.
You know, life is short and fleeting and all three of us make the most out of every moment. It’s not easy but we really do all have a desire to do many things.
Which brings me to my next question…how was filming the latest video? Do you have a favorite video you’ve made so far? Any memorable stories to share from the set?
I love all the videos in different ways. Weirdly I like the Gravity video the most although it’s violent. There is something about music videos that have mini stories or dramas that always get me. I just love being transported to another time and place.
If you had the opportunity to work with any act/artist from the past, present or future, who would it be and why? If you could spend the day with them, where would you go…and what would you do?
I’ve been a huge fan of David Lynch and David Fincher both. I love directors that make music such a huge part of their films. I do love acting, and I love writing music and singing of course, so if I could do all three I would be in heaven.
What is your approach to songwriting? How do you capture the inspiration when it comes?
I just write about the things I am living through. It’s always connected. I can’t fake anything. If it’s not about me, it’s about someone close to me. Friends, family… Dan. Hahaha
What was the first song you fell in love with growing up?
My mom would say “Caribbean Queen” when I was like 3. But I remember the first time I heard “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay” by Otis Redding. I remember thinking.. “This is a perfect song, and a perfect voice”
Who are some of the new artists who inspire you? Who is in your current playlist? Any “guilty pleasure” songs or who would we be surprised to find on your playlist?
New artists I like? I’m always changing it up. I like London Grammar a lot. They are pretty new. I don’t have many guilty pleasures in my iTunes library. I do love meditation music. But I’m not ashamed.
You guys have toured with Gavin Rossdale, No Doubt, Neon Trees, Blondie, Imagine Dragons and the list goes on. Any favorite / most memorable tour story you can share with our readers?
I love touring with the Dragons because it’s a huge family affair. Ben Mckee brings this hideous pig mask on tour and wears it while streaking in his little underwear across the stage during opening acts sometimes. When Arrow my daughter sees him, she calls him Bow Piggy because she can’t say Ben, and he is wearing a pig mask. It’s frightening. Especially because now she asks for him all the time and makes me draw him and she just LOVES Ben.
What’s on tap next for Nico Vega?
Reading and Leeds Festival!! Can’t wait!
To stay up to date with Nico Vega, visit their website here