Q&A with Vienna, December 2006

Chat and sip. Beret optional.

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shawn
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Postby shawn » Tue Dec 19, 2006 2:28 pm

Vienna wrote:It'd be pretty cool to have an explosive molar though.

Bet dental insurance doesn't cover those, though. :lol:

Speaking of which - what sort of medical/dental insurance is available to someone in your profession in the US? I've heard horror stories of musicians with no health insurance, and I'm hoping you're in a better position than that, especially when you're on tour (like when you had that episode of losing your voice a couple years ago). (And yeah, in an ideal world it shouldn't matter what profession one has, or how successful one is, to get that sort of thing, but I promised myself not to get into any online political rants if I can help it...)

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!

spyfferoni
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Postby spyfferoni » Tue Dec 19, 2006 7:23 pm

I know I already asked some questions which were answered---Thank you!
Yesterday while I was driving a question popped into my mind---
If you could be the opening act for any performer/band who would you choose?
If you were the headliner on tour, who would you choose to open for you?

Thanks,
Tyffanie (Who is thrilled that you not only read my e-mail, but remember it!)

Vienna
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Postby Vienna » Tue Dec 19, 2006 9:35 pm

Ang Mo wrote:Is having the musical career better then wanting the musical career?


Oh, by far. Without question. One of my friends is a teacher, and her first year (like most teachers', I think) was overwhelming, one trial after another. She came home and cried a lot that year. But she got even more upset when someone suggested that maybe she should consider other career paths—that wasn't an option, in her mind. She'd always wanted to be a teacher. This was just something she had to go through.

I haven't been through anything nearly as trying as teaching at a public school, but this year has been...interesting, in parts. Lots of good things. But also lots of "hey...how come...hello?" And wondering if I need to do things differently somehow.

What inspired the song, "Nothing Without You"?


A fundamental fear of being alone, really. I spend a lot of time on my own, and usually it's fine. But it's strange how terrifying loneliness can be when it strikes, sometimes in the midst of a perfectly decent evening or a lively party, and I started to wonder how other people deal with it. I had a discarded song from years ago that had the line "a thousand papercuts/and the sheet in my hand." That's more or less where it started.

I still like other people's interpretations better, to be honest. Especially those who read it as a song about spiritual hunger.

Wow, what a pleasant post this is turning out to be... ;)

Any new venues that you have played that really made a lasting impression or fond memory on the latest tour?


The Maintenance Shop in Ames was a warm welcome to Iowa. Cozy and relaxed. Ditto for Gravity Lounge in Charlottesville. Hope to go back to Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas; I love playing in rooms that have a history, that have served other purposes. And playing that semi-private show for the Eagleview community in Exton, PA was a lot more fun than I thought it'd be—instead of merely being background music for summer picnics, we got a whole gaggle of kids to get up on stage and dance. Hee.

I also really enjoyed The Goldhawk, the food & atmosphere at Towne Crier Cafe and Watercolor Cafe, and the great little recital hall at Monmouth Academy. The hosts/owners of these places are fantastic.

Vienna
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Postby Vienna » Tue Dec 19, 2006 10:21 pm

am.rock wrote:First, there's thousands of hobbyist musicans out there, did you ever feel you were one of those? Like, "my music is pretty good, and my friends like it, and sometimes i play out, but it's [just] a hobby".


My original plan (in high school) was to become a general surgeon and spend a lot of time in developing countries. I also wanted to score films and record albums. But the first seemed more likely, and more in line with the path I was on academically. So yes, for a while I assumed music was just going to be a hobby.

Then the dream of medicine fizzled out, aided greatly by Advanced Organic Chemistry and a seminar in which I "shadowed" several physicians for a few days. I wasn't as cut out for it as I thought I should be. And there, suddenly, was the possibility of pursuing music. The rest of my life was no longer set aside to do something else. The future was open.

Second, when did it become apparent to you that you were going to be a professional musican? I mean, was it clear to you from a while back...in the college days, and the job was just a day job to pay the bills? Or, did you see it more as a hobby, and the thing just spiraled out of control? How did you feel when you realized, maybe I can make a thing out of this and quit your job? I guess what I'm trying to ask is, when did you know? Even, how did you know?


I made the promise to myself to take music seriously, to come up with a plan, midway through college. It was a scattered, haphazard effort for a long time. By luck I met Eric Miller a few months later, and we started recording, with the vague notion to have an album finished by graduation. I looked up Berklee College of Music and spent spring break exploring its campus in Boston. A friend asked me to play a show in a neighboring dorm. I set up a rudimentary website with mp3s. The point is, I'd decided to set my mind to it—it wasn't just a hobby—but that didn't mean I knew what I was doing.

After graduation I gave myself two years. At the two-year mark I'd either quit my job because I had something to go on—a label, a manager, whatever—or I'd quit to go to music school. So I set up my keyboard and PA in tiny coffeehouses; I saved most of my paycheck; we released Waking Hour and I walked to the post office to mail PayPal orders twice a week. As it happened, I got accepted to Berklee's full-time program just as Virt Records approached me with an offer. It was spring 2002, two years almost exactly.

Reading this over, I'm not sure if I've really answered the question. When did I know? I didn't, really. I didn't know for sure until later; I guess the first NPR Weekend Edition piece was the first moment, then Letterman of course. Those were endorsements that opened many other doors. But I didn't know any of that was going to happen when I said goodbye to my officemates. It was a leap of faith, to lean on a cliché. I just had to believe that this was something worth trying. I didn't know whether I was going to "make it." Many deserving musicians don't. I'm still amazed that I've gotten this far.

Vienna
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Postby Vienna » Tue Dec 19, 2006 10:41 pm

kkkkk wrote:Since health is important to you (as you've anwered above), are you a health conscious person? I eat crap all the time, and i guess its even harder for a musician who is always on the road. And exercise! Do you ever have time for that?


Uhhh. Let me put it this way: when we were in Atlanta, I was pretty excited to try The Varsity. :)

I put good health on the list earlier because I really need to stop taking it for granted. I have a very forgiving body, so it puts up with double cheeseburgers and 10-hour flights, but that can't last. My saving graces are 1) I do love vegetables, 2) I'm fascinated by gym workout machines, and 3) given the right environment (Amsterdam, Yosemite), I can hike/walk around for days.

For Lent I think I'm gonna give up fried food.

What time do you go to bed usually? Do you have any bedtime rituals?


Total night owl. The hours between 1 and 6 am are my best if I'm working on something. But I count myself lucky that I can sleep pretty much anywhere, anytime. Jet lag is a foreign concept.

Vienna
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Postby Vienna » Tue Dec 19, 2006 10:58 pm

shawn wrote:what sort of medical/dental insurance is available to someone in your profession in the US? I've heard horror stories of musicians with no health insurance, and I'm hoping you're in a better position than that, especially when you're on tour (like when you had that episode of losing your voice a couple years ago).


I've got one of those high-deductible plans, so I'd pay for the first couple thousand dollars of medical expenses each year before any coverage kicked in, with some exceptions for preventive care. Basically it's emergency health insurance. Pretty affordable, though. It's also HSA-compatible, which I finally took advantage of a few months ago.

MusicPro has some great plans, not only for health insurance but for instruments and touring too. I'm currently trying to find the serial numbers for all my gear so I can finish my application...

sod2002
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Hello again Vienna

Postby sod2002 » Wed Dec 20, 2006 3:43 am

Hi Vienna from Steve O

I fully realize that I may be in big time excess of the allowed quota of questions and or comments here, and I by no means intend to take advantage or overstay my welcome (especially from a newbie to the forum) so that said...feel free to ignore me and my question if you wish (no offense will be taken!)

First and foremost...

thank you so much for taking the time to read all of these comments and questions... and from me a big thank you for caring enough about your fans to do this. You must be beat from all of the travel and performing and then extra busy with all of the holiday stuff and catching up with friends, family, and others close to you. So thank you again and I do hope you enjoy these times with loved ones.

Now the question (if you so choose)...

I do not know if you are a movie fan, either domestic or foreign films, but if so do you have a short list of your favorite movies (past or present) ...is there anything you are dying to see currently...and if Santa were putting a DVD under your tree, which one(s) would he leave there?

Also, while on the topic of movies...do you see yourself ever doing the score for a motion picture? I think you would be amazing doing it if you found the proper project...What do you think?

Thanks again Vienna and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you :D

Reileen
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Postby Reileen » Wed Dec 20, 2006 4:04 am

If I haven't already exceeded my quota of questions...

On the album recording of "Mission Street," where exactly is the background noise from, like the trumpet and the clinking of bottles? Is that actually noise that you recorded while at your apartment on Mission Street, or something like that? 'Cause that's one of the things I love about the song - it just makes it so grounded in reality, and I have this image of you sitting on your couch by the window with your acoustic guitar staring out at the street...

:D
"You've made us swear our souls to you
And blamed us for your poisoned grace."


Reileen van Kaile
http://www.voxgraphicastudio.com

Ang Mo
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Postby Ang Mo » Wed Dec 20, 2006 4:09 am

Thank you for answering my questions. I really liked your responses. They made me very happy.

I forgot to ask the question posed by another forum member on a thread. It seems like some people are preoccupied by what your real name might be, but now the hot new question is actually about your stage name. Is the "Teng" in honor of Teresa Teng or is it just a name that you picked because it is well known?

If you ever go to Portland then try Sungari for Chinese food. They place a premium on using the freshest snow peas, the tenderest duck breast, the fattest prawns. The spices and sauces used enhance, but do not overpower the other elements. Downtown Portland, 735 SW 1st Avenue

For Sushi, Saburo's which Mr. Cheng is familiar with. Large servings to almost ridiculous proportions. Casual atmosphere. Crowded though.

On your very interesting treatise on loneliness I highly recommend watching Combat to help deal with that. Not only does the theme song cure the pains of a breakup as I have so wisely recorded on another thread, but the show is incredibly well written, the actors are great, and the director, Robert Altman, became very famous and successful as a movie director. :wink:

One of the characters in the show was named "Cage" short for Cajun. He was played by French Canadian Olympic skier, Pierre Jalbert, who broke into show business after teaching skiing to the rich and famous at Sun Valley, Idaho. He would have made the perfect husband for you if he would have been born at the right time, plus with your new found Canadian citizenship you would have full health coverage under their national health insurance. :lol: He not only has "hobbit eyes", but he is left handed just like you. He sings a little in one episode and he wasn't half bad at it. I apologize about the strangeness of this last bit, but I have had several diet cokes and I am as giddy as a chipmunk to see your answers after waitng several days! :lol:
Pascal told only half the story. He said man was a thinking reed. What man is, is a thinking reed and a walking genital."

rahau
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Postby rahau » Wed Dec 20, 2006 6:50 am

I really enjoy reading your scrapbook posts. Have you given any thought to writing a book, either fiction or non-fiction? Have you written anything in addition to songs? Anything published?

My favorite restaurant in Oakland is Rolling Dunes, on Lakeshore Boulevard, just east of Lake Merritt. Good food, and a funky and friendly atmosphere. I'm usually there on Sunday mornings, reading the Chronicle and muttering, "That Aiden Vaziri is such a jerk ... " :wink:

Scot
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Postby Scot » Wed Dec 20, 2006 7:19 am

Wow- I picked quite a week to get busy and not read the forum! What fun to catch up, though.

First of all, THANKS A TON, Frau Zudoku for doing this again. It's a lot of fun.

A question ..., hmm, ..., well my real question would be WHEN ARE YOU COMING TO HAWAII, but I know how artists hate to answer the "when are you coming to" questions all the time, so I won't ask that.

I was wondering about The Tower's recent vacation, but you already answered that. I've also heard you say that The Tower was sort of a reluctant star, compared to the more extroverted Gravity. I wondered if that also had something to do with it. (It's the first song that really grabbed me, although I have many close favorites these days.)

It seems the new album has been yet another important big milestone in your onward and upward career. Your recent scrapbook postings, as has been brought up earlier, tend to the reflectiv side of where is my life going. What do you miss - what would you change about the rising musician's life, if you could? Anything other than more time at home with familiar surroundings, family, loved ones, and friends? I like the way, though, that you appear to be changing parts
of that life that you can change, and molding your path to your own desires and needs. That's great.

Blue Caravan: there's a line or two about the lover having "never existed
at all". I've always thought of this as meaning the author's vision of the
lover was not real, although the lover was. Did you originally mean something like this, or did you mean it literally?

Hilo food? Cafe 100 for the 1.99 Loco Moco, Ken's for the all night
Hawaiian version of Denny's, Hilo Bay Cafe for the $9 chicken pot pie
(really, this is gourmet!), and of course, Casa Scot for whatever new
recipe the Chairman decides to send! :>

Happy Holidays, Vienna!
My little attempt at a Vienna Teng WWW page (Set lists, song info., and more...)

Jade
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Postby Jade » Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:36 pm

Thanks for taking the time to read all these questions and write so many responses! To answer your question:

If you ever do come to Cambridge (the original, not the one in Massachusetts :P ), then you must try Cotto. England is not a country best represented by its cuisine, but this place actually does things right. They change the menu every day and use lots of organic, locally grown produce which means you're always eating the freshest ingredients. There are paintings from local artists on display and the decor has a very homestyle, farmhouse feel. Basically it's a shining beacon of hope for English food, which is normally dominated by leaden pub favorites like toad-in-the-hole and mushy peas. :shock:

Dreaming Pepper
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Postby Dreaming Pepper » Wed Dec 20, 2006 2:51 pm

Jade wrote:Thanks for taking the time to read all these questions and write so many responses! To answer your question:

If you ever do come to Cambridge (the original, not the one in Massachusetts :P ), then you must try Cotto. England is not a country best represented by its cuisine, but this place actually does things right. They change the menu every day and use lots of organic, locally grown produce which means you're always eating the freshest ingredients. There are paintings from local artists on display and the decor has a very homestyle, farmhouse feel. Basically it's a shining beacon of hope for English food, which is normally dominated by leaden pub favorites like toad-in-the-hole and mushy peas. :shock:


Toad in the hole?? what the hey is that?? well whatever it is sure doesn't sound good.

I'd suggest a place to eat in Philly, but I am picky as heck with food, mainly cause I am a vegetarian.
Whoa.. I remembered my sign-in information!

snowdiagram
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Postby snowdiagram » Wed Dec 20, 2006 8:16 pm

I'm one of the hobbyist musicians that am.rock talked about, though it'll be a while before I play out - but thanks to am.rock for asking that one! So, a question related to hobbyist music - I've done some home recordings recently, and hearing my own voice is always a little odd (I always think that's not how I sound at all!) Just wondering if you have the same experience. :)

Zadie Smith says something like, to write well, you should read well, and I think it's similar for music. So, I was wondering what are the albums you've been listening to recently for edification or for fun? Do you listen to an album all the way through "in the order intended by the artist" or do you use the shuffle button?

edit: I realized I was asking for fish, when I actually just wanted to learn how to fish. How do you find new music?

rtu
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Postby rtu » Thu Dec 21, 2006 12:15 am

dreaming pepper, for chinese vegetarian in philly, try su xing house on 15th and sansom...not vegetarian myself, but it's run by my former student's family and i really liked the food.

but since this is a q&a forum, here's another question for vienna....if you had to choose one word to describe the real you, what would it be?

can't wait for the philly show, as it could be my last for a few years unless i either don't get one of the jobs i'm applying or try to squeeze in another before i move to asia.


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