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Von Iva Does It For Themselves
Thu, 02/19/2009 - 08:32 — Court9ney24 By Brian Cognato >University of Maryland

Von Iva designs their own album covers and manages their own website. I know that your band does all that too, and books its own shows, and burns its own CDs and hand-stitches its own t-shirts, but your band also hasn’t also appeared in a Jim Carrey film yet (Apologies to Michael Stipe).

In the course of writing this article, I tried to explain Von Iva’s sound to several friends and coworkers and failed every time. Three chicks – a keyboard, drums and vocals. Frontwoman Jillian Iva supplies the swagger, keyboardist Becky “Bex” Kuppersmith adds the harmony and Kelly Harris on drums brings the noise. It comes together into something like pissed-off disco pop. It’s stripped down, lean, a little industrial – you wouldn’t expect them to come from San Francisco – and almost aggressively danceable. Kuppersmith cites both Kylie Minogue and Joy Division as influences. But she also says that their sound is evolving to become “more poppy.” “Our songs have gotten more to the point,” she says. “Now we get right to the fun part.”

Falling into more genres than they have band members, Von Iva’s not likely to sell as many albums or find as much airtime as Destiny’s Child. Among the few willing to brave old school rock’s cocky libido channeled via diva, synth and bass drum though, they’ll do well. Iva particularly has already become something of a cult figure, earning comparisons to both Sandra O and Tina Turner. Wrote San Francisco Weekly in 2006, “Her husky, blues-inflected voice consistently brings audience members to their knees.”

I saw them play The Red and the Black in Washington, DC, and, while no audience members felt compelled to genuflect, Von Iva definitely controlled the room. The Hell on Heels Tour, which brought them to D.C. along with glam-rockers Semi Precious Weapons (whose heels are worn by singer/jewelry designer Justin Tranter) and LA-trio Nico Vega, is already winding its way back to the West Coast, crossing the country for the second time. Kuppersmith’s favorite place to play? Tucson, Arizona. “I know it sounds so ridiculous, but they come out and they have fun.” Von Iva’s already been to Japan, and Europe’s the next big goal.

Along with their touring, Von Iva reaches out to its fans online. Kuppersmith herself manages their website, and the entire band pitches in on a separate blog. “A lot of tips I’ve just picked up from kids and blogs and messageboards,” Kuppersmith explains. “I would love to do some more Flash, but that’s really intense.” It’s D-I-Y and occasionally rough around the edges, not unlike the band’s overall philosophy. “We’re more like ‘Holy shit! Something’s happening! We need to get it together,” Kuppersmith says. “But that element of spontaneity is what makes our band work.” It certainly keeps them in control – Kuppersmith and Smith actually design the band’s merchandise and album covers. So far, their greatest moment of mainstream success has been backing Zooey Deschanel in the fictional band Munchausen By Proxy in the recently released Yes, Man, co-starring Jim Carrey. “You know, it was a big step, it was fun,” Kuppersmith says, “but they weren’t really ‘our’ songs. We’re definitely looking forward to getting back to doing our own thing."