Vocally, Von Iva’s lead singer Jillian Iva is a ringer for Yaz’s
When I passed these observations along to the band’s drummer,
Kelly “Lay Lay” Harris, however, she gave them credence
without necessarily agreeing with them.
“You wouldn’t be the first one to say that,” she said,
“So there must be something to it.”
It was artfully done, but we aging feature writers know that brush-off.
“Whatever you say, gramps.”
Perhaps I’m overreacting.
Those Von Iva lasses certainly weren’t dodging their ’80s
influences when they named their latest album “Girls on Film.”
For those of you whose first CD was “Jagged Little Pill,”
“Girls on Film” is the name of an excellent song off Duran
Duran’s 1981 self-titled debut release, a record album so seminal
that it was made before people looked at you funny for using words like
“seminal,” “record” and “album.”
Whether you are hip to the band’s ’80s influences or not,
Von Iva’s music will strike you as good stuff.
Von Iva performs on Feb. 14 at the Brass Rail, 1121 Broadway.
The band’s concert will constitute a homecoming for Harris, who
graduated from Snider High School in 1992. Harris was a notable volleyballer
at Snider, then at Arizona State, then at the University of San Francisco.
What precipitated the movement from Tempe to Frisco, then volleyball
to music, was a shoulder injury.
A few years back, a group of prescient Bay Area musicians introduced
Harris to Iva and keyboardist Rebecca Kupersmith because they thought
the three women had a lot in common. And Von Iva was born.
In spite of the fact that Von Iva remains unsigned by a major label,
the band has scored a couple of notable successes capped this winter
by an appearance in the Jim Carrey movie “Yes Man.”
Von Iva and the movie’s co-star, Zooey Deschenel, teamed up to
portray the film’s fictional band called Munchausen by Proxy.
Munchausen by Proxy is a syndrome suffered by caregivers who fake children’s
illnesses and as such it is a terrible band name.
Harris said Von Iva submitted a list of possibles but they were all
rejected by producers.
“We just thought it was a horrible name,” she said. “But
we just had to let it go. It was minor compared to the experience we
were getting to have.”
Harris says working with Deschenel, a fine pop musician in her own right,
was a pleasure.
“It was definitely an interesting combination,” she said,
“The music we played in the film is not what we normally do. And
her style of vocals made it funny and added to the quirkiness of her
character. She’s a talented musician. She can play every instrument.”
Harris said Deschenel is earthy and unassuming. “She’s not
one of these Hollywood girls,” she said.
The story of how an unsigned band came to the lofty attentions of Tinseltown
big shots is awash in enterprise and serendipity.
Von Iva persuaded the owner of a record store in Hollywood called Amoeba
Music to place its self-produced CD on an endcap display. That’s
a residence for new music that usually commands high rents from major
Judd Apatow vet Jonathan Karp, the music supervisor on “Yes Man,”
saw the display, asked to listen to the music and knew he’d found
Von Iva had an unprecedented level of creative control over the music
in the film, Harris says, precisely because it was unsigned. There was
no label that needed to be negotiated with.
The buzz of such film involvement is heady but it dissipates fast, Harris
The real work happens on the road.
People who come to the Brass Rail show will hear a sound that combines
Iva’s love of Tina Turner, Harris’ love of classic funk
and Kupersmith’s distorted keys.
“It’s definitely a loud, dirty sound,” she says. “Very
While Von Iva is here, it will record tracks in the home studio of Clint
Roth, a transplanted Fort Wayner who made his mark on the West Coast
and then repotted himself here, so to speak.
Roth amassed some flashy credits before he returned to the Summit City.
He worked with No Doubt, Third Eye Blind, Lifehouse, the Donnas and
Harris says the band plans to work up some songs in the studio.
“We have some ideas, but it’s hard to get new songs together
on the road,” she says. “We won’t have as many distractions,
obviously, in Fort Wayne.”
Harris said Fort Wayne is home to some hugely talented musicians and
a few clubs like the Brass Rail willing to let them perform original
It needs a few more similarly courageous nightspots.
“Fort Wayne could be a great stop-off for someone,” Harris