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Von Iva goes Hollywood with 'Girls on Film' CD
Andrew Gilbert

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The all-female power trio Von Iva has always seemed a little larger than life.

With fierce, oversize grooves, drama-queen sexuality and hook-laden songs that keep dance floors crowded, it's no surprise that Hollywood has come a knockin' for Von Iva's rockin'. This year, the San Francisco threesome served as Zooey Deschanel's fictional band Munchausen by Proxy in the Warner Bros. film "Yes Man," a Jim Carrey comedy that opens Dec. 19. They celebrate the release of their new, aptly titled EP "Girls on Film" at Cafe Du Nord on Friday, headlining a triple bill with Run Run Run and the Bruises.

"Doing the film was an amazing process, the best job ever," says vocalist Jillian Iva, who founded the band with drummer Kelly "Lay Lay" Harris and versatile keyboardist Becky "Bex" Kuper-smith in 2003. "When we got into L.A. there was a liquid lunch in Beverly Hills, and they put us up in nice hotel. They rented a studio for us to practice and write songs with Zooey. She loved our tunes, and she's a good musician herself."

After two intensive weeks of rehearsal and composing, Von Iva/Munchausen created a sheaf of songs, several of which they perform in the film. On the anthem "Sweet Ballad," Jillian gets screen time trading vocals with Deschanel. Von Iva also wrote the film's title song, "Yes Man," which runs over the end credits. Not a bad gig for a band that's doggedly pursued a DIY course. In fact, it was the self-designed cover of Von Iva's 2007 CD "Our Own Island" that caught the eye of "Yes Man" music supervisor Jonathan Karp as he scoured the bins at Amoeba Records in Los Angeles. Once he played the disc, he knew he'd found the ideal bandmates for Deschanel's exuberant character.

"I was immediately attracted to how powerful they sounded without the use of electric and bass guitars," Karp says. "Their music had the heaviness of Black Sabbath coupled with the fun and excitement of an R&B dance groove."

The "Yes Man" gig is only the latest in an escalating series of high-profile Von Iva gigs. The trio wrote and performed the theme song for the Logo channel's gay and lesbian-themed "Curl Girls," while Showtime's "The L Word" featured their tune "Same Sad Song" in 2006. But nothing's built Von Iva's fan base like the band's uninhibited performances opening for acts like the Go-Go's, Lady Sovereign, the Walkmen, Imperial Teen and Girl in a Coma. In many ways, the band's slinky sound was set early on when they decided not to replace 7 Year Bitch's Elizabeth Davis on bass, opting instead for muscular, minimalist grooves behind Iva's erotically charged vocals.

"We thought about bringing other people in, but it would have been like hopping right into bed with someone after a long relationship," Iva says. "Becky said, 'Why don't I try playing bass lines with one hand,' and it became more of a clean, move-your-ass dance groove."