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Von Iva: Yes Women
By Auren Suicide
Dec 8, 2008

While it seems counter-intuitive to call a band without guitar or bass a "rock band," I failed even to notice, until at least five songs into their set, that Von Iva perform sans stringed instruments — I was having too much fun with their sonic ménage-a-trios of dance, disco and soul to care. Oh yeah, and they're all hot girls.

Lead singer and nameplate Jillian Iva took time out from their tour, promoting their new E.P. "Girls on Film," to chat with SuicideGirls. This month however, Von Iva will actually be the girls on film, as they make their major motion picture debut in Yes Man, a sure blockbuster starring Jim Carrey, which hits screens on December 19. The movie's leading lady is actress and veteran singer Zooey Deschanel, who plays the fictional lead singer of a band, which is played by Von Iva. Well, as soon as Zooey got wind of Jillian's gritty, soulful pipes she insisted they duet. Von Iva, get ready for your close up.

Auren Suicide: Tell me where you are today?

Jillian Iva: We're on a lake in Indiana. Crooked Lake, Indiana to be specific. And actually, I have, like, no reception. I'm standing on one leg trying to get service to talk.

AS:I appreciate you calling me then.

JVI:Anyway, we're at [drummer] Kelly [Harris'] parents' lake house.

AS:Jeez, that's nice.

JI:Yeah, it is super nice. It's beautiful outside and we're about to have a barbecue. We have the night off and it's close to Columbus, Ohio, where our show is tomorrow night. We're just drinkin' wine and barbecuing and all that good stuff.

AS:Have you guys had some shitty drives on this tour?

JI:Actually, compared to others it hasn't been so bad. We did have one all night drive last week where we were just very determined. I forget why we were so determined to get there. We really wanted to hang out with [tour mates] Girl in a Coma and we wanted to be able to have a hotel room the day of the show instead of driving the whole day of [show], and then having to rush there and get ready at the venue and all that.

AS:How is Girl in a Coma?

JI:They are awesome, I love those girls. They are the ones that got us our booker. It's great to see females supporting other females, 'cause unfortunately that's not the case sometimes. We played a show with them and in the middle of the show they were texting their booker, "You have to rep this band." So they're very supportive on top of the fact that they just fucking rock really hard. They are three girls, just like us, and they have very unique sound, just like us. So we get along quite well.

AS:I saw Von Iva play in Los Angeles not too long ago and dang, you guys are crazy live.

JI:Thank you!

AS:I was at the Viper Room show.

JI:That was kind of a weird show, because it was early and just — weird. It wasn't our usual thing. We tend to do well in L.A. Usually we get a lot of people who come and dance their asses off, but for some reason it was like the folded arm crew that night. Whatever.

AS:Well I thought you we're great.

JI:Oh! Thank you. That's always good to know, just when you think the show was like, eh, it's nice to hear.

AS:The folded arm crew, that's a good description — Los Angeles can be tough. Is that what your song "LALA" is about?

JI:I'm kind of enamored by Los Angeles because of the way it reverberates around the world. I mean like, the Jolie-Pitts. What they do is talked about in freakin' Zimbabwe. Oh shit, that's a bad example because they visit Africa all the time! Never mind...um.

AS:[Laughing] Yeah, pretty sure they are huge in Africa.

JI:Okay [laughing], well like the whole Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson thing, then. People in Africa probably do know about that and it's just amazing that what happens in Los Angeles has a huge effect on the world! I think that if you can maintain the person you are and not turn into the vacuous name-dropper, then L.A. is the place to be as far as entertainment goes. I have seen people eaten alive though. I was there for a couple of weeks. I was actually living in a house with Peaches.

AS:Woah, that's random — and cool.

JI:I was subletting this guy in Junior Senior's room. I definitely had quite the L.A. experience, just going out to the clubs and all that. And that whole time I was there, just seeing these beautiful girls, out of their minds on drugs, talking about how ugly and fat they are. It's just, yuck! It's very stereotypical L.A.

AS:Yes, definitely.

JI:So that kind of inspired the song "LALA." I could live in L.A., but number one, I'd need to be rich and have a driver, because there is no way in hell I could put up with that traffic, and number two I'd have to be really true to the person who I am, and not let it change me. That's what that song is about. I don't dislike Los Angeles, I just have seen some very, very dirty parts of it.

AS:Ok, so your record Girls on Film just came out, but your previous release, Our Own Island, has some of the same songs on it. What's the story with that?

JI:Yeah, it does have some of the same songs. We self released Our Own Island, distributed it ourselves, but as far as worldwide distribution, we didn't have any of that, you know? We are going to be releasing a full length, but didn't want to shoot our wad right out of the gate. We just wanted to remind people that there is more stuff coming and reintroduce the older amazing [songs]. We made a mark with Our Own Island, but not enough of it.

AS:We have to talk about Yes Man. Tell me how that happened.

JI:Yeah, speaking of Our Own Island [laughs]. [The films's] music supervisor, Jonathan Karp, was at Amoeba in Hollywood — he goes there quite often to scour for music. [Our CD] was on the end cap and he saw the cover and he liked the way it looked, which is so amazing for us because, we are a really DIY band. We had friends do the cover art, we style ourselves, all of that. So Jonathan liked the cover, and thankfully, the way it sounded. And later, when the director of the movie was describing the band he wanted for the film, Jonathan, doing his job quite well, was like, "I have just the band." The next thing we knew we were in Beverly Hills having a liquid lunch and we're in the movie. It was pretty amazing.

AS:And how's Ms. Zooey Deschanel doing? We went to school together.

JI:Really?AS:Yeah! Random, right?

JI:Zooey's an awesome, awesome girl. Besides the fact that she's a talented musician and actress, she's so sweet, and down to earth and goofy. And for me, being a vocalist, the minute I heard her name attached to the project, I figured I was just gonna have to squash the ego and be in the back with a tambourine, But when Zooey heard the parts we wrote she was like, "this is ridiculous, you're voice is so good, I feel like you should be singing, not just doing backups for me." She made it into a duet, obviously a huge deal for me. And she was just so into all the ideas we brought her. We wrote four songs for the movie and I think she only changed one thing lyrically. Zooey was so open to what we were doing, it was great.

AS:I saw some movie stills and it looks like you shot it at Spaceland.

JI:Yes, yes, that's where it was shot.

AS:So you guys are on tour now, you just released a record, you're in a movie. What's next?

JI:Getting out into the world is our main goal. I can just see people in friggin Spain eating this shit up, you know what I mean? I don't think any of us are like, "Once the movie is out, we're gonna be famous!" I have no expectations, I just know it was an amazing experience and I hope it does catapult us into a larger market. We've never been to Europe-though we have been to Japan-we've been fortunate in that respect.

AS:Is this your first band?

JI:Yep.

AS:Wow.

JI:I know! I've always been enamored with music. In fact I went to school for it. I wanted to be a music supervisor for film. But it took me awhile to finally come out of my shell. I had a friend tell me, "Look, you might as well try it. If you don't sing with that voice of yours you are going to regret it for the rest of your life." I used to be a little shy about getting in front of people, but I basically said, "Okay, I can either make this fun and go for it or make it an excruciating experience."

AS:What did you do for work before the band?

JI:Well I went to school and then I was interning for American Zoetrope, which is Francis Ford Coppola's film company. After interning, I got a job there, but I was basically a glorified secretary. When Von Iva became all-consuming I just had jobs that I could do and get paid under the table. Like accounting for a junkyard. Basically overall randomness.

AS:That's so behind the music.

JI:I know!

AS:So when did you find out you could dance like that?

JI:Girl, whatchu talkin' 'bout?! Umm, I don't know [pause]. Actually I do know. Okay, I didn't really want to say this and try not to say it in interviews, but I wanted to be in the Mickey Mouse Club. I'm talking Britney [Spears] and Justin [Timberlake] era Mickey Mouse Club. I choreographed a whole dance — I was gonna do a Janet Jackson song. They sent me to summer school for dancers and all that. But then in Jr. High School I found alcohol and that was the end of that. But I'm still pretty into dancing. One of my biggest wet dreams is to have dancers up there with me on stage doing routines.

AS:I think you hold it down pretty good on your own.

JI:I'm channeling someone. People say Tina Turner, which is like the biggest complement ever. If I look as good as her when I'm sixty then I'm going to be stoked.

AS:Well she clearly made a deal with the devil, it's not normal to look that good [laughing]. Anyway, thanks so much for ditching your barbecue to talk to me.

JI:Of course. And, you know, I'm a hot tattooed girl, so I'm all for SuicideGirls!

AS:You should be one!

JI:[Laughing] Believe it or not, I was going to, and then they got back to me...and I chickened out.

AS:Why'd you chicken out?

JI:I don't know. While gravity is still on my side, I should probably show that shit.