Van Go Lion are an electro-pop duo from Portland, Oregon consisting of Amy Paige (vocals, lyrics) and Josh Loerzel (keys, music.) With the combination of Amy’s powerful and versatile voice and Josh’s classically-trained piano skills, Van Go Lion write and produce fresh, highly addictive hooks backed by synthesizers and compelling electronic beats.
I like good music. I like Van Go Lion. I like juxtaposition that positions itself just right to create a certain Pop niche – these two fit the bill quite nicely. Van Go Lion are an intriguing pair; like aural arts & crafts, they are one half artistic expression and one half conceptual construction. The product is good, because the production is whole – the American pair are vertically integrated with their music: top to bottom they compose, write, produce, and perform all of their own stuff. The sound reflects that collaboration -it’s very unified and organic – and distinctly VGL.
Take “Sugarblush” as a formal introduction: colorful tunes, vibrant sonic hues, fluid continuity between the stylistic lyrics and rich ephemeral tones come in as a literal welcome wave of sound. Van Go Lion are self-proclaimed “80s dorks,” with a shared affinity towards The Eurythmics, Prince, and early Madonna; here though, “Sugarblush” leans more towards her Madgesty’s iconic 2005 Neo-Disco sound… a rhapsodic rollercoaster drifting through a future lover’s dancefloor confession.
Van Go Lion blends that strong sense of the 80s and early 90s electro-pop authenticity, with the amplification of the 2000s. Well-crafted Pop is well-crafted music; it merges commercial appeal with creative verity. Paige and Loerzel craft music that is catchy, but classically-trained. The 80s come alive through their music, but from a 2.0 place of elevated resources (MIDIs, ProTools, bells, whistles, knobs, sample pads that make 808 hearts break) and deeper emotion – think material girl living in a metafantstical whirl. When you combine those elements with 360 production – a fully-involved duo that composes, writes, produces, and performs all of their own work – the music reflects a wholly integrated sonic aesthetic, and captures the group’s signature sense of sapient synth.
Amy Paige’s voice gives emotional depth to Josh Loerzel’s inhumanly precise production. Together, the sound is their aesthetic – the soul of Amy Winehouse blended with the synth of Markuz Schulz, The Bird and The Bee for the Portland neon scene – yet still intangibly their own. The sound is elementary electronic evolution: Loerzel’s technical deft seamlessly builds strong fundamental layers beneath Paige’s rich vocalizations. What stands out is the systematic growth within that sound; the music progresses and matures from a place of childlike whimsy, far more nostalgic than naive.
Pop is having an identity crisis; we’re losing a sense of sound, and stars are losing sight of themselves. The creative process is fragmented between writers, producers, performers, promoters, label executives, bloggers, your best friend who totes has the best custom stations on Pandora, that lensless-square-framed-prescription-glasses-wearing kid in Williamsburg who accidentally-on-purpose left his vinyl on the seat in the L train… While there’s no shortage of performers who undoubtedly churn out hit albums from the havoc – there’s also no sense of an “artist” with a sound or message or self within that work. Thankfully that is not the case here; Van Go Lion craft good music like art, but are so incredibly pop – like Vincent in a VW posted on Pride Rock.
Watch This Space: Due north of Los Angeles, nestled in Portland, Van Go Lion live above the stars in a state of Pop elevated… Pop music can be fun, but it can have more substance. If you really listen to the songs and what Josh is playing, it’s really involved stuff — a lot of these tracks are classical at the core. Just because its pop doesn’t mean it’s throwaway.
Sound like: Disco Disney fairy tales meet Donna Summer on planet Eurythmic in a 21st Century new wave Pop wonderland… smart synth-pop like when four-on-the-floor met 4.0… Dutch post-impressionist artistry meets family-sized vehicular propulsion at the foot of a jungle king #vangoghlion