Twelve Minutes With Vancouver Songwriting Legend Veda Hille
Say hello to local musician Veda Hille. Full bio after the exchange…
Three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there: I live on the eastside of Vancouver. There are a multitude of reasons to be here, including: Italian sausage, backyard parties, friendly cats.
What are you listening to as you answer these questions: Baby chatter, cat complaints.
The thing that you eat that is bad for you that you will never stop eating: Bad for me? I refuse to admit such a food exists.
Default drink: Pink Gin.
Drink you’ll never have again: Butterscotch schnapps.
Three things about Vancouver that make you feel like a kid: Most of them are gone. R.I.P. the train at Kits Beach; Chocolate Park next to the old Purdy’s factory; Woodwards’ food floor.
Favourite Vancouver bridge: Burrard.
Best Vancouver patio: I am currently fond of The Reef on Commercial Drive.
One thing you’d like to change about Vancouver: Um, how about lower real estate prices?
Favourite place to see a band: My garage.
Cheap place for dinner: Dona Cata. Oh my god those tacos.
Book you’re reading: Alex Ross’ The Rest Is Noise.
Last place traveled: Berlin.
Biggest fear: Bitterness.
Worst cliche ever: “It’s all good.”
If you could rename yourself: Kissen.
Your ancestry: Danish-German-Dutch-English.
Under what circumstances would you join the army: I don’t want to imagine those circumstances.
Your paternal grandfather’s personal story: Born in Moosejaw, looked dapper in the 20s, fixed airplanes in WWII (stationed “overseas” in Newfoundland), worked for CN, played clarinet in big bands, taught welding at BCIT, smoked for 70 years, died recently in hospital in Burnaby.
Best bar stool in the city: Stools are too high for me. Dangly legs, no fun.
Dumbest purchase ever: That priest robe when i was searching for my eccentric teen identity.
What are you proud of: My stepdaughter and my son.
The thing that makes you the angriest: Lying liars.
The view from your favourite window: The ocean, the trees, our porch on Gabriola Island.
Favourite ice cream flavour: Anything caramelly.
Most beautiful body of water: Pacific Ocean.
Food your mom makes better than anyone: Lamb. Meatballs. Soup.
Talent you wish you possessed: Financial acuity.
The trend you wish you never followed, but did: Wedge heels.
Musical instrument you long to master: Banjo.
Sport you gave up: I was never sporting.
Best place to write: Alone.
The game you’re best at: Scrabble.
Mac or PC: Mac.
Favourite sports team: Alas, no.
The number of fist fights you’ve been in: Alas, none.
The scariest situation you’ve ever been in: High risk pregnancy.
Watch Veda Hille’s Laboratory
Three things of no value that you will keep until you die: I will do my best to keep a small crochet sheep, a cedar box made by a 6 year old girl, and our photo albums.
Local person you admire most: Andrew Feldmar (ed. note: more on Feldmar here, courtesy of The Tyee).
The thing you’re most ashamed of: Mistreatment of friends.
Best concert experience ever: David Byrne in NYC, Elliot Smith in my dreams.
Best people watching: Airports.
Best record label: Meh.
Describe your tattoos: I have a tattoo of the aforementioned crochet sheep on my forearm, with the words lucky lucky luck.
Favourite book as a child: Narnia series, Wrinkle In Time, The Dark Is Rising. Earlier: Hunca And Munca, The Two Bad Mice.
The dish you’re proud of: I make pretty good pizza. The last one had prosciutto, asparagus, and walnuts.
The thing that makes you the most nervous: Speed.
Town you were born in: Old Vancouver town.
Old television shows you can tolerate re-runs of: M*A*S*H, Mary Tyler Moore, The A-Team.
First memory: Unsure.
Album that first made you love music: The Beatles’ Abbey Road, Talking Heads’ Remain In Light, Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations.
Default junk food: Chocolate.
The career path you considered but never followed: Law.
Watch Veda Hille’s LuckyLuck
Thing you miss most about home when you’re on the road: Friends and family. Vancouver tap water.
Three websites you visit every day: Facebook, vedahille.com, gofugyourself.com
The first three things you do every morning: Nurse the child, tidy the living room, drink the coffee.
The thing you’re addicted to: Praise.
Luckiest moment of your life: Recognizing love.
Biggest hope: Continued excitement.
Veda Hille was born in 1968 in Vancouver Canada. She started playing piano when she was 6. Her family moved around a lot, from the city to the country and back again. Veda ran around in the woods and the streets, practiced piano, read books, used her Junior Scientist Microscope, and thought that maybe she would be a psychiatrist.
First she played classical music. Then came pop music, and a few years of jazz. There was the ill-fated year as an inept lounge musician. Then Veda went to art school. She studied sculpture, film, and performance art. She also worked as a cook. She began to get a handle on the idea of making things. She put that idea together with the music idea, and started writing songs in 1990. It became pretty obvious that she would not be a psychiatrist.
Veda put out an indie cassette in 1992. People liked it and she started playing around town. She slowly started the business of touring Canada, and also began a long relationship with the Canadian modern dance scene. In 1994 she released her first cd, and has released an album roughly every 18 months since then. By the time she started working with her current band (assembled in 1997) she was regularly touring Canada, the US, and Germany. Touring and recording and various special projects have kept her busy ever since. Veda plays piano and tenor guitar, dabbles in banjo, accordion, and protools, and has a new love affair going on with a nord electro keyboard and a handful of casios. She writes about the natural world, the trickiness of love, the constant threat of tragedy, and anything else that amazes her.
Lately the Hille empire has been diversifying further. Veda is a member of two new bands: Duplex! (rock music for kids) and The Fits (vaudeville duets). She continues to make her own records, and does so in cahoots with Ape Records, run by XTC’s Andy Partridge. Her new album, This Riot Life, will be released on Ape in early 2008, and will be followed by touring in Canada, the UK, and Europe. Veda is the in-house composer for Theatre Replacement and collaborates with them on at least one show per year. She has also been performing with the CBC Radio Orchestra, writing for the Leaky Heaven Circus, and working on a new choral piece for the Winnipeg New Music Festival. Stay tuned, because as Veda frequently admits in her music and her life, nobody knows what the heck is going to happen next.