An Interview with Imaginary Victoria
By Ben Allen
Self-described as “Seattle’s sparkly indie-pop press,” Three Imaginary Girls have deeply immersed themselves in the local music scene since 2002. Contributors to their site have reviewed hundreds of albums, previewed upcoming shows and interviewed practically everyone of significance in the local scene. Their presence in Seattle’s artistic community is so significant they even ended up in Seattle Magazine’ s Most Influential People issue.
T.I.G. also occasionally book music showcases to highlight some of their favorite local acts. In the case of their annual holiday office party, it’s more a chance to say, “thank you” to all of the people they work with throughout the year.
In order to get a feel for the December 16th event, I grilled frequent T.I.G. contributor Victoria VanBruinisse on the party, their relationship with Teen Feed (the organization that will be the beneficiary of the evening’s proceeds) and John Roderick groping women as the “Indie Rock Santa.”
NadaMucho.com: Tell me your “title” and what you do for Three Imaginary Girls.
Victoria VanBruinisse: My name is Victoria VanBruinisse and my technical title is Live Show Editor and Staff Photographer. But as it stands, I do a little bit of everything.
NM: What makes this event “rival any corporate winter holiday party at a nearby hotel bar that you might have on your schedule?” What makes it so special?
VV: We’re putting on this party to raise money and awareness about Teen Feed, but also to have a good time and say “thanks” to all the people we work with all year. I’m personally of the opinion that when you do stuff out of love, it really translates. It’s like the difference between a band playing a great song and a band playing a song that feels like emotional open-heart surgery. You can tell the difference when people are really behind things they do. Columbia City Theater is the same way – they gave us the night for almost nothing. And all the performers? They’re either playing for free or for an extremely modest donation.
The other thing is that, since we put all the hearts into it, the lineup totally kills. We’ve booked a gig that we really want to be at, you know?
NM: Lovely. How did the relationship with Teen Feed develop?
VV: I emailed Rich (Green) at Noise for the Needy to get the Teen Feed contact info and Megan (Gibbard) and I totally fell “in like” with each other. She’s really behind everything she does over at Teen Feed – it’s practically contagious – and we have the same angle: “let’s get Teen Feed in front of the indie rock, and let’s get indie rock in front of the non-indie rock types who support Teen Feed.” It’s like building little bridges to expose good people to good things.
NM: Is this Megan, Ben Gibbard’s sister and organizer of the recent benefit show at The Crocodile?
VV: I like to flip it around, and refer to Ben as “Megan Gibbard’s brother.”
NM: Is John Vanderslice performing or is he just the “designated Santa” for the evening?
VV: He’s performing. He started out as our secret special guest, but when we found out John Roderick wouldn’t be able to make it (he’ll be out East recording that whole week) we knew we had to whip out the big guns. I mean, there’s not a whole lot you can say after a sentence like, “John Roderick can’t make it this year” that will keep people from rioting. But JV agreed to do Santa duties as well as playing the show. He’s pretty much the nicest guy ever in the history of ever.
NM: What about the rumors that Roderick has been known to “play a little grab ass” in years past?
VV: I think he does it just right. He’s a subtle genius on so many levels and he’s really, really good with people. He manages to be rock-star-y enough to make the ladies (and some of the gents) swoon, while staying totally tangible and approachable. He will hold up a great conversation even with the most awkward and star struck of lap dwellers.
At my first TIG party in ‘08, fuck, I was so terribly awkward. Keenan (Dowers, a fellow imaginary) grabbed me the minute I walked in the door and was all, “You have to come and sit on John’s lap. You have to.” And I begged and pleaded not to have to do it, but when I walked into the back room at Chop Suey, there he was, all holding his arms out, happy and jolly as can be. I almost lost my shit.
I don’t think that JV will be grabbing anyone’s ass this year, but we won’t hold it against him.
NM: Please describe each act playing the party in two sentences or less.
The Tripwires : Longstanding power-pop royalty geniuses come together for seamless, catchy tunes with bright harmonies and big guitars. Johnny Sangstser + John Ramberg + Jim Sangster + Mark Pickerel = LOVE.
The Young Evils : Post-twee-alt-indie-pop goodness with the slightest hint of surf sound. Boy-girl same-note melodies with well-composed lyrics, this the kind of band that has an upbeat sound but still manages to invoke a little melancholy. They’re totally the new rad.
Jose Bold : Genius nerd-pop. What appears to be singer-songwriter at first will rope y
ou in to mind-bending, funny, serious, and sad bastard shit that will absolutely stop you in your tracks. I said of them recently, “These guys could be doing a Yoko Ono tribute night and I’d still be the first person in line for tickets.” I’m not just saying that so people will come early.
DJ Greg Vandy : Resident all-knowing master of indie roots, soul, and all things American music. He’ll be spinning vintage holiday radness on the tables up in the Bourbon Bar starting at 7 p.m.
NM: That’s Greg Vandy of KEXP fame?
VV: Yep. Greg Vandy of the Roadhouse on KEXP. He’s way too fantastic. Has a bunch of cool shit going on over at his blog at www.americanstandardtime.com.
NM: Why did you pick a “school night” for such a great event?
VV: Columbia City Theater was generous enough to give us a great deal on the venue for the night, and the less things cost, the more money we can give to charity.
NM: Are all three imaginary girls going to be in attendance? Do they really exist?
VV: All three Imaginary Girls do, in fact, exist. At least two will be there with bells on, just as they are every year, along with a slew of imaginary staffers and volunteers.
NM: What percentage of the attendees do you expect to be elitist hipsters?
VV: Haha. Honestly, I don’t think that’s really going to be the vibe of the night. The bulk of the people we know that have RSVP’d so far are just like us: friendly, fun types who are jacked up about good music and doing everything they can to inject love and energy into stuff they believe in, most of which filters back into the ‘scene’ as it were. You know, musicians, photographers, artists, videographers, writers, DJs, volunteers, friends, families, fans, plus-ones, and so on.
NM: Can you personally guarantee an enjoyable evening of entertainment? Are you offering a money back guarantee?
VV: Find me someone that isn’t struck with total joy from a night of some of Seattle’s best local music at one of the raddest venues in town after having planted their ass in John Vanderslice’s lap and I’ll personally pay the money back out of my own pocket. Also, there will be an abundance of free cookies.
Three Imaginary Girls Present: The Imaginary Holiday Office Party takes place Thursday, December 16th at Columbia City Theater. Tickets to the event are limited and will be for sale via Brown Paper Tickets. This is a 21+ event / $15 adv / doors at 7 p.m.