Saturday, July 12, 2008
-Randy Faucheux, KLSU radio, Baton Rouge
" ...sparks of brilliance in both concept and execution. "
-Mike Connor, San Jose Metro
"...one of my very very favorite new bands to emerge
from the Bay Area in quite some time."
-Greg Scharpen, KALX radio, Berkeley
" ...a Tim Burton-ish ghoul carnival rife with compelling
monstrosities like "Circus Apocalypse", "Circus Fish" and
the stormy, brooding "Monkey."
-Damon Orion, GoodTimes , Santa Cruz
Vermillion Lies: Some fun facts about this twisted folk band from Oakland, fronted by the vaudevillian Vermillion twin sisters, Zoe and Kim: "We are not identical and we were born two days apart - Jan. 18 and 20," they say. "Kim was born with an amplified typewriter in her hands and Zoe with a kazoo in her mouth. We pay our mother's therapy bills." Vermillion Lies' first gig was on their mother's birthday. They rented a small theater and transported the entire contents of their living room onto the stage. "Kim was so nervous that she couldn't talk for 10 days before the show. After the show, she wouldn't stop talking for just as long. Zoe only gets nervous about Sherpas." At a recent Vermillion Lies gig at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, they played to a crowd of 700 drunks for Russian New Year. They got the gig because the booker did an online search for Russian entertainment and found Vermillion Lies, which was touring Russia at the time. "We went to Lenin's house and we played a Cyrillic typewriter. Russians love Vermillion Lies. We also do well with the Portuguese."
Lineup: Zoe and Kim Vermillion (Bockbinder) are real-life sisters who fight only onstage. They are sometimes joined by Myles Boisen (guitar) and Seth Ford-Young (bass).
1. Vermillion Lies' music should be filed between:
Kim: If Tom Waits and Jim Henson and Billie Holiday and Tiny Tim and a house cat and a barbecue grill were put in a blender ... that would be really gross. But I like the music that all those people (and things) make.
Zoe: We sound a bit like an Edith Piaf/Tom Waits/Billie Holiday/Jim Henson smoothie garnished with junk shop treasures.
2. The soundtrack to what movie would your music best match?
Kim: An ephemeral film about carpet manufacturing in the 1930s - with dancers.
Zoe: The next Muppet movie. Or the YouTube series, "Who Wants to Be a Vermillionaire?"
3. If you could collaborate on a song with any person, living or dead, who would that be?
Kim: Nikola Tesla could probably make some really great instruments if we asked him really nicely and promised to give him millions of dollars to fund his experiments in blowing up Siberian wilderness. None of his biographies mention his singing voice, but everyone can play kazoo.
Zoe: Your mom could probably make some really great instruments if we asked her really nicely and promised to give her millions of dollars to fund her experiments in blowing up Siberian wilderness. And she sings at least as well as Serbian Super Genius. And, no Kim, not everyone can play kazoo. (Kim wrote both of the above answers and Zoe would really like to collaborate with Blind Lemon Jefferson).
4. If a junior high school asked you to play a cover song at the next talent show, what song and school would you choose?
We were both homeschooled as we traveled around the continent with our wandering parents. Our entire upbringing was basically a talent show. If our parents asked us to do a cover song, Kim would play "The Cat Came Back" by Fred Penner; Zoe would play "Big Rock Candy Mountain" by Harry McClintock.
5. What is the meaning of life?
Unlike live foods and frozen fare, which are limited to prey that is small enough to be swallowed whole, the food that is used for hand feeding can be cut into convenient, bite-size pieces. Therefore, just about any type of fresh or frozen seafood that can be obtained at an aquarium shop, pet store, grocery store, fish market or bait shop can be used for hand feeding, which makes it much easier to provide a healthy diet for your sea horses.
Check them out: www.vermillionlies.com, myspace.com/vermillionlies
Next gig: 8 p.m. Sun. Part of the 2nd Annual Sunday Gorey Sunday Edwardian Variety Night. With Vau de Vire Society, Eric McFadden Orchestra, Fou Fou Ha, Allison Lovejoy, Dark Garden, Vima Burlesque, others. $18-$42.95. Ages 6+. Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell St., S.F. (415) 885-0750. www.musichallsf.com.
Watch Vermillion Lies in action in a video by Chronicle staff writer Delfin Vigil and Art Director Matt Petty at sfgate.com/96hours.
To be featured in Bay Area Bandwidth, you must have a confirmed gig coming up and a recording that readers can buy, download or listen to via a Web link. Then e-mail us at email@example.com with: band or artist name, gig info, Web site and/or MySpace link, a one-paragraph bio that includes your lineup, city location, description of your sound and a link to your two best songs. Do not e-mail music files or other attachments.
- Delfin Vigil, firstname.lastname@example.org
This article appeared on page G - 5 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Choosing a band name, after all, is a serious endeavor and hardly a game. Well, that’s not how the siblings saw it — the two actually devised a sport of sorts to find just the right moniker for their musical efforts.
“We were each thinking of a name and were making lists for months,” says Kim. “Then, we sort of made up this game. Each of us went away and thought of a really good word or a word that we were obsessed with; Zoe came back with “vermillion” and I came back with “lies” and we stuck them together and that’s how we got the name.”
While Vermillion Lies wasn’t necessarily the only handle the Oakland-based sister act entertained — the two toyed with the idea of using Scarlet Fever or Circus Apocalypse (now the name of a song) — it’s certainly the one that stuck.
Equal parts dark and silly — characteristics the band admittedly shares with macabre artiste Edward Gorey — Vermillion Lies performs at 8 p.m. Sunday as part of the second annual “Sunday Gorey Sunday” this weekend along with Vau de Vire Society, Vima Burlesque and the Eric McFadden Orchestra. The Sunday night variety show of music, dance, stories, fashion and cabaret marks the finale of the three-day Edwardian fête at the Great American Music Hall. Now in its eighth year, the Edwardian Ball weekend has become a staple of San Francisco culture with its elaborate costumed revelry of Gorey-inspired doom and gloom.
Although the Boekbinders missed out on last year’s party, the gals are certainly eager to be on board this time around. Known for having outlandish live shows that feature rather unconventional instrument choices pulled straight from a trunk — barbecue grill, anyone? — Vermillion Lies is more than ready to make merry in the name of Gorey with its own morose-meets-goofy thrift store cabaret spin on things.
“In his life, he was an iconoclast and an incredibly creative individual who pushed a lot of boundaries,” says Kim. “Nowadays, we are so used to seeing his work — there’s Edward Gorey day planners — so it’s not so on the edge anymore. When he first started, he was really out there and that’s definitely worth celebrating.”
If you go
Edwardian Ball Weekend 2008
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday through Sunday
Tickets: $18 to $30
Contact: (415) 885-0750 or www.gamh.com
Cabaret duo Vermillion Lies plays in Moscow.
By Sergey Chernov
Published: October 12, 2007
The Vermillion Lies is one of the most exciting bands on the U.S. cabaret scene. And it's likely the only one that cites Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets characters from children's television, as its main inspiration.
The Oakland, California-based group, made up of sisters Kim and Zoe Boekbinder, is performing in Moscow on Friday and Saturday to promote the Russian edition of its 2006 debut album, "Separated by Birth -- One Album in Two Acts." It's the first time the band has visited the Russian capital.
Their eclectic songs include dark circus ballads, soft lyrical melodies, rock love songs and even an instrumental tribute to Italian composer Ennio Morricone. But first and foremost, the duo tries to weave narratives with its music.
"We are storytellers and our songs tell stories," Kim Boekbinder wrote in a recent e-mail from Portugal, where the band was on tour. "Some of our songs sound like myths or fairy tales, some sound like old time folk-songs from the 1930s. We love to create a world for the audience."
"We will also play the piano and typewriter and pots and pans and more surprises," Boekbinder wrote. "We usually play lots of strange things like that, but couldn't bring too many things with us, so we'll see what we find in Russia to play. We like to play things we find in each city."
Videos are also expected to feature in the concert. "We are visual artists as well as musicians. We combine all of our art into the Vermillion Lies show," Boekbinder added.
Although Vermillion Lies formed in Monterey, California, in 2004, the members have been learning music together since they were children. "We had music lessons when we were younger, but it wasn't until three years ago that we started to play music together as a band," Boekbinder said.
"We started playing much prettier American folk music with just guitars, but we quickly evolved to add things like typewriters and gas cans and barbecue grills."
She noted: "We love Jim Henson, who created The Muppets. He is our foremost inspiration. We also love Tom Waits, Billie Holiday, Django Reinhardt, and many other old-time jazz players."
The album "Separated by Birth" featured a range of alternative musicians and was produced by guitarist Myles Boisen, who also produced the 2004 Grammy-nominated album "The Gorey End," by The Tiger Lillies and Kronos Quartet, and has worked with Tom Waits.
The duo's friends include Jason Webley, a Seattle punk troubadour and a frequent sight in Moscow. "I think Russia will love them, but I hope that the audience will be gentle and will listen," he wrote in a recent e-mail. "Their show isn't as bombastic as mine."
"They play twisted, tangled songs with clever lyrics and instrumentation. They sing about lobsters and taking off your clothes, and they put on a really fun live show. And they have nice underwear."
Vermillion Lies will play Fri. at 9 p.m. at Gogol, located at 11 Stoleshnikov Pereulok, Metro Teatralnaya, tel. 514-0944, and Sat. at 10 p.m at Zhest, located at 13/16 Bolshaya Lubyanka, Metro Lubyanka. Tel. 628- 4883.
Written by: Lauren Marie Fleming for Curve Magazine
What do global warming, lobster squeaky toys and a circus of zombies have in common? They’re all a part of the “thrift store cabaret” that is Vermillion Lies. Drawing upon the dance, circus and art classes they took as kids, Zoe and Kim Boekbinder (vermillionlies.com) have put together a vaudeville-inspired show that will quite literally have you laughing your pants off. Their quirky quips and amusing antics form an engaging and entertaining experience.
1. They’re morbid but not morose. And their lyrics are reminiscent of the scary stories we were told as children. Zoe’s known to be jazzier, Kim likes a good ballad, and together they create whimsically bizarre fairy tales and fables set to the kind of lighthearted music that you would hear at a circus or carnival.
2. They play the barbecue grill. And the typewriter, tricycle bell, accordion, air vent and pretty much anything else they have around. They used to play the plastic squeaky lobster, but he ran away. If you see him, they ask you to please ship him home.
3. They sing with their pants down. “There is supposed to be this sexy thing when a woman takes her clothes off,” Kim says. “But we’re making it really silly.” She insists that their motto applies to the rest of their show as well: “A show doesn’t have to be only sexy or only smart or only silly—it can be all of those things at once.”
4. You can participate, too. In fact, you have no choice. “Our performance is like theater,” Zoe says. “We can’t just do it without anyone paying attention.” From playing a handed-out instrument to singing along, these girls inspire—and require—full audience participation.
5. Their new EP is a “scream-along.” Along with an exceptionally participatory audience, the girls arranged an EP full of songs that allow for various forms of singing along—including screaming.
6. They make music for people who wear hats. These sisters love wearing hats, “fluffy undies,” corsets and any other vaudeville-inspired garment, and they encourage anyone coming to their shows to do the same.
7. They roll with a posse. The Vermillion Sisters, groups of burlesque-inspired dancers, have joined them on stage in many towns along their tour. In addition to these sexy sirens, the sisters often share the stage with other cabaret comrades, and they are always looking for people to join in the fun.
8. Their parents love them and so should you! Recently their mother arranged a show for them in Toronto and brought 150 of her friends to come see it; their father bought them a van to go on tour.
9. They’re not just another folkie duo singing about the environment. They are actually making a difference. Along with videos, pictures and an interesting story about the band, the Vermillion Lies Web site includes a link to an informed global warming page. Encouraged by their song about the phenomenon, an environmental policy analyst has helped them to create a page that is insightful and informative on how you too can actually make a difference.
10. They’re inspiring. After watching a Vermillion Lies show, I guarantee that you’ll want to join the circus, ride a tricycle, wear a hat, stop global warming, sing with your pants down and maybe even write an article professing your love for this quirky twosome.