"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler." - Thoreau
The ability to come together as a couple and create something new, raw, and pure is a powerful bond. This new creation represents both individuals and may grow and evolve as the couple does. They start to feel as though these creations are a part them and share them with pride and courage. Husband and wife, Marky and Heather Hladish create honest and pure acoustic gems together, as the Wisconsin band Venna. They create music that focuses on the simplicity of life and the roots of music. These two have also created a family together, which limits their ability to tour, but they are definitly going in the direction of their dreams.
Just last month I had the opportunity see Venna perform in a small cafe. Their nearly completely acoustic set, even void of microphones, filled the space and captivated the crowd. The songs were memorable, but it was their modesty that won me over. They were passing out free copies of the homemade ep for "Eulogy". These discs were wrapped in paper bags with nice little pins on top. Inside the bag was a letter and a vintage postcard. The letter read:
"Dear patron of indie music,
Thanks for picking up this CD. Sorry it's nothing fancy - maybe one day soon we'll have the means for that but right I'm just happy you have our music in your hands. Because that's the thing, isn't it? Sharing art, creating community... trying to find our way through this mess together. "
It goes on to explain the postcard, and they leave their address for you to return it to them with a little note. Well, I return the postcard and came away with this interview.
Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your music?
Marky Hladish (MH): Our songs tend to be very simple in nature, musically. They're mostly built around acoustic guitar and vocal melodies. The idea is to leave enough space for the listener to get inside the song... everything is almost entirely heather's creation, both lyrically and musically. but every once in a great while i'll come up with a couple chords that float around the house for a while until she pens some brilliant lyrics and it becomes a song. Live, we employ the help of a few friends who are given the option to play whenever they're able. It's a very non-commital, open arrangement, which makes our live shows fun because we have a different lineup almost every time. Sometimes we'll just have a couple acoustics, sometimes we'll have a percussionist and a violin player. You never know what you're going to see.
OA: Why Venna? What is the meaning behind the name?
Heather Hladdish (HH): Venna is the nickname for a secondary character in a B horror flick. It sort of represents the things that often go unnoticed.
OA: I see you recently signed to Common Cloud Records and are preparing your debut Ep. How did that relationship come about?
HH: There's nothing official about it yet, but the guys at Common Cloud have been longtime friends and supporters and Jay Warner, who sometimes plays live guitar with us, is co-owner of CC. We've been recording off and on for about a year and crossing our fingers that we'll get it out soon.
OA: What are some of the pros and cons that you both have encountered as a husband and wife creating music together?
HH: I could write a book about that one. The big pro is, obviously, that as well as being in love with each other, we're in love with music and that leads to a really unique creative spark between us. Most of the cons have more to do with our circumstances than the nature of our creative relationship. We have three small boys (twin 3-year olds and a 20 month-old) to care for which often makes it difficult to find time to write or practice or play shows. Also, Marky is in another much more established band called The Felix Culpa so I've had to learn to share.
OA: Who are some of your biggest influences musically?
HH: Joanna Newsom, Damien Rice, Pedro the Lion, The Meteah Strike, and Jolie Holland.
MH: for this music, I have to say Owen, The Meteah Strike, Damien Rice, Billy Holiday and Jimmy Eat World.
OA: What's next for Venna?
HH: Still writing, trying to find time to record and playing out whenever we can. Our next show is at the ELB in Rockford on September 21st which we're really looking forward to.
OA: Coffee? If yes what is your favorite type coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
HH: Coffee? We have an alter dedicated to the substance! Our favorite by far is Alterra, based in Milwaukee. They have their own coffee shops up there too which we make a point to haunt whenever we're in town.
OA: What was the last great book that either of you have read?
HH: I recently finished Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates which I loved to death. Marky just finished a collection of short stories by Kafka which made him laugh.
Country Song (mp3)
For information on Venna visit their myspace page or check out their website.