Interview and photos by Winnie Surya; edited by Savana Ogburn. Fresh from Toronto, ON, Derik Baker instantly stole the attention of many people; including those at Canadian indie label, Wax Records. With only one top single and an upcoming debut album, Virginia to Vegas started their career nicely; from a collaboration with fellow singer-songwriter, Alyssa Reid, to opening for Canadian rock band, Hedley, on their arena tour. Check out Into The Crowd’s exclusive interview with Virginia To Vegas to learn more about their new album, inspirations, and touring plans for this summer.
How excited are you to play at Canadian Music Week?
So excited! We did the soundcheck yesterday and it was amazing. We’ve never really done any club shows before- the first show that we ever did was in an arena.
With Hedley right?
Yeah! So to do this is really cool. It’s a small room and I know the people that are going to be here, so I’m excited for this!
How did that tour [with Hedley] go, by the way?
It was amazing. We did about twenty-six dates across the country, and I got to meet a lot of new people. The guys in Hedley are amazing and I got to see the country, which was pretty wild!
I saw the music video for “We Are Stars” and it looks like it was shot in Vegas too! Did you guys shoot it during the tour as well?
We did half of it in Vegas! The other half is live footage.
It looks pretty sick! Did you pick Vegas as the location because of your band name?
[laughs] It’s just something that we thought of.
Would you mind telling us a little bit about the single?
I wrote that song when I decided to do music full time, and in order to be an artist I really had to focus on things that are positive because it’s really difficult. The important message of that song is that it doesn’t really matter how big an obstacle is; you can overcome it as long as you have a positive mental attitude. I also think that it’s kind of a love song, but “We Are Stars” doesn’t mean that we are celebrities, it means that we’re all made from the same stuff.
It’s like you are the star of your own life!
Yeah! To me, it’s like we’re made from the same things and we could do whatever we want as long we’re being positive about it.
Alyssa Reid is featured on the song. What was it like working with her?
Working with [Alyssa] is amazing. I mean, I’ve known her for a couple of years and our relationship has been great. We’re good friends, so working with her is always so easy, because she’s so talented. Writing with her is super easy because she’s such a great writer, so it’s very fast [laughs].
I heard that you’ll be releasing a debut album this summer, is that correct?
Yep! I’m pretty excited! Right now we’re in the process of selecting songs, and I think that most of all, I want the album to feel like a unified body of work from start to finish; when you start off listening to the album and you finish listening to it, it feels connected. I feel like a lot of time, with pop albums, people don’t really listen to full albums, they listen to singles, and I hope that our fans are going to be interested and want to listen to the record from the start to finish. I used to love doing that when I was a kid – I remember listening to The White Stripes and Fleetwood Mac from start to finish, their full albums.
I understand! It gives you this special feeling!
Exactly! You listen to those albums and it’s such a cool collection. I hope [our record] gives that feeling to people, but I’m really proud of the songs on it for sure!
Who are some of your musical influences?
I think I draw influence from all over. When I was a kid, I used to listen to a lot of blues music and old school rock n’ roll; so I drew a lot of inspiration from Elvis Presley and Patsy Cline and some of those artists that wrote beautiful classic songs. I also listen to bands like The 1975 and Coldplay a little bit; pop that has substance to it. I also love Top 40 pop music, like Katy Perry.
What made you decide that you wanted to be a musician?
I don’t think it’s a decision; it’s more like something that I just always wanted to do. When I had a job, I was always thinking about what would I be doing once I got home from work. I couldn’t wait to get home and write and work on the next thing. It wasn’t a conscious decision; it’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do.
What’s next for you?
There’s talk about fall tour with Alyssa [Reid] – that’s just a rumor but it’s probably going to happen. I’m just playing as many shows as possible; “We Are Stars” took me on a tour across the country, then to the Canadian Music Week, then to Scene Fest this summer with six more songs.
Are you considering playing more local shows?
I’m thinking of traveling the country and playing to large audiences, but Toronto is my home so I’ll play a lot of shows around here.