Vacationer caught the ear of indie rock fans and critics alike this year with the release of their debut album, “Gone” a fuzzy, sample-laden tour de force that placed the band on the playing field of indie stars like Beach House and Phantogram. Vacationer’s good fortune didn’t end there—the band won the Reyka Vodka sponsored “Breakthrough at Iceland Airwaves” contest and is set to perform at Iceland Airwaves in Reykjavik, one of the year’s most hotly anticipated festivals. Each year Reyka sends a U.S. artist to perform at Iceland Airwaves—last year they sent indie darlings Yacht, and this year Vacationer is being joined by lo-fi rockers, Blouse.
We caught up with Vacationer mastermind Kenny Vasoli to fill us in on the experience, as the band continues their current U.S. tour with Bombay Bicycle.
You are about to head to Iceland next month after winning Reyka Vodka’s “Breakthrough at Icleland Airwaves” contest to perform at the festival—what are you excited for the most?
The chance in itself to perform in Iceland is overwhelmingly exciting. I’ve never been there and its amazing that this is our first trip overseas. There are so many bands that we’re sharing the festival bill with that I can’t wait to see: Dirty Projectors, Phantogram and, of course, Sigur Ros.
What do you expect to get out of playing Iceland Airwaves? Are you as excited about the show as checking things out in the country?
Being a newer band, I can only hope that we’ll have a decent crowd to check out our set. It’s up to us to deliver the best performance we can.I can’t wait to explore Iceland. I know we’ll have a chance to visit the Blue Lagoon which is thrilling for me. I imagine getting to experience the foreign landscape will be directly inspiring to our band’s music.
Are you working at all on new music?
Yes, I’ve been spending several hours a day on new song ideas. I’m finally feeling confident about what I’m outputting creatively in this new material. My partners Matt and Grant have been giving me fantastic ideas for me to build off of. I’m excited to see the next record take shape.
Do you have any releases or remixes coming out soon?
We have some new remixes for DOM and Major Lazer that should be getting out soon. We have a few other remixes we’re in the process of tackling and ideally we’d like to release some originals by wintertime. Also keep your eyes pealed for a new Vacationer mixtape before the year is out.
What inspired “Gone”? How long were you working on the music?
I was inspired by being immersed in a new love which became a long-distance relationship and eventually ended during the writing process. It was an endless influence for me to draw from. Aesthetically and musically, I was really turned on by the bands who were seamlessly bridging live and electronic indie music—the likes of Beach House and The Radio Dept.
What initially spawned your passion for music?
I was always drawn to music at a young age. I can remember being eight or nine and taping a Green Day concert from MTV and watching as the camera would crane over the crowd and I would reenact my own mosh pit in the den with couch cushions and pillows. That adrenaline is something I’ve always chased in one form or another. As far as songwriting goes, the first album I ever remember hearing was Van Morrison’s “Moondance” and I still enjoy that record today and draw influence directly from those songs as well as his contemporaries.
Where do you think you fit in to the indie scene today?
I’d like to fancy us as a band fit to share the stage with some of the indie bands who are currently capable of drawing large crowds and favorable reviews. However, I have no reservations to say that we have room for growth. I intend to explore every inch of that space. I’m trying not to focus on an ideal destiny for Vacationer, I just want to keep my mind and eyes open to the journey and enjoy every step along the way.
What can we expect from you next?
People can see how we translate our record live in October while we tour with Bombay Bicycle Club throughout North America. Then the Iceland adventure will be underway. After that we’ll be hulling up in the writing space and vacationing from home with every intention of raising the bar from the debut release.
How is the tour with Bombay Bicycle going?
Really well, we think very highly of them and they’re fans. It feels like a great fit for us. Every show has been positive.
The more I listen to the music, the more it appeals to me as a totally relaxing experience. Do you think modern life is too hectic and fast-paced? Is it too hard to be happy?
I think for a lot of people it’s easy to get caught up in a high-stress and fast-paced kind of life routine. Happiness doesn’t come from an exact formula, but I do think it’s linked directly to relaxation. I definitely remind myself to relax and take life lightly as often as I can.
Do you consider Vacationer a spiritual band?
Not especially as a collective or in “Gone’s” subject matter. I do however think a great deal about spiritual philosophy. For me it’s rooted less in religion and more in living my life concentrating on the present moment. I’ve found a great deal of serenity focusing my attention on the moment rather than the end game of where we think we are headed.
Any places you like to go in particular to get away?
I often hop on my bike and ride a trail that runs underneath power lines out of my town. Thats my most frequent get away. Sometime soon I would like to get lost in the central PA mountains on a road trip with my dog. It’s been on my mind quite a bit.
“Trip” is the song a lot people recognize the band for was that one of the first songs you wrote for “Gone.”
I believe that one was the fifth song we wrote together. It was our first dip into the hip-hop tempo end of the pool.
What are some records released this year that you were really excited about?
I love the Father John Misty record. Currently we have been playing the new Grizzly Bear record a great deal during our drives. Other honorable mentions go to my precious Beach House as well as the newest Geographer and Tennis records. Also, our friends in Such Gold released an extremely impressive punk record a few weeks ago, we all love it.
Photo by Joe Perri