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Eric Victorino Plays First SJ Solo Show at C2SV

In Music
ART OVER ARTIFICE: Strata and Limousines frontman says recording under his own name allows him to make raw, uncut and highly personal statements. Photo by Brittany Bowen.

ART OVER ARTIFICE: Strata and Limousines frontman says recording under his own name allows him to make raw, uncut and highly personal statements. Photo by Brittany Bowen.

After fronting two critically acclaimed and commercially successful musical projects, one might assume South Bay native Eric Victorino would be comfortable on stage and confident in his own skin. But that’s not always the case.

In fact, right up until moment he went on stage for the first solo performance of his career, Victorino says he was terrified.

“It was scary up until the second it started,” he says of his recent appearance at PopScene—the weekly indie dance music party hosted by Live 105’s program director and DJ, Aaron Axelsen.

Furthermore, he adds, he can only really point to one consistent lyrical theme on his forthcoming solo debut.

“It’s this feeling of doubt,” he says of the songs on the soon-to-be released Wake Up, I Miss You. “This is my first opportunity to really be blatant about the doubts that I have in myself and my place in the world, and maybe the doubts I have about certain people in my life.”

Victorino says that there are days when he has doubts about making music, and at times he can’t decide whether he wants to play with live instruments or use a computer to program beats. “Music is such a weird thing for me,” he says. “But it’s something that I feel I need to keep doing.”

Yet Victorino is much more than a pensive and brooding artist wracked by doubt. He is also an explosive performer with the ability to control a room with his voice and his magnetic stage presence—and when he’s not second-guessing himself, he can be brimming with confidence.

“Right off the bat I felt really comfortable and felt like this is what I should be doing for this particular project,” he says of taking the stage at PopScene on Sept. 2. “It was just me. It was the first time I’ve ever done that—been on stage by myself. And it was cool.”

For the very first time, Victorino explains, he had no one else to let down—no band member or musical collaborator—and that feeling, he says, has been freeing.

“For the first time in my life, I don’t give a fuck if anybody likes this album,” the singer says of Wake Up, I Miss You. “I’ve never had that feeling before.”

Listening to Victorino’s new material, one gets the sense he is telling the truth. It’s clear that the songs on Wake Up are coming from a very personal place.

“Well at least I’ve had a woman,” he sings in a low, trembling, almost-whisper on “Prophecy.” “Well at least I’ve had someone. Well at least I’ve had a moment in the sun.”

If there is a theme that unifies the music itself on Wake Up it is simplicity. “Prophecy” plods along over a minimalist keyboard arpeggio and a spare kick and snare drum machine beat.

As he tells it, some of the songs on this record were laid down using his smartphone. At first, Victorino says, he intended that the clips would merely serve as demos, but now he says he likes the bare-bones feel of some of these takes so much he is sure some of them will end up making the final cut—even if it isn’t anywhere near as polished as much of what he did with Strata and The Limousines.

“I don’t care if this is looked at as a collection of demos,” he says, explaining that his choice to go with rawer takes is related to his decision to perform under his given name.

“I’ve never really realized what naming a project does, aside from the obvious—it’s kind of a marketing tool,” he says, cracking wise about a certain well-known New York death metal act: “As a listener, you have a good idea that ‘Cannibal Corpse’ is going to sound a certain kind of way.”

Ultimately, he says, performing and recording as Eric Victorino means he can be as true to himself as possible.

“It’s the one thing I won’t change,” he says of the words printed on his birth certificate. “I’m not going to get tired of my own name, I don’t think. I hope not.”

Victorino opens for Shonen Knife at The Ritz during October’s C2SV music and technology festival.

Eric Victorino
Oct 7, 8pm, $15-$18
The Ritz, San Jose

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