Nico Vega’s new album brings fresh sound

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

Indie band Nico Vega‘s sound has evolved over time. What started as grungy garage rock has transformed to a more structured musically alternative melody, which will be heard on their upcoming album, “Lead to Light.”

Nico Vega’s new album will be released July 22. Photo Courtesy of Catie Laffoon
Nico Vega’s new album will be released July 22.
Photo Courtesy of Catie Laffoon

“I would say that we probably started out a lot heavier,” Vocalist Aja Volkman said. “I was really into garage rock when i was younger, so i came from that background, as did my guitar player. That was kind of how the music naturally started. And it slowly became more musical. I’ve developed my songwriting ability over the years, that’s a big part of it.”

Volkman started playing solo gigs when she moved to Los Angeles, as a way to meet people. 

The band came together in 2005, and currently consists of Volkman, guitarist Rich Koehler and drummer Dan Epand, a group that she said really connected.

“They had me come down there and start working with them, and we fell in love. It was just all great,” Volkman said.

Since they got together, Nico Vega’s music has grown in popularity, from performing solely in small venues to appearing in film trailers, television and video games, including a sample on Bioshock Infinite.

While “Beast” was one of the first tracks the band wrote, a worker from Irrational Games was a big fan, and reached out about using it for the game. The band was surprised, but excited for the opportunity.

“That song is sort of more of a stand up for what you believe in and love your neighbor kind of song,” Volkman said. “It’s a social song, about rallying together — waking people up and having them feel like they can be heard and have a voice. It’s important to stand up for what you believe in. That’s what that song is for me.”

When it came to composing music for the new album, Aja said it’s a collaboration between everyone. A simple guitar riff or lyrical verse can bloom into a new track, but Nico Vega likes to think outside the box when it comes to their music, working together and collaborating with others.

“We never limit ourselves. It’s fun for us to experience music in different ways, and that’s what we try to do,” Volkman said.

Volkman said “Beast” and “Wooden Dolls” are her favorite tracks to play live, but she’s looking forward to taking the new material to the stage.

With collaborations from other artists, the album has variety to it. Each song is substantial and tells a story.

“I’m On Fire” tells the story of the red headed step child, and fights for the underdog. Produced by Dan Reynolds (Imagine Dragons frontman and Volkman’s husband)  “I Believe (Get Over Yourself)” is more upbeat and danceable. The song encouraging people to be optimistic, and the video, which was released last week, is just as cheerful.

As an indie band, social media has played a big role in Nico Vega’s fan base, but touring is just as important. While Lead to Light Drops July 22, the band will take the music to their fans, with international gigs and a North American tour planned for later in 2014. 

“I just hope the music makes people feel something,” Volkman said. “(I hope it) makes them feel a sense of fellowship— we’re not alone, we all have each other. That’s what music does for people in general, and I like to be a part of that.” 

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