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girl talk: 10 questions with bella venutti of IV league

You’ve probably heard the name IV League because they are a band that have been killing it on the Australian music scene since they appeared in 2015. Hailing from Melbourne, the group began as a duo with partners Bella Venutti and Lachie Gilmour messing around in their garage, before expanding to a four piece with friends Millar Wileman and Jordan Hedington. The guileless and breezy garage aesthetic is still firmly in tact, but a fuller sound has injected catchy pop hooks and fuzzy layers, creating tracks that you can’t stop humming. Latest single Sylvia was released in April and the band are in the middle of their first national tour with Ali Barter. Be sure to grab tickets here and see them live in action, and check back later in the week when we catch up with their tour mate Ali, a fearless and formidable songwriter who is mixing her feminism with her art seamlessly.

In the lead up to the tour, we posed 10 questions to frontwoman Bella to get a little bit of insight into the bands formation, her process, and what’s up next. See what she had to say below!

1. You combine garage elements with really catchy hooks. What are some of the influences that inspired you when you started writing IV League songs?

When we first started writing for the project I was listening to a lot of indie rock that was really prevalent at the time that combined elements of 50s and 60s doo wop/surf rock and combined it with scuzzed out guitars and vocals such as GIRLS, Cults and iconic artists in the LA garage scene such as Ty Segall. I’d say the sound has definitely evolved since then and going forward we’d really like to push the boundaries of the genre we’ve been ascribed to.

2. You and Lachie have previously been dubbed ‘the cutest couple in Aussie rock.’ What is it like being in a creative partnership with someone who’s also your partner? 

Lachie and I’s relationship really has little to do with the band, and I would consider our personal lives and this creative endeavour to be two very separate entities. It definitely helps in terms of writing because the nature of our relationship means we can be brutally honest with each other and that often makes for stronger songs that we both genuinely think are great because we don’t need to hold back criticisms to spare each other’s feelings.

3. You started off as a duo before expanding to a full four piece. How did Millar and Jordan to joining the band come about? How has the added members changed your dynamic?

Adding more members to the band was integral to us finding our sound initially, and while we’ve had different members in the past. I think playing with our current line up has been a particularly great experience because Millar and Jordan are two of our best friends. It always feels like hanging out and mucking around and they have been such wonderful and dedicated players over the past few months.

4. I read that you took the lyrics for Lit Screen from a high school journal. Do you still keep a journal? Is journaling a cathartic process for you?

I do! I’m the type of person who can’t leave the house without a notebook and pen because I find that inspiration strikes me when least expected. I find journaling and writing poetry extremely cathartic, and I’ll often just free write prose for pages and pages that I later condense and shape into lyrics for a song.

5. I love your track Sylvia, I’ve had it on high rotation! You’ve mentioned that it is about the intense female friendships we form in our teenage years, and name drop Sylvia Plath in the lyrics. I first read The Bell Jar in high school and remember it really resonating. Was that a book that meant something to you? Do you often draw on literature creatively?

I adore Sylvia Plath, and The Bell Jar was a novel that resonated with me deeply as a teenager in the same way that books like A Catcher In The Rye did, those tumultuous coming of age stories that make you think, ‘oh my god someone actually understands what its like to feel so awkward and alienated.’ I constantly draw on literature creatively, recently I’ve been making my way through Frank Wedekind’s catalogue of plays and novellas and I have found it extremely inspiring thematically for the new material we’re working on!

6. You’ve said you started the band on a bit of a whim, messing around in the garage. Did you always want to be a musician? How did you come to music?

I grew up wanting to be an actor, so performing has always been a serious passion of mine, but even though I had a keen interest in it, music kind of took the back seat for a long time. Nobody in the area I grew up in really played in a band, and it wasn’t until I went to my first few cool gigs in the city and northern suburbs as a sixteen year old that the idea took my fancy. I just had this moment watching a band at Festival Hall one night, and really sporadically was like… ‘hey, I could do this!’ And so I went home, picked up my Mum’s old acoustic guitar and started writing TERRIBLE songs that I’d like to think have evolved into less terrible songs over time. Once I finished high school things really fell into place because I met a string of people who kind of showed me how to be in a band, and were willing to play with me and help me book shows.

7. What is it like being the only girl in the band?

We’re all best friends, so I never really feel ostracized or different as a girl playing music with three other guys. It’s not something I really even take notice of, and this is the only band I’ve ever been in so I don’t know any different!

8. You’re currently touring with Ali Barter who is a prominent Australian feminist musician. Who are some other women that have inspired you whether it be musically, politically or creatively?

I’m constantly inspired by and in awe of the strength and brilliance of women in all fields and aspects of life. I could go on for a country mile about all of the women who inspire me to be a better intersectional feminist and do incredible things, but as a musician and an artist someone that I look to continually is Kim Gordon. I recently re devoured her memoir Girl In A Band, and I think it’s one of the most poignant accounts of what it’s like to navigate the alternative music industry as a woman. A great quote of hers that exemplifies her experience is ‘Women aren’t allowed to be kick-ass. I refused to play the game’.

9. Playing with Ali Barter will be your first national tour right? What are three things that you must have on the road with you?

It is! I’m gonna say it’ll be berocca, a working AUX cord and a can do attitude on those 10 hour drives!

10. What’s next for IV League in 2017?

We’ve been back in the studio working on some new material that we can’t wait to put out into the world, so you can definitely expect some new releases from us that will further explore and experiment with the sound that we’ve been developing over the past few years!

Image: IV League Official Facebook 

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