For self-dubbed “nu-hula” artist Kenny Vasoli of the band Vacationer, the positive, “good vibes” sound of his music is a direct reflection of himself.
“Writing that way is sort of a good reminder to keep myself in that mindset,” Vasoli said before his Nov. 11 show at the Metro in Chicago. “It’s easy to get sunken into life and, you know let it wash over you.”
Vasoli, 30, said he tries to keep his music optimistic, even if it is out of heartbreak.
Vacationer certainly has the laid-back, “chill” sound that Vasoli strives for. Citing the Beach Boys, Beach House and Washed Out as musical influences, Vasoli manages to make his Philadelphia-based band masters of the sunny sound.
Vasoli began his first foray into the music business with pop-punk band The Starting Line, with a sound like Blink-182. It wasn’t until the early 2010’s that he and his friend and band mate, Matt Watts, began the electronic project, Vacationer. Vasoli credits the members of the group Body Language as sources of inspiration for the beach sound of Vacationer.
“They started sending me these loops of like super exotica and Polynesian influenced styles of beats,” Vasoli said.
Vacationer’s genre, “nu-hula,” was coined by Vasoli himself during the recording of their first album, “Gone.”
“It was right on the cusp of the time when everyone was naming genres,” Vasoli said. “It was right on the ‘chill-wave’ tip.”
According to Vasoli, the prime time for songwriting is in the heart of winter. Keeping true to the band’s “mission statement” of escapism, writing about summer sunshine and relaxation is the perfect escape for cold Philadelphia and Brooklyn winters.
“I think it’s a sort of way of thawing out your mentality,” he said.
Their second album, “Relief,” was released in June of this year. Calling their growth from album to album as “blossoming,” Vasoli said he believes they found more dimension.
Substream Magazine called it “…. one of the most refreshing and unique album releases in a while.”
Matt Collar of AllMusic said, “Ultimately, whether it’s laying out on a towel in your backyard or digging your toes into the sand on a tropical island beach, Vacationer have made the perfect soundtrack for your summer getaway with ‘Relief.'”
Vasoli said he likes spending countless hours working on an album in the studio.
“The cool thing about being in the studio is having just sort of a morsel of an idea at the beginning of the day and then if the creativity really gets rolling, then at the end of the day you can burn a CD and put it in your car,” Vasoli said.
Just wrapping up a tour with South African synth pop band St. Lucia, which also has a warm, “tropical-esque” sound, Vacationer has been all over the map providing opening support. Recently, they had a two-night stay in Chicago, performing back-to-back sold out shows a the Metro, Nov. 10-11.
“I’m really glad that I’m getting to know this band so well,” Vasoli said. “…every night I fall in love with them more and more.”
Vasoli considers Vacationer’s sound to be “chiller” than that of St. Lucia, but it’s a perfect dynamic for how their show works.
“We can sort of ramp up the audience into St. Lucia and it’s sort of a seamless fade in,” he said.
Of course, performing live is nothing new or foreign to Vasoli. In fact, it’s one of his favorite aspects about being a musician, he said, calling it “exhilarating” and “the best part of my day.”
“The interaction with the band, especially when we’ve been on the road for so long….you feel something locking in and you’re riding the wave,” Vasoli said. “That’s where the butterflies are.”
One thing you will not experience at a Vacationer show is an encore. Vasoli is a firm believer in “not acting bigger than my britches,” and dislikes making fans “beg” for the band’s return.
“It just seems really silly to me,” Vasoli said. “If you want to play more, just play more.”
Vasoli is busy continuously writing songs, both Vacationer material and possible pop-punk content that will be entirely separate from Vacationer. However, there is no release date on the immediate horizon.
So Vacationer fans, curl up in your fleece blankets while the November winds blow while you anxiously await new music and escape to the sunny, warm, carefree world of Kenny Vasoli.
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