PIctoria Vark has returned with a new single, “I Cant’ Bike,” officially announced her upcoming tour, and will be joining St. Lenox and me for a livestream to talk about music and more. Also, she’s now signed with Get Better Records and controlling Refresh Records Twitter. With her artist journey starting to go into overdrive, it’s time to see what’s been happening since the last time we spoke.
Can you reintroduce yourself to those who haven’t read our first interview?
My name is Victoria Park and I’m a bassist and songwriter who performs as Pictoria Vark. I also tour on bass with Squirrel Flower (Polyvinyl Records).
As the world slowly starts reopening, what have you been up to since April 2020? From your social media, you work in marketing at a record label, recently toured with Squirrel Flower, and are releasing a single which will hopefully lead to more music.
Yes! Since April of last year, I most notably decided to finish up my senior year of college. I moved into an apartment in Grinnell with my friend Sara and spent almost the entire year there. I was fortunate to be able to focus on studying without worrying about what touring I was missing because there wasn’t any touring.
These days, I live in a very suburban part of Iowa City and am keeping up with my job at Refresh Records in addition to playing and teaching bass. I just got back from a three-week tour last week and am still recovering (haha), but am about to go back out to Chicago for a show in Oberlin. It’s been nice to keep to myself there and have a quiet, extremely boring life to balance out the exhaustion of touring.
You said that being a touring bass player was how you saw your future in the music industry, is that still the case?
Yes and no! I think the pandemic brought to life just how fragile all careers in live music are, yet things are opening up again slowly but surely. It’s so precarious, but I’m grateful to still be able to tour and what not. I think it’s still how I hope to find myself making a living in music and hope to balance it out with more session work and teaching, too.
How was the experience going on tour with Squirrel Flower during the reopening of venues during COVID-19? HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE ANXIETY OF POOPING ON TOUR? Any tips for artists who are thinking of getting back on the road?
It was incredibly anxiety-inducing, especially being in this first wave of touring. I think I cried every day the week leading up to tour because I was so anxious. We were lucky enough to be playing rooms where we could be far away from the crowd and not have to sell our own merch after shows; that really helped.
My biggest tip for anyone heading back out there is working COVID-testing into the tour route ahead of time — it just makes things so much easier and less stressful.
As for the anxiety of pooping, some things never change <3 you’ll always be anxious <3
Were you concerned during the tour with how different venues handled minimizing COVID-19 dangers?
Ella‘s and Soccer Mommy‘s team both really made sure things were as safe as they could be, issuing standardized protocols for venues. I think if that wasn’t the case and things were up in the air, I would definitely feel differently.
Is “I Can’t Bike” a real-life admission or a clever metaphor or analogy for a traumatic life-changing experience? How did the song come together and get recorded?
Haha no trauma on this song, but it is a true fact about myself. This is one of the oldest songs that I’ve ever written (older than some of the songs on my first EP) and I was still figuring out the whole “writing songs and naming them” thing.
My band and I recorded it remotely around January of this year and fleshed out the ending together. Thinking about production more intently was a goal of mine; the song definitely feels like a success in that way. It sounds so great for having never met in person to record it.
Independent artists had to transition hard to survive as the pandemic continues and it feels like small positive steps are happening. Is there anything you hope to achieve by the end of the year or a milestone you want to hit?
I hope that this year allows me to keep growing and building! Hearing more “yes”s and learning to say no when I need to step back. I’m manifesting landing a spot on a support tour, but definitely know that’s a stretch.
Any plans to tour yourself or are you focused on the jobs in front of you now?
There are definitely more plans to tour! Maybe sooner than you think…
What seminal life lesson have you learned since April 2020? Is there something you would tell you-from-April-2020 that could have helped get through the time quicker?
Last thing to say to readers?
Thanks for reading!!!
Bonus: what’s the best thing and nastiest thing that no one really knows about touring?
The best thing about touring is being able to make music with your favorite people day-in and day-out. Some of the most cherished days of my life have taken place on tour. The worst thing about touring is what it does to you physically – there was a day when three of us were constipated at the same time. Talk about nasty!