Amplif[ie]d | Eva and the Vagabond Tales
By: Hannah McCauley
Russian native Eva Mikhailovna sets the tone for the old-time folk group Eva and the Vagabond Tales (EVT for short) by combining a mixture of western, gypsy folk and ragtime rhythms to fuel the band’s unique musical sound. By incorporating a diverse selection of instruments into their music, EVT provides a melodic experience that aims to strike an emotional chord within listeners.
Pulling from past memories, life events, sights and sounds, EVT recently crafted an EP called La Douleur Exquise, which translates from French into “the exquisite pain.” The songs on the album have a common theme of saying farewell and releasing yourself from negative situations. Originating from across the country and world, Eva and the Vagabond Tales lives up to their name as transient musicians who embrace an unrest that can only be satisfied by journeying through musical expression.
Q. Who are the members of Eva and the Vagabond tales and what are their roles?
Eva Mikhailovna: The members of Eva and the Vagabonds are Eva Mikhailovna (writer, guitar/banjo, lead vocals), Jasmine Capitulo (accordion, piano), Al Artega (Bass and baritone ukulele) and Jacob Pflum (percussion).
Q. How was Eva and the Vagabond Tales formed? Where did the name come from?
Mikhailovna: The band was formed in 2011. Some friends and I formed the band because we were asked to perform some of the songs I wrote for Earth Day. Since then, we kept getting offered shows in Riverside and surrounding cities. All the songs at the time were stories and about traveling and people who wander the earth. So in the end, the name “Eva and the Vagabond Tales” fit.
Q. Where does the inspiration for your music come from?
Mikhailovna: The inspiration for the music comes from life events, old sights and sounds, childhood memories and the deepest connections between humans.
Q. You recently released the EP La Douleur Exquise a couple months back. What was that process like?
Mikhailovna: The whole process was long. The band as a whole agreed to record four of the songs we were arranging at our rehearsals. We thought it would be faster to have someone record us and do all the production for us. Months went by, and the entire line-up changed. I decided to do all the production myself to speed up the process and to add some experimental things that I wanted to try. One of the sound engineers at a show we played at ended up becoming our drummer.
He helped me record a lot of instruments in my little back house I live in. He recorded the drums at his own home, and my second singer, Carol Heller recorded backup vocals for me at her home. In the end, we used some of the recordings from those sessions, and from past recording sessions to put everything together, mix it together and then have a final product. Jacob Pflum (drummer) mastered all the songs, and then the whole thing was finally done. You can hear crickets from past sessions, floor creaks from my house sessions and a hum of an airplane in one of Carol’s sessions. But all these things are what makes a recording feel more homey, intimate, real and close to the heart.
Q. Which song on the album best represents the band’s style?
Mikhailovna: Each song really represents each side of the band musically. Track 3, “This Old Pain,” most accurately describes how we sound live. It has a lot of energy and has our infamous “train beat” rhythm. Track 2, “Winter,” shows our very well known “sad song sadness” that people always request.
Q. How is that band’s relationship with each other?
Mikhailovna: We usually get along very well, but we do all have strong personalities that clash almost every two days. We blow up from time to time, and then it gets resolved the same day. The best thing is that there is no tension in the band because we say everything how it is, even if it’s mean and up front. We have a group chat going where we quote things from a ridiculous movie called “The Room” which we’ve seen over 30 times.
Q. Where are you all from?
Mikhailovna: Al Artega is originally from Chicago. He talks about his past like he ran away from it, but we don’t like to question him about it. Jasmine Capitulo is from Fullerton, and she still lives there and drives to rehearsals here. Jacob Pflum is originally from Palm Springs and is now somewhere in the woods of Yucaipa. I was born in Russia, but I grew up in the alleyways of Riverside.
Q. You’re coming to The Riverside Prom on May 9th for a show. Have you ever played there before?
Mikhailovna: We are playing Riverside Prom, and we have played it before. We played it about two years ago for the Cartoons theme. Al was “Underdog,” and I was Pikachu.
Q. Are there any venues in the Inland Empire that you regularly play at?
Mikhailovna: There are venues that we play at regularly in the IE. We love Redlands most of all, even though it’s not our home base. There we play at the Vault and the District. We always update our shows on our website.
Q. What is a live EVT show like?
Mikhailovna: An EVT show is very well planned out. We try to entertain as much as we can. For one of the songs, I even do a live tap dance. We love audience interaction, so sometimes we will ask the audience to show us a picture of their cats if they have any, and we will make them sing along [or] howl like wolves for certain songs. When we play a slow sad song, we love pinching some emotions and making people get teary. Overall, we try our best to make the audience have a good time.
Q. What’s next for EVT?
Mikhailovna: What’s next for us is working on an album, learning new songs, and we are venturing out to new places. We are going to a couple different states over the summer and planning some good shows.