Hype List 2021: PVA: “We’ve always just tried to make music that feels good in the moment”

London three-piece PVA are riding in on a wave of glitchy post-punk.
(Photo credit: Lewis Khan)

London has turned out more than the odd interesting band willing to push at the boundaries of late – including a few that aren’t afraid of having a bit of crossover appeal at the same time – but there’s every chance that PVA might be end up being the best of the lot. A trio who know the power of dance music, yet aren’t afraid to play with what that means, there’s something in their ability to find the sparks that grow into raging flames.

Words: Sam Taylor. Photo: Lewis Khan.

Hi guys, how’s it going? What’ve you been up to today?
 I’ve been painting a game of Catan.
 I’ve been trying to fix my computer.

How did you lot get together then, have you known each other long?
 We met at a karaoke bar in south London. Josh and I had been informed by the DJ that we’d both requested ‘Emotions’ by Mariah Carey, so we decided to do a duet. I was blown away by his whistle tones. We decided to start playing together about two weeks before we played our first show, and then we just started playing whenever we could, building up the set as we went. It was just Josh and I for the first seven or so months, Louis came to see us once at the Bunker Club in Deptford and told Josh “You need drums”. He started playing with us at the start of 2019 just in time for Independent Venue Week at the Windmill. We’ve been playing as a three ever since.
 Louis was a school friend of mine – we had played together in a band when we were younger.

Have you always wanted to be in a band?
 I’d studied visual arts, and graphic design, so I thought I might end up doing something like that. I never really saw myself doing music to the extent I am doing it now, even though it’s always been a big part of my life. It’s been nice to combine all these practices though now for PVA – and make more audiovisual projects for the band.
 I first started making music on FruityLoops when I was around 13, but didn’t really start taking music more seriously until I left secondary school and started a band with some friends, including Louis.
 Now it’s pretty much all either of us do. Josh is a producer and a sound engineer, and I’ve found myself working on lots of musical projects over the last six months.

What has the evolution of your sound looked like? Has it been a lot of work, or did it spring fully-formed?
 When we started it was Ella and I playing as a two-piece, we would use a laptop for drum samples and synths.
 That set up had a very specific sound to it, and was a bit limiting in terms of how we were able to play the songs. As time passed, we were joined by Louis on drums which caused the sound to evolve and for our set up to become less restrained to the limits that using samples brings. We started writing a lot more with the live set in mind rather than starting off with demos. More recently, we were able to get some more kit that allows us to play and write in a new way, without the confines of laptops and backing tracks. The set/sound has changed a lot over the last two years, but we’ve always just tried to make music that feels good in the moment.
Playing a lot of live shows helped us to keep exploring what our sound is and try out new things, we want to keep pushing that and challenging ourselves moving forward.

“We met at a karaoke bar in south London; Josh and I had both requested ‘Emotions’ by Mariah Carey”

Ella Harris, PVA

What were your first steps to getting your music ‘out there’?
 Just playing shows, all the time. We’ve done four or five in a week before; 8pm slots with ten people watching and a five-minute soundcheck. It’s character building.

What’ve been the highlights of band life so far, is it living up to the hype?
 Working and playing with some really talented musicians and producers, all the sweaty early morning shows and seeing your music listened to by people across the world. It makes the world feel a lot smaller and more connected, which has been quite needed this year.

What are you working on at the moment? You’ve got a new EP, right?
J and E:
 We’ve been working on our debut EP ‘Toner’ for the last few months, so it feels good for it to finally be coming out. We’ve also been working on designing and developing an immersive VR experience to go alongside ‘Toner’ with Volta XR. Other than that we’ve been writing new stuff and getting an updated live set together.

Do you have big plans for 2021?
J and E:
 It’s hard to say with everything that’s going on at the moment. COVID permitting, we have exciting plans for 2021. Hopefully, we’ll be kicking it off with a tour with Lazarus Kane for IVW.

What do you lot do for fun?
J and E:
 We all live together at the moment. During lockdown, we’ve got pretty good at cooking and Mario Kart. We like a big dance in the living room, too.

Do you have any new band tips for next year?
J and E:
 Pet Grotesque, Sweat, Uncle Tesco, Merlin Nova, Circa 2000, Lynks, Glows.

Taken from the December 2020 / January 2021 issue of Dork.

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