Official Artist
Vienna Teng
Composer , Musician , Singer
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Slow Q&A 2009: The Kaoru Questionnaire

Fall is my season, a sunset in slow motion—light ceding time to dark, blazes of color as the air grows edges. The things you love become more precious for their sparseness, for the fact that they won’t last. Fall means the beginning of things for me—there was school for sixteen years there, of course, but since then I’ve also felt a certain digging in, a kind of okay-NOW-here-we-go-ness, an intake of breath.

Anyway, the mix of anticipation and melancholy suits me. Hope it’s been suiting you, wherever you are.

OK, so the Slow Q&A from August is actually the Sloooooooow Q&A. Here’s my reply for Kaoru of Rheinland, over in the forum.

What are the things you can’t live without while being on tour?

Having lost, forgotten or not had access to most things at some point, really the only crucial thing is navigation, e.g. map/GPS/iPhone/etc. Beyond that, if I have a bag of Veggie Stix, some Clif Bars, my water bottle, and an iPod loaded with This American Life and All Songs Considered episodes, I’m set. I’m a walking stereotype, I know. I can’t help it.

Speaking of road food, a note to you wonderful people who come to shows bearing fruit pies: thank you! Home-baked goods rock our world, and I know pie crust is fiendishly tricky to make from scratch ( vodka helps). However, pies are equally tricky to eat after a gig, at a hotel, with no plates knives or forks. They are also not so easy to finish, and we hate to waste your handiwork. Just so you know. But we do love the pies and everything that goes into them. This goes for you pie-buyers and chocolate-bringers and other generous gift-givers too.

(Here I will mention for no apparent reason that I also love savory packet-foods of all kinds: tamales, samosas, pierogis, empanadas, dumplings, egg rolls, calzones, Hot Pockets. And that Alex will never, ever turn down roast duck. I’ve watched many a tempting entrée get trounced by the almighty waterfowl when he looks over a menu.)

Do you have a special ritual before & after a concert?

There’s usually a group hug right before we walk on. Afterwards it’s usually 1) over-analyzing the audience and whether they enjoyed it, 2) resisting the urge to dwell on screw-ups, and 3) hunting for a Sharpie pen. Actually the pre-show ritual often includes 2) hunting for a Sharpie pen too. And scratch paper. I always forget to make setlists until about five minutes beforehand.

What are the songs you can’t live without?

I’ll make this a separate post sometime. Maybe link to an iTunes playlist you can buy if you so choose.

What was the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

If bravery means doing the right thing, even when it scares you—listening to my parents and grandparents. Not just doing what I think they want, or rejecting it outright, but the slower and much messier process of hearing them out, mulling over what they say, figuring out what I really believe, sharing my thought process with them, and ultimately making my own decisions. I don’t know why it’s so damn terrifying and why I’m taking so long to learn how to do it, but there you go.

What was the best advice you’ve ever got?

Of all the ideas I heard at the Future of Music conference in DC this month, the best was from a cab driver on the last day. “Remember these ten two-letter words,” he said. “ ‘If it is to be, it is up to me.’ ”

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Yes. It hasn’t happened to me. But I know it has to others.

Finally and most important when will you come back to Germany?

We’re working on next spring! Late April-early May. Keep your fingers crossed and your name on the mailing list…

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That's me in the middle of the Venn Diagram. http://viennateng.com/

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