WILD Exclusive: Real Vocal String Quartet Premiere “Machine”

by: Blaine Skrainka

October 11, 2012

You might not expect a string quartet to sonically speak to each other through jazz-like improvisation, or to dabble in the world of indie pop, but that is just the beginning of the unexpected in the world of Real Vocal String Quartet. The group seems limited only by the extent of their own imaginations.

Real Vocal String Quartet Machine video premiere WILD mag music

Irene Sazer, Alisa Rose, Dina Maccabee and Jessica Ivry who make up the Bay Area-based collaboration all share the experience of growing up as little sisters in their respective families — hence the name of their upcoming album Four Little Sisters, the group’s sophomore effort out October 16.

The last few years have been busy ones for the ever eclectic foursome. Aside from writing the new album and bringing their arrangements to life for audiences across the country, RVSQ was invited to collaborate with Feist on her stunning 2011 album, Metals. Sazer recalls of the experience: “We had hoped to be seen and appreciated as creative artists as we drove down to Big Sur from the Bay Area, and to our great joy, we were. It was a beautiful experience to work with her brilliantly musical producers and with Leslie Feist who is a strong musical force.”

Aside from their vocal abilities and technical skills on the strings, the producers of Metals were drawn to the quartet’s improvisational skills. On-the-fly composition is not so common anymore among string ensembles, but RVSQ consider it a totally normal, and even fundamental, part of making music, “Our collective improvisation is a vibrant form of play,” adds Sazer.

Never to be limited by genre, or what a group of women playing the strings should be, RVSQ have crafted a new record that takes influence from classical to folk to pop, but above all, Real Vocal String Quartet reflect the music that makes them tick.

Alisa Rose explains:

“I think what draws me to music of any kind is the same no matter what the genre. I like music that is honest and sincere. I like music with beautiful melodies, a great groove, a striking texture, crafted lyrics, great harmonies, and so on.”

For their debut video off of Four Little Sisters, the girls have given the RVSQ treatment to Regina Spektor’s “Machine,” another bold indie pop starlet with a classical background. The track opens with the quartet displaying their unique percussive skills as they pluck and poke their respective violins, viola and cello. The arrangement grows increasingly intense and coalesces with a four-part harmony at the bridge.

“I was drawn to arrange ‘Machine’ for our quartet because I like how the lyrics tell a bit of a futuristic science fiction story and the chords sounded suited to the sonority of a string quartet.” says Rose.

On the heels of the release of Four Little Sisters, RVSQ will go on touring and working on additional music and education projects. America Music Abroad, a program funded and organized the the U.S. State Department and American Voices, will be sending the group to Eastern Europe later this year.

It’s an exciting time for Real Vocal String Quartet, so what is their WILD Wish? A humble one: a sustained life as creative musicians with an opportunity to keep reaching a wider audience in the world.


Catch RVSQ in New York City this Friday and Saturday night.


Order The WTF Issue Today

Order The WTF Issue Today