Interview: Vextion (2016)

Written by Laura Curry

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The Monmouth County-based band Vextion fuses the genres of hard rock, metal and pop to gives listeners unshakably honest music, straight from the heart. The trio includes front-woman Kate Ortiz on guitar and vocals, Rob “Bobman” Crowther on drums and Max Orozco on bass and backing vocals.

Known for the crowd favorites, “What I Am” and “Angel Eyes,” Vextion’s heavy music has earned them nominations for the 2015 Asbury Park Music Awards for Top Female Vocalist and Top Heavy/Progressive Rock band. Additionally, as Kate Ortiz said, one of their greatest achievements was opening for the metal band, POD, for a Hurricane Sandy Relief show. In fact, one of their favorite parts of being in the band is playing their music for fundraisers and charity events such as Toys for Tots.

Katie Ortiz. Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi, JeffCrespiROCKS.com
Katie Ortiz. Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi, JeffCrespiROCKS.com

Ortiz said, “If we can do what we love to do some good in the world, that’s a nice feeling.”

Ortiz added that soon enough, a new achievement will be the release of their full-length album that they are still in the process of recording. As of now, they are recording the vocals, which will be followed by the mixing and mastering.

Vextion gave us some hints on what to expect from their album. Ortiz said that it is almost entirely self-produced, and there will be 11 songs on it. This includes songs that fans have heard them play live, as well as a couple of brand new songs that have never been heard before. They suggest that people come out to their shows to get an idea of what to expect on their album.

As fans may have noticed, Vextion released a music video for the bittersweet and acoustic-laden song “Between the Lies” on Jan. 23. Ortiz said that technically, this is the first single released from their LP.

Crowther said that “Between the Lies” is definitely on the lighter side, and the album will be more hard-hitting. Ortiz added that it’s the softest song on the album. They also have a video for their song “What I Am,” which is more like the in-your-face, hard rock sound that listeners will be hearing on the album.

Max Orozco. Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi
Max Orozco. Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi

As far as comparisons go, fans have told them that they sound like Flyleaf and Evanescence, although Kate Ortiz thinks it’s just because they are a female-fronted band. Now that Ortiz is older and she’s developed her own style and range, she hasn’t been compared to any singers lately, which she said makes her happy.

Crowther added that the best compliment a listener can give is to say that they sound awesome instead of comparing them to other bands.

Ortiz takes a look back in time to the origin of Vextion and said that since she started with the band in high school in 2006, their sound has evolved.

She said, “As we have gotten new people and found the right people, their influences and styles of music brought our collective sound together. When the band started, this is what I wanted it to sound like—the way we are now.”

In terms of influences, Ortiz said that her music tastes have changed. When she was younger, she listened to metal, but her favorite band right now is Muse along with other hard rock artists. She thinks these influences show through in their songwriting and stage performance. Ortiz is also experimenting with more tones and pedals.

As for Crowther, he has been trying out different styles of drumming such as Latin percussion, but he isn’t too sure if that comes across in the music.

Bobman. Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi
Bobman. Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi

Orozco, as a bassist, is influenced by hip-hop music. He explained that in rap music, the bass hits very hard and he has a lot of fun with it. He said that’s what being a bassist is all about—having fun but keeping the main grooves.

Since the three of them have gotten together, they have moved away from pop influences and mainly focus on high-energy hard rock.

Ortiz said, “Even when I started this band forever ago, this was the sound that I wanted to find; I couldn’t really picture it just right until I found it. And then once I did I was like ‘oh this is it, this is what I want.’”

To contrast with the evolution of their sound, Ortiz’s songwriting style has remained consistent throughout the years. She draws from her experiences and personal feelings to inspire the lyrics of her music.

She said, “I can’t write about something that I don’t feel passionately about, or something that I haven’t experienced. It doesn’t feel authentic…For me, I’m inspired by things that happen; things that happen to me, or happen around me.”

Fans can draw inspiration from Vextion’s dynamic stage performances. The band keeps the energy high while conveying an array of emotions to the audience. Ortiz explained that it is a song-to-song case scenario. She said, “Whatever the emotions that are within that song—I want the audience to feel that.”

Kate Ortiz. Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi
Kate Ortiz. Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi

Some of their songs are more fun while others are harder. Or in other words, they go to a darker place and tend to be a bit more passionate and aggressive. Ortiz thinks that these emotions come across while they’re performing and she really just wants listeners to feel them.

On the topic of stage presence, Orozco said, “It’s always been a goal of mine to move around. It’s a show, and it’s a performance. You have to keep them interested.”

At some of these performances, crazy things happen. One of the craziest moments was when a fan started throwing 20-dollar bills at Ortiz. She said, “It was not cool. I was like ‘bro you’re at the wrong club.’ But I kept the money, because screw him.”

Her words reflect the fiery attitude of Vextion as a whole, and this should help to ignite the audience during their performance.

For the rest of 2016, Vextion would like to finish their album and do some touring to build the local fan base. They will also have new merchandise coming out, including T-shirts with a new design. Overall, they just want a really strong push for the band. Fans can get a head start on this by checking out their Facebook or Twitter pages for updates on song releases, shows and their full-length album.