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Cirque Du Soleil
(Cirque Du Soleil)
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Patricia Barber
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Cirque Du Soleil
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Jim Pearce
“Why I Haven't Got You”
Prairie Dog Ballet
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Andy Timmons Band
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Ralph Towner
Time Line
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Anoushka Shankar

Amos Lee
"Arms Of A Woman"
Amos Lee
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Julius Curcio
"American Pie"
Alligator Shoes
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"Come Alive"
Changing Into Me
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Rising Stars [Issue #10]
Ellee Ven: Turning It Up To Ellee Ven
By Dave Lewis
Rolling Stone (CD Hot Sauce)

Some artists just sit around and wait to be discovered. Others, like L.A.’s Ellee Ven (try saying it out loud) create their own opportunities in the music world. The self-made vocal diva/record label entrepreneur uses her eclectic, danceable pop music to inspire listeners to follow their own dreams. Her debut release, the four-song Rolling Stone, offers a glimpse of her forthcoming full-length, Funky Bohemia, available January 2005.

Despite her newfound success and dedication to making music, Ven nearly missed the boat, only to create herself a second chance.

As a child, Ven (AKA Jessica Kunin) harbored an interest in music and dabbled in it as a hobby, including performing in musical theater. “I got into it,” she said in a recent phone interview, “but my parents were more practical and didn’t really have time to be stage parents.”

Ven followed her parents’ suggestion to do the college thing and enrolled at Pepperdine University. Two degrees later, Ven went through a tumultuous period where she made “some less-than-groovin’ decisions” (including a “ridiculous” marriage and a job as an elementary schoolteacher). Her interest in music soon brought her out of her rut. “I felt like ‘OK, who are you making decisions for?’” she said. “Then I just decided I really wanted to be in music. I really like being around creative people everyday.”

What makes Ven unique is her DIY attitude. After receiving the typical run-around from shady promoters, managers and label reps, Ven took her music into her own hands.
Ven established her own Los Angeles-based record label, Hot Sauce, to promote and release the music being made by her friends. Though initially a strain on her bank account, Hot Sauce provided stability in other areas of Ven’s life. “It was fun,” she said of starting the label, “that was the primary thing.”

The money being poured into Hot Sauce seemed, at times, misdirected. Ven decided to take matters into her own hands. “If I’m gonna take a risk on anybody,” she said, “I should take a risk on myself.”

The singer traded in her teaching duds for the sleek, sexy, soulful persona Ellee Ven, styled somewhat on divas like Sade and Madonna (only Ven writes and produces all of her own songs).
The punny name derives from Ven’s spiritual outlook on relationships. “11 represents the significance of two individuals next to each other, whether it’s as friends, lovers, or business associates,” she explained. “They’re separate, but united.”

That philosophy mirrors Ven’s recording style. Though decidedly a solo artist, Ven revels in collaboration. “I can’t do it all myself, but I don’t even think I’d really want to,” she revealed. “I think part of the joy is who you get to work with, and what you learn from them, and what they bring out in you.”

Significantly, frequent Beck collaborator DJ Swamp has worked with Ven, lending her an outside ear and bringing his unique turntable abilities to the mix.
The web has been a significant outlet for Ven’s creativity. “If it wasn’t for the Internet, I wouldn’t have made a quarter of the progress I have made,” Ven confessed. Though burned by piracy in the past, she finds the Net a positive and community-oriented avenue for aspiring musicians. “The Internet is all-good,” she concluded.

Ven looks to Janis Joplin as one of her primary musical inspirations (though she thankfully doesn’t follow Joplin’s self-destructive personal side). Other favorites include: Stevie Nicks, Prince, Mötley Crüe, and Tricky. Such diverse artists help inform Ven’s eclectic sound that combines electronica with pop vocals, some funk, and a dash of hip-hop.

In this world of disposable pop groups who look the part, but fail to measure up musically, Ven is a beacon of originality. She forgoes the traditional major-label system and creates her own grass-roots sound and movement. Through her label, she encourages other like-minded artists to take the commercial side of their music into their own hands, as she has. It’s risky, to be sure, but ultimately rewarding.

Rolling Stone
Hot Sauce

Turning It Up To Ellee Ven Ellee Ven Rolling Stone

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