When most alums picture coming back to visit Vassar, it probably isn’t performing on a stage in front of an audience of current students. For Alex Goldberg ’11 and Dan Kleederman ’12, however, trips to campus mean their band, Throw Vision, will be performing at a concert. Along with the two other, non-alum members of Throw Vision, Tiffany Ortiz and Taja Cheek, the band will be performing in the Villard Room on Friday, May 1st at 9:30 pm.
Goldberg, who joined Ortiz and Cheek with Kleederman, wrote in an emailed statement about the beginnings of the band, “I met Tiff & Taja back in 2012 through a mutual music friend. They had written and demo’d a collection of songs (they’ve been writing music together for over 10 years), and we all met up in a small practice space in Queens and arranged the first album. My friend Dan joined soon after on guitar, bass & vox, which completed our lineup.”
While Goldberg and Kleederman met and worked together at Vassar, Ortiz and Cheek also had a history of making music together, ever since high school. Ortiz commented on her beginnings with Cheek and the other band members, “I met Taja back in high school in Brooklyn and we naturally gravitated towards writing music together; that was sort of the seed that would blossom into various musical projects. Throughout college we played a few DIY venues in NY with friends/past bands but post college we were sitting on a number of demos that we wanted to record.”
She continued, “We worked with Alex on arranging the demos…and ultimately recorded our first record with Lappin as a trio. But it was a real challenge to fully honor the songs as a trio and Alex invited Dan to join, who is also an amazing musician/guitarist and bassist. It was an amazing musical community that was forming amongst us at the time.”
Kleederman, who was the last to join Throw Vision, reflected about his first exposure to the band when it was just a trio. He wrote in an emailed statement, “I saw them play as a trio at Sullivan Hall in NYC the summer after I graduated and their sound and style really blew me away. I remember having my hands on my head during a lot of that show.”
All four artists have experimented with different genres and styles throughout their years as musicians. At Vassar, the two alums were able to further their musical ability and experimentation through many different mediums. “I played in the jazz combos on vibraphone & drums, played in orchestra & Mahagonny, and later played in the Body Electric, an ‘afrobeat’ band that later went by Yes Noyes. I also took a bunch of classes in the music department, though I wasn’t a music major, and studied percussion with Frank Cassara,” said Goldberg.
Kleederman also had a fruitful musical career while at Vassar and said, “I played a lot of music at Vassar. I did…play in the jazz program all 4 years, which is also where I met most of the musicians that were in my primary college musical project at the time, The Body Electric. That band was an incredibly formative musical experience that I am very thankful for.”
Once Goldberg graduated, his move to New York City led him to meet Ortiz and Cheek, who had already been working together. He described the conception and launch of Throw Vision, “Throw Vision was born in that practice room in Queens…I helped synthesize the music they’d been working on, and we ultimately decided on the name Throw Vision. Dan joined, and brought his voice to the music, as well as many added layers of depth & complexity. For the past couple of years we’ve been working as a democratically run quartet–there is no leader, and we all contribute material to the band.”
As the band members have grown and progressed together, they have had different struggles and hurdles in the music-making process. Kleederman noted some of those challenges, “The band has grown and changed through our struggles and successes in trying to come up with material that everybody is generally happy with… We are definitely still trying to hone our process and the fact that we now know each other really well makes it easier at times but also more challenging other times. Either way, we like to think that something real and unique comes out of putting our diverse musical brains together.”
Although working with three other musicians in a non-hierarchical setting has it’s difficulties, Ortiz commented on the rewarding aspects of the process. “Alex and Dan both bring really incredible talent, backgrounds and perspectives to the project and now that we are approaching songwriting in a fully democratic way, we are finding ourselves in new musical spaces,” she said.
As for their musical genre, Goldberg attempted a description of the band’s eclectic style, “We have a difficult time with this, but we often say something like ‘Rock & soul & experimental’, though we don’t feel like we are really the sum of those parts, or a precise mixture. A couple quotes we’ve liked are ‘soul-inspired take on shoegaze’ & ‘If you told Sun Ra he had to write a record with the Dirty Projectors, you might get something out of it that sounds similar to Brooklyn’s Throw Vision.’”
Although Vassar isn’t Ortiz’s alma mater, she expressed her excitement about the performance, “We love playing at Vassar! We’ve performed there a couple times now and the student body is undeniably the warmest and most receptive to us and our music.”