Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattans Lower East Side guarantees a night of beautiful music to any in attendance. The intimate venue brings you close to the artist in proximity, but also in feeling as you connect through art. I was reminded of this again on Wednesday night at Rockwood. Vicci Martinez and Emily Tarver took Stage 3 with a seated crowd in front of them, for what would become a night of fun, love, and feeling. Their act featured a number of love songs, the backstory of these songs, and laughs from jokes of bits that expanded throughout the show.
I had the opportunity to sit down and Interview the two before their performance and asked what to expect from the show and Emily replied “I think obviously a lot of love songs. Because that is how we kind of met and fell in love and started writing love songs together.” .
On stage it was just as Emily described. But the thing that made the night special is as they were singing about love that feeling took over the entire room. They each have incredible stories Vicci who has been performing since she was a teenager and was a finalist on Season 1 of NBC’s The Voice. And Emily who has done so much with acting, singing, and comedy. Their paths crossed on set of the tv show Orange is the New Black in which they both had a role in. In the interview I learned about the time they met and performed here at the same venue close to a year ago. Their stories of love and honesty were inspiring, you can feel the passion that they have for music and the joy that creating together has brought them. Their hope and love is contagious and I hope you feel that as you read the interview below.
Hi and Thank you so much for sitting down with me tonight. This isn’t on my prepped question list or anything but I thought of it on my walk here and I guess you’ll be the first people I ever ask. It is a very wacky question. But if you could only live off of one food type being breakfast food, lunch food, or dinner food what would it be?
Vicci: umm I like dinner. Dinner is my favorite, I like big hearty meals like a fried chicken or spaghetti and like a chicken soup.
Emily: and I would say lunch. I feel like lunch could be anything you want it to be… there is no rules. Yeah I mean I can’t live without a turkey sandwich and I feel like that’s a lunch staple.
Vicci: You’re right that is a weird question.
Emily: But I feel like I know myself better now because of it.
Vicci: (laughs) Me too.
(laughs) Perfect, I am glad. So did I. My next question is one I ask in every interview. I love Karaoke and I love to ask musicians performing in all sorts of different stages what song that they choose to sing in karaoke settings. What are your go to karaoke songs?
Vicci: Mine is Madonna ‘Like a Prayer’
Emily: Oh yeah definitely.
Vicci: What is yours?
Emily: Mine is like stupid like Avril Lavigne. And also Whitney Houston ‘I Have Nothing’ is how I tend to end the night.
Wow you sound like karaoke regulars.
Emily: We are! We really love it.
Vicci: I wasn’t before I met her. But the first time that we actually hung out hung out she came and played a show with me last year. She came and sang a song with me and then we did karaoke afterwards and I was like “wow these guys are so much fun!”
So you had just finished a show and performing together and left the music hall and did karaoke? That’s amazing.
Emily: Yup! We did not get that singing itch scratched yet.
So you mentioned your first time performing together a year ago here at Rockwood Music Hall and here we are tonight. What can listeners expect from the two of you?
Emily: I think obviously a lot of love songs. Because that is how we kind of met and fell in love and started writing love songs together. Then also something that I think is the fun part for me is our relationship between the songs, we kind of riff off of each other and there is banter. Vicci is extremely funny and I come from a background of comedy, so I think that people really get to know us as musicians and as a couple and as humans when we are up there.
Vicci: Yeah we are very honest on stage. I mean I am going to try not to talk about how I puked this morning. Like so much. Here we are.
I know I saw that honesty, chemistry, and fun from you two on stage while I was preparing for this so I am excited to see it tonight. So the two of you have been working on an album together.
Vicci: Yeah we just did it.
Emily: Yeah we made a little 6 song live album.
Vicci: It’s from our last show here.
Emily: It’s on a compact disk… so no one will be able to listen to it.
Oh that is when you just want to jump in your car to go on a road trip and listen to as you drive. So with that you both live here (New York City) Do you have cars? V
Vicci: We both live here. I have a car in Seattle that my sister is driving. Its basically hers. We got a Smart Car coming I guess…
Emily: We actually we did an ad for Smart Car and they are going to give us a Smart Car for a year.
Vicci: We don’t want it.
Emily: Just because New York like where do you park it. But they are going to get us a parking spot with a charging station nearby because it is completely electric.
Well at least a Smart Car if any is the best car to have in New York because it is easier to street park and all that in something that small. Okay so you both jump in your Smart Car and go for a road trip together what is on your road trip playlist?
Vicci: Oh my god so much! But usually it’s me. I like to make her listen to all my music.
Emily: She does!
Really? I love that.
Emily: And I loved it too. One of the first places that we went together last March was driving from Tacoma to Leavenworth Washington which is like three hour and we just listened to all of her music and I hadn’t heard most of it before. I loved it, it was really fun!
Vicci: But we listen to other stuff too.
Emily: I used to listen when I would drive back and forth in Texas to Steve Miller Band I was like obsessed with Steve Miller Band. Like obsessed and would go to their concerts in high school.
Vicci: Really? He’s from Washington. (Sings ”All the way to Tacoma Philadelphia, Atlanta, L.A”)
Amazing. So you two met on set of Orange Is The New Black where you both have acting roles, I read it was love at first sight Vicci and that you invited Emily to sing with you. Was that the first show here you mentioned earlier?
Vicci: Yeah that was it.
And so what was it like performing with each other that first time and how has it transformed now?
Vicci: For me it was one of those things that we did it and I was like “this is what I want to do! This is how I want to do it!” I had been performing forever and I got to a point where I got really sick of it. There was a lot of high anxiety that I get having to manage a band and be the band leader making sure everyone is in a good mood. Most of the time I cant always just be in a great mood for everyone but I had to put a face on. With Emily I feel way less stress. She helps me, she supports me, and she has taken a lot of heat off of me. Even when we rehearse and things like that she is like my notekeeper and everything. All the stuff that used to stress me out with performing she kind of likes take care of for me and there’s balance.
Emily: Like when we met and she asked if I’d come sing this song with her I said “Absolutely, but why don’t you come over a couple of days before and lets make a little video of it and put it up to promote the show. Because I had been doing that forever with my other band that I was in forever. And our band was really focused on promoting our shows because we did a lot of things at UCB and you kind of have to like promote the shit out of your own shit.
Vicci: And I hate doing that shit.
Emily: And I hate it too but not as much anymore because I’m like I know how to do this. In at least the laziest most bare bones kind of way.
And so Orange Is The New Black where the two of you met, how did that come to be for you Vicci transitioning from music to acting?
Vicci: Umm I don’t know. I just meditated a lot and I wanted to be on the show in a weird way like I have worked so much with my music and like she said promoting that and getting people to know about you, it’s been like so much work. I just kind of took a break and I put it out in the universe.
Emily: It is really strange being an actor in the industry for almost 15 years to see how they found her. Like they just probably googled cute… lesbian person and she came up and then they just called her and asked if she’d want to be on the show. Like that does not happen. It’s so far from how it works that it just makes me know that she is really special and such a magnet that she could go hide and success would go knocking.
Wow and so was there like an audition for you?
Vicci: No they emailed me. The day before I got in a really awful argument with my ex at the time. We just were both really toxic for each other and didn’t know how to leave each other. I was by myself and praying out loud “God help me leave her.” The next day I got an email from Orange and they let me know they had a part for me. I just sent in a tape and I had never done that either before. Then I came here and I pretty much never went back.
Wow that’s incredible. Then you end up doing the show, finding love on the show and now creating art together with your best friend. As I prepped for the show I found numerous articles and blog posts from fans of the show thrilled that the two of you were dating in real life. They were calling you relationship goals and all of that. What is it like to have your relationship so much in the public?
Vicci: It’s just…we don’t lie. We are very honest about our life. I have always been that way, she has always been that way and it just…
Emily: It didn’t really feel like anything weird to me. It was just like of course people are going to take note of that. I think I am not like super sharey about emotional things but it doesn’t feel weird for people to know and celebrate it. I think it helps me know even more so that I am in the right place with the right person because people can look at a picture of us or hear us sing together and feel what we feel for each other it seems to inspire people. So that feels good.
Vicci: And we are human, we fight. We do things that everybody does. Even when we play shows I have apologized to her on stage for being a jerk. I think it is good for people to see that everybody fights and is not perfect. It doesn’t mean that you have to run away from somebody. I found my best friend and we spend every single day together, of course we are going to get on each others nerves. So its good to just be honest.
Emily: Yeah its not realistic to think anything otherwise.
I love that and it is such a good way to look at it. So I have never seen Orange is The New Black before, I have a co-worker that loves the show and wish you could have heard her describe it because it was really funny how she did it. But I thought I would ask you how you each would describe your roles on the show to me who has never seen it?
Emily: So I play a prison guard who has seen some shit in her life. She has served some tours in Iraq and I am thrown into a stressful job because I can’t really find other work. But I am a women and was the only female guard for a couple of seasons. So I am dealing with my job which is supposed to be kind of hard ass on these inmates but doing it with a bunch of men who are way worse than I am. So I empathize and sympathize with these women because I’m a woman and I have been in a boys club before in the war. I think I split that line a lot emotionally as a character.
Vicci: And my characters name is Daddy and it is pretty much because I had never acted before it’s me, but a like little bit more scary and gangster-ish. I kind of run this it is called D-block and C-block you know like the blocks of the prison. I am kind of the leader of the gang there is a boss that is ahead of me like the big boss lady but I’m the one that runs the show. And yeah I guess they like wanted me to be more hard ass or whatever but I kind of manipulated my part a little bit just to be able to be more myself and not be as stressed about like having an accent, or any other. It was a lot anxiety because I didn’t want to mess up. With my music I can mess up whenever I want it’s my stuff, but like with theirs I just wanted to be perfect. So Emily has helped me just relax a little bit more with the stuff like that.
So Vicci you were on The Voice as I told you I’m from Utah and on your season of The Voice was Dia Frampton who was from Utah, so we would have watch parties for every episode. None of us knew Dia Frampton we just knew she was from Utah and we gathered from there. So I remember you well and was super excited to sit down with you for this Interview. So with that being said there is no way I can not ask about The Voice being with you. Is there like a secret or little known fact I could bring back to my Voice super-fan mom?
Vicci: Oh yeah, there is a lot. I am not sure if I am allowed to disclose all of them. But one thing that I think…
Emily: Something I think that was surprising to me that she told me is like they aren’t allowed to like drink or do anything in their downtime.
Vicci: Oh they tried to enforce that rule on us. There was this guy names Stein and he is the guy that brought The Voice over from Denmark and everyone was scared of him because he would like no smile or anything call me like an asshole all the time and he became a good friend of mine later. When we were there though he would tell us that he was going to randomly come check on our hotel rooms to make sure we weren’t out. We weren’t allowed to leave our hotel rooms, especially when it started airing because they didn’t want us getting kidnapped or anything. Then after the show I would hang out with him sometimes and go to his house I asked if we really weren’t allowed to leave and he was like “No it wasn’t in your contract. I would just go around to scare you because there were some idiots that were taking it to far.”
Emily: But that is good though! I wish I had somebody to do that now. (laughs)
(laughs) That is funny, thank you. Is there anything especially in regards to the two of yous music that you two would like added into the article?
Vicci: I mean one of the things that I have done for so long in being a musician is there is so much work involved in copyrights and websites and promoting and marketing yourself. When really it is like we sit with a guitar and sing and it is so much easier. I feel like the route that we are kind of going with our project is we just want to create. Getting shows and stuff like that with Rockwood its really Matt is my friend of mine and lets us know they have a slot open and if we want to do it. So its like there is no stress in our music and I think that it kind of shows.
Emily: Yeah I don’t think that I have ever thought of us together like we are trying to make it in the music industry. We are doing this because it is our passion. Luckily we have other things that pay the bills, but I think that is when people get bogged down with art because they can’t be free to express it because they have to worry about selling it. Of course it has to be that way, but I think we are very fortunate to be in a position where it is not that way for us.
Vicci: I just feel like one of the things that I definitely want to have come through our music and our shows whatever is just to inspire people to do what makes them happy. I mean even our relationship like I feel like a lot of friends of ours have even broken up with people they have been with because they are like “shit I don’t need that shit anymore. I can free myself up and eventually find myself something like Vicci and Emily have that can will make me feel that crazy.”
Emily: We really do take it a day at a time and that is the way I’ve always wanted to live but never really understood how to do that.
I love all of this. You both are inspiring by the way, as I prepared for this I watched like every YouTube video and scrolled both of your Instagrams and everything was such love, happiness, and hope you portray so I want to say that. And as we have talked today if there is anything I have learned is that things seem to fall together as they should, and I’ve always known that myself. But it is cool hearing it from you two’s perspective where Vicci you exited a relationship and were looking for a new chapter, Orange comes out of nowhere, in that you then meet Emily, fall in love, and then are able to create art and your music in a way that is very much your passion. Thank you so much for your time and sharing all of this with me.