When Alicia Viani put down the oboe and picked up the guitar, the course of her life and musical career shifted.
Born in Singapore, Viani lived overseas for the first eight years of her life, including places such as Japan and Indonesia. Her parents were teachers, which gave her a love for travel at an early age. The family moved to Ashland, Ore., around 1989. Viani now calls Bend home.
- Amy Castano
- Alicia Viani's upcoming album—funded by fans on Kickstarter—includes songs that touch on racism, suicide, sexual empowerment and more.
"Amazing community and the mountains. That's what brought me here," Viani says of Bend.
Growing up, her parents were always playing music around the house. While in Japan, Viani had a little keyboard she fell in love with. Musical instruments were always her favorite toys, she says. From the keyboard she moved to classical oboe in middle school, continuing on that track through high school and college. At the time, she thought she'd become a professional oboist. Viani and her friends would call each other "orch-dorks," which as you might have guessed, is short for orchestra dorks.
"When I was in college I started getting super into ethnomusicology, which is like anthropology and music combined," recalls Viani. "I studied music in West Africa and Mongolia. And then after that I sold my oboe immediately. I got way more interested in travel and exploring the world. When I did that, the most common instrument around was a guitar, so I figured I would learn that."
With music being a giant part of Viani's life, 2019 is bringing forth some more big moments in her career. Her official full-length debut album is set to drop this summer, and Viani is excited to start recording it in Nashville, Tenn. She then plans to hit the road with Mark Karwan, her musical partner in crime.
"I'm thrilled! It's been a long time coming," Viani says of her debut. "I get to share some of my favorite writing and songs and create something that represents me and the life I've lived up until now."
Helping record the album in Nashville is producer Amy Speace and a team of musicians. Viani hopes for a recording process that's as quick as possible—ideally, around one to three takes per song—as a way to keep the recordings more organic.
The album won't go quietly, either. It will feature telling tales of racism, suicide, women's sexual empowerment and more. Being a mental health therapist, Viani is exposed often to those areas of life, and speaks out about them in her songwriting.
"This is a time where I have a lot of problems with what's going on in the world. There's a lot of pain," says Viani. "It's heartbreaking and sickening to know that there's a predator in the White House. There's a song on the album I wrote the day after he [Donald Trump] was elected. Because I was fired up... and sad. As a female I felt really vulnerable. I also have felt so much resilience. A few weeks later some of my closest girlfriends and I went to the Women's March in D.C. I have been floored by what it feels like to be around so many strong women who are pissed off."