Hi Reddit,

We are the team behind Vitamin String Quartet, a music series devoted to creating innovative string renditions of contemporary music. Most of the team here today is from CMH Label Group, the LA-based independent record company that produces VSQ. We are joined by longtime VSQ arranger and record producer Sasha Ivanov and VSQ arranger and cellist Derek Stein.

Today marks the release of our newest album “Geek Wedding Collection”, an eclectic compilation of tracks celebrating video games, movies, TV and music with songs like Portal’s ‘Still Alive’ and ‘Storybook Love’ from The Princess Bride. We invite everyone to give it a listen now on Spotify or grab it off iTunes!. In addition download the DRM-free mp3 from our website for only $6.99 for the duration of our AMA.

Oh and while you’re at it, feel free to ask us anything!

My Proof: Twitter

Update: Thank you to all who posted questions! We had a lot of fun talking with you guys! Thanks for all the love. LLAP

Comments: 262 • Responses: 29  • Date: 

TravisKilgannon131 karma

Do you guys still like Coheed and Cambria? I've been ever so impressed with your cover album of In Keeping Secrets.

wearevsq111 karma

Obviously Coheed and Cambria rules. We will soon be putting out some sheet music for our rendition of A Favor House Atlantic.

cookieguyster94 karma

Why don't violas get any respect?

wearevsq282 karma

What's the difference between a viola and a trampoline?

You take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline.

angelfromthecoast68 karma

You guys covering Weezer's Pinkerton is freaking amazing. Would you consider doing a version of their debut album? Because you guys doing Only in Dreams would be fantastic.

wearevsq39 karma

Hell yeah!!

Optiguy4257 karma

Most of your music is released online, which is great for the consumers like me who love listening to your tunes. But I'm wondering, have profits ever been a major issue for you as a result of this?

You guys seem to never take a break, which is awesome, but that must take a huge amount of time, effort and money. Have there been times, especially when you first started, when you thought the effort might not be worth it? I know that's an issue that plagues many new artists.

Thanks for taking the time to do this, and keep up the great work! One last, more light-hearted question: any hints at some new projects you may be working on?

wearevsq52 karma

As a small record label in the digital age, we are always scrapping. Online technology certainly creates challenges but also affords us amazing opportunities to reach our audience, like this AMA!

We’ve always gotten a great response from the listeners, so we’ve always felt like it was worthwhile to keep doing this. Just getting started!

As far as new projects go we have more sheet music titles coming soon, plus the ability to digitally download sheet music titles. We are also looking to do our next "hits" compilation. Finally we will be putting out our first live album in early May.

ningrim34 karma

  1. Which of your renditions is most frequently played at weddings?

  2. The House episode was how I first discovered VSQ. Is that when your group blew up?

wearevsq63 karma

  1. Hallelujah is a favorite and Bohemian Rhapsody always goes over well. Anything Coldplay gets played quite frequently. Although we can see into the future and we know every track on Geek Wedding Collection is going to be a wedding fav!

  2. House was our first TV placement. We got a lot of buzz because of it and have received a lot more placements because of it. Our first big hit was our string quartet tribute to Tool.

aaskork27 karma

After hearing your beautiful "Dearly Beloved", I have to ask can you please, please, please do an entire EP of Kingdom Hearts music?

wearevsq19 karma

Anything is possible...

Matso1220 karma

Greek Wedding collection is incredible! Do you guys plan on covering more video game/ movies soundtracks?

wearevsq16 karma

Most definitely!!!

TheBlackKnightRises20 karma

Which band/artist would you say particularly lends themselves to a string quartet cover? I'm a big fan of you guys (particularly the Muse covers) - your music is great for writing/revising!

wearevsq34 karma

Any band that has interesting melodies and lush harmonies that stick in your head. What works best is if there's already a rhythm. A sense of romanticism always helps.

Muse is a good example of all of these. Still Alive from the Geek Wedding Collection is also a shining example of this.

IWillRememberMyPas14 karma

  1. Are there specific requirements about what you will or won't cover? Like are there certain artists or songs that you outright stay away from? If so, why?
  2. Of all the songs you've covered, which ones are your favorite?
  3. What songs/artists are you hoping to cover in the future? Is there anything you're currently working on now?

wearevsq47 karma

  1. It's an evolving debate between ourselves. For example we had a lot of debate around the Game of Thrones theme song. It's already very orchestral so some of us felt like it wasn't enough of a departure from the source material. But we realize we could put our own spin on it. Sasha made a notation for each player to "play with a serious face".

  2. We love Newborn, Bohemian Rhapsody, Kashmir, Sail and anything Nightmare Before Christmas.

  3. We're planning on a Modest Mouse tribute to be released on vinyl for Record Store Day.

joelschlosberg13 karma

If you could choose any one piece of music to perform on string quartet that would to be sent to space, the way Beethoven's String Quartet No. 13 in B flat, Opus 130 was included on the Voyager Interstellar Record, what would it be?

wearevsq15 karma

The Next Generation Theme from our Geek Wedding Collection. Makes sense, no?


If you could write the score for one movie/TV show of your choice, what would it be?

wearevsq22 karma

Who wouldn't want to work on any of the new Star Wars movies? We'd like to back in time and rewrite the theme song to Home Improvement. And of course Fifty Shades of Grey part 4.

signorapaesior7 karma

First off: love VSQ. Played a bunch of your music at our wedding and I blast it every time I'm working from home.

As a cellist myself, I'm interested: do you try to mix up the songs you pick so that each of you get a chance to feature? With traditional string quartet arrangements violins are almost always carrying the melody, do you find that's the case with the music you play or do you mix it up?

wearevsq8 karma

We are more and more focusing on spreading the lead or the melody around the quartet. It’s great to hear each player bring their voice to it.

TheMiraculousCosmos5 karma

  1. Who chooses the music and how? Does someone actually decide to listen to Fall Out Boy/Green Day/Queen/etc. and choose to cover it?
  2. Any tips for an aspiring violinist? I play in the orchestra in my school and I don't really know if there are any casual options after high school.
  3. No question here, I just really really love VSQ.

wearevsq10 karma

  1. The team here proposes (and sometimes argues) about new album ideas, based on what we are excited about and what is going on out there. And yes, we do listen to our tributed artists.

  2. Practice, practice, practice... with our sheet music.

  3. We love you too. :)

River_River5 karma

What is the process in doing an album and what is the motivation behind making a cover album/song?

wearevsq4 karma

The team here proposes (and sometimes argues) about new album ideas, based on what we are excited about and what is going on out there. Once we approve an album idea, we pair the album project to the right VSQ arranger/producer and work with them on the arrangements and mixes. Meanwhile, here at the office we are working hard on artwork and promotional ideas.

For us, a lot of the motivation behind making a cover is the challenge. It is exciting to work with great music and remake it and leave your unique mark on it. And strings are one of the most electrifying ways to remake a rock or pop tune.

Daytman5 karma

Hi guys! First off, I love y'all and what you do. Your music is the soundtrack to every one of my study sessions and therefore I think I can attribute all of my success to you.

Second, a question. Going back through your catalog, you have done a ton of obscure bands and songs that I feel aren't "mainstream." Is there any genre/band/song that you haven't done or want to do but can't because they are too obscure?

Finally, a request: more Brand New and Coheed!

Thanks for doing an AMA guys, keep rocking!

wearevsq4 karma

Great to hear that you listen while study! Have you ever listened to our Spotify study playlist?

Sometimes we will run with less mainstream material if we are able to concept it as part of a cool theme. Our Per_Versions album worked this way, and we’ve discussed doing more installments of that.

jojotoby5 karma

Hi there! Thank you all for doing this AMA! What is your favorite song to play?

wearevsq7 karma

Derek's favorite song to play is either New Born or A Favor House Atlantic.

stankit4 karma

Hi! I've been a fan of your renditions for about 7 years now! Your music was the soundtrack for my wedding this past October, including having my wife walk down the aisle to your rendition of Hoppipolla. I have two questions:

  1. How often do you tour?

  2. How do you choose what songs/artists to cover? Thanks for all the albums!

wearevsq6 karma

VSQ isn’t a touring entity, at least not yet. But we are looking into that possibility. We have traveled out to some special one-off performances over the last few years and had a great time.

edudswa4 karma

What song/album was the biggest challenge to turn into a string quartet?

wearevsq9 karma

The Jack and Sally montage was actually very challenging. Sevenish minutes of ever evolving heavily symphonic orchestral music... a lot of strings were broken in the process.

rowdyralph4 karma

I love the way you're able to imitate musical effects like distortion and reverb. What's the weirdest thing you've had to do with/to your instruments to get the right effect for a cover?

wearevsq6 karma

Derek here. I feel like the string players who are lucky enough to be involved with VSQ have the ability to mimic many of these effects without the use of plugins or pedals. Personally, I enjoy exploring the limits of my instrument and my own abilities to obtain these sounds.

joelschlosberg3 karma

As both a Danny Elfman/Tim Burton fan and an attempted cellist, I was floored to discover your version of This Is Halloween. Do you have any stories of unusual reactions from the Nightmare before Christmas (or general Elfman and Burton) fanbase? Or from music students trying to master the wide range of string playing techniques used from vibrato to pizzicato?

wearevsq3 karma

So glad you liked it! We don't really have any unusual reactions in regards to the Nightmare album; just a whole lot of love, thankfully!

karisaz3 karma

How do you guys decide what covers to make into sheet music available to buy?

wearevsq7 karma

The process starts with what we think would be exciting for our musician-fans to play and/or what would be great to offer for use at weddings.

sammyb733 karma

  1. Who makes up the members of the Vitamin String Quartet? Is it a group of four key people, or do you guys have a team that can work on various recordings at anytime?
  2. Some of your earlier recordings (the first Coldplay tribute, first Led Zepplin tribute) sound like you use synthesisers to emulate the sound of violins. Did you guys use them to help productivity and getting additional recordings out, or is my ear mistaken and it's always been real instrumentalists?

wearevsq3 karma

VSQ features a rotating cast of many amazing players, who come together in different combinations on different projects. Including the extraordinary Derek Stein here!

There have definitely been a lot of different production techniques used over the years, but we’ve gotten really focused on bringing the listeners as close as possible to sitting right in front of an awesome live quartet.

shoottheball3 karma

What has been your favorite album to record, and why?

wearevsq6 karma

As far as songs go Sasha loved putting together the Jack and Sally Montage for the Disney tribute, Nightmare Revisited.

Sasha was honored to work on the Michael Jackson album as it was around the time of his death.

AhnDwaTwa3 karma

Any music that you all refuse to cover? For any reason?

wearevsq3 karma

I don't think there is anything categorically that we wont do. But we have to make something our own.

optimatez3 karma

Aw, I don't have Spotify, I use Google music all access instead. Any chance of using them also? Or any reason why they were left off?

wearevsq3 karma

We're on Google Music so you should be able to find us.

gandalfthelavender2 karma

How long does it take to arrange and record each piece? You've put out quite a bit of music, so I would imagine you essentially have it down to a science at this point. Also, what's your favorite non-contemporary string quartet piece?

wearevsq2 karma

As an example, Sasha typically takes 3 days per song to arrange. At first to avoid fatigue he'll make the first pass, second day he'll come back to look at it again, on the third day he'll be able to digest it to see if it works or not. Then he works on tempo.

From there, he can record up to 5-7 pieces in a day.

As for favorite non-contemporary pieces, Derek really likes all of Shostakovich's quartets, Leo enjoys Ravel's, and James is a big fan of Donald Martino's Fifth String Quartet.

tintedrosie2 karma

Do you have any plans to do any other songs by Brand New?

Also, it would be super awesome if you could do a slower version of Everlong by the Foo Fighters. Like their acoustic version.

Love you guys. Violins/Strings have always been my favorite. It's great to hear songs I love translated into strings.

wearevsq5 karma

We have a number of hugely massive Brand New fans here so its possible!

Also love the Foo Fighters and that particular rendition of Everlong so maybe: hell yes.

awck872 karma

When I first heard the preview of the Geek Wedding album, I was absolutely stunned by the beauty of the arrangement! My question to the person arranging the music: Where did you get the idea or inspiration of the arrangement?

And question to everyone in the team: Will "Dearly Beloved" from the Geek Wedding album be made as one of the "theme songs" in Kingdom Hearts? (I didn't fully commit myself in playing the game, so I am not so sure about all the soundtracks in the game but if this question has already been answered or deemed to be silly, please ignore it)

wearevsq2 karma

Sasha was inspired by the music itself. He tries to merge what's doable and what sounds cool and tries to pull the right player technique based on the VSQ aesthetic. Always try to push the limits to new levels.

As for the team, we're fans of the game which is why we wanted to cover it.

Kurauk1 karma

How do you feel about the state of the music industry, by this I mean people like yourselves with genuine talent get overlooked by the large majority in favour of people with no musical talent?

How do you feel about the digital side of things, do you think that it has been a major contribution towards your successes & expressing your musical talent.

What music are you currently listening to?

Can't wait to hear more of your stuff. I'd love to hear some original scores from you as well.

wearevsq6 karma

The music industry is in serious flux because of new technologies, but this has given us so many ways to connect directly with our audience and new things to try to create. We feel empowered, despite the challenges.

As to listening, from the group: Scorpions, Moby, Sumac, Chance The Rapper, First Aid Kit, Marika Hackman. James here spent last week rearranging the two Use Your Illusion albums into one perfect album.

We’re also discussing reviving some of our original composition offerings.