Review of Maya Vik @ Pianos NYC

[Originally published on Virgin.com, April 2013]

A mop of illuminated blonde curls bobbed around on the stage, visible through the grimy door of Piano’s back bar. The Lower East Side venue is small, to be sure, and the perfect trial run for breaking artists like Norwegian pop vixen Maya Vik. But the movement-inducing music pulsing from Vik and her two bandmates could have found a cozier home at Webster Hall or the Bowery Ballroom that night, and, one day, probably will.

Here’s the pitch: Scandinavian-dance-pop-chick-bassist. Or: the lovechild of Prince and Debbie Harry. Either fits. Vik moves like the The Artist and plays like someone who’s done her homework, lusting after that A in Rock Star 101. To the relief of the onlookers, her performance was bereft of the awkward posturing or self-conscious eye contact characteristic of other budding artists, freshly impressed to navigate the concept of good stage presence. But this makes sense, because Vik, in truth, is no stranger to the stage.

Voted Norway’s most beautiful woman by Norwegian ELLE Magazine (ELLE Mann) in 2007, Vik has been a sight for sore eyes on bass since the mid 2000’s, playing with bands Montée, Furia and Savoy (lead by Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, of equally Norwegian band a-ha). Only recently has she taken the fore, lending her airy vocals to distinctly 80’s synthy pop-funk tracks. That night, we were celebrating the release of her new EP ‘On It’.

At Pianos, Vik’s dance partner was a white Fender, which she plucked and slapped so effortlessly that at times we wondered whether she might be the stealthiest bass player we’d ever seen. She slinked through Prince’s ‘G-Spot’ into her own chill ‘Oslo Knows’ off first album ‘Chateau Faux-Coupe’, and then to an even more laid-back, R&B-flavored ‘Daydreaming’. Whereas some artists deliver her brand of new wave funk in a predictable package, Vik and her mates kept it fresh; the upbeat ‘Nuts At The Wedding’ unraveled into a minutes-long prog session, drawing a round of hoots from the crowd, and served to better showcase the musicianship beneath Vik’s easy-pleasing pop performance.

While Vik’s stage show and catalog aren’t exactly pushing any musical envelopes, her delivery was professional-grade, her band mates wove a buoyant, dynamic soundscape, and, dare we say, we had fun. A survey of the crowd told us our intuition wasn’t far off, here. We have a feeling Vik’s foray through the New York club scene this week won’t be her last.