(L-R) D'Vonna Miller, Julian Martinez
When D’Vonna Miller of the San Antonio duo Vonna told me that one of the songs off her group’s new EP was about kale, I was caught a little off guard.
Yeah, you read that right. The song titled “Elak” (kale backwards), has a serious tone with an electronic deep-house groove, but listening to the lyrics “I – I’m so green / but I need you / to put your hands on me,” it all kind of made sense in the most hilarious and creative way.
“Me and Julian [Martinez] (the other half of Vonna) were sitting at Green Vegetarian eating and [Julian] said ‘You know what would be crazy? If we wrote a song about kale – like something just random and silly – a thoughtful song.’ I was like, ‘that’s genius.’”
A couple of days later, Miller wrote the song. That night, Martinez sent Miller a piece of music that, unbeknownst to both of them, happened to be in the same key as the music Miller had written earlier that day.
“I was like ‘Oh my god, Julian, what the heck, these literally match up perfectly. It was so weird.’”
For how young the duo is (Miller, 20 and Martinez, 21), it’s cool that they don’t take themselves that seriously even though their art should absolutely be payed attention to.
Comprised of Miller's vocals and guitar alongside Martinez's percussion and programming, Vonna’s music matches danceable indie-pop textures with touches of r&b and pop-punk all while wrapped up in the fabric of singer-songwriter compositions. It’s weird, but doesn’t feel contrived – it just works.
An offshoot of Miller’s old band Odd & Grey
, a group Miller co-founded in her eighth grade year and lasted up until her senior year, Martinez joined the group for a year after Miller discovered the percussionist on Instagram.
Miller explained that even though the group’s name is taken from her actual name, Vonna would not be Vonna with Martinez’s input.
“So basically, I will bring the lyrics – it really just depends on the song – it’s such a collaborative thing between us,” Miller said. “Sometimes, I’ll write an entire song and hand it to him and be like ‘what can we do with this?’”
The eponymously named EP opens with “Cartoon,” a relatively poppy track with a sort of '80s aesthetic. Synth rumblings swirl into electronic waves of echoing keyboard sounds and Miller’s alto vocals weave in-between a glitching hip-hop beat. On “Hannah,” however, the duo showcases warmer tones with Miller singing with a Haley Williams of Paramore-esque timbre. A bit of a step from the low dragging synths and pops of the more electronic songs on the EP, the track still manages to fit the EP’s aesthetic.
The duo are connected to a larger group of young DIY groups and artists including Samantha Flowers, Elnuh
and Booty Feet
(Booty Feet actually helped in the recording process of the EP) to name a few – a sort of unnamed collective of musicians that support each other’s shows and collaborate on music together.
Catch the duo live on Saturday, July 28 at Brick for the release of their debut EP, which will be available on all streaming platforms, with Elnuh, Booty Feet, Samantha Flowers and more.
Free (donations accepted), Sat July 28, 7pm, Brick at Blue Star, 1773, 108 Blue Star, (210) 262-8653, brickatbluestar.com
Listen to "Elak" below:
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