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Welcome to the first endorsed artist spotlight!
We're kicking things off with long time Vratim artist, Travis Orbin.
Hot off the heels of his 'Finite: Complete' and 'Silly String Redux' releases, we discussed life in quarantine, career highlights, and his newest solo LP 'Finite III' out today!
Be sure to check out the full album stream of 'Finite III' on YouTube as well as Bandcamp!
You started drumming a pretty young age, but when did you really know you wanted to pursue drumming as a career and it wasn't just a phase? Did you always know or was it something that as you played more you wanted to get more serious?
The first time I sat down on my own drum kit, I knew that I wanted to play for the rest of my life. Figuring out how to do it as a profession has morphed over the years, but I'll always be learning, playing, and challenging myself.
Any words of advice for those seeking a career in drumming or music in general?
The two abilities that have been of most benefit to me, both artistically and professionally: knowing how to read and write drum notation, and how to play to a click.
What was one of the hardest skills for you to learn as you were progressing with your drumming/music career?
Unfortunately, I spent a really good chunk of time practicing and playing sans click. When I got 'married' to it, as I like to say, it was a difficult transition. However, the first recording that I made with a band after I had some time with it under my belt was a magical moment; I felt like a professional for the first time, which might be an odd sentiment to read - but it's how I *felt*. Elation!
You've had quite the career so far, what's one of the highlights or achievements that sticks out to you most?
That's a tough one, I'm always kinda taken aback when the spotlight is shone on me more deliberately. There have been some fun tours, some really great records that I've been fortunate to have contributed. Perhaps my first Modern Drummer interview, since that had such nostalgic value as well as intrinsic artistic clout. I'm sure the bigger highlights are still to come, but I'm too busy working to think about that stuff.
You're known for writing some very intricate and progressive drum parts. You also have a rather unique drum configuration described as "minimalist, quasi-open-stance," how and why did you decide on it? Was it developed in conjunction with your development as a musician?
There are a host of factors that led to the evolution of my setup, and they are all detailed in a video that's going on a decade old at this point (yikes!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCd3yWXKyEo
A lot of drummers these days put out videos, but few compare to the amount and quality of the content you upload. What made you decided to document the songs you work on so in-depth?
When I built my home studio up to the point that it was 'tracking-ready', at first I dabbled in interpretations of Sky Eat Airplane tunes (my band at the time), videos to showcase parts I had written while in Periphery, and other miscellaneous things. When I began doing sessions regularly, I simply took that concept/work process and applied it to the session work; I didn't really think twice about it. I remember asking Hayato Imanishi of Cyclamen, "Hey, do you mind if I film the session?" and that was that!
With touring at a stand-still and the music industry being mostly on hold, I imagine you've had some additional time on your hands. How have you been staying busy during the lock down due to coronavirus (COVID-19)? You just released "Finite: Complete" and "Silly String Redux," was that your primary focus during lock down or can we expect more releases?
Life in quarantine is honestly not much different than 'regular life' for me, I've always led a fairly monastic existence. The big indicator for me is that my last tour took place in January, so everything after is kind of a swirled whirlwind of creativity. In no particular order: I've done session work for numerous artists, tracked bass and basic iPad synths for an EP I've been picking at (for which I am now currently writing more songs to add to and will probably turn into an LP), composed an LP, finished work on 'Finite III' and 'Silly String Redux', mastered both of those records along with 'Finite: Complete' with my friend Taylor Larson, did a solid week of video production to promote those three records (along with doing the album art, ordering CDs to be pressed, submitting for copyright, blah blah blah!), and I'm now currently rehearsing the next solo LP (which is the aforementioned one that I composed while in lockdown). I'm probably forgetting some stuff, haha.
For everyone that preordered an item from out VRATIM X APAHM Line, thank you for your patience - we're happy to announce all items will be shipping today!
Thank you all for helping us support The John Vietnam Education Fund.
If you weren't able to preorder an item, we still have some in stock and will continue to donate proceeds from each sale as the items sell!
Some of you might not be aware, but Vratim is actually a minority owned and operated business! Two of our owners, Nguyễn Thị Bích Ngọc and Thomas Trường Filbert (mother and son respectively), are Vietnamese. Our shoes and some of our other products are even made in Việt Nam too. Additionally, one of our artist reps, Tyler Saczawa, is actually Korean with his birth name being Seung Won Li 승원.
Because of this we wanted to do something special for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month here in the United States. We will be releasing a special new line with 20% of each sale being donated to The John Vietnam Education Fund which provides education for the poor children and college scholarships for the young students in Vietnam.
Check out the new Vratim X APAHM line now!
Below is a letter written by Ngoc, to all of our friends, family, customers, and supporters offering some more insight:
During the Tet Offensive in 1968, the North Vietnamese were taking over my hometown. My grandfather decided it was best that we leave town and go to the safe haven called Con Phung. We left with just the clothes on our back, barely enough money or food, walking all the way, and taking the back roads sometimes ditches. Along the way we met many kind strangers who shared their food and shelter with us. One even gave my grandfather an umbrella to keep him cool under the hot sun. Even though I was a child at the time I've never forgotten their kindness. For some time, I have been thinking of a way to return the kindness back to my countrymen and found this great opportunity to do so.
The war has been over for almost three decades. Viet Nam has rebuilt itself - life for many has improved tremendously, but there are still many more Vietnamese lives in poverty. Some live with no running water, in thatch roof houses, and barely enough food. Most of these people that live in remote cities earn their living by selling anything from food to various merchandise or working as laborers, servers, farm workers, and other various low income jobs. The average income for these people is little more than $100 a month to take care of their family, oftentimes including elderly parents who are living with them. In Viet Nam there is no program to help senior citizens, single mothers, or scholarships for young students to enter college.
Here in the United States, May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. We would like to take this opportunity to help the charity, Children of Vietnam, which began in 1998 by Mr. Ben Wilson and Ms. Luong Thi Huong, two friends who started out bringing food, medicine, clothing, etc. on a scooter to the poor children and their families in the Viet Nam countryside. Today Children of Vietnam is a well established organization providing care for children with disabilities, education, housing, nutrition along with helping single mothers to be self-sufficient. One can even travel with them to Viet Nam and see their program at work!
Part of Children of Vietnam is The John Vietnam Education Fund which provides education for the poor children and college scholarships for the young students. John “Vietnam” Nguyen was a young Vietnamese rapper from Uptown Chicago who passed away in 2012 while saving a friend’s life. John Nguyen spent his life promoting a positive attitude, peace, and inspiring youth to achieve their goal. He also donated the proceeds of his CD sales to the Children of VietNam organization helping the vulnerable Vietnamese children. We are inspired by John’s example and will be donating a portion of the proceeds from these t-shirt sales toward his education fund.
We appreciate your support and thank you for working with us to help those in need!
-Ngoc / The Vratim Team
We hope everyone is staying healthy and safe during these times.
As we all do our best to practice social distancing and staying home, we know that sometimes it's still necessary to go out for essential items like food...and toilet paper. We also know it's been getting more difficult to find masks to wear when going out for essential items.
We were able to purchase some extra masks and will be giving away a mask with each order along with our normal stickers and coupons.
We know it isn't much, but hopefully it comes in handy.
Also, if you don't need the mask, we encourage you to give it to someone else that might need one!
Here's to working together so we can all get back to touring, going to shows, and being around friends!
-The Vratim Team
P.S. If you desperately need a mask, please send us a message/email and we'll help as best we can.
We're teaming up with Klarna to offer the smoothest payment options at checkout!
Select Klarna at checkout to split your total purchase into 4 equal installments.
No added interest of fees when you pay on time!
Here's how it works:
(Full terms of Pay later in 4 interest-free installments. *CA residents: Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Las license.)
Some additional information about Klarna:
Pay online of in the app
Review your latest purchases and make payments in the Klarna app or online
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I know this is probably the millionth message you've read like this, so I'll try to make it a little different by offering some insight into our operations and bringing attention to the effects of all that has been happening.
First and foremost we're still conducting business like normal...mostly:
Personally, I have been practicing additional quarantining as my band was recently on tour in Japan. The tour went very well (and I could go on forever about it) but, we had to leave Japan earlier than expected as the situation changed.
While the daily operations at VRATIM have been mostly unaffected (although we do find ourselves with some extra free time) many of our endorsed artists and industry friends are not in the same position. Most, if not all, tours over the next few months have been postponed or outright cancelled. This includes everything from smaller tours to major, big-name tours. This not only affects the bands/artists, but also the promoters, tour managers, venues, associated venue staff, and even photographers, graphic designers, and recording studios.
During this difficult time, more than ever, it is important to support your favorite artists and venues. Even if you cannot contribute financially, streaming music, sharing your favorite local venue’s GoFundMe, and other simple things like that can be beneficial to those affected.
Hopefully we will all be back at shows and enjoying the company of friends soon.
Please take care of yourself and loved ones.
Steay healthy and stay safe!
-Thomas / The Vratim Team
P.S. If you have any further questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us
We all know how crazy things can get on the road, so we've put together a kit of basic replacement parts/accessories all conveniently in a water resistant case.
The Vratim Kick Pack includes:
-Four (4) Cymbal Felts
-Two (2) Cymbal Sleeves
-Two (2) Wing Nuts
-Two (2) Washers
-Two (2) Ear Plug Sets
-One (1) Drum Key
-One (1) Sticker / Temporary Kick Drum Patch
-One (1) Water Resistant Case
We've brought back our popular white color, but with a twist this time along with some quality improvements.
This is a limited edition color and once it's gone - it's gone!
*Also, we now have free shipping within the US and low flat rate for international orders*
In 2017, we managed to drastically increase our artist roster, move into a proper office/warehouse, and managed to ship a pair of shoes to every continent (except Antarctica). All in all, we're completely blown away and blessed to have accomplished all we have in 2017.
For 2018 we're hoping to further expand! We're going to work on having our shoes retailed elsewhere aside from just our online store, we're going to strive to grow our artist family more, and we'll try out best to be more interactive with everyone.
We're heard all of your thoughts and feedback about our shoes and everything and just know we are trying our hardest to check off all the items on our list of suggestions.
Thanks so much for the continued support and understanding. We may be a very small company, but we aren't going to let that stop us!
We're excited to announce that one of our endorsed artists, Tyler Saczawa (Born A New), will be taking on some artist representative duties.
Tyler has been working extremely hard over the years not only with Born A New, but also as a booking agent with The Arkham Agency. It's been great watching his band progress to touring across the country as well as seeing all of the musicians Tyler interacts with.
With his help we're hoping to reach out and discover new artists to help further build our artist family!