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Interview:
Vienna Teng Soft Sells Her Way Out Of Software
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK



San Francisco-based singersongwriter Vienna Teng holds a computer science degree from Stanford University — and freely admits that she seldom applies it in her chosen career.

“Most people continue I assume to write software or something, but I don’t use (the degree) at all,” says Teng, 28, a Taiwanese-American who was born Shi Yixin. “I can troubleshoot my laptop when it gets on the fritz on the road, but that’s about it.”

Moreover, Teng says she’s noticed that she’s not the only egghead on the road making music these days.

“Lots of musicians I know are quite technically proficient, and their day jobs were involved in the tech world,” she says. “I know some people who did IT or were product managers or graphic designers. For the new generation of musicians, those jobs were the equivalent of waiting tables.”

The classically trained Teng, however, is applying most of her thoughts to modifying her music and find new directions to take the hushed tones of the songs on her first three albums. This time out she’s accomplishing that with the addition of a fourth musician, Alex Wong, to her band who plays guitar and percussion and has allowed Teng and her regular cohorts — a cellist (Marika Hughes) and a violinist (Dina Maccabee) — to pick up the tempo a bit.

“The songs I write, they’re pop songs,” she explains, “so there are ways to make them sound very conventional. When I go to a live show, I don’t want to be lulled into sleep. We still have moments when it’s quiet and introspective — then this classical ensemble rocks out.”



Vienna Teng performs at 7:30 and 10 p.m. Wednesday (April 25th) at The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $20. The 7:30 show is sold out. Call (734) 761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

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