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A candid East Village lunch with Caroline Vreeland – Model, actress and musician | amNewYork

A candid East Village lunch with Caroline Vreeland – Model, actress and musician

Caroline Vreeland takes a break from lunch at Il Posto Accanto, leaning on the Cadillac that belongs to the restaurant's owners, Beatrice Tosti di Valminuta and Julio Pena. (Photo by Bob Krasner)
BY BOB KRASNER
 
Caroline Vreeland — singer, songwriter, model, actress — is passionate about a number of things: Music (old school soul, Patsy Cline, jazz, Maria Callas and Bay Area rappers), wine (red), sex (about which she has written frequently) and food (especially pasta) are at the top of her list.
 
Not wanting to overextend ourselves, we met her for pasta and wine at Il Posto Accanto, a favorite Italian spot in the East Village. The first order of business was the wine, a Lambrusco suggested by the owner and head chef Beatrice Tosti di Valminuta, and immediately approved by Vreeland.
 
While waiting for our appetizers, Vreeland — the great grand-daughter of the legendary fashion editor and columnist Diana Vreeland — recalled her performing and modeling careers debuts. Neither were auspicious. 
 
Her first modeling gig put her in the hands of noted fashion photographer Michel Comte, who tried valiantly to make her look good in a bathing suit that was obviously not suitable for a woman of her prodigious assets. She was sent home.
 
Her vocal debut was somewhat more successful, but still left her unseen. At eight, she won a part in the school play: the wind. That meant she found herself offstage, making whooshing noises into the microphone. 
 
A break from our conversation was necessary to fully enjoy the Burrata Half Moon Ravioli, with tomato basil sauce, fried eggplant and ricotta and the Mushroom Ravioli  with butter and sage sauce. Nothing was left on the plates.
 
While waiting for more pasta, Vreeland muses on her music, which she calls, “the most important part of my life.” Five years ago she was tending bar in LA, working in retail and networking but, she admits, “I got fired from every job I ever had.”
 
Her recording career included an EP that was made “while still trying to figure out my sound.” Vreeland hates it now, but she’s leaving it out there so people can see her progress, which is obvious on her latest release, “Notes on Sex and Wine.” 
 
Caroline Vreeland at Il Posto Accanto, in the East Village. (Photo by Bob Krasner)
Relying more on her commanding voice and less on production, the collection of original tunes finds her forging a more confident identity, even when finding common ground with influences such as Nina Simone and Amy Winehouse.
 
The conversation continued over Fusilli Campagnola and Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe with fried artichokes and a glass of Cannonau from Sardinia, all of which were heartily approved.
 
Vreeland had a very eclectic musical upbringing, thanks to her father’s tastes. Although she didn’t spend a lot of time with him — her parents are divorced — the music he played for her made a strong  impression.
 
“He opened my eyes to everything,” she says. Jazz, reggae, the Buena Vista Social Club and a rather large Hawaiian singer named Israel Kamakawiwo’ole were all being played for her, but it was when her dad put on the first Fiona Apple CD that Vreeland realized that she wanted to be a singer. 
 
Not just a singer though, as she had plenty to say.
 
One wonders when the artist finds time to write, being in such demand as a high fashion model,  appearing in print in such exotic places as Elle Russia and Vogue Italia and on runways as well.
 
“I’m not really modeling anymore,” she says. “It’s all about me as a musician now.”
 
“I’m always jotting notes,” she explains. “I’ve had ideas in my sleep and forced myself to get up and record them. I’ve come up with ideas during sex and made my lover wait while I write them down.” 
 
Vreeland has been told that she’s “too much of an open book” — which anyone who follows her Instagram account, especially the stories, can attest to — but Vreeland really doesn’t care.
 
“Nothing much embarrasses me,” she notes. “And how lucky am I that when I go through bull—- I can make art out of it? It’s almost like therapy.”
 
For the time being, the singer is embarking on a mini tour, opening for the alt-pop group Roses and Revolutions with just guitarist Jules Drucker accompanying her onstage.
 
Vreeland is optimistic about the direction of her music and is looking forward to expanding her show in the future.
 
“When I have the resources, I envision not just a concert but ‘an evening with’ sort of thing, with friends — and pasta — onstage. If I’m going to share the most important part of myself – my music – then I want to share everything.”
 
As for lunch, we didn’t even have to ask.
 
“I’m full, I’m happy and I’m coming back!” she declared.
 
Caroline Vreeland will be performing at the Mercury Lounge, 217 East Houston St., on March 4. Follow her instagram @carolinevreeland.
 

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