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Songwriter Spotlight

Sci-Fi Romance


Sci-Fi Romance is an alt-folk/Americana band from Los Angeles, led by singer and songwriter Vance Kotrla. With a lineup of guitar, drums, and cello, the band’s dark, textured sound is evocative of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, American Records-era Johnny Cash, and contemporary folk-influenced acts like The Decemberists or Iron & Wine. Sci-Fi Romance has released two albums to-date – 2012’s The Ghost of John Henry and 2010’s …and surrender my body to the flames –  both of which earned considerable praise and landed on several reviewers’ Best of the Year lists.

Written as a concept album that re-imagines the folk tale of John Henry – a railroad worker who raced a steam drill at the dawn of mechanization and won – The Ghost of John Henry breaks the story down into its most human elements. It focuses on love and loss, and a man’s place in an evolving world. Immediately praised on its release as “the best album of the year” (TeamHellions.com), “outstanding” (Mad Mackerel), and “honest folk-pop music in its rawest glory” (Hear! Hear!). It is an album that embraces folk tradition, with a number of entirely acoustic tracks, and also carries that tradition forward, with inventive arrangements and instrumentation that can blur genre lines.

The band’s debut album, …and surrender my body to the flames, has a more lo-fi feel. It was performed entirely by Vance Kotrla on each of the instruments, and offers a more introspective and subdued set of tracks. Released quietly in the Fall of 2010, the album nevertheless made a number of the year’s Top 10 lists, and its literary and heartfelt approach to contemporary folk music was described by The Slums Off Hollywood Blvd. as “somber Nick Cave meets Joseph Heller with a screening of Metropolis in the background.”

Sci-Fi Romance is currently preparing to enter the studio to record its third album.