IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Monica West and Valentine Bureau Talk 'MVPleez'

Thursday, 26 April 2012 09:04 Written by  Rick Florino
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Monica West and Valentine Bureau Talk 'MVPleez'

"We're like a two-headed monster," grins Monica West, one-half of MVPleez.

Her other half, Valentine Bureau, wholeheartedly agrees with a chuckle. The New York-based comedy duo definitely operates with one clear goal in mind—to make you laugh.

They succeed immensely with their hilarious music videos and sketches on YouTube. You can see them causing havoc in "Criminal", chiding the "Worst Texter Ever", or spending like a rap superstar on "Tax Refund Time". All along the way, their sharp, satirical humor remains utterly fresh and righteously funny. With hip hop flavor and theatrical panache, the MVPleez monster is about to become a bona fide 21st century comedy goliath.

In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, MVPleez talk creating their videos, musical influences, near-jail experiences, mistakes boys make, and so much more…

Where do songs begin for you? Does it start with an idea you want to satirize or a melody?

Monica West: We take ideas for songs from things that happen in our lives. "Tax Refund Time" really happened. We were writing a musical together, and we were meeting every Tuesday for quite a few months at a time. Last April, we were on the patio of my apartment in New York, and we could not focus. I was like, "Actually, I just got my tax refund. I really want to go get a pair of shoes." Val said, "I really want some NARS Lipstick!" We left the house and got lipstick and Scandinavian candy. Then, we went to Loehmann's and got shoes. We had dinner at Barbuto and went to a dance party. We came home at four in the morning. When we woke up the next day, Val insisted we wrote a song about it [Laughs]. So we did.

Watch "Tax Refund Time"

So the inspiration usually comes from something that's going on for the both of you?

Monica West: Yeah, or Val could tell you about a particular experience she had with this guy. The song "Worst Texter Ever" came out of that.

Valentine Bureau: We don't ever really think of anything ahead of time. All of a sudden, something will hit us, and we'll be like, "Yes!" This guy was the worst texter I've ever experienced in my entire life. I liked him so much! When we were in high school, we didn't have to worry about boys being bad texters. They could be bad at so many other things. Now, you can like a guy so much, and he can disappoint so badly with the texting. I thought it would be hilarious to write about that. I would talk to other girls and they'd agree, "Oh, I hate when guys do that on text." It seemed to be commonality so we wrote it.

Monica West: I also happen to be one of the worst texters ever. I've pinned it on boys, but it's my own bad texting [Laughs].

What constitutes a bad texter?

Monica West: I'm a bad speller with auto-correct, but that's not really what we focus on. If you craft a really witty text that's short and sweet and all you get two days later is a wink or "Cool", that's bad.

Valentine Bureau: Or, for instance, this guy really liked to text me about all of the bodily issues he was having like how he had ridiculous gas after our date. I can handle some serious fart jokes, but I don't know…

You might want to wait for the second date to be that open…

Valentine Bureau: Yes! You should get to know someone a little bit before you plunge right into diarrhea [Laughs].

Watch "Worst Texter Ever"

What's the story behind "Criminal"?

Valentine Bureau: We were actually on our way to shoot "Worst Texter Ever". We were exchanging stories. I had a few altercations with people and taxis that were just unfortunate. This guy had tried to steal my cab one night. In this rage, I wound up hitting him. I couldn't believe I did that. I was afraid I was going to be in so much trouble. Monica has a story too…

Monica West: A friend of mine was doing a play in Baltimore. So another friend and I went. The two of us rented a car to go there. They upgraded me to this blinged-out white Escalade-type thing with sparkling rims and electronics. It was so insane. I thought I was driving a beast on the road. We got the car, and this actress I really admire who was in a show called August Osage County walked around the corner. She was hitching a ride with us too because she was friends with the girl we were visiting. We get to Baltimore with plenty of time. The actress in the backseat was like, "I really want a crab cake from down at the waterfront." I said, "Okay." Long story short, we parked in this big lot that had a guard and a mechanical gate that rises when you pay. We had a limited amount of time. As we were in line to pay, the next hour passed. I only had about eight dollars. I got up to the booth, and the guard said, "It's going to be $14.99." I said, "I'm sorry. It clicked into the next hour." The guard responded, "What the computer says is what you have to pay!" It kept escalating. We told her we didn't have any more cash, but it seemed ridiculous since we were in this tricked-out car. There was no way she would believe us. Finally, the guard yelled, "If you want me to call the police, I'll call the police!" All of a sudden, the actress in the back got out, picked up the arm in front of the car, and waved me through. I hit the gas so hard and peeled out of the lot. At that moment, I thought, "God, it takes just one second to become a criminal!" We built on that idea for the song. After one bad decision, the Baltimore police are after you." I was afraid they took a picture of the car [Laughs].I can't even tell you what happened in the first act of the show because I was afraid there would be a police task force outside waiting for me like on The Wire!

Watch "Criminal"

What's next for you?

Monica West: I'll be doing a play in Chicago. The play is called Eastland. It's a new musical at the Lookingglass Theater. It's about a ship sinking in the Chicago River. We're also going to start putting together treatments for a television show that will most likely involve music videos.

Valentine Bureau: We've been talking about future music videos and some thoughts we had. We might do a Depeche Mode-style song about when the pinwheel on your Mac doesn't stop spinning. We can literally send our musical collaborator Gary Atturio an idea, and he'll create a sick beat right around it. So there's a lot of fun stuff ahead. We thought about doing a pop song about Russian women popping bottles in the club. All of these Russian oil heiresses go to crazy brunch parties every day pop champagne and fly on luxury liners [Laughs].

What artists shaped you?

Valentine Bureau: We bonded over SWV [Sisters with Voices]. We're children of R&B '90s.

Monica West: En Vogue.

Valentine Bureau: TLC.

Monica West: LL Cool J. Then I'd say Eminem.

Valentine Bureau: We have a real affinity for '90s pop and R&B.

Monica West: Also Mariah Carey…when we were in Maui last week, all they played was Mariah Carey. It was blowing our minds. It was great! They were playing that whole Emotions album.

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