Behind The ‘Virgin River’ Soundtrack Songs: Q&A With Dresage, Phillip LaRue and Chance Peña

Are you falling in love with the Virgin River soundtrack?  We had the privilege of catching up with some of the soundtrack artists recently: Keeley Bumford (Dresage), Phillip LaRue (Phillip LaRue and The Wildwoods), and Chance Pena!  They share their journey of paying tribute to hit songs such as Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” and Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up.”  Their cover songs are heard in Virgin River (Music From The Netflix Series), out now on Lakeshore Records

Keep reading for the full interview and listening links.  Please note: there are minor spoilers in this interview for those not caught up on the show.

KEELEY BUMFORD – “THREE LITTLE BIRDS” BY DRESAGE & AG
Instagram /Twitter/TikTok

“Sometimes it’s fun to just go off of memory and feeling when you’re covering a song you’ve heard your whole life, it gives some freedom to rearrange the tapestry of the signature elements.”


What about the music, story, setting, and/or characters of Virgin River resonates most with you? Why do you think the show has become such a global success?

I love a female lead who is given depth, intelligence, and strength in her role. I think the show does a great job with that character and also the setting, it’s a beautiful place! Audiences love to lose themselves in stories like these.

 

What sparked the idea of covering Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds?”

AG and I have been long-time friends and collaborators. During the early pandemic days when we were all still trying to figure out if our groceries and mail were going to kill us or not, we decided to create a small body of classic covers with messages that we and probably a lot of people needed to hear. The message of everything being ok even when it felt like it was most certainly not definitely fit the self-soothing bill we both were after.

 

How did you craft the dreamy, lush vocals and harmonies?

“Three Little Birds” has obviously been covered a million times, so it was important to us that it lived in a very different space than others. I love to reimagine melodies and textures of classic songs by using intentional vocal arrangements and production choices. I aimed to create something anchored in organic tones and texture with a slightly manipulated vocoder aspect to create depth in the voice. Sometimes it’s fun to just go off of memory and feeling when you’re covering a song you’ve heard your whole life, it gives some freedom to rearrange the tapestry of the signature elements.

 

Do you have a favorite cover song? Favorite soundtrack(s)?

I’ve never made a recorded version of it, but I truly love to sing “Ophelia” by The Band. There is something so joyous and funky about the original recording but when you pair it with a guitar or piano and voice, it becomes intimate, sad, and melancholy. The lyrics kind of kill me. Maybe that’s next! My favorite soundtracks come from movies like Garden State, Almost Famous, and Clueless.

 

What are your thoughts about how the song plays within the narrative of the episode?

I was laughing at first because the recap montage of the hospital scenes definitely made it feel like every little thing was not going to be okay, but as we know it was.  I thought it was a nice mantra of things turning out okay despite the odds.

 

PHILLIP LARUE – “TIME AFTER TIME” BY PHILLIP LARUE AND THE WILDWOODS
Spotify/Phillip LaRue and The Wildwoods Spotify

“Timeless songs like this are a rare gift to all our ears.”

What about the music, story, setting, and/or characters of Virgin River resonates most with you? Why do you think the show has become such a global success?

First off, I think Jeff Garber is brilliant. He does such an exceptional job of supporting the cast and storyline through the music he composes and creates.  Secondly, I believe there is a part of all of us that would love a fresh start at times. Mel’s step of faith I believe resonates with many because she took a chance to write a new story. I believe Virgin River is such a success because their writers, producers, and directors continue to develop the characters and sub-characters in a sincere passionate way…allowing us to journey alongside them as they fail, fall and triumph.


What sparked the idea of covering Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time?”

It’s an amazing song and truthfully a little daunting to attempt. Timeless songs like this are a rare gift to all our ears. It has always spoken to me and I just wanted to take a swing at it. Thankful it has connected so well and am grateful Cyndi loves it as well.

 

How did you craft this stripped-down version of the song?

We reimagined what this would feel like if played live with a small band…then we began to work backwards in the studio. Sometimes it’s lovely to try to test and see how minimal you can make a piece of music with it still having an impact. That’s a line I’m always trying to experiment with.

 

Do you have a favorite cover song? Favorite soundtrack(s)?

I really enjoy Rufus Wainwright’s cover of “Hallelujah.”

 

What are your thoughts about how the song plays within the narrative of the show?

It’s been a beautiful build-up to that romantic moment in the tub…love how the song underscores it in a subtle way.  [I] feel blessed to have been able to set the tone of that scene musically and am sincerely grateful for the opportunity.

 

CHANCE PEÑA – “I WON’T GIVE UP” BY CHANCE PEÑA
Instagram/Twitter

“When emotion is low and Mel is slowly processing her emotions the song stays pretty quiet and soft-spoken but as soon as they embrace the song swells all the way up to “make us cry” land and it just fits the moment so well.”


What about the music, story, setting, and/or characters of Virgin River resonates most with you?  Why do you think the show has become such a global success?

I think the raw emotions and relatability of the characters and what they go through is a huge draw for the show. It feels real and alive.

 

What sparked the idea of covering Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up?”

Jason’s tune is a beautiful song about working through the ups and downs of love, and telling that person, “Hey I’m here for you no matter what, so let’s do what we gotta do.”

 

How did you craft this stirring version of the song? What do the lyrics conjure up for you?

For the recording I did I kept it simple. Started with guitar and piano, then did some vocals and background parts. It came together pretty quickly!

 

Do you have a favorite cover song? Favorite soundtrack(s)?

My favorite soundtrack is definitely Guardians of the Galaxy 2, so many of my favorite songs in one place and it’s a kick-ass sci-fi movie! Nothing better. I wish I was Star Lord.

 

What are your thoughts about how the song plays within the narrative of the show?

Within the narrative of the show, the song ebbs and flows with the emotions of the scene.  When emotion is low and Mel is slowly processing her emotions the song stays pretty quiet and soft-spoken but as soon as they embrace the song swells all the way up to “make us cry” land and it just fits the moment so well.

 

Lakeshore Records wishes to thank Keeley, Phillip, and Chance for their time!

 

Listen to Netflix’s Virgin River Playlist on Spotify:

 

 

Listen to Virgin River (Music From The Netflix Series) Soundtrack:

 

Catch up on all three seasons of Virgin River now streaming on Netflix!

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