Victor Vrankulj

This week’s featured artist is bassist Victor Vrankulj, who participated in Jazzology in 2012.

Born in Hamilton, Victor started studying piano at the age of five. Throughout his childhood he picked up and studied different instruments before eventually landing on the bass. Victor has now been playing bass for over ten years and has studied with Clark Johnston, David Story, Pat Collins, Kieran Overs, Mike Murley, and currently Jim Vivian.

Victor draws influence from many different styles of music, but is especially influenced by the work of Ray Brown, Ornette Coleman, Oscar Peterson, and Jaco Pastorius. A graduate of the Applied Music Program at Mohawk College in 2013, Victor is currently studying in his final year of the undergraduate degree program at the University of Toronto.

Victor took some time to discuss his memories of the Jazzology program and provided an update on his more recent activities:

1) Describe your experience with the Jazzology program. What was your favourite aspect?

My favourite aspect of my Jazzology experience was getting the chance to select some recordings to bring in. It was a much more difficult task than I expected to select a few recordings that I really felt influenced me, as well as selecting a few of my own that could adequately convey the style I was into at the time. It’s interesting for me to look back at what I chose, and compare it to what I would choose now. It is safe to say, none of the six would be the same.

2) What is your strongest memory of the Jazzology program? Are there any funny stories or incidents that come to mind?

I never really felt nervous about the interview. Everyone was very welcoming and the atmosphere around the station is great. However, as Brad Barker was walking me back to the booth he stopped to chat with Ross Porter. As the three of us were talking I realized just how great their radio voices are, and how great mine isn’t!

3) Would you recommend this experience to other young musicians?

I would absolutely recommend this to other musicians in my position! It is a great chance to get your name out there, but also to take a snapshot of where you are in your development. Being on the show forces you to take a real look at where you are and what you’re trying to do, which is a process that, despite its importance, often gets forgotten.

4) How has this experience helped in your personal and professional development?

Participating in Jazzology gave me a project to prepare for. This was a big deal for me three years ago because it was the first time I had to compile recordings of my own, as well as make informed decisions about recordings that I wanted to bring in to represent my tastes in music. I think making those critical decisions helped me solidify the skills I need to thrive in this sort of world.

5) This program is made possible by our generous donors and sponsors who strongly believe in the importance of arts education initiatives. If you had the opportunity to thank them in person, what would you say?

I would really want the donors to know how big a deal this is to a young jazz student. Being a jazz student in a sea of jazz students can start to feel anonymous sometimes, and to get the chance to be featured like this is a really great, positive project to prepare for. Additionally, you end up with a really concrete product which serves as a milestone reached. The nature of having this sort of recording is that your development can now be measured in terms of before and after a certain specific point in time. Also, it really serves to remind you that there are actually people interested in this music, which is a very big deal!

If you have donated and are reading this, thank you. Thanks for proving there really are people that care about this music, as well as the education and perpetuation of it.

6) Why is music education important?

I am having trouble envisioning arguments against the importance of music education. Music education fosters creativity, independence, problem solving, social skills, ingenuity, etc. I truly believe that music education is a cornerstone of effective learning at every level.

7) Since participating in the program, what have you been doing?

Since participating in 2012, I have finished my diploma from Mohawk College and moved on to the University of Toronto. I’m studying Jazz Performance and have one year left for my degree. I have been studying with Jim Vivian and have been in ensembles lead by Mike Murley, Chase Sanborn, Jim Lewis and the University of Toronto Jazz Orchestra directed Gordon Foote. Since moving to Toronto I have had the opportunity to do a lot of playing with a lot of different people, and will hopefully continue doing it all in the future!

8) What music are you listening to at the moment that you find particularly inspiring?

I’ve been listening to a pretty mixed bag these days. I have really dug back into the music which first turned me onto jazz as a kid – Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Charles Mingus, and Jaco Pastorius. Since getting back into those four I’ve started to feel seriously excited about the music. I’ve also been exploring a lot of open, improvised music from the early Ornette Coleman records to the present. This has historically been uncharted territory for me, and is proving to be a creative and altogether addictive frontier.

9) What are your plans for the future?

My short term plans are just to finish up my degree and do as much playing as I can while I’m still in school. I’m not sure what the future holds for me beyond that yet, but I’m sure it will involve a bass.

10) How can people learn more about you and your activities?

They can check out my blog at and also come check out my quintet at Nathan Phillips Square at 2:00pm on June 27th as part of the youth showcase of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival. More details here:

11) Is there anything else that you want to add?

Nothing more than a sincere thanks to JAZZ.FM91 for the opportunity – not only the chance to participate in the Jazzology program but to do this interview as well. One can agonize over the decisions made around a one hour radio spot three years ago, and it really is great to have the chance to say some more and give an update on where I am, and where I’m headed.

Jazzology is proudly sponsored by RBC Emerging Artists Project.

About RBC and the Arts
RBC sponsors a wide-range of grassroots and local initiatives that contribute to the cultural fabric of our communities. Proud to support events and passions that resonate with our clients and all Canadians, RBC provides opportunities for up-and-coming artists through programs such as the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, one of the largest competitions of its kind in the world; and the RBC Emerging Filmmakers Competition, part of our commitment as the Official Bank and major sponsor of the world’s top public film festival – the Toronto International Film Festival®.

Learn More about the RBC Emerging Artists Project