- Born and raised: 14th June 1971, at 6am in Ieper (Ypres), Flanders (Belgium).
- His sign: Gemini, with cancer rising.
- V’s personality in a nutshell:
This idea seems a bit claustrophobic…
There’s not a whole lot of space in a nutshell lol… especially not for someone who aims to live life to the max.
- V’s personality, after breaking out of the nutshell:
Always laughing, positive and optimistic, outspoken but tactful, honest, caring, loving, bursting with energy, a people’s person first and foremost, highly enthusiastic, soft-spoken, sometimes shy, usually quiet (which many of his friends would not agree with), goal-oriented, ambitious, helpful, adventurous, emotional, well-balanced, spiritual, always in love and in awe, calm, very open-minded.
Vreny and his dad both have their B-day the same day, 14th of June, and Vreny’s mom follows the day after: she’s born the 15th June. Three Gemini in 2 days. Vreny’s son Aiden Pascal Van Elslande was born the same day as his grandma (Vreny’s mom)… On June 15th 2012. 4 Gemini Birthdays in 2 days time.
- The name "Vreny":
It is an old Swiss name.
Vreny’s mom had fallen in love with the name "Vreny" after she had seen this very rare name mentioned in some forms one of her older brothers had to fill out for his mandatory military service.
He did his service in Germany, close to the border with Switzerland. Little did Vreny’s mom know that "Vreny" is… a female name in Switzerland.
It is only years later that Vreny found out, and told his mom, who had no clue.
- Started playing guitar: 1988
- Main musical style: Rock with fusion (jazz rock), prog-rock and classical influences.
- Other Instruments played: Drums, bass, piano, banjo and pretty much any other stringed instrument.
Lefty. Hell Yeah… LEFTIES RULE!
His one and only nephew, Jensy, born in 2004, is a lefty too, and Vreny is his favorite uncle.
He almost started crying on stage in front of an audience… TWICE.
– With a gig in Proven (Belgium), in the middle of a guitar solo, when he received so much love from the audience that it completely overwhelmed him. The whole crowd was going nuts chanting his name with powerful energy, which feels very humbling.
– At a ceremony where he was handed the Special Award Jan Decadt for musical achievement on stage in the presence of his guitar teachers who were sitting in the audience.
- Psychic powers:
The one psychic power he would like to have: The ability to see into the future.
- More psychic powers:
One of V’s goals includes: developing his psychic powers. He wants to be able to transcend his body, predict the future, move stuff without touching by sheer concentration, and other fun stuff.
- Funny coincidence:
A new semester at Berklee College, first day of class: every student in the class (an auditorium with about 40 people in it) had to introduce him/herself. The class: Acoustics. When it was my turn, I said: "Hi, my name is Vreny, etc… etc… I am from Belgium… ." The guy sitting right next to me: "Get outta here!!! I am Belgian too! Where in Belgium are you from?"
Only 2 Belgians in Berklee College at that time, a student population of about 3200 students, and the 2 Belgians, who did not know about each other, were sitting right next to one another in class.
His name is Kevin Devogel, and we’re still very good friends. He’s a Gemini too. his dad is from close to my hometown; his mom is American (which actually makes Kevin half-Belgian).
- Patience: The only 2 things in life that Vreny does not have patience for:
– Writing lyrics: he hires people to do this
– Technology / computers: technology has to work right now and really fast.
- About… getting caught in the act:
In his car, with a police officer right outside his car, tapping Vreny’s window, asking Vreny and his then girlfriend what they were doing, naked in a car (well… she was), while parked on the high-way. Lo and behold: Vreny could talk himself out of this and did not get a ticket or warning. Instead: the cop laughed his butt off with Vreny’s jokes about the situation. The officer ESPECIALLY got a really good laugh out of the woman actually being married, while it was NOT Vreny’s name appearing on her driver’s license in the "husband" section (aaahhh… those were the days ha-ha).
- Further study:
Vreny plans on getting his Masters in Spiritual Psychology… some day.
Vreny learned to swim in… 2006. He almost drowned as a kid and had been struck with an innate fear of being surrounded by lots of water til he conquered that fear.
- His best asset:
He thinks his best asset: is his uncanny way of being able to talk himself out of anything if necessary.
- High school student:
He was a fantastic student, but somehow was so incredibly bored and fed up in his last years of high-school, that he made it a habit of disrupting the classes as much as possible, being a complete goofball who always managed to get the class entertained, or starting endless discussions with the teacher, who many times had to struggle not to be talked with the back against the wall.
- On Genius:
One of the top guitar-instructors in Berklee College of Music, Bruce Bartlett, compared Vreny to Johann Sebastian Bach, after Bruce had heard one of Vreny’s compositions.
Vreny does not believe in Genius.
He strongly recommends the books “The Talent Code” and “Outliers” which make many strong points against talent and genius that Vreny already voiced long before these books were written.
The principal of a college in Boston told Vreny during registration, that the amount of credits he wanted to take in that semester: "was mentally and physically IMPOSSIBLE" (with these exact words). Vreny stood firm ground til the school board would bend and allow him to take all the credits he wanted. They eventually gave in: he triumphantly came back at the end of the semester just to visit each member of the school board to show them his grade report received: A-. The only reason he did not receive an A is that he had skipped too many classes in favor of playing guitar. Vreny was physically and mentally in superb condition.
- Music or …?
If Vreny had not become a guitar player, he would have been… a surgeon.
- Other possible career:
If Vreny had to choose another profession now, instead of music: he would be a psychologist.
He was a non-commissioned officer in the military, and got discharged after insulting and poking fun of a captain. Vreny deliberately wanted to make sure the military would not call him back for duty, as this was going to interfere with the music plans he had set out to accomplish.
Vreny knows at what age and year he… is going to die.
- The future:
He has a psychic friend who predicted his future, and EVERYTHING so far did happen already that she predicted.
Vreny hates Whisky. One night, at the time of his military adventures in Germany, he drank so much Whisky, that he was drunk for almost an entire week, and had to throw up for days in a row. For that entire week, just drinking a glass of water was enough to get Vreny totally hung-over and dizzy again.
- More booze!
He once drank an entire full liter Rosé wine bottle empty without stopping for a breath, at a music festival, only to have to throw up the entire bottle right after emptying it. This led to his remark: "Well; this is quite an experience: throwing up pure tasting wine… it’s like enjoying the same bottle of wine… TWICE. What a great money-saver. If only I had known beforehand I would be throwing up pure wine, I could have caught it back in the bottle so I’d be able to drink it again: I’d be drinking non-stop and wasted the entire festival, without spending one dime." He had his friends in stitches.
He is born in the land of beer and chocolate, but always favored Swiss chocolate, and he very much dislikes the taste of beer.
Vreny’s mom is super-intelligent and was allowed to skip years in high school. His dad was considered an exceptionally talented musician, who unfortunately was discouraged by his mom to pursue music. He had to learn a "real" job instead, so he became a carpenter. Vreny’s dad eventually still had his dream come true when he retired: he plays more gigs than Vreny now.
- Things he can’t handle:
The only thing Vreny cannot handle is: dishonesty.
- Michael Jackson…
As a kid, Vreny was absolutely crazy about… Michael Jackson. His room was full of posters and he collected everything he could find about Michael Jackson.
- And later on Jimi…
Discovering Jimi Hendrix has played a very important role in the beginning stages of Vreny’s discovery of guitar and music. He pretty much found out about Jimi Hendrix about the same time he hit his very first E chord on a guitar.
Vreny played soccer for 8 years, and gave up on playing soccer when training and games were about to interfere with playing guitar and gigging.
He only made 2 goals, in 8 years of soccer playing. Decades later, Vreny still remembers these 2 moments vividly. He was a defensive player in the team, which explains why he only scored twice.
- Can’t beat "simple":
The more he studies music, the simpler his music gets. He used to love progressive rock and other technically demanding styles, only to come out of Berklee College of Music with a dislike for these styles, and an admiration for simple, 3-minute songs.
Vreny worked a regular job for 8 years: conveyor belt work. The company was an industrial bakery: Pidy, in his hometown Ypres.
- … and income:
He earned about $1000 a month at that time.
After only working there for about 6 months, Vreny was offered a top-management function in that factory. To the astonishment of the CEO and the company’s entire staff: Vreny declined the offer to this much better-paying, highly regarded position. He did not want to be married to his job, as this was going to take him away from his music.
- Being contrary:
Vreny hated everything "mandatory", so he joined the military. He hated everything "routine", so he went to work a conveyor belt type job for 8 years. He hated math, so he studied (audio) engineering (and graduated Summa Cum Laude).
- Living abroad:
Vreny lived in Germany for a year. It is his dream to buy a house in Rome so he can live there and in Los Angeles.
- Past bands:
– Excalibur (successful cover band in Belgium, my first serious band)
– Nomen Nescio (with buddy Dieter Calliau on keys, Belgium)
– The 4-Mation (cover band in Belgium, which I played in til I moved to the States)
– One Night Project (occasional band in Belgium in between Berklee semesters)
– Dual Eden (my first band in LA. I was the only guy in the band, yay)
– Kimberlee Leber (singer-songwriter, US)
– Extra Ordinary Magnitude (US)
– Cory Phillips Superlove (soul-rock 9-piece band, US)
– Shannon Moore Band (US)
– Hendrix Tribute Band (playing shows in Belgium, started this in 2005)
… And a billion hired gun band situations.
- Current bands I’m playing in (2009):
– Icky’s Ego (Playing bass with my best friends Dave Crocco and Cela Scott and Phil)
– Grace Gravity (Guitarist with Teri Hitt and Brian D Hardin)
– The Scribe (With Cliff Tang. Produced our EP, currently mixing)
– The Last Great Hope of The Free World (Combining classic rock and arabic influences)
– Vreny (I am of course band member in my own solo artist career haha)