Veronica and Valerie Topacio are the founders and producers of Belltown Bloom and the frontwomen for indie rock band La Fonda. In the below interview, they talk about where they grew up (Edmonds/Lynnwood), how the band came to be, and shared what’s got them so excited these days. With the help of their families and old friends, the Old Rainier Brewery space, other local musicians and even Tinder, the two have created something special to them and the whole Seattle music scene.
Thanks for talking to The Evergrey! Tell our readers about La Fonda.
Veronica: La Fonda is a band made up of me (Veronica) and my sister Valerie — we both sing and write in the band and Valerie plays guitar as well. Then there’s Jesse Cole who is our lead guitarist and friend of over 10 years, Bryan Dever who plays bass and we have Jacob Whinihan on drums. As for our sound, I like to think we are a badass indie rock band.
How did the group come together?
Veronica: La Fonda formed in February 2016. Valerie and I had just moved into an apartment in Belltown after living on opposite sides of the state from each other for five or so years. It was a special time because we had been living our lives apart, and now it was like we were getting to know each other all over again. Naturally, we started writing and singing a lot, and one night, while out at a show at The Crocodile, we ran into Jesse (whom we both hadn’t seen in many years) and he came over afterwards and we all jammed together. About a month later, we were jamming with another friend who played the drums and he asked us if we’d ever considered starting a band. To be honest, we had never even thought about it. In that very moment when he asked, it was like a light switch turned on because we became obsessed with the idea. Within a week, we rented a practice space at the Old Rainier Brewery (where we still practice to this very day), allowing the vision to become a reality. We then started seeking members to join: first was Jesse, and soon after came Bryan who we met on Tinder — we would literally swipe right to anyone in their profile pictures holding an instrument. From there we met Jacob in 2019 and have been together ever since.
What inspires your music?
Veronica: Family dynamics, the complexity of the world we live in, our ancestors that look down on us, and the people we love. Music and writing are our passions, and working on our art is necessary for the both of us to have a clear mind and to heal and strive towards happiness and creating a full life.
Outside of your work with the band, what keeps you both busy?
Valerie: Well, I am a mom to a 15-month old baby boy, so I am used to always being busy and in mom land. We practice a few nights a week at the moment, and I am so thankful to have a supportive partner and family that helps me prioritize playing music. On top of that, we produce a two-day, all-ages music festival called Belltown Bloom, which is set to take place May 6 and 7 at The Crocodile and Belltown Yacht Club. Veronica and I also have a ’90s/Y2K-inspired vintage pop-up shop at the Fremont Market on Sundays. Producing Belltown Bloom, however, has taken up most of our time the past few months, so life is a bit busy right now, but I thank my lucky stars to be in this position.
Where are we likely to find you out and about in Seattle?
Valerie: These days, if I am ever afforded some time to go out, you might see us at a local restaurant that we’ve had our eyes on, or at a concert, most likely trying to see a local band/artist. We are so lucky to live in a city like Seattle — I could pretty much go out any night of the week and roll up to a great show with amazing musicians.
What are some of your upcoming shows and events (including Cap Hill Block Party and Belltown Bloom)?
Veronica: This is our second time playing Belltown Bloom and the Cap Hill Block Party, and we are so thankful to be given these opportunities in the city that raised us all and to share our music. I am proud of the band we are. We’ve really grown up together the past seven years amid a roller coaster of highs and lows. My bandmates are my best friends, and I feel lucky to be on this journey with every single one of them. We are so excited for people to hear what we have been cooking up the past two years.
What’s a project you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?
Valerie: We just finished recording a record at Hall of Justice in Ballard with producer Mike Davis and got it mastered by Ed Brooks at Resonant Mastering. We are freaking stoked!!! We started recording when I was eight months pregnant — and it took us over a year to finish. The first song we are going to release will be out on the first day of Belltown Bloom—May 6. It’s called “Spokane Views” and it’s a special one to us. It’s our song that tells the story of my sister and I almost seven years ago now, leaving our lives behind and starting over together.
How can our readers support the band, find your music and tune in for future happenings?
Valerie: Come to a show if you feel healthy and enjoy live music! Belltown Bloom in particular is a special line up with some of our favorite bands and artists that we have had the pleasure to witness for ourselves through our time playing music in and around Seattle. The lineup spotlights some of the most talented songwriters and musicians in our community.
What are five bands, people or orgs you think every Seattleite should know about?
Rain City Relief, which supports locals artists and musicians financially
Rain City Rock Camp — an org that supports people from all different walks and stages of life looking to pursue music or simply try something new.
Local musicians Claudine Magbag (who is playing Belltown Bloom) and Thavoron.
The owner and chef of Musang, Melissa Miranda
Did you like today’s Locals to Know? If so, then you’re really going to like The Evergrey’s Music Lowdowns we did last year. And if you know someone we ought to feature in an upcoming Locals to Know spotlight, music or not, then send ‘em our way: [email protected].