10 Vegas acts to watch in 2016: Violin Girl

Amanda Marks goes by Violin Girl when she’s playing with DJs.
Photo: Bill Hughes
Jason Harris

If you haven’t seen Amanda Marks perform yet, there’s a good reason. Conquering the nightclub scene had been tricky for the Vegas native—until she turned 21 in March. Now that she’s old enough to get in, her career seems to be lighting up.

Billed as Violin Girl, Marks has steered away not only from classical music, but also typical string-aided genres like rock ’n’ roll and country. She found her calling on her inaugural trip to Electric Daisy Carnival. “That really changed my life,” she says. “I kept thinking, I want to do this. I think I can do this. [But] I’m not a DJ, so how do I do this?” Within a week of starting her freshman year at Cornell University, Marks dropped out to give the Violin Girl thing a shot.

She plays her violin as live accompaniment while DJs spin their sets. There’s no sheet music for that. “I’m completely improvising,” she says. “I play totally by ear. I add a violin harmony or melody over what’s being played, so it becomes performance art rather than just a DJ up there.”

Locally, Marks has held down a residency at Drai’s Beach Club & Nightclub, and can often be found performing for Nacho House Sundays at Tacos & Beer or for Downtown Soul Thursdays at Downtown Cocktail Room. She’s in discussions to become an artist-in-residence for Downtown Container Park’s new dome project. And Marks plans to take her violin out of town in 2016, with Burning Man and Northern California’s Northern Nights already on her festival calendar. soundcloud.com/violingirlamanda

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