Laura Vall (vocals)
Laura Vall, originally from Barcelona, Spain, is a critically acclaimed and multi-award winning performing artist, singer, songwriter, and music producer. Laura has been singing bossa nova and jazz, among other styles, from a young age. She honed her skills at the L’Aula de Música Moderna i Jazz del Liceu in Barcelona where she earned her Bachelor's in Music in 2008. Vall was proclaimed Best Artist of the Year in 2014 by U&I and FourCulture Magazines, Artist of the Year in 2012 at the Artists In Music Awards, and included in the Best New Artists by Music Connection Magazine. She also won Best Alternative Song of 2012 for her single “Real” at the Hollywood Music and Media Awards and was featured on KCRW’s “Today's Top Tune” with her band, The Controversy.
Vall’s warm, soulful and hypnotic voice has led her to work with renowned artists such as Stevie Wonder, Rhonda Smith (Chaka Khan, Beyoncé, Erykah Badu), Michael Bland (Prince), Troy Laureta (Ariana Grande), Cindy Blackman Santana (Lenny Kravitz) and Buster Williams (Herbie Hancock); with grammy-winning producers and engineers David Russell (Lady Gaga), Dapo Torimiro (Justin Bieber), Jeff Weber (Stanley Clarke, Sarah Vaughan), Michael D. Clark (Star Wars) and Clark Germain (Sting, U2, Wayne Shorter); and to collaborate with award-winning composers Austin Wintory (Journey, Assassins Creed) and Garry Schyman (BioShock).
Laura Vall is a prolific performer who tours the world with several bands in addition to NOVA, including the multi-award-winning alternative band The Controversy and the world-renowned Earth Harp Collective. Laura has performed at Super Bowl XLIX and in the musical theater play, Hanoman, The Ultimate Warrior in Jakarta, Indonesia. She has made several TV appearances, including America's Got Talent (with The Earth Harp Collective), Hitam Putih (most-watched late-night show in Indonesia, with Hanoman) and Els Matins de TV3 (performing with The Controversy, in Spain).
Laura's love for Bossa Nova started at a very young age, and from that love, she founded her first Bossa Nova trio in Barcelona when she was only 15 years old. The band, called Devagar, played the classics of Bossa Nova incessantly throughout Catalunya and the Balearic Islands before Laura moved permanently to the USA. There, Laura co-founded NOVA with drummer Mike Papagni in 2011 while they were both studying at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA. She continues to front the band with her elegant and graceful, yet powerful sound. As a talented engineer, she also works tirelessly behind the scenes to produce, mix and master the audio for NOVA’s albums and live videos.
David Irelan (guitar)
David Irelan was born in Portland, Oregon and started playing guitar around age 10. He became interested in jazz and Brazilian guitar during high school in Northern California and successfully auditioned into the California all-state jazz band during his senior year. He went on to complete his BFA in jazz studies at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in NYC where he studied jazz guitar under Vic Juris and Brazilian music with Richard Boukas.
After relocating to Los Angeles in 2009, David expanded his stylistic palette and joined indie-rock band Wires in the Walls, who recorded several acclaimed albums and toured the West Coast. In 2012 he composed an original score for the indie film, Dog Years, which was featured at the Napa Valley and Miami Film Festivals. He co-produced and performed on the Emmylou Harris tribute album, To Emmylou, released in 2016 and featured in Rolling Stone Country.
David met Mike in LA through local jam sessions where they became fast friends and eventually Mike invited David to join NOVA in 2012. For the past 8 years, David has been able to explore his passion for bossa nova and Brazilan music through his role as the guitarist for NOVA. He strives to innovate, whether arranging modern pop songs or christmas classics in the bossa nova style all while staying firmly rooted in the tradition and paying respect to the Brazilian masters.
Thomas Hjorth (bass)
Thomas Hjorth is a Danish-born multi-award winning guitarist, bassist, singer, songwriter, programmer and music producer. Hjorth is well known for creating soundscapes and enhancing songs with his expertise on effects and sound, which has made his voice as a guitarist and music producer unique and renowned worldwide. Thomas attended Det Alternative Rytmiske Konservatorium (D.A.R.K) in Copenhagen, before continuing his studies in the US at The Berkelee School of Music in Boston and Musicians Institute in Hollywood.
Hjorth’s awards include Best Artist of the Year in 2014 by U&I and FourCulture Magazines, Artist of the Year in 2012 at the Artists In Music Awards, as well as being part of the Best New Artists list by Music Connection Magazine. He won Best Alternative Song of 2012 for his single “Real” at the Hollywood Music And Media Awards, and was featured on KCRW’s “Today's Top Tune” with his band, The Controversy.
Thomas regularly performs around the world with several bands and artists in addition to NOVA, including the multi-award winning alternative band The Controversy, and the world-renowned Earth Harp Collective in which he plays the “Aquatar”, a unique 3 bodied guitar, sitar and bass guitar invented by William Close. He has worked with Grammy Winning producers David Russell (Lady Gaga), Mike Plotnikoff (Aerosmith, Kelly Clarkson, The Cranberries), Igor Khoroshev (Yes), Peter Stengaard (Ariana Grande, The Pussycat Dolls, Diane Warren), and grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory (Journey, Assassins Creed). He performed at Super Bowl XLIX and the Shanghai World Expo 2010. He has made TV appearances on America's Got Talent (performing with William Close and the Earth Harp Collective), and Els Matins de TV3 (performing with The Controversy, in Spain).
Thomas has kept NOVA’s groove solid with his impeccable bass playing since 2018, but he has been involved with the band since the beginning. As an experienced photographer and videographer, he is responsible for shooting, directing and editing all of NOVA’s photos and live video performances since the formation of the band in 2011.
Mike Papagni (drums)
Mike Papagni was raised in Ventura, CA and is a multi-talented drummer, percussionist, composer, producer and engineer. He played his first drum groove in the 8th grade and hasn’t looked back. Within a year of learning the drums, he was playing shows locally in Ventura County as well as Los Angeles in various bands. Initially focusing on rock and funk, he soon became interested in jazz.
Mike attended the Musicians Institute’s PIT Program in 2002, immediately after graduating high school. He attended Ventura College for one and a half years, playing in the college’s Big Band Ensemble and earning his Associate Arts Degree. Wanting to continue his musical education, he completed the Bachelor of Music program at Musicians Institute where he studied drums with Chuck Flores, Tim McIntyre and Chuck Silverman.
Mike is one of the founding members of NOVA, but he plays in many other contexts as well, ranging from studio sessions (www.cinemasters.com , Emmylou Harris tribute album - http://www.toemmylou.com/) to original music projects (Obliques, Interstellar Galacticator, Chuff Puppy). Mike also composes and produces original music and sound design for video games and visual media. When Mike is not writing for or performing in his bands, he has a full schedule of students both privately at his studio and at Rhodes School of Music in Los Angeles.
Mike is endorsed by Bosphorus Cymbals and TAYE drums.