By Erin Schultz, online copy editor

Artist: Vitamin String Quartet

Vibe: a string quartet that covers current music

Disoriented from my after-school nap, I picked up my phone and saw a text from my dad saying, “Congratulations on your scholarship to travel to Tajikistan! We’ll talk about it tonight. So proud of you!!”

I was feeling extra spontaneous last October and applied for a scholarship to travel to Tajikistan through the State Department for six weeks this summer. Four essays, a teacher recommendations and an interview later, I continued on with my life, forgetting I applied.

But upon receiving the news, I spiraled into an obsession with watching videos on the country, which according to worldnomads.com, most people know more about the moon.

In one particular video, a breathtaking string cover from Moby Dick was playing in the background. I looked up the song and thought, “Of course this is by Vitamin String Quartet.”

I frequently listen to VSQ while studying because their wordless covers of modern songs are catchy, yet make it easy to focus on the task at hand. Their sound is achieved by the viola, cello, guitar and electric bass. I didn’t even know the aforementioned song was by them because they have over 100 albums on Spotify, ranging from “The Emo Anti-Valentine’s Day Collection” to covers of Pink Floyd, The Weeknd, Imagine Dragons, The Black Keys and my favorite, Bon Iver. There really is something for everybody, and you don’t even have to be a fan of Lady Gaga to enjoy “VSQ’s cover of You and I.

The Los Angeles quartet began in 1999 as an “an experiment in transforming rock songs with classical instruments,” and is just as active today. Membership fluctuates, but Tom Tally is accredited with VSQ’s success, which includes multiple Billboard chart-topping albums.

Every time a new album comes out, I periodically check VSQ’s Spotify for the next month or so, waiting for them to cover the album. But when they’re not making new music, I’m listening to random tributes they’ve done, because no matter who wrote the music, VSQ makes it sound beautiful. I’d – no question – have them play the soundtrack to my life, partially because I could live my dream of being a violinist and could listen to string music all day.

Yesterday when I was reading The Grapes of Wrath and listening to Beautiful Day, it made the dust bowl seem inspirational. They could even cover Nickelback and it would sound good, Oh wait, they have. Twice.

So even though I’m going to be spending my 17th birthday in a country where birthday parties are illegal, maybe I’ll just have to listen to their cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit with my Tajik family.