INTERVIEW/PREVIEW: Vula Viel (First time in new Trio format – Pizza Express 22nd Mar)

The new Vula Viel: Jim Hart, Ruth Goller and Bex Burch

Vula Viel have just announced a new trio line-up, and new material with Bex Burch on gyil joined by Ruth Goller on bass and Jim Hart, Dave Smith or Zands Duggan on drums. They are playing for the first time as a trio on Wednesday 22 March at Pizza Express (For a special discount for LJN readers, see end).  Here, newly joined band member RUTH GOLLER gets to know BEX BURCH.

Ruth Goller: Where does the name Vula Viel come from and what does it mean?

Bex Burch: Vula Viel is my name in Dagaare, given to me by the family elders when I passed out of my (xylophone making) apprenticeship in the village of Guo, Upper West Ghana. It means Good is Good. In the Dagaare tradition the first five years you own your name and after that the name owns you. I feel like Good is Good challenges me everyday to make something good, to be good to myself and my loved ones. I turned five in 2013 when I gave the name to this band. So next year the name will own the band too!

RG: What do you do if you need inspiration to write new music?

BB: The first album was a product of my years in Ghana and was my workings of all the amazing powerful music there. Once that was recorded, I found all this space in my head / creativity to start writing my own tunes. I’m learning that when I am feeling moody or melancholy, I feel the music cooking in me, and if I make the time to go create, I write.

I have written much of the album at a childhood friend’s house in Swaledale, Yorkshire, and some at another dear friend’s home in Godmersham, Kent. So definitely being in nature is a huge help in that stage. Being alone is also important for me.

RG: What is happening on Wednesday?

BB: The first outing for this new trio line-up, playing mostly new material! It’s at Pizza Express, 10 Dean Street, music starts at 8.30pm. In this special time before the album is recorded, the music isn’t set in vinyl so anything could happen!

RG: Where can LJN readers listen to your music online?

BB: Vula Viel are on itunes, bandcamp, even spotify and they can find these and more links at www.vulaviel.com. But if they really want to know what’s going on, they have to come to see us play.

RG: What are the plans for the band this year?

BB: Developing this album, recording in the autumn and building our profile at home and abroad.

RG: What are your favourite bands in the world?

BB: Vula Viel! and Konono No.1. Pauline Mbuka Nsiala is my hero! I went to one of their Cafe OTO gigs a few years back and basically danced with her all night. Amazing musician and performer.

RG: Are there any musical rules or concepts in the band?

BB: Yes! The fundamentals of this music are asymmetry, space, and chaos. Each band member has rules for the patterns to play which inter-cross and create the sum of the parts. But listeners probably can’t hear them. I feel that the constructs are like the science behind how and why this music grooves, but like a good engine, the music and listener can just enjoy the ride.

RG: Do you play any other instruments?

BB: Percussion, but other than that very basic… bit of piano, guitar and bass guitar… and I’ve just had a few violin lessons to help train my ear from the fantastic Laurel Pardue at Queen Mary University of London – she has invented and built an augmented violin to help beginners play in tune.

RG: Finally, if you were an animal what would it be?

BB: This has caused a heated discussion. The sheep because, Yorkshire / walks / hair style.

But my dad always called me his monkey. Cue The Beatles: Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My…

Photo credit: Strongp/ creative commons


Vula Viel at Pizza Express Jazz Club – LJN readers can use the code “Ghana” to get £5 off bookings (Box office 020 7439 4962 / in person).

Vula Viel reviewed

Categories: miscellaneous

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