Oi Va Voi - Interview
Interview with Oi Va Voi July 2013
In recent years Oi Va Voi have travelled more European countries than most travel journalists, supplying them with a multi-cultural and diverse sound and enforcing a positive outlook on life projected through their inspiring lyrics.
With Klezmer influences and clever instrumentation, it is no surprise the dominate success the band have had has been in Eastern European countries (particularly Turkey) whilst the band continue to make an impact in their home country, England, with a one off date at London's Hackney Round Chapel and the recording of their new album, due in early 2014.
CM: Welcome home. How are you?
David: Thank you, yes, I'm well thanks.
CM: You recently returned to the UK, performing at the Hackney Round Chapel, how did it go?
David: It went really well. The venue was magnificent. The acoustics in there are amazing because sometimes it's quite tough to get the right mix and make sure it's not too muddy. I think hopefully we achieved that. We had a great crowd which was really well attended and we got a great response. We were playing new material as well so that was very exciting! We really enjoyed it! I think everyone felt it was the right time for the gig - we'd done lots of rehearsing.
A really positive experience.
CM: After the success of your concert at the Hackney Round Chapel, is there any opportunity for a full UK tour?
David: I think definitely. We'd absolutely love to. I'm guessing we'll probably have a date or two later on in the year and then a full tour whether it be slightly prior to the album coming out or certainly afterwards so it will be happening for sure.
CM: With such a diverse and Eastern European influenced sound, you've acquired a multi-cultural, worldwide fan base. Do you notice the difference between UK fans and other cultures?
David: It's a tricky one. Obviously, a place like London or England has such a collective taste. I certainly know in some countries there is definitely a connection. We seem to go down really well in Turkey - I think it might slightly have to do with the instrumentation; the clarinet is such a popular instrument there and also in terms of their own folk music and Klezmer. To me, it's those blurred lines musically, and modes and chords that we use that might push more buttons there.
I don't really know. It's hard to say. Certainly abroad people are more open to music they haven't heard before; I don't know what reason we in England haven't opened up.
We'd love to play England more, there's nothing better really then playing at home.
CM: You've mentioned some new material, how is the process going for your new album due for release early 2014?
David: It's not as if we've just been starting to write; it's been quite a long process really. We probably have about three albums worth of material. It's a question of really, really choosing material we feel describes the sound we're looking for at the moment. Some songs have come together really quickly, others we've had in the tank for quite a while.
There's some slightly different dynamics - everybody has their own ideas, they bring different ideas to the table and they go through the 'Oi Va Voi machine' where we sit down and you have to be prepared for your idea to be pulled apart a bit, but that's what gives everyone their input and really makes the music feel like it's being played by a band and not just regurgitated by session musicians. It's really important to us that there is a sense of unity in how we play and how we perform, so whilst everyone can be quite critical of each other, we usually always get somewhere where everybody feels really, really good about the music and that's the only way to perform it properly. If you really believe in it.
We'll probably start recording them in the next month or two. We may not do it all at once - we're still looking for the right studio and we're talking to various producers, finding those with the right approach but we can't wait for it.
It will be great.
CM: What's the recording process like with such a diverse instrumentation?
David: It's varied in the past. Sometimes it depends on the track. It's great to have a real live sound, sometimes it can become a bit too sanitised if everyone's recording parts separately but I suppose it depends on the actually track involved. Possibly rhythm section put down their parts together, same as the horns and violin, or sometimes it is separate but obviously we're all there together. It does vary sometimes; we've had a string section play, extra session musicians to lay down various bits and bobs. It depends. I think a lot of us agree playing something together live, there's a quality to that which is sometimes hard to reproduce in a studio but then that poses many issues in terms of micing up and spilling over and editing. I think it's something everybody faces, how to really hit the nail on the head and get the right sound. It's a careful process.
CM: Your most recent album released in 2009 was called 'Travelling the Face of the Globe' which seemed appropriate considering the amount of touring you have done. Have you considered a name for your up and coming album?
David: That was. I wouldn't say anything in particular but there's a different coherency about the new material I think it's still Oi Va Voi but it's moved in a certain way: you could say parts of it were slightly darker, but that's not true for all of it, it's hard to say. It's definitely still go Oi Va Voi essence and sound but some writing's slightly changed in some ways.
CM: Obviously, it's a very distinctive sound so it's easily recognisable and distinguishable.
David: Yeah. Unless you change the instrumentation of it or the playing but I think they'll definitely be a few surprises and I really hope everyone likes it.
CM: On the subject of names, Oi Va Voi is a Yiddish word. Where have the Jewish influences come from in the band?
David: They come from people's own Jewish ancestry and cultural identity. The band started 13 years ago, at the time mostly everybody was Jewish or had some kind of cultural, musical identity. The enjoyment of playing Klezmer and investigating those sounds. We liked the influence of Eastern European music.
I myself studied Russian at university and I lived out in Russia so it's celebrating that kind of music, that kind of mode and music; coming through that really. It wasn't with a vision to just re-create traditional Klezmer. It was to add a spice to the music making going on at the time. There are a lot of different influences from a lot of different people in the band. We're definitely not a Klezmer band but we use some of the sounds you might hear from that sort of music.
CM: You've previously performed at Russia, did that bring back any memories from studying?
David: For me it was absolutely amazing! Nobody else was speaking Russian so I was addressing the audience. It was wonderful. I used to live in a place called Yekaterinburg, we played at my old home town there. It was great; we got a wonderful reception there.
We played in Moscow and Saint Petersburg as well. It's a really wonderful place to play: energetic, wild crowds, here and there and good fun. I have to say that.
CM: You've travelled to many locations and cultures with Oi Va Voi, are there any favourite locations you've been to?
David: One stands out - Club Babylon, Istanbul. We've played there many times, in fact we often do a couple of nights in a row there and pretty much every time we've played in the last couple of years it's been absolutely rammed and sold out. It's only a small club but we have a real connection - definitely love playing there as a regular venue.
We've played in Sizget Festival, that's also been very special for us. There's been so many it's difficult to pinpoint any specific ones.
We've played in Israel, that's been great. Everywhere! We've played some beautiful street squares in Italy and big, local cultural festivals, just atmosphere wise that's been absolutely amazing. We played in a place called Ostuni with the whole white city behind us and the sea out in yonder. I think it's a combination of things; it's the context, the gig, the people there that brings it all together.
CM: Do you find other countries accept your music differently to the UK?
David: I feel sometimes the radio play in the UK is quite narrow and in the hands of not that many people. Maybe it isn't quite as narrow abroad. But that being said, if you want to hear any kind of music here [In the UK] you can find it.
It's always quite tough to answer, however, that being said, we played the UK show the other night and great reception! If people want to hear you they will find you. England, musically, it's the place to be for musicians across the world. It's such an important place.
Mainstream music, things you see on the TV and things you hear on the chartsm has morphed into a very narrow spectrum and dumbed down. The focus on celebrity and glorifying karaoke on TV won't solve things for musicians in the main and people because it seems that that is all we need to be creative and inspired which is just controlled by a corporation.
CM: It's just an interesting subject as I've heard you get regular radio play in Turkey?
David: We've had lots of music used on film soundtracks, a lot of radio play and coverage abroad.
CM: Are there any bands that specifically inspired your sound?
David: I don't know if it's particularly Oi Va Voi sound. I think everybody has their own idea. I can only speak for myself musically as everybody brings their own taste; some people are more into Electronica, some Jazz. Personally, I'm a massive fan of Radiohead and their music is very inspiring for me and, of course, we all have Klezmer influences. It's a really wide spectrum especially from everybody's musical history taste.
CM: You've recently released an acoustic track called Strangers, what was the reason behind the release?
David: I think it was just to give everybody a taste of what's to come. We'd recorded a couple of them in that live setting and we felt it came out so lovely! We recorded it outside and that was quite tough but we had such a great sound engineer and he got this beautiful sound so we thought we'd like to share some of the new music with people just as a means of being a bit off the radar with writing. It was just a present to anybody who wanted to hear some of the new music and to enjoy what we've been enjoying.
CM: We've seen similar videos of yourselves playing outside in locations like Istanbul.
David: We've done lots of playing live outside. We played by Galata Bridge and on canal boats in Holland - beautiful. It's great actually because if you listen to it, you can hear the faint sound of chatter of people around, people in neighbouring gardens, the birds chirping away, it's got quite a nice atmosphere to it. We always enjoy that sort of thing.
CM: You've got the release of the new album followed by a tour. What would you like to see for the future of Oi Va Voi?
David: I would like us to be doing what we're doing and managing to connect with as many people as possible and share what we love doing, our music, to as many people as possible. To continue to collaborate and travel, enjoying the music in the countries we visit. Just make cultural connections and realise we're all in the same boat and the connection music can make between people of all cultures, religions and anything. We're all unified by music and that's definitely how I feel I'd like to continue. World domination! (Laughing) No, we're not obsessed by mainstream perception of success, we want good music and we want people to enjoy it and spread the message of positivity, collaboration and understanding!
Official Site -