Music Critic Hannah Gadd sat down with Hamish from VUKOVI to talk about their latest album.
NULA is a concept album, did you plan for it to be that way or was that something that developed during the writing process?
I would say it developed as it went on, Janine originally came up with the character of NULA and some ideas for the visuals which we got a really good artist to do and he did all the artwork by the way. He’s amazing. So Janine had that idea and because of COVID we kind of winged the timeline of the album, so we just came up with it as we went. Janine developed the story, I didn’t even expect it to become what it became honestly. It’s pretty crazy but yeah, it was a core idea of NULA and the character which became the album.
The album itself is a project of both the studio and your own homes due to COVID, did that push the album in a different direction in any way?
It was cool to do stuff at home at the time because of the lockdown, right? But going back and looking at it I kind of wished we’d redone some of the stuff we did at home. I can hear the difference just because I know so specifically what we did sound like in the studio. It’s kind of not up for me to decide anymore, you know? It’s for the people that listen to it and whether they think that or whether they even notice it.
So your biggest headline tour starts on the 12th of October in Leeds. With 3 albums now, is it hard to craft a ‘perfect’ set list?
Yeah. So difficult. We actually are going to finalise the set tomorrow, that’s how last minute it is, it’s crazy. Yeah, it’s hard, but the thing is, at the end of the day we just try to be like ‘What do people enjoy live the most? What creates the best vibe and atmosphere?’. That’s it, we didn’t try to add a bunch of stuff people don’t know. Everything we’re playing on the set, people know. We’re not playing anything no one’s heard before because we’d just rather people had a good time and I personally like seeing stuff that I know. The order was really difficult, that was the hardest part by far.
Are there any songs in particular off the new album that you’re excited to transform into a live show?
‘I EXIST’. We’ve moved it to a better place in the set now so I’m hyped.
The character ‘NULA’ is a key figure in this era of VUKOVI and is closely linked to the artwork and visuals for the album. How important is it to have strong imagery alongside the music?
Massively important, I feel like the music is 50 percent and the imagery is 50 percent. That’s how we feel about it anyway, because I think if you don’t do that you’re missing out on so much potential of expression and stuff to give people that they can look at and go ‘That’s so cool, what does that mean?’. You can add so much to it. Especially us, we love films, games, sci-fi and stuff like that so it gives us a lot of room to add more than just an image on the front cover. But yeah, hugely important.
Are there any stand out films or video games that particularly inspired the visuals?
Yeah, for Janine, the ‘Aliens’ movies. She loves the ‘Aliens’ movies. For me, I kind of like everything honestly; I played a lot of games during lockdown which I’m sure I drew inspiration from. I think game soundtracks are incredible as well; ‘Dead Space’ is a great example of that, thematically and visually. ‘Aliens’ and ‘Dead Space’ are two big inspirations for sure. We also love colour, like bright vibrant imagery and it gives us a lot of scope to do that which is fun.
Would you say there’s similar inspirations in terms of music videos too?
A hundred percent. Music videos are so hard though because they’re so time consuming and so expensive for what you get. They were a real challenge on this album, especially the first few because of lockdown, so yeah they were challenging, but again, Janine loves a music video.
If you had to play one of your songs to someone who had never heard of VUKOVI, which one would you play to best represent the band?
Christ, honestly probably ‘SLO’. Yeah something about that song sounds different to the other songs that I like. There’s something about it which is easy to listen to, I think anyway. I like the progression in it and I like the melodies in it, I think it’s just easy to take in. Some of our other songs are a bit mental. ‘I EXIST’ is a bit of a mental song if you break it down to the components of it, where ‘SLO’ is a bit more simple.
Following the album and the tour, what is next for VUKOVI?
We are still writing more music. There is a bunch of stuff that we can’t really talk about yet but the main thing that we have learned is to, within the boundaries of not f**king up your mental health too badly, just don’t stop and keep going. A lot of people stopped during lockdown and understandably so, but our thing was just like, let’s keep writing music and keep pushing Spotify, keep improving on what we’ve learned. Sounds simple but that is our plan in the long term because it really worked over lockdown – the band came quite a long way which was weird, really really weird. That taught us to just keep going.
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