Welcome to the family! What’s your thoughts having just become an official Orange ambassador?
I’m very excited to be part of the Orange family! Orange has been the dream amp or me for a while and it’s an absolute honor to be accepted as an ambassador of the brand. I was invited to the HQ a few months ago to try some amps with the techs and they were super helpful with ensuring I was getting the right tone and the best sound, not only out of the amps, but for Vodun to sound as huge as possible.
What was your first ever encounter with Orange?
I first came across Orange amps when the Datsuns returned from the UK to New Zealand to play The Big Day Out 2004. Being a keen 17 year old guitarist, I spent most of my time dreaming of guitars and amps, and when The Datsuns stepped out onto the stage in front of bold Orange cabs it blew my mind! I had never seen such a bold, brightly-coloured amp or heard of the Orange brand before. A few days later I did some research into availability in NZ, but sadly being so far away from England, the only amps readily available and affordable were anything getting imported through Asia. It wouldn’t been until I set foot in London 3 years ago with just a guitar that I would be able to get my hands on one at Red Dog Music in Clapham. The guys were really helpful down there and as I plugged into a TH30 they saw my eyes light up – I bought it that day.
Now that you’re officially a part of the family, how does your brand spanking new Orange rig look like?
It looks, (and sounds) amazing. I’m still working on my rig’s design, but then again when has a guitarist ever not got their eye on the next pedal to add to the chain? Big shows means I’m running 3 rigs off one guitar, so I have my original TH30 as stage right, OB-1 500 Bass rig next to it with 4 x 10 cab, and my main amp is a Rockerverb III 100 through a 4 x 12. This allows me to get the feel of a full band, dropping in bass and a second guitar as needed as well as panning left and right. Smaller shows I strip it back to the Rockerverb III 100 and OB-1 500 but they still deliver great tone and punch! I throw them either side of the stage to help thicken the sound. I really love how huge the bass rig has made us sound – the built in gain in the head helps keep my signal as big as possible, where previously it was getting squashed by effects pedals.
Can you tell us a bit about your band?
Vodun is a three piece heavy psychedelic band with afrobeat inspired drums and a soul singer. Although we’re a three piece, there’s no bass player – hence why it’s so important for me to make sure my sound is as huge as possible. Vodun was actually the first band I saw live when I arrived in London and they completely blew me away! I joined after the original guitarist Ollie had to step down, but in true ritualistic spirit his Gibson guitar lives on with the band and I still use it in shows. Vodun as a religion is rooted in animism, it’s positive at its core and celebrates women in its worship of female Loas or Goddesses. As a band, we draw on this for inspiration and we try to make our shows a positive spiritualistic experience.
You guys put on quite the performance when playing live, what’s the story behind the make up and costumes?
The short and sweet answer is “to give you a reason to come and witness live music, for it to be an out of this world experience and so that you aren’t at a show thinking ‘this sounds better on CD’. More than that though, it gets us into character for our live ritual. Zel and I will always start the set staring each other down as if we are going into battle, clearing our thoughts and allowing the music to take over completely. The makeup and costumes are inspired from West African culture to help add to the aesthetic and performance of the band. I don’t think the audience at our shows would feel the same spiritual experience if we just played in black jeans and a baggy shirt. Kinda like when KISS took their makeup off….
How would you explain Vodun’s music to your, mine, or someone else’s grandmother?
I played Possession to my Nan when I was home earlier this year for my sisters wedding, “Nan, this is my loud band from London, I think you’ll like the singer, she has a great soul voice and you have been to one of my old bands shows so you know it will be loud. I’ll start you with Bloodstones so you can ease into it”
To someone elses grandmother: It’s a beautiful chaos that represents the world as we know it; we have the godly soulful voice that brings peace and harmony, we have the loud aggressive beats that can bring the deafening destruction of earth quakes and volcanoes then we have the guitar which drifts between both of these two like the human race, kind and gentle one minute and greedily struggling to be heard over the weight of the world the next – you also might want to turn your hearing aid down…
As an emerging London band, is there any other bands or artists you’ve come across we should keep an eye at?
Being fairly new to this side of the world, most bands I come across I haven’t heard of before as it takes a long time for some bands to get to NZ, so I may have mentioned some bands that have been around a bit longer than newly established but are fresh to my ears.
A couple that come to mind immediately:
Causal Nun – We had the pleasure of having them on the bill at our album release show in London and they’re causing a bit of a stir.
Church of the Cosmic Skull – Recently released their debut album to a sold out crowd. The band members have previously played for some great bands.
His Masters Voice – Genuine down to earth fantastic people, album due to be released soon, but as they are from NZ you wont get to see them live unless you are on holiday there. But go check out their style of the devils blues Jessie has a wicked voice.
Petrol Girls – Pure passion and always blow me away with their genuine execution.
God Damn – the name says it all “God Damn”
How has life been for Vodun since the release of “Possession” earlier this year?
Life has been hectic in a very positive way, the album has been received really well and our small tribe of followers seems to be growing bigger by the day. It’s been fantastic chatting to people after shows who have turned up not knowing what to expect and are then rendered speechless by our performance! We are getting some great gigs coming in, played Stonefree Festival with Alice Cooper and The Darkness as well as the childhood dream gig of playing Bloodstock alongside Twisted Sister, Slayer, Anthrax, Mastodon, I’m really looking forward to playing some more great European festivals next year. we have also had some great press come in – it’s a bit of an unreal experience picking up a copy of Kerrang or Classic Rock to send copies back home to your mum. In short, life seems ridiculous!
Album 2! it’s going to take a lot of hard work to execute another album like Possession and keep pushing boundaries, but we’ve started gathering ideas so hopefully you should hear some new tracks being vibed out at live shows soon. We’re heading to Europe in October to play Desertfest Antwerp and a few dates in Germany then Italy. There’s a music video in the works and a UK tour with Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats at the end of the year. We’re certainly keeping busy, and it looks likely to be even more the case for next year. All fantastic news, especially now I have my new Orange rig behind me!