Published on January 8th, 2017 | by Gareth Allen0
Interview and photograph by Gareth Allen
Vodun took the HRH Doom vs HRH Stoner Festival by storm, with a stunning headlining performance, on the second stage. They blend metal, soul and psychedelic influences into something very special. Their album ‘Possession’ deservedly made one of Sonic’s best of 2016 lists, and we would recommend you check it out.
Following the festival Chantal Brown, the bands amazing vocalist, kindly answered some questions for Sonic Bandwagon.
Sonic Bandwagon: How would you describe the music and words you create, to someone not familiar with the band?
Chantal: Psychedelic, soul, worldly music with afrobeat drums and a touch of metal. 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…
Sonic Bandwagon: Can you share with us something of the creative process for developing the songs for the ‘Possession’ album?
Chantal: ‘Possession‘ was in the creative process for over two years before it became the album that it is now. Songs would come together in many different ways, whether it was a riff, a beat or an overall direction of a feeling or message that we wanted to convey as a song. The band would come together to try different ideas out in a room and ensure the energy of the music was present before gauging a reaction testing songs out at live shows.
Sonic Bandwagon: We get the sense from your songs, of music that is intended to both be healing in a damaged world, and a catalyst for change. Would that be right, and what impact do you hope your music has on an audience?
Chantal: We want our audience to first of all come to a place of open minded comfort. A place where you can voice your opinion, for it to be not only heard, but for it to be discussed. The world is currently a cruel place where greed and deception can get you far in life and it seems that the person doing all the hard work is punished. If our audience can walk away from a show asking positive questions with a means to change about themselves, others and the world, then maybe one day the world might see change.
Sonic Bandwagon: You have talked about a spiritual thread through your music, connecting you with nature and the powerful role of female spirits. We would love to hear more about that. Could you expand a little?
Chantal: Vodun is a religion that has positive roots at its core. It celebrates life and strongly recognises the strength of the woman, and was a religion that my ancestors created and managed to hold on to (in various guises) in spite of slavery. Musically it means we can bring together messages of female empowerment, and tie a heavy rock sound with Afro & psychedelic tones. It also means we have the freedom to look at different aspects of Vodun and share some of the more spiritual values that seem to have been lost in favour of the culture of consumerism.
Sonic Bandwagon: When you play live what is the emotional connection you feel with your audience?
Chantal: When we start the set we will take a deep breath to channel the energy in the room. Vodun are very much a live band and we treat our performance as something of a ritual, we want the crowd to be a part of that, (which is why at some shows we ask for audience participation) because without a captured audience our performance doesn’t gain as much feeling and emotion. We respect our audience and we want them to leave the venue with an empowered sense of spirituality.
Sonic Bandwagon: We were at the HRH Doom vs HRH Stoner festival and thought the band were on fire, and were the best performance of the Saturday. The crowd reaction was testament to that. How did it feel for you?
Chantal: There was an overwhelming force in the room at HRH, with a message coming through an hour before the show “Got upstairs whilst it’s quite, not moving till Vodun have been on.” We have been playing a string of great high profile shows lately and there is defiantly a buzz about the band and what we are doing at the moment. With a weekend being classed as “Stoner vs Doom” we weren’t really sure how the crowd would react but it appeared we had completely packed out the second stage and everyone was jammed in tight. The set we played at HRH was the longest we have played since our album launch earlier this year and it was great to see a good response from a couple of the tracks off our EP which we haven’t played in a long time and that people would be less familiar with.