Interview: Congalita – Voodoo Love Orchestra (September 2016)

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The second album, which has just been released, followed a different creative process and enjoys more technical attentions than its predecessor.

I think that our first album, because of the way that it was recorded, mixed and mastered, was very raw. Musically, it’s not as dynamic or polished as the second one. When we were working on the second album, I knew enough about music production and software to feel that I could contribute: I could have a good enough conversation with the engineer and the guy who was producing and mixing it. I worked more closely with him and I really enjoyed it.

The process worked out in the same way as it worked for our first album. We went to a studio, separating the band between sections. We were in Brighton Road Recording Studio and worked with Jake Skinner, who I can’t recommend more highly: he’s fantastic. We just went there for one day and we did ten tracks in six hours! Doing about three or four takes each time. It was like pum-pum-pum: like bullet style! So, there’s that energy throughout the work. In addition, I also wanted to do stems, so we could get some remixes. For this reason, we recorded three tracks and their solos separately. Some people are really confident playing and recording solo, while other not so much. As a matter of fact, when you get behind the microphones and put the headphones on, it’s quite nerve-wracking. I really enjoyed helping people with their confidence and thinking about soloing, what it means and how to build them.

It took us longer this time; we started recording in November and we signed off in February. Also the mastering is different: Inglorious Technicolor is mastered in a smoother way. It’s less raw sounding, but more professional. However, I don’t feel that we compromised too much how we sound.”

Cicely also revealed to us that the influences and styles present on Inglorious Technicolor’s sound are slightly different from the band’s first work, too. It’s like if Voodoo Love Orchestra’s sound set sail from the West Africa Atlantic coast to the South American one.

We haven’t put any afrobeat or high-life in Inglorious Technicolor. That’s not out of choice, but just because we did an arrangement of Ebo Taylor’s ‘Love and Death’, which is a song that I absolutely love, but it wasn’t quite ready. So, we decided to include only the tunes we felt really comfortable with, but we wanted to have, like we did before, a wide-range of music. For this reason, we re-arranged some tunes, too. I wanted some ska in there also because a lot of people who are playing in the group love that sound. Then, I really love blues and we put a couple of Mississippi blues skunk tunes. We also have a lot of cumbia in it, because we just love the way it sounds when you put a lot of woodwind and clarinet in it: just really feature beautifully. Finally, there’s one Colombian salsa tune, too. So yes, it is still a mix, but there’s definitely a Latin predominant element in it.

And there’s some Latin (Spanish to be more precise) element in the album’s title, too. Next to the distinctive VLO effervescent character.

“Originally when we thought about the title of the album, we didn’t think about putting ‘In’ and ‘Glorious’ together, but since we love word-plays… The idea partly came from our video of ‘Fever’. That’s the theme we wanted, with that kind of 1950s very-saturated look. That made me think about the sound that we have and how to interpret that. So it’s about bringing out that idea of colourful, bright sound together with fun, vintage and kitsch and I think that Inglorious Technicolor encapsulates all this. Then, we had a real debate whether to use ‘o’ or ‘ou’ in Technicolor, but we finally thought that it works losing the ‘u’ because we also wanted to relate it with the Spanish word ‘colór’.”

To end our interview in style, we asked Cicely to disclose some details of Voodoo Love Orchestra’s rip-roaring brand new live show, which they’ll bring around the UK starting from next week.

“As well as producing the album, we are really lucky to have received quite substantial funding from the Arts Council to realise a new show. The funding allowed us to get new costumes and develop a street theatre show and a parade. We worked with Poppy Kay, who did a lot of clowning with us and performed at Kemptown Carnival for our Queen of Hearts show. For our next live performances, we are going to bring in elements of that street theatre show, especially somewhere like Rich Mix, which is a really big venue. Then, next to her, we also got a group of dancers with which we have been working in the last years. So, yes… We want to develop that sort of audience interaction. In fact, there’ll be a lot of funny things like limbo competitions, lots of dancing and singing dividing the audience, and lunge competitions: obviously we love lunging!

“Then, it’s also about the dynamics of the show. When you look from a chorographical or theatrical point of view, you can really work on different levels in the space, and we are trying to do that musically as well. We have instruments like the clarinet that can be very subtle and delicate, so we try to bring people on a journey and take the music, too. For example, when we have a clarinet solo, we want to make the music sounds quite mysterious. So it’s uplifting, but it’s also about bringing in different energies.”

We will surely bring all our energies and party mood at Rich Mix on the 13th of October, for Inglorious Technicolor’s album launch and the usually unpredictable show of Voodoo Love Orchestra.

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