by Danielle Holian
What does the band name “Vudu Sister” mean and where did it come from?
The name originally comes from an initial departure from a previous band I was in called Vudu Bevy. At the time, I was embarking on, what I had thought to be, a solo venture…also with the idea in mind that I would eventually form a new band. I was playing some of the same songs I had written in the previous incarnation. The “Sister” aspect is probably the most important statement in that it reflects my tendency to eschew the absurd notions of masculinity within myself and in my writing. I find that, creatively, I feel gender neutral or sometimes feminine in the perspectives I choose to write in. There is also this undertone of dark, feminine magic; a very pagan sort of idea that is carried through our aesthetic.
Why did you choose gothic folk, danse macabre and witch rock as the band’s genres?
Very simply that, especially with this new record, I feel it reflects our tone both sonically and visually.
Who are your influences?
Lately I’ve been listening to Agnes Obel’s Aventine quite a lot. PJ Harvey’s White Chalk from 2007 is a huge figure in my listening as well as a good deal of Rasputina. I was always an acolyte of Nirvana since I was a child. I listen to a lot of classical music also.
I am an avid devourer of literature. I love Yeats, Poe, Dickinson and Shakespeare. I am very interested in Medieval and Antiquity as well as myths and fairy tales. I think my literary passions providence a deliberate and also subconscious backbone for my own writing.
How has your music evolved since the band started?
Diane and I began performing and writing together in 2011 but I took a while to develop a concrete idea of what I wanted my sound to be which is why our releases have been so seemingly capricious in their respective styles. This new record really captures our live sound as well as pointing us in the direction I feel that we’re evolving in.
What is the story behind your debut album, Bastard Children?
Bastard Children is a collective of all the friends I was making in our small, insular, Providence, RI music scene. At the time, I was exploring what was a burgeoning popular interest in American folk music…although, that music has never really been something that I’ve felt authentic to my own experiences, which is why I feel that was a fleeting moment for me. It did, however, help me develop my songwriting and musicianship in a lot of ways. I think I had a lot early Mark Lanegan records in mind when I working on that album. His approach to boring blues and folk music was something that I could relate to in approaching those styles…and still do, I suppose. I consider Bastard Children a solo record in the truest sense…it’s really just me putting together songs with everything and everyone I can think of. I don’t really feel like there is any cohesive theme or agenda to it; just a cornucopia of songs.
Your second album, Household Items, has a few contrasts to your debut, how would you describe it?
Household Items is an obvious departure and I did that for several reasons. The first was that I quickly became really bored with the rapid popular interest in American folk music or indie-folk or whatever. I wanted to make a record that emphasised my influences growing up in the 90’s. The alternative rock or grunge movement in the 90’s was the first music I ever really listened to and it has been a big impact on me since. This is purely a love letter to that.
What is the theme behind your latest record, Mortis Nevosa?
Mortis Nervosa is a conceptual idea. It is loosely based on Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a series of horror folklore from the 80’s and 90’s. Gothic fiction, Grimm’s tales and Poe play an influential role also. It’s supposed to be a dark romanticist sort of style and it’s a direction I intend to continue and fine-tune.
What does your music reflect about the band?
Well, again, I think there’s an obvious visual and sonic aesthetic that our new record exemplifies for us. Subtle, graceful gothic elegance with some humour. We’re actually very funny… although, the humour might be lost on some people. I study English literature as well as classical and medieval studies at the University of Rhode Island and I would like to utilise my interest in these areas in crafting more narrative, thematic concepts.
What advice would you have for people who want to form their own band?
Don’t. Haha. No, um, I would implore anyone to do it for themselves and for the sake of their own therapy and expression. Don’t form a band as a means of monetary success or for glory of some kind. Be a good human being first, all else is secondary.
Furthermore, I sincerely wish I had learned music formally before I embarked on my silly quest for punk rock purity. If I had children, and they wanted to play music, I’d have them learn to read and play piano first before letting them play guitar and form loud bands. At 30, I am NOW trying to catch up with the rules I’ve so blithely kicked aside for most of my life and I wish I hadn’t. Haha.
What are the band’s plans for the future?
We have no plans to tour, we have no plans to chase foolish ambitions. Our bass player is very busy and productive in several great bands like The Z Boys…he just got back from with The Last Good Tooth and MorganEve Swain. He’s amazing and very generous with his time with us. Diane and I are focusing on writing new songs. Mortis Nervosa is out in the ether; available on virtually every music source online…we’ll be putting out vinyl ere the year ends. The only ambition I have is to grow as a musician and songwriter; I want the next record to be further developed.
A goal of mine is to come to Europe eventually. I don’t know when that will be, hopefully within the next year or two. We’ll see, but I would like to play in Europe. Other than that and whatever the next record will be, I honestly have no business ambitions or cares…I just want to make more music that I enjoy listening to.