One of the best parts about being a music writer is getting to go to live music gigs and in a city as bustling as London, and it’s no surprise to hear I’m often spoilt for choice, whether is Ska at the Fox and Firkin, Soul Train at the Bussey building or Seasick Steve at Wembley, there is something going on every night of the week.
Hiding in plain sight on Kingsland Road is Rolling Stock; known for its homemade burgers and captivating street art, it has embraced all styles of creativity in its bar, gallery and underground space. Wednesday night was no different, in the heart of the underground arches the stage was set for the preview of VUDA’s upcoming EP.
The night was to be hosted by Emerald Live – a new live music showcase with a dash of social enterprise, built to celebrate and reflect the times we live in. Determined to be a place of education and empowerment for music lovers and musicians alike, owner and programme organiser Stephania Diane has previously had Emerald Live playing host to the uplifting soul vibes of BXRBER, and the eclectic Afro Jazz stylings of Kokoroko alongside the velveteen vocal R’n’B range of Olivia Louise. Raising funds and awareness for the tireless work of Kori, a charity that was founded in 2002 to support young people through the use of holistic therapy and the creative arts – Emerald Live has a roster as ambitious as its creator – Founder Stephania Diane promptly set the scene in Rolling Stock for an evening of intimate expression.
Behind the bar was the aptly named ‘Silencer’, a cocktail created in honour of VUDA’s opening track, it was a blend of whisky and wine and it had a few man’s eyes twisting as we settled in for the opening act. A young soloist by the name of Paige Lihya, she wasted no time, getting straight to the heart of the music from her new EP In My Thoughts. Kicking off with the atmospheric I can’t Help It Lihya set the levels with her opening verse, the clarity in her vocal was compounded by an unmistakable English accent. Another reminder to anyone that might need it – British R’n’B is alive and well. The hypnotic melody of Can’t Be With You was a completely chilled vibe but the stand out of the selection for me was a song entitled Jealous, polished and relatable this was a song delivered with ease by Lihya, All too quickly her set was over, but I look forward to seeing how her stage shows evolve over time, she is a songwriter who is already in full command of her sound.
Before long it was time to welcome VUDA to the stage; producer, songwriter, singer and creative director – it’s safe to say she’s multi-talented. A self taught flautist and pianist, she was quickly signed by Universal; before the first album was complete, she split from Universal and started writing music for other artists. Her latest project is a collaboration with both Emerald Live and CrookdLense, together they have created a short concept EP for VUDA’s debut.
VUDA opened with the track entitled Silence – deep bassy the scene had long been set by CrookdLense collaborators with VUDA, they had been tasked with capturing this atmospheric nocturnal showcase, while her true identity is something, that for now, remains shrouded in mystery there is no mistaking a VUDA vocal, deliberate, husky tones that filled the quiet space of the Rolling Stock basement. As she flowed first from Silence to Bateman the audience went along with her.
Angie Cover, Lost and finally Haunted rounded off this deeply emotive preview. VUDA is no doubt one to watch out for, hers is a vocal that holds echoes of La Roux and Sia and seems to have only just begun. Released on the 31st of October VUDA’s debut EP will be available on iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play and Spotify.