Vodun are a female fronted 3 piece, combing tribal drums, thrash metal and prog elements with soaring vocals and heavily inspired by West African vodou. I caught up with front woman (read Warrior Woman) Chantal Brown about the up-coming tour with Turbowolf and feminism in the world of heavy metal...
How did Vodun come about? What are your main influences?
Vodun is basically somewhat of an incarnation of a previous band Zel and myself used to be in, called Invasion, however with much more musical freedom and influences rom different genres. Zel and I still had a desire to work together after we both left invasion, but relished in the fact that we could be free to pull in more elements of whole plethora of of other music we deeply enjoy, such as blues, afro rhythms & pop, on top of our typical sound of heavy rock & soul.
Heavy metal is well known for being heavily male dominated, have you encountered any negativity or sexism with the band?
I think most in the heavy metal community are quite positive and welcoming. We have had the odd looks and questions about us actually being in the band at times, especially Zel as there aren’t a great deal of female drummers on the scene in comparison. Several years ago, we were hanging out with Liana from Turbowolf back stage after they had just put on an amazing performance at The Electric Ballroom in Camden. Zel had also just played just across the road for the same festival, and a few other of our female friends and musicians were hanging out backstage. The security guard promptly proceeded to ask us to leave the backstage area, as he clearly though we must have just been girlfriends of real band members... It was funny drunkenly correcting him at the time, but a little sad in retrospect. There have always been some well intended statements from some genuine fans as to how good/powerful we are despite us being female/black. Basically, at least two elements thought not to fit, and thus comes across as a little unexpected at times.
Despite being quite thin on the ground are there any women you find especially inspirational?
I think in music in general, women are abound, but not so much in the rock, and metal arena. Line up’s can be a touch piss poor with representing women’s contribution to rock/metal music. I think Eva Spence from Rolo Tomasi kills. I remember being a big fan of theirs year ago, and just being mesmerised by the sound she was able to create - and by the zero fucks she gave for sounding so harsh and uncompromisingly brutal. I’m also a fan of Dana Jade aka Ms Mohammed, as not only is she a guitar wielding and singing indie rock meets Trinidadian beauty, she’s also unapologetically Muslim, and keeps her culture firmly in the centre of her music making and identity. I love it.
Do you have any advice for women hoping to break into the metal
Talent always prevails, even though at times you might have to be a little more talented and go a little harder than the demographic that tends to dominate your environment. That’s also true to be said in life I think. Also, don’t get caught up if you are slighted because of your gender, colour or background – keep it moving – just write about it in your music.
Your schedule looks pretty busy this year, what has been your highlight with the band this year and what are you most looking forward to about your upcoming tour with Turbowolf?
It has been pretty full on this year with Vodun. The highlight for me of the year was being able to tour around Europe. It was so beautiful. We had some long drives, but we had some fantastic stops along the way. Taking breaks to go swim in an amazing lake in Garda, Verona, Italy. Stopping off at Mont Blanc for a day, and just meeting so many amazing people. Finding out we actually had a following in Spain, was almost as astounding as being greeted in the morning at Hellfest by 5,000 people who seemed to really enjoy our music.
We’ve just started out Turbowolf tour, and I’m most looking forward to playing our new material, hearing Turbowolf’s new material, and sining some of the backing vocals I did for them on their new album live on stage with them. I think the show in bath, and the show in london will be a new kind of crazy.
Cliché question, any amusing tour stories to share? Are there lots of man groupies hanging around backstage?
Ha! No. No groupies. I’m not that lucky! And Zel’s gay, and Linz is in a committed relationship, so there’s not much action on that front. One funny story on the Summer Europen tour was when we played in Bilbao, Spain. The audience were so please with our performance, they really wanted us to have a good time after. So, Linz and I are loading the gear back into the car... But we can’t find Zel... I come outside to look for her, and I find her bare footed, surrounded by people and with not one, but two joints in her mouth. She doesn’t even smoke. Needless to say, once we managed to get her back inside, she found it impossible, and highly amusing trying to just put her socks on. It was hilarious.
What's next for Vodun?
Well, we have a week left on this Turbowolf tour, then it’s back to writing the album, and recording in December. Aiming for an April release of our second album next year.
Follow Vodun here:
Website – www.vodunband.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/VODUNBAND
Twitter - https://twitter.com/vodunband
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/vodunband