Bex Burch’s Vula Viel finally make it to Brighton

Bex Burch’s Vula Viel are delighted to be playing Brighton at last – a year and a half after they originally were hoping to.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 6:35 am
Vula Viel

They were on tour last March on the back of a new album. Now they are finally getting the chance to celebrate the album on the road.

The Brighton date on the tour is October 14 at The Rose Hill. The band are promising music based around the sound of the gyil, the wooden xylophone of the Dagaare from Upper West Ghana, fused with elements of improvisation and minimal music.

“We all met together – Ruth (Goller – bass) and Jim (Hart – drums) and me – last week for the first time again, and it was wonderful. It has made me really excited for this tour. We have been calling a lot, but being together made me realise just how much we have built up friendships and a shared musical language and just how great that is.

“It’s great to play with new people as well but there is something really, really good about playing with Jim and Ruth, something that I can only do with Jim and Ruth. It has made me question the identity of the band. The identity of the band is pretty useless when you are not actually playing together for the past 18 months, and that gave me the opportunity to question what was going to happen for us, but just being back together was very affirmative. It was just really encouraging and beautiful.”

Jim lives in Alsace, Ruth in London and Bex in Berlin.

“The band has been together for seven years, with different personnel.

“I was living in Brighton at the time and busking quite a lot, and I was teaching for the West Sussex Music service. I was going back on the train from the Chichester site, back to Brighton, and there was a free paper on the train, one of those papers that has scratch cards inside it.

“And I scratched a scratch card and it said I had won a million pounds which obviously I hadn’t, but I decided to go with the idea mentally. I thought to myself ‘If I really did have a million pounds, what would I change?’ and really there was very little except that I would start a band to play all the music that was going around my head.”

And Bex realised there was nothing actually stopping her. She moved back to London and found the musicians and the band began.

“At that point, previously for three years I had lived in Ghana, and the music is what my teacher taught me.”

Bex had been apprentice to Dagaare xylophonist Thomas Sekgura: “And the music that was going around my head was my understanding of this incredible tradition. It was not mine by birth but it was the music that had been given me by my teacher and was one of the biggest early influences on my creativity. At that point I was still trying to figure out what that influence was when I started the band, and I guess since then I have taken on other influences, finding out about other music and other musicians and just finding my own voice in the gap between all the influences.

“(Last year) we had released an album and we were beginning to tour it. We were to come to Brighton, I think, on March 18, right on the cusp of the lockdown, and obviously we didn’t get to do that. We were supposed to be playing outside the UK, in America and Canada, and that didn’t get to play out, but even though this is now 18 months later, it is still a celebration of the album.”