VUKOVI: “Ask yourself, could you be happier?”

Fresh from a slew of nominations at this year’s Heavy Music Awards, Glasgow’s VUKOVI are a band on a roll. So what’s next?

Words: Ali Shutler.
Photo: Frances Beach.

Fresh from an almighty showing at Slam Dunk, we sat down with Vukovi to chat sci-fi concept album ‘NULA’, self-belief and where things go from here.

What was the vision for ‘NULA’?

Janine Shilstone: Sci fi, space cadet, aliens. We’d been watching a lot of sci-fi over lockdown, and Hamish was dabbling with a lot of video game soundtracks. We came up with the concept one night, and it felt right. We went more cinematic with the record, but we were taking inspiration from everything, really. I immersed myself in so much music and really discovered a new love for it. All of that poured out when it came to making that album.

Hamish Reilly: There’s a lot of content in that album. There’s a lot going on. We were talking about this earlier today, and it’s only recently we’ve known what we want to do as VUKOVI.

Has the positive reaction to the album helped with that?

Janine: We feel more confident in ourselves and our abilities. We know what we’re doing is good. We don’t need to overthink things. It confirmed a lot and released a bit of anxiety. It’s taught us to not question ourselves so much.

Hamish: It’s nice to be validated on what we’re doing, but we’re trying not to outsource the validation. We need to be happy with whatever we’re making first, and that album was the beginning of that.

It’s an album driven by escapism. Was that important to you?

Janine: 100%. TV, music, art – it’s all a way of taking time to forget the everyday. I really learned how vital that was for your mental health during COVID.

At the same time, there are uplifting songs like ‘QUENCH’ that talk about female sexual empowerment. How does that real-world message fit into ‘NULA’s extra-terrestrial concept?

Janine: It’s a safe space to connect to those lyrics, away from feelings of shame or judgement.

So, why are people connecting with ‘NULA’ in the way they are?

Hamish: People might forget that this is our third album – we’ve written a lot of music, and I think we’ve really honed our craft. It’s been a real learning process. It’s funny looking back at older songs and some of the decisions we made.

Janine: It’s all part of growing up, though. And you need that time. There’s so much pressure on blowing up straight away and figuring everything out instantly, but I don’t know how much longevity there is with what mindset.

Do you know what’s next?

Hamish: We definitely want to go more mature, real and grounded with the visuals. Right now, a lot of our artwork is very vibrant. Musically, I think we want to get a bit heavier as well. I feel like VUKOVI has gotten 10% heavier with every album, but we want to push that even further. They’ll definitely be new music later this year because that’s our job, but it’s a bit sad to be leaving ‘NULA’ behind so soon.

Janine: I’d love to do a full-production tour and play the album in full, just to give that record what I think it deserves.

You mentioned you finally figured out what VUKOVI could be. What do you want this band to represent to others?

Hamish: Obviously, there’s a lot of purpose in the lyrics, but I always remember how I felt listening to music when I was growing up. I want our music to do that for others. I want to inspire others to pick up an instrument. As simple as that sounds, I know how life-changing that can be.

Janine: And do what you want, rather than settle for something and regret it. You only have one life, and it’s so short. Ask yourself, could you be happier? ■

Taken from the August 2023 edition of Upset.