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Vatu Cere Vuka: Labour of Love

Solomoni Biumaiono
Sunday, January 13, 2013

After the soft release of their very first single, Vatu Cere Vuka could not believe they made the top ten in the top 100 iTaukei songs last year.

Facing stiff competition from other well established groups and musicians in a very saturated iTaukei music market, Vatu Cere Vuka defied the odds to be listed at the number seven spot in one of the most influential iTaukei radio stations in the country, Viti FM.

And this is their very first ever song that the Kubulau, Bua group have recorded after they first came together as a group three years ago.

Vatu Cere Vuka band leader Sio Were was elated and added that it was only possible through the help of their sound engineer and Lionz Studio owner Adriu Drix Saranuku as well as their families and friends who have always supported them.

"It's a big push factor for us. If we can do that I think we can do better in the future," Were said.

The band members are all from Tikina-I-Sau village in Kubulau, Bua and the name of the band is a tribute to the rich history of this coastal village.

The name Vatu Cere Vuka is derived from a small rock islet just off the coast of Tikina-I-Sau which is of the same name.

The island of Vatu Cere Vuka is shaped like a traditional iTaukei bure and is one of the three islets there.

The other two are named Vatu Rairai and Vatu Veisakai.

"According to our legends these are floating islands and they have a huge part in our traditional history but nowadays Vatu Cere Vuka is used by fishermen as a resting place and it is also a picnic spot for villagers," Were said.

With the name in hand Were and his fellow villager Sikeli Bale decided to form the group after Were returned from studies in Australia three years ago.

She duo already have accumulated musical experience through church worship groups as well as singing around the yaqona bowl and on the professional level had sung for Kelly Livai's group Kui Ni Toba in 2002.

"I usually hear about other groups that have formed ever since and have become successful and it always tugs my heart because I know I have the talent and since I returned from Australia I really wanted to form my own group and that was how Vatu Cere Vuka was formed," Were said.

Along with Tukana, Were went around seeking more talents to be part of Vatu Cere Vuka and they found his two brothers Mikaele and Aselemo Were as well as two other men who are simply known as Etonia and Kaie. With this group Vatu Cere Vuka produced a ten song CD which has produced some good songs like the title track Siga Taleitaki Vei Au, Isa na Cila ni Vula and Bulou Eta. Even though they have released these songs as singles, Vatu Cere Vuka still has not released the whole Siga Taleitaki Vei Au album.

"We're currently working on our volume too now and we will release both albums later this year. We will still get these two albums out," Were said.

For their second album Were and Tukana are the only surviving members from the talent line up that sang the songs in volume one.

Were and Tukana are working with some new members like Onorio Tamainai, Geberiele Ratueove and Eroni Vaniqi.

The feature track for this second album is a song called Rui Mosi Vei Au and the recording is already well underway at Lionz Studio.

"We have about five songs which are in the final stage of production but we do hope to release this along with our first album in June this year," Were said.

Were said the only reason the group has delayed the release of their first album to release together with their second one is because they want to do a proper launching.

"We will go all the way like merchandising as well where we hope to also produce sulu vakatogas (wrap around), baseball caps and other merchandise that can help us in our aim to take our group to another level," he said.

For Were it was a labour of love as he had to finance the group's recordings and he adds that he is simply doing it because music is his passion.

"Whatever little money I get I contribute it to the group's coffers which is used to pay the studio for our recordings," he said.

Already there is talks of a third album which Were said he aims to go back to basics where they hope to incorporate the sigidrigi sound into their sequence music but he feels that he has to release the first two albums first before more time is devoted to this new musical direction.

The group hopes to tour the United Kingdom after they had received an invitation to go there and perform there.

Were adds that their fundraising drive is on full swing right now which he hopes will culminate with the group hosting a sevens tournament.

"The sevens tournament is part of our fundraising drive for our trip to the UK and it will be held at Nabau in Solevu in Bua but the date is still to be confirmed but it is definitely going to take place," Were said.

In the meantime the group is also willing to perform at any function for $250 for three hours and people who want entertainment can always contact them.

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