Vude Queen comes a long way

Vude Queen, Laisa Vulakoro. Picture: SUPPLIED

MUSICIAN Laisa Vulakoro, commonly known as the Vude Queen, has come a long way.

Vulakoro has contributed a lot to the local musical industry and inspired so many upcoming talents.

Tomorrow marks another milestone for Vulakoro as she prepares to launch her new album ‘Sa ‘A Si’a Dina ‘Arai’.

Vulakoro spoke to this newspaper about her life’s journey and her new album.

Vulakoro said this was her 16th album since launching her first on a South Pacific Recording (SPR) label in 1988.

“After so much public demand, I decided to launch this album. After the success of Bitu Kavoro which I released in 2015, I had the strong feeling and urge to release another one, and plus it’s been three years already. It took us four months to complete this album,” Vulakoro said.

“My fans keep me on my toes. They’re always sending me messages asking when I will record again. They want to hear more new songs or demand I re-record some of my old songs. So I’m always working, writing, and thinking. It is great and I love it. I thank God for giving me the energy to always pull through everything I set my mind to do.

“I have 11 songs on this album. Most of the songs are my own compositions. A few are collaborations with other composers. One was written by one of my brothers, Matai. I try to find and bring in more female composers as in this album I introduced a new songwriter, Luisa Torakobau Jonathan from Tavualevu, Tavua.

“She came to me with her own dialect songs and I jumped at the opportunity. Her songs were rejected by a few artists that she approached so she came to me. When I read her lyrics and heard the melodies, I immediately loved it and worked on them with my nephew Marika Nakete.

“Her song Aule, Aule, Aule (track 2) was the second song I put on the radio as a single after ‘Sa ‘A Si’a Dina ‘Arai’ and it went to number one in no time.

“Her other songs are Tara Riki Na Cola (track 11) and Money Money Money Money (track 10) which we co-wrote.”
She said this new album was different because it catered for all age groups including the young, the energetic youth, middle-aged listeners.

“So there’s something for everyone. Track 4 Delsy Delai is a new song and is in a style new to me. The song is about a good friend of mine Rafaele Delai, who hails from Ra, as you will hear in the lyrics. I wrote this song in about five minutes, but the melody and beat I worked with my nephew Marika,” she said.

“It was quite exciting venturing into this new style. We thought to do a beat that suits the younger generation and we were happy with the end result.

“Track 1 Dou Sa Bula is a composition about a few workers at our Fiji Performing Rights Association (FPRA) office building at McGregor Rd. It was composed in about 10 minutes and Marika and I both worked on the music.

“Track 3 Au Sa Guilecavi was composed by my younger brother Matai in 1998. A love story gone wrong and it’s currently number one on Viti FM running into the fifth week. We first recorded it in 2000 at SPR on my album ‘Oirarua’.

“Track 5 Koula Ni Domomu was first recorded in my album Koki Koka released in 2003. It was a slow song. I decided to change it to vude and I’m quite happy with the way people are reacting to it now.

“Track 6 Maliana is a sad song I wrote about another good friend Viliame Waqalaivi’s younger sister who passed away a few years ago. I was touched by her story and her fight and struggle with her sickness in her short life so I asked Vili if it was OK for me to write her song. The whole song is about the last conversation that brother and sister had before she died. It was quite hard recording it as we would start and stop continuously because I kept breaking down in tears while singing during takes.

“Track 8 Oilei Oilei was originally composed by my late uncle, my mother’s brother, Mosese Nawanawa in the 1950s or 1960s. I first recorded it on my album Ratu Mata Katikati in 1994 and added a few more verses. Track 9 Noqu Drodrolagi I wrote and first recorded in 1996 in the vude beat. We changed it to modern reggae and recorded it again on this album. It is a love song of course.

“Track 10 Money, Money, Money, Money was written by my friend Luisa Torakobau Jonathan and I decided to change and add a few more verses. It’s a good message that we all need to remind ourselves about. How to spend money wisely and our behaviour when we have plenty and when we have none. Track 11 Ei Tarariki Na Cola is also written by Luisa and the song is in different dialects of the Ra provinces (Tavua, Nadi, Nadroga, Nadarivatu) and it’s a greeting song or Bula song.”

She added the title track for the new album was Track 7 Sa ‘A Si’a Dina.

“This is a song about my friendship with a very close friend who is like a son to me, Epi Nasaroa. It is a fun song written in about five minutes last year during a rehearsal time.

“When I first read the lyrics out to Epi, I told him that this song was going to be a hit. He didn’t really think much of it until we recorded it. Now it has become phenomenal and it makes me mega happy.

“It was the first song to be recorded and this was done at George Wasile’s Tropic Thunda Studio in Vatuwaqa and features local hip hop artist Willie ‘Wilo’ Usuramo. While recording this track, I had asked the producer, George, to find me a rapper who speaks Solomon Pidjin and wrote down what I needed to be translated and left for the UK.

“My nephew Marika Nakete took the song to the radio stations when it was finalised. I was still in the UK when it became number one on both Viti FM and Bula FM. I never met Wilo, the rapper, until two months later after the song had been playing on air.”
Vulakoro said she was happy at the way the songs and the whole album turned out and she felt that this album would be her best yet.

She said many significant events affected her career and life.

“I got married. We bought and built our home. The 2006 coup happened. At almost 48 years old, I had another baby. I got diagnosed with a brain tumour. Had the operation and had it removed. My marriage broke down,” she said.

“After my brain tumour operation in 2008, I lost the ability to write songs. In 2010 I tried composing, but couldn’t because I had forgotten how to do it. I asked around for help and with friends like Calvin Rore, Damiano Ralogaivau, the late Allan Alo, Master Igelese Ete, my brother Matai and nephew Marika they helped me to start writing again.

“Two of the first songs I wrote again was Bitu Kavoro and Bili Bara. Writing and recording the album was a dark time in my life. I was struggling to deal with all my issues and raising my young son Lote at the same time.

“I later realised that the actual process of writing and recording the album Bitu Kavoro helped me recover and regain my abilities as a songwriter and composer.

“Also being around close family and close musician friends, people that really love you played a huge part in my recovery. I thank God for my positive attitude and maintaining the positiveness throughout the dark times is so important. You kick the negativity out of your life and go full speed ahead.”

She thanked her family, musicians, friends who all had been part of her journey so far.

“We thank our wonderful sponsors; The Fiji Times, TABS Investments, Holiday Inn, Communications Fiji Ltd, Infinity Events Group, Profile Productions, Quality Print Ltd, Unitex Fiji, Procera Music and Vude Vibes,” she said.

Her main message to the audience was to come and show their support at the launch of the new album at the Holiday Inn Suva poolside tomorrow.

‘Sa ‘A Si’a Dina ‘Arai’ will be available soon from iTunes stores worldwide through iDigLig Records in Australia.