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Ese on rock and roles

Vooduu People lead singer on busking, coming to Camden, and why Hendrix was ‘very feminine’

24 March, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Ese and the Vooduu People are set to play two live dates at the Dublin Castle in the coming weeks

TAKING a break this spring from recording her debut album, Ese Okorodudu, the lead singer and guitarist in rock trio Ese and the Vooduu People, is playing at the Dublin Castle at the end of the month.

And the band’s gigs at the legendary live music venue – they are booked to play twice on a stage that has launched so many – represent a welcome trip to NW1 for her and her band.

Ese is backed by former Noisette drummer Pharoah Russell and French bassist Basile Petite. Producer Jay Burnett, who will be cutting her debut album, has worked with the Beastie Boys, Run DMC, LL Cool J and Afrika Bambaataa, and has called Ese “the best natural singer I’ve heard in 30 years”.

Ese has cut her teeth busking – her solo sets outside Brixton Tube station have become the stuff of legend south of the river – and now the trio are set to give NW1 a flavour of her particular brand of rock and roll.

Hailing from Bermondsey, Ese says coming to Camden Town to watch bands at venues such as the Electric Ballroom and the Underworld were formative experiences for her.

“Camden was a huge place for me as I was growing up,” she said.

“We’d come here to listen to as many bands as we could, and hang out at the Lock to soak up the atmosphere.”

Playing original work, Ese draws on a range of influences that show a direct link to the 60s British blues explosion, through to more contemporary acts such as Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu.

“I didn’t play any instrument as a young kid but was heavily into music,” she said.

“I have a lot of older siblings so I’d hear their hip-hop, funk, jazz and rare groove.”

But she took up the cudgels for a heavier, rockier sound in her teenage years.

“I discovered grunge and indie music and then I remember at school there was a boy I liked – I was about 14 – and he gave me a tape that had Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and the Pixies on it. I was converted.”

And playing lead guitar and singing in a three-piece rock combo requires chutzpah, Ese admits.

“You can get very expressive with it,” she added.

“It has to be said, people think rock is some how manly music – like metal – it’s all balls out in its playing style. But think about it, people like Hendrix were also very feminine, the music is melodic, pretty. The problem you get is men try to take over when a women is doing something – when you are playing an instrument, they make suggestions. They say, ‘put the instrument down, wear a pretty dress, and give us a wiggle’. I ignore it and just get on with being as good as I can be.”

Ese and the Vooduu People are playing the Dublin Castle on Thursday, March 30 and Sunday, April 2. They are also appearing on Thursday, April 20 at the Kilburn Ironworks.

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