Music Q&A:
Vama

Romania’s biggest indie rockers arrive in the UK ahead of their new album release Better. Frontman Tudor Chirila chats ahead of a show at Factory, Manchester, 26 Oct

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What informs your music and songwriting?
Most of all, our relationship as band mates. But other people’s music too, as well as our own ideas, beliefs, various stages of consciousness, stories, life in general. A band of great, talented musicians is always an inspiration so ultimately our music is shaped by our influences.

How have you evolved as a band over the years?

Our background is rather different. For example, Eugen (guitarist) has a lot of experience with blues, folk and rock music. In time, he learned the famous and valuable lesson “less is more”, a rule he thinks is one of the most important ones in music. On the other hand, Tudor (singer) brought to our music many things from his acting skills and even though his lyrics revolve mainly around the same themes, he always changes the approach. As we grow old and hopefully less stupid, I think we can can now perceive things in many different manners. Overall, we are confident that over time we have improved our overall technique.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
We have recently released our latest album Better, the third one from our career. It’s a totally different experience for us, considering the Brit-rock concept of the project. In addition to this, we’d love to expand our fan base by performing in new territories. This is the reason we decided to go on tour with Better. We believe our stories might be attractive to new audiences.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
A long time ago, I got up on stage kind of stoned along with my fellow keyboard player. It felt like years until we finished one song and I had the continuous feeling that everyone else in the band was way ahead of us on the score. It was a nightmare. Like when you dream someone’s trying to kill you and you would run but you are just too slow.

What song do you wish you’d written?
A couple of hundred.

Tell us a bit about your sound and your influences?
The sound of our new album, Better, is the result of a happy collaboration with the UK-based producer James Lewis. We managed to work together on very diverse material. We’d say it is an indie-pop-rock album with some electro and glam-pop vibes. With regards to our sound, it has many influences from our personal (and different) music collections. There are so many that we can’t really tell what exactly determined the way we wrote and composed this album. But aside from this, we want to mention several bands and artists that helped us craft our current sound: Jezabels, Dave Matthews Band, Nothing But Thieves, White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys, Imagine Dragons, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Mumford and Sons, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Ry Cooder, The Libertines, Royksopp, Tosca, Placebo, Blue October, Queens of the Stone Age, The Dining Rooms, Snowmine, Tom Waits, Van Morisson, Rolling Stones, Dreamtheatre.

How has your sound evolved over the years?
Most of all, with a lot of money invested in the rig.

What’s it like to operate in the music industry today?

Hard enough and exciting at the same time. The industry here is so different than the western music industry. We still fight things other countries overcame a long time ago. Our music industry is young and lacks a lot of legal and economical regulations. We witnessed a lot of changes and we had to adapt. The digital era has pros and cons and we need to understand better how things are moving. Anyway, what we are trying to say is that Romanian artists are forced to keep eyes wide open to all these ongoing changes. The genre segmentation has almost disappeared, the way people search and listen to music has dramatically changed, anyone has access to advanced technology so music can now be produced in a 20 square metre room. Competition is tougher than ever, as well as the fight for grabbing fans’ attention toward your songs. It’s a tough world out there.

How do you stand out from the crowd in a saturated industry?
In a consumer society, the music became a natural reflection of society’s culture. Considering this, having a hit on heavy rotation on the radio is a huge satisfaction for a rock band. We gained so much live experience during the shows we played in our country. We are good musicians, good people that usually get involved in civic activities and people say we have better than average lyrics. We do pay a lot of attention to our lyrics indeed, since the mainstream music made this part of a song seem insignificant or even shallow.

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