Artists nowadays CAN be slightly formulaic, fitting some ideal template for a successful recording artist. Nigerian born Lady Vendredi however kicks dirt (with bits of sharp stone in it) in the face of this ‘ideal template’.
Her debut single ‘What Time Is It?’ was a heady alchemy of sounds that maybe should not work (the adage ‘too many cooks’ comes to mind) but it does with a triumphant blast of something that is old yet somehow new (particularly in today’s musical landscape); blaxploitation elements, jazz, afrocentric beats, smatterings of hip-hop and West African sounds are readily incorporated into this most individual of debuts with its rousing chorus.
To say that musical output sums up Lady Vendredi however would be reductive. Lady Vendredi is more than an artist, she is a ‘movement’ of force and in the interview it was plain to see that Lady V has more than one string to her rather large bow.
Ok so first off let’s talk about the fact that you are backed by the one and only Gilles Peterson - that’s huge?
You are right, that was / is absolutely amazing. Gilles Peterson and a few other people set up a trust called the Steve Reed Foundation - Steve Reed was this amazing jazz drummer who drummed with everyone, but he unfortunately died in poverty. I won an award set up for innovative musicians and now I have been able to develop the project. Winning the competition has meant that I have been set up with mentors, animators and other people - this year it is all falling into to place.
Lady Vendredi - why the name?
Well, Lady Vendredi is a fictional character created by myself and the director of the show and ‘Lady Vendredi’ just happens to be releasing music as well - she has this whole meta narrative of afro-futurism and blaxploitation. I was inspired by the Haitian culture and the whole Baron Samedi voodoo lord idea. The character is depicted in a lot of sloppy 70’s blaxploitation films. He is the voodoo lord of the dead, we took his persona and what he represents and created Lady Vendredi.
So tell me more about the project.
The project has many different parts; the music, the live band, there are some performers, actors…it’s actually so much. The EP and the album are concept projects, rather like hip-hop artists used to do. The single ‘What Time Is It?’ has influences based on the Ebo rhythm, which is a Haitian voodoo rhythm.
Words by Semper Azeez-Harris.
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'The Passion of Lady Vendredri' 12-30 April @Soho Theatre. Info/Tickets here