Vulnerable, empowering and absolutely furious, VUKOVI’s new record is an important and intense listen.
VUKOVI have just released their new album ‘NULA’ via LAB Records, and it is a potent and powerful experience.
A concept album set in the distant future, telling the story, the struggles and the revenge of NULA, an alien kept captive by an evil capitalist for 25 years before she has the chance to escape.
Yet despite its star-gazing setting, it is a record that is a lot closer to home for vocalist Janine Shilstone, allowing her the space to vent about her life and experiences in a way she hasn’t before and take control of the things that previously felt like she couldn’t.
Here, we chat to her about all of the sentiments that make up this defiant, dark and direct piece of art…
COMING TO TERMS WITH THE FACT THAT YOUR SONGS ARE NO LONGER JUST YOUR PERSONAL SOLACE
“To already hear people’s reactions to these songs and their interpretations of what we have been trying to do, it makes you realise that this thing is no longer just yours. You’re giving something away. Once it’s out in the world, you can’t take it back. That’s it, and there’s something magical about music. It just makes it so real. These aren’t just our songs anymore. They are for everybody. There are a lot of different themes throughout the album, and it is pretty scary. You’re giving people a piece of your soul. But it is everything when it resonates and changes people’s lives; I never thought I would say that. Seeing the positive effects of what we have done, it’s overwhelming.”
REALISING THAT YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF WHAT YOU DO IN THIS LIFE
“There was a moment when everything changed for me, my whole outlook on life. Our music has always been very expressive emotionally over the years, but I had a reset. I got to the point where I knew I couldn’t live my life the way I was. I wanted to enjoy it. I feel like there are too many people out there who feel as though they aren’t enough. And I got to the point where I thought, ‘Fuck this’, and the best way for me to express that was through writing with the band. I didn’t want to sugarcoat anything anymore because I feel like there are too many things these days making people feel like they are too much and can’t come out and speak about what is going on in their lives.
“Musically, we both felt like we had nothing to lose. We only have one life; I know I have spent much of mine just existing. Now was the time to change that, so Hamish and I set out to push things as far as possible. Who are we trying to impress here? Nobody. It’s not about how we can fit in or be cool or accepted or what will be reviewed the best. It was just about going into ourselves and creating something with so much heart and passion. For us, that’s something we knew we could be so proud of.”
FEELING THE BENEFITS OF NOT HOLDING BACK AND REAPING THE REWARDS
“This whole process has been very liberating emotionally, and then the music has evolved with us simultaneously. This album is about empowerment, healing, and growth, which means a lot more than just music. Honestly, getting to the other side of something that you didn’t think you would get through gives you so much hope. It also gives you hope for other people as well. And it’s like a genuine hope and something you can honestly believe in because you have lived it, survived it, and made it through.”
USING ART TO DIVE INTO THINGS THAT YOU WOULDN’T NORMALLY BE ABLE TO EXPRESS
“Weirdly, it wasn’t intentional to have Nula as a character be so close to me, but the more I sat on, the more it developed. Because I am writing a graphic novel alongside all of this, and the more I worked on these songs, the more I realised how close it was to me. And when I would talk to close friends, the more they would say, ‘You do realise this is all about you, don’t you?’ and I would be like, ‘No, it’s not!’ I just wanted it all to be more symbolic, and I feel like it can also be a barrier. It’s more a form of escapism because it is based in the future and a universe of its own. In the graphic novel, it’s more a case of me showing how I see the future for us all, but then it is laced with this specific survival story of an alien that has been kidnapped and exploited.”
KNOWING THAT THERE IS NO END TO THE STORY, LIFE CONTINUES
“This album is not even about closure because I don’t think you can close a book or chapter on certain things. They are just a part of you now. These things will stay with you for the rest of your life, and that’s okay. It’s about accepting it, learning from it and being a better person from it. It wasn’t a case of me getting all of this off my chest and thinking, ‘My life is going to be fantastic now’, because that’s not life. I’m happy with how it ends, and I feel like the way it ends is more of a new chapter within my journey. I wanted it to be positive, powerful, empowering, and then a case of seeing where we go and what happens next. I hope it gives people the strength and motivation to say, ‘I’ve got this’.”
NOT BEING AFRAID TO SHOW OFF AND BE PROUD OF EVERY PART OF WHO YOU ARE
“Empowerment is what shapes you as a person. Not having any shame about what you have been through or what you are experiencing is what fuels it. It’s about feeling like you are enough, and not enough people want to be truly themselves within that feeling. There are too many fucking sheep in this world. I feel like there is a lot of disingenuine feeling in the world, especially within social media. Individualism is beautiful. There is so much beauty in uniqueness and expressing that uniqueness. It just makes the world a more fascinating and multi-fascinated place to be. Even as a band, we don’t want to be like anyone else. We may not like ourselves sometimes, but we want to be our true and best selves. Talking to fans who have let us know that our music has allowed them to be their true and best selves and not be scared to express themselves, that’s everything.”
ALLOWING YOURSELF A CHANCE TO FEEL PROUD OF HOW FAR YOU HAVE COME
“It’s hard to admit that you have done something special because people don’t tend to like giving themselves praise or empathy. That’s something I have learned, allowing empathy. Something that has clicked over the last couple weeks is looking back on who I was in the past and actually having empathy for that person. That person isn’t another person. That’s me. And that’s okay. It’s not being selfish. It’s giving yourself a bit of self-love. You need to believe in yourself and the possibilities that are before you. We have been through so much as a band and faced almost everything, and we have become very resilient because of that. There have been many rejections and setbacks, and I feel we can take on most things now.”