Oi Va Voi talk immigration, hope and survival on new single ‘Arrival’. The band are back from their nine year hiatus with a live show at the Islington Assembly Hall on Monday. “The theme of immigrant experience is always present at some level in our music, and here we wanted to focus in on the moment of a person's arrival into a new, unfamiliar country.” says founding member Josh Breslaw “The great bank of trombones at the opening is all of that foreboding and importance about what might lie in wait. Then Steve's vocal begins to ask the questions of this new land, with his searching clarinet joining in as the momentum builds in the background. Despite the difficulty of the journey, one line of hope and determination repeats itself: "I'll pace the walkway of my life, I am no longer alone"; and when the song explodes into its driving final section, all fast and heavy and electric, we still hear this soft line repeating in the background. We always believe in a commonality between people, and Arrival calls it out loudly.”
Oi Va Voi have long been standard bearers of musical exploration and artistic integrity. Whilst the sound has developed and the personnel has evolved, the vision has remained the same. The band mix subtle, dynamic rhythms and western melodic sensibility with the folk music of their Jewish and East European heritage and deliver it live with a trademark energy and dynamism. From their earliest days Oi Va Voi have managed to resist categorisation while remaining internationally accessible.
As their journey resumes with a new album and a dynamic, expanded live show, the Oi Va Voi sound of 2018 is more nuanced than before - the songs are more worldly, and carry a greater social urgency. The vibrant energy remains though, along with a unifying and heartfelt message of our common humanity in a world which seems increasingly polarised.
For their forthcoming album, Memory Drop, founding members Josh Breslaw (drums) and Steve Levi (clarinet/vocals), along with trumpeter Dave Orchant and guitarist Michael Vinaver, make up the core songwriting quartet. Also prominent on the album is the spellbinding, virtuosic violinist Anna Phoebe, who has appeared live with Oi Va Voi while building a successful solo career.
Since the early days with KT Tunstall to the last record with Rudimental’s Bridgette Amofah, Oi Va Voi has also featured a female guest singer, and the latest line-up includes 6 songs from stunning new vocalist Zohara. “She has a spellbinding voice,” says Josh. “When we first heard her we sent her a track and she sent it straight back with a vocal that blew us away. So we sent her another track – and then another.”