It’s 26 below 0. The bouncer’s beard is full of ice as he collects cover, but stepping inside the Capital it’s warm – and busy. Onstage singing visceral songs of heartbreak and loneliness backed by shimmering, dreamy guitars, Vulva Culture has transfixed the audience. Though sad and slow music is often associated with a night alone as opposed a night out, the band still excites and connects with the crowd.
While their name may spark conversation, the all-female Halifax group chalks up their captivating ways to a commitment to honest, baring, song writing. “We’re really expressive and I feel like that’s what people connect with. I mean we’re slow and sad, but it sirs up something in people,” says Amy V, guitarist and singer. “I just try and be honest and I feel people respond really well to that.”
This honesty is core to their art. Recently, the group released an EP of videos for their songs “Human Garbage,” “Super Moon,” “Bloody” and “Phantom Limb.” The videos – each of which features a woman performing a relatively mundane task – seem at first to be a strange fit with the deep loneliness found in their songs.
However, the videos give a perspective on women not normally shown. “You know women are so glamourized and sensationalized…the whole idea was to show women doing things that were really mundane and every day; just feeding themselves, grooming themselves,” says Amy.
The videos, a collaboration with a local Halifax filmmaker, are the band’s chosen way of getting their work out. “I just love having visuals for everything, and for the most part when someone wants to hear something, if it isn’t Bandcamp, they’re looking on YouTube. I feel like it motivates people more to check out a song if there’s a video attached to it.”
Videos or not, their music holds it’s own. Self-described ‘Gothic Slumber Queens’, their hazy, longing vocals feel pulled straight from the mind of a person lost in loneliness. Backing up the vocals is a pair of effect-laden guitars, weaving a slow, dream-like blanket of sound around the listener and pulling them in. But as sad as their songs can be, there’s a certain comfort around the melancholy in its bare honesty and reliability.
Besides the artistry of their work, celebrating women is a value kept close to the hearts of the four band members and is reflected in their name. “It popped into my brain out of nowhere…I had this song on a compilation and when [they] asked what I wanted to be called I was like ‘I dunno, Vulva Culture,” says Amy.
From a one-woman show, the band slowly grew through friendships and an immersion in the Halifax music scene, to it’s current 4-member set. “I had been playing music for a little while and I knew Hannah through the same circle of friends, so [her] and I were the only ones who had been really close friends before,” said Amy. “ Then I had seen Kayla play with like her other groups in the city, and really respected her as a musician.”
Bianca, was brought in through Hannah. “[She] introduced me to Bianca because I really wanted to play drums at some point so she was like you should check out this girl. I met Bianca, and had one drum lesson with her and just kinda fell in love, the feeling was mutual.”
As she added members to the band, the name stuck and grew from a simple thought into a reflection of the band itself. “I was playing with women I really respected…I guess it’s just a little name to celebrate the fact that I play with the best women ever, and that the women are playing in general.”
Despite their melancholy lyrics, the band is far from sad on stage. “It’s kind of funny how sad the music sounds versus how much fun it is to be on stage and perform with each other,” says V, “the songs come from really intense feelings, when I’m alone, but when I bring it to these people that I love, they turn it into something other people really like, and we really like playing.”
Taking their chemistry to the road, Friday’s show kicked off a short tour including stops Montreal and Ottawa before returning to Halifax, and back to their own every-day lives. “I wish I had more time for music, and I’m really excited to be doing this, but we all have to work to pay our bills,” said Kayla. The next step for the band is getting into the summer festival tour. “We’ve applied to a few [festivals] that we want to take the time and travel to.”
This dedication to the road hasn’t slowed down their song writing however. “We have a new single that’s coming out when we get back,” says V. “We‘re gonna keep recording, and work on a few more EP’s that we’ve written, and we want to do more videos.”
In the end, Vulva Culture is a project of love, regardless of success, “…we love each other and are really supportive of what each other are doing.” More than a band, they’re as close as it gets. “I’ve got three sisters, by different misters…my musical siblings”
For more info check out Vulva Culture’s Facebook page.