Story: Jack Foley
OI VA VOI's début album, Laughter Through Tears,
is described as the sound of six young Londoners searching for
an identity in 21st Century Europe.
It will officially be launched at Bush Hall, in Uxbridge Road,
Shepherd's Bush, on Wednesday, October 1, when the band will be
playing selected tracks, with support from Earl Zinger, KT Tunstall
and Quantic (DJ set).
Steeped in the rhythms of Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean,
the Caribbean and beyond, Laughter Through Tears is described
as 'the soundtrack to 1001 Urban Nights'.
According to their record label, Outcaste, the album consists
of poignant universal stories, beautifully told though folk-tinged
songs like Refugee and Yesterday's Mistakes, as
well as tracks such as 7 Brothers, with its deepest of
grooves, which draws as much on modern dance music as their Jewish
Oi Va Voi burst onto the music scene in 2000, when the six members
of the group decided to team up and draw on their disparate musical
Trumpeter, Lemez Lovas, started out DJing leftfield jazz, Latin
and hip-hop, while drummer, Josh Breslaw, had hit the fatback
beat in hip-hop and rock outfits.
Sophie Solomon played out as a drum 'n' bass DJ, as well as
gaining praises from Nigel Kennedy, among others, for her talent
as a violinist.
The buzz surrounding the band subsequently grew as they won over
crowds everywhere from Glastonbury to New York's Knitting Factory.
Oi Va Voi tunes appeared on the best-selling Buddha Bar compilations,
there were remixes by garage DJ Kriminal Gangsta and innovative
dance producer, Hefner.
Then, last year, the group received two nominations in the BBC
Radio 3 World Music Awards, the only artists to be nominated for
both the Boundary Crossing and Listeners' Award categories; and
all this from a band that then had no official CD release to their
Although they started out by taking old klezmer tunes and giving
them 21st Century beats, the group soon broadened out their sound,
dipping into everything that they heard around them (one early
suggested title for this album was Magpie Music).
Their big break finally came late last year, when they signed
to Outcaste, a label with a proven track record in nurturing uncompromising,
talented British artists like Nitin Sawhney and Badmarsh &
Earlier this year the band went into the studio with producers
Kevin Bacon and Jonathan Quarmby (whose previous credits include
David Bowie and Finley Quaye) and programmer Tony Economides (Da
Lata and Nitin Sawhney) and re-emerged with Laughter Through
Long time fans of the band will recognise some of the tunes from
their incendiary live shows (for which they've been compared to
everyone from Massive Attack to the Pogues!), but there's also
new material, composed in the burst of creative energy, which
followed their signing to Outcaste.
The band felt that it was important to create something distinct
from the full-on nature of their live performances. They wanted
to take full advantage of the range of possibilities offered by
a modern studio.
According to Outcaste's Jamie Renton: "You underestimate
the breadth and power of this band's sound at your peril. They
are forging a new, true identity, which both draws on their roots
and celebrates the cultural pluralism that surrounds us all.
"Like the tastes of the best contemporary fusion cookery,
the images of cutting edge art or the prose of postmodern urban
writers such as Zadie Smith, Oi Va Voi create something new through
mixing and matching ingredients that they know, love and understand.