Thursday, 01 June 2017 16:09

Music With A Message: Vox Vidorra readies for hot summer ahead of politically heated new LP

Written by  Eric Mitts
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Ever since its inception, Vox Vidorra has set out to engage audiences’ minds, bodies and souls. 

On the indie-soul group’s debut LP, 2015’s Promise Land, Vox Vidorra got into important issues like racial inequality, religious intolerance and more, while keeping its feet firmly planted in the harmonic beauty of the bygone days of Motown. 

With such a strong sense of civic responsibility and rich musical history, it only felt right that the Grand Rapids band get together to begin recording its second album on the day after the presidential election last November. 

“We captured a lot of the energy that infested our lives at that time and we tried our damnedest to create something beautiful out of it,” said multi-instrumentalist Scott Schultz. “It felt like an absolute necessity to get these songs off our chests when we found out that we officially had to say the words ‘President’ and ‘Trump’ together.”

Vox Vidorra had an explosion of songwriting during the two years since Promise Land, penning 19 songs together that the band set about recording with co-producer/engineer Tommy Schichtel at Goon Lagoon Studios in Grand Rapids. Currently, the band is editing and mixing the album at Stone House Recording in Grand Rapids with Josh Kaufman and Peter Fox.

“We’re diagnosing problems with our society and putting ourselves and our relationships in the conversation,” Schultz said about Vox Vidorra’s socially conscious songwriting. “It’s damn near impossible to write about your world without confronting its problems. A lot of songs on the next record are directed at particular moments we’ve experienced in the last couple years and trying to make sense out of it.”

Although there’s no set date yet for the new album, Vox Vidorra aims to release the LP sometime later this summer. 

Earlier this spring, the group released the album’s first single, Makin’ Me Wonder, via a 360-degree video. The band also plans to tease a few more tracks in the coming months as the record nears completion.

“It’s sounding amazing,” Schultz said of the new LP. “It’s bigger and even more diverse than Promise Land. I think our songwriting has become more confident and refined. We’ve gotten better at our instruments, at challenging ourselves and challenging each other. Our world has changed and we’re responding to it — from the Flint water crisis to all the police shootings of unarmed black men and boys, to our current political climate.”

Known for switching up instruments onstage, the members of Vox Vidorra have also worked a lot on their live show, making sure the sets flow together nicely while meeting the challenges of playing in front of diverse and different audiences in a wide variety of venues all over Michigan. 

Centered around vocal virtuoso Molly Bouwsma-Schultz, Vox Vidorra began in early 2014. Bouwsma-Schultz had just won her category during Artprize 2013 for the song In My Heart (To the Moon) when she decided she wanted to do more musically than just perform cover songs with other local bands.

Together with her husband, Scott Schultz, the pair began playing shows with multi-instrumentalist Ryan Wilson before later meeting multi-instrumentalist Theo Ndawillie II at that year’s Lamp Light Music Festival. Assembled, the group pulled in influences ranging from jazz to indie-rock and immediately earned well-deserved attention within the West Michigan music scene.

In just three years since, Vox Vidorra has played hundreds of shows, from bars and breweries to festivals, libraries and even the illustrious Frederik Meijer Gardens, where the band was joined onstage by a string quartet.

“We are living in the best time for music in Grand Rapids, ever,” Schultz said. “It’s happening right now, everywhere. And it’s only getting better with more venues and more artists playing more and more diverse music. It’s absolutely inspiring.”

Adding that he’s constantly blown away by the “preciously wild energy” of Kalamazoo’s The Go Rounds, Schultz explained that Vox Vidorra is just trying to connect more and more dots musically.

The band’s name translates to “Voice of the life you’re meant to lead.” Taken from both Spanish and Latin, the phrase has become the band’s mission statement, driving its members to push themselves and their audience to do more, live with purpose, and rise together.

“It’s our goal as Vox Vidorra to be an influence on following the voice of the life you’re meant to live,” Schultz said. “When you connect with our music, we hope to be a light that helps guide that path.”

 

Here’s a small selection of Vox Vidorra’s summer shows:

Electric Forest Festival, Rothbury, Mich. — June 24

Farm Block Festival Allouez, Mich. — July 28-30

Short’s Fest, Elk Rapids, Mich. — Aug. 5

Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF), Grand Rapids, Mich. — Aug. 17

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