NGUVU Formed in 2017 by drummer Jamal Lewis-Service and featuring Giorgio Cacciapuoti and Isaac Walbrooke on guitars and Joe Stephenson on saxophone, with guest star Julie E Gordon on vocals, NGUVU aims to provide Manchester music scene with a powerful music so raw it will hit your core.
NGUVU's first effort wouldn't be the same without features such as J. Chambers on Wade in the Water - live, a perfect example of the unique, well-rounded blend of Funk, Soul, Hip-Hop, Afro-beats, Jazz, and many others. Curious For Music got a chance to chat with band member Jamal Lewis-Service. Join us in finding out more!
NGUVU released their EP 'Julie' in 2019, tell us some more about it! We're loving the track 'Souled Out' from there - super soulful indeed.
"JULIE" was our own tribute to our Original vocalist Julie E Gordon, who used to sing for Kasabian, Womack and Womack, and Happy Mondays. It’s a culmination of her work with us over the 2 years we were together in the band. As she was leaving to go work in Dubai, we decided to name the EP after her as a thank and as a proper send off. We did our EP Launch during the week of our Graduation, and it was also her last gig in the UK.
As for "Souled Out" that was originally meant to be a spoof of Bruno Mars' "24K Magic" and I had other lyrics written for it, but Julie ended up improvising the hook so we went with what she did in the end, which worked out better in my opinion.
What's the first record you bought Jamal?
The first record I ever bought was Jamiroquai's “Deeper Underground” single, which back then contained the single, the remix and the radio edited version. This was way back in 1997 when my mum bought me a Hi-Fi Stereo system for my birthday, which was a big deal for me at the time.
If you had to describe NGUVU's music in 3 words what would they be?
Powerful, Energetic and Engaging.
You only started in 2017 yet you've released a lot of music! How did you meet?
Most of us have met through Our time as music students at Salford University, and the band was formed as part of my final performance and composition project where I had to create a strong 30 minute set for my performance and I had to write a few musical pieces for my composition project. I merged the 2 projects together and performed the songs I wrote and we continued to develop the band from there. Our original vocalist Julie I met through being in a previous band of hers, our current vocalist Lois is the partner of one of our Guitarists, Isaac. Our MC, Jason I met through a hip-hop night I hosted at Band on The Wall during college, and our current Bassist Andrew I met doing through doing function work with a Guitarist named Trevor Moffatt from “Reality Band”, and who was the husband of the late great vocalist Diane Charlemagne, who was famous for singing “Inner City Life” with Drum and Bass legend Goldie.
What circumstances or events make you write songs?
I usually write whatever I feel whenever I feel like it, or if certain events trigger the need for us to comment on it. The process varies in a lot of ways. At first the instrumental ideas came first then lyrics were written to reflect the mood of the composition, so pretty much top-line writing, but as time foes by we’re starting to write about topics and situations that have affected us and the environment we’re and to then work on instrumentals that reflect the tone of the subject matter in the lyrics.
Regarding the rest of the songwriting process, for the most part I usually score out ideas as a template to let the rest of the band do their thing. The great thing about this process is that they manage to add so much of their character into the songs while still maintaining the form, but every time you listen back, you can instantly identify who's playing what because of their style of playing.
What instruments do you all play?
Our current Frontwoman is Lois Jaynne-Holmes, a phenomenally talented vocalist who's really grown and developed in a powerhouse in her own right, accompanying her on the mic is MC Jason “Jay” McCurdy, a dope MC I met during his time in the Drunkun Munks. As for Guitars, we have Giorgio Cacciopuoti and Isaac Walbrook, two Amazing musicians who really really compliment each other's style. On Sax and Keyboard we have Joe Stephenson, who has the most difficult task of balancing the 2 but does such a fantastic job at both. Our Bassist Andrew Fagan brings experience, heavy funk and a strong legacy to the band, and as for myself (Jamal Lewis-Service), I play the drums for the group, and occasionally raps when need be a la Anderson Paak.
Watch NGUVU's video for 'Thunder':
Which artists are you most inspired by and why?
Collectively, we take inspiration from many many different artists from modern musicians such as Jacob Collier, Vulfpeck, Hiatus Kaiyote, Cory Wong, to much older bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine Sounds of Blackness and Brand New Heavies. We also have a lot of love for local acts such as Miasma, Liquid Beach, ROBO DUKUN, JCK, J Chambers, Shady 80s, KAT.A, Suave Martyrs, Twisted Illusion, and Square Wild.
As far as myself individually, my number 1 influence is my uncle Myke Wilson, who to this day is one of UK’s finest drummers of all time, who played with some of the biggest names such as Lionel Richie, Corrine Bailey-Rae and Stevie Wonder. I also take inspiration from bands and artists such as Mint Condition, Level 42, Ian Dury and The Blockheads, Screaming Headless Toroso, 52nd Street and Cool Down Zone. Other than that, video game music and composers from games such as Streets of Rage, Sonic the Hedgehog and Fatal Fury have really played a role in how I write my songs.
The band collaborates with others regularly; what is it about collaboration that you enjoy most?
Collaboration helps up your game as a musician, and gives you the ability to gain new skills, knowledge and insight on how other artist and styles work. I'm lucky enough to have been raised musically learning and adopting different genres such as Reggae, Afro beat and Latin Jazz music, as I spent my time as a session player working with artists of various disciplines prior to forming NGUVU. I like to approach music the same way that Bruce Lee approaches Martials Arts, in the sense of being able to adapt to your environment, be open to learning different styles and techniques, to accept what's useful, reject what's useless and add what is uniquely yours.
Where did the band name come from? NGUVU is a pretty unusual word...
I got the idea whilst in University studying Ethnomusicology in my 2nd year in Uni which I came across the Swahili term “NGOMA” which means “dance” or to “move musically”, and later I researched the Swahili term “NGUVU” which translates to “power” “force”and “energy”, which I adopted for the band name as I felt it was shorter and straight to the point.
What's next for NGUVU musically?
Despite our current situation with the pandemic, we're still active and working on new releases, which we aim to get ready and done by the second quarter of 2021. We have a few dates in the pipeline but we'll see how things go, regardless, expect to see more content of us online in the near future, and updates on what we're up to on our socials. Our upcoming releases will be based around both Lois and Jason so definitely watch out for that when it comes out.
As far as I'm concerned, I'm getting involved with some musical theatre projects, as well as trying to secure funding for NGUVU projects moving forward. Isaac and Lois have a really cool duo project called “At_home_with_lilac which I’d recommend our fans to check out. As of today I've made it on the shortlist for a play by Kimbo Theatre in Liverpool, so pray for me that I get the gig. All in all, We'll be having a lot of exciting new things to look forward to in the coming year, as our goal is to thrive regardless of the environment.