Vanucci is one of the hottest acts in Debrecen and he’s just released his newest single with an artistic video. HajduPress editor-in-chief László Reszegi recently talked with the soon to be doctor Nigerian musician.
You’ve been a bit quiet lately as an artist. What happened in the last year with you?
At the beginning of last year I was opened to be very consistent. The year started out very well until March, I had released three songs as well. I was making new songs, but a little shorter: a minute and a half and they had accompanying videos which were on Instagram. Then the pandemic and the lockdown became tighter and everything just sort of changed. All the plans to go out shoot videos or photo shoots fell apart. Everything just sort of became different and I guess I didn’t adapt fast enough. I am a medical student and I had to do some medical practices. I went to Szombathely, I was there for about five months. So I was working on a few new songs, but I wasn’t really able to do so much, because I wasn’t in my home studio. However in that time I started producing for one or two new artists as well so hopefully in April one of the songs come out with a pop artist with a very dark or maybe not dark but sad sound. So that was my last year.
There is a new song which has just been released and it’s called Gin and Tonic. What was the inspiration behind the song?
I drew inspiration mostly from my own experiences and also most fun stories of some of my close friends. I mean most of my friends are in my age range, we’re young. And now a lot of people having relationships and some people have two relationships a year or more. Because of this you hear the stories about relationships ended and how people have tried to cope with this breakup or pain. It doesn’t always have to be a romantic relationship, it could also be a friendship. I think those ones are even tougher because a lot of friendships especially the deep ones are rooted in. First of all time, but also in a lot of trust, a lot of memories, because a lot of times relationships can fizzle out in like half a year or something, but the little friendships are going for really long and when they end it can be very hard. When that happens a lot of people try to cope with this and it’s very hard, because there’s a lot of sadness and maybe they start turn into like drugs or sex or food or something else to sort of cope and numb the pain, but you know the problem with this is it just push it to the back and allows it to grow bigger and doesn’t solve it. Then it’s even worse and so that’s what Gin and Tonic is about.
How come the title?
Gin and tonic is a really famous cocktail. I started DJing in 2019. When you are a DJ – depending on the club – you might be close to the bar and I found out that gin and tonic is very popular drink. It’s really easy to make for the bartenders and also something that’s on the top of people’s minds struggling to make a decision they’re either going for a gin and tonic or a Jack and Coke. I used gin and tonic as a metaphor for using alcohol to cope with pain.
Do you personally like that drink?
Not necessarily. I’m not a big drinker. Like I said I used to DJing and I had a drink the whole night or just have one thing because I normally feed up the energy of the people, the music and people dancing. But when I do drink sometimes I would rather have a Jack and Coke than a gin and tonic, but yeah I guess it fits this song really well and when I was writing it felt more natural in the context of the song and with the melodies.
Let’s talk about the video you made for the song.
I think I’m trying to invest more in music videos, because since I started releasing music I only have one real video. I’ve had videos of myself singing on Instagram or YouTube, but they different. Now I wanted to invest more in the visual media because I really like it. I
would love to make films at some point in my life. So there will be a video for this song. Shot by me, the cinematographer is Tersee Gemana, a good friend of mine. He’s very talented, very experienced and we shot this video here in Debrecen in the winter. It was really difficult, because a lot of the scenes were outside and it was very cold and I was only wearing like a white shirt so I was basically freezing. Even when we shot inside there’s a scene where I’m in a bathtub coming out of some water and I was really cold as well so I was even freezing. It was really difficult vide to make because of the restrictions. We had to make sure we’re going shooting before curfew. So everyone could go back home, because we had one or two people helping out and also because of the cold.
You’ve been living Debrecen for years now. How do you describe living here? What did you learn from living here?
Living in Debrecen has changed a lot over the past, because I’ve been here for about seven and a half year. The social scene has changed because of infrastructure, so like there’s been like new places to go and that sort of change dynamic of where people spend their time and how people spend their time. And I think it has become a bit more advanced, a bit more social than before. Before it was just a few places you could go to meet friends and have like some sort of social encounters, but recently there’s been more places and so it’s become bigger, more urban. But personally the one thing I’ve really learned over the past couple of years is to surround yourself with good people. Also try to be invested in community somehow. Give back to the community or try and at least participate in the community. Because no matter where you are in the world, it’s important that we participate. Because that’s where we learnwe see things by participating we make mistakes. For example I was in the Nigerian Students Association. I’m from Nigeria and we had a student association and I was in the association for about 3-4 years. I performed music here in festivals and you learn a lot about this. You learn about people, what people like, what they don’t like, you learn how you can help them. You also learn about yourself: what it is that you like and what you don’t. Because sometimes you might think you like something until you know it’s presented to you and then you realize maybe that’s not for me and it allows you to grow as a person. So I think it is something I’ve really learned is to participate in and always try new things.
Speaking of Nigeria last year last autumn or end of summer there was a big hype around #EndSARS and I went to the first local demonstration. There’s a big community here from Nigeria and they were so heartful and really strong together. How can you describe the Nigerian community here in Debrecen?
First of all I think we have the most popular community among the students. I was the Nigerian Student Association president for a year maybe. I said I also served in the Association in different capacity and one thing I realized and it’s not always easy to bring people together, but it’s the Nigerian spirit. There’s this resilience that we have and togetherness and we try to fight for each other, look up to each other. And also when you are far away from home it’s important to have that community of people from home just because there’s some things that will never be understood by someone else who doesn’t know the culture, who doesn’t understand the people. It would only be understood by your brothers and sisters from same country. It’s important to have that so we do have that together and doing the #EndSARS protest was very clear that we were feeling the pain of those people who had lost their lives back home in Nigeria. And it was before our eyes and obviously not do anything about it. But we saw on Twitter, it was on a lot of social media platforms. I would have loved to be there but I was in Szombathely at this time so I couldn’t come but I followed it online and a lot of my friends were there. It was really sad, but it was also beautiful to see that even though we are millions or thousands of miles away from our home we are still in supporting, we’re still feel what our brothers back home feel.
Let’s get back to music. What have you been listening lately?
Recently I’ve been listening a lot of things. I’m listening to a lot more sad pop music mostly because of the artist I’m producing. Her name is Faith and since I’ve been working with her it’s also affected my own sound and she’s introduced me to a few of these artists. I really like this music because the songwriting is very powerful, very deep, very emotional. I’ve also been listening to some hyperpop like Sophie and Dorian Electra. I’ve also been listening to a lot more James Blake now. I’ve always been listening to him, but I think recently I’m finding myself more connected to his music so I’m listening a lot more Blake. And a lot more Giveon. He’s an R&B artist. While I was trying to find inspiration for the music video for Gin and Tonic I was looking around and I watched a lot of his videos and it was really the feeling and vibe. Also more afrobeat, of course. Just on the side maybe if I’m doing the dishes or something I just turn some new afrobeat to see what’s on the tracks. Because hasn’t been parties and normally when you are a DJ you have to like be on top of like what’s the new song
How do you see your future as an artist? What are your plans?
For me for the next 18 months I really want to be a lot more consistent. So my plan is to try and release a song every other month. I want to try and make more investments in the music videos and also in the marketing. Because I think before it’s something that’s been neglected. I see a lot of my artist circles as well marketing is not something a lot of artists – including myself – would do well, very few people do it well and it’s not because we’re dumb. Because it’s not easy to actually have a strong marketing campaign. A lot of big artists have teams doing the whole marketing campaign, so when you have one artist who is a student as well it’s very hard to go ahead. Also money wise because marketing isn’t only about having a good marketing idea. You’ll need money to be able to push your stuff. Marketing I think almost 40% or 50% of music. I realize this in the past year, because it’s one thing to make something great in art in general or something that you like something you think people would like, but it’s just half of it, the other half is actually pushing it to people so they can hear it, so you have to spend time like pushing it and trying your best to make sure that people get to see this thing that you created, so it’s not just wasted or it’s not you can get the attention it deserves.
So you would like to grow as an artist and you would like to become a doctor?
Yes, hopefully my parents don’t read HajduPress. Because I think for me being a doctor is interesting, but it’s not the biggest thing for me. I love music maybe more I love art in general. I would love to make songs, I’d love to make film, I would love to create all forms of art, but maybe even more than I would like to be a doctor. But doesn’t mean being a doctor is not something I would love to do, it’s something I want for awhile for sure, but it has a time and place.
If there will be a magician fish and you could ask only one thing to be a really successful doctor or a really successful artist you would chose the artist.
Yes, I think the question answers itself. With medical studies I’m in my final year. I graduated this year and I have the knowledge, I have the skills, you have a paper that says you are a doctor. I know I’m not gonna have that. Mostly because it would allow me to just create and it’s something I love doing. Not saying that there is no art in medicine, because there is in the way of certain art in treating people. I would love to be a psychiatrist when I start my residency and so there is a certain art in all of that even if you were searching, you know. I guess the sort of art that I gravitate towards more of the classical art like the music and film and all that.
Let’s talk about this film stuff. You mentioned a few times that you directed your first video and and also this new one. Can you imagine making a film or clip for somebody else?
Yes, of course. My friend who shot this video also the one who shot my next video which is also in the works right now. He went back to Nigeria because he graduated and he is a doctor. We had an idea to start like a little film studio and make some short films and stuff. It didn’t really come to fruition as we would have liked. But I do see myself making more classical films, short films or long form films, it’s something I believe I really need to get the apprenticeship in so I need to do more of my homework. I am in film because I think the language of film is very complex, because it’s not only in music when you have the soundscape and then you have the lyrics – if there’s lyrics – and that’s where the two worlds are clashing and maybe in the video can also be expressed. But in filmmaking there are many more levels: there’s the script you, need to have a good story, you have to find the right actors, you have to shoot it, you have to shoot it in the right way, the marketing part of it, so there are so many more layers. I think filmmaking is not easy so I would really have to earn my badges before I start making the kind of things I do want to make, but you have to start somewhere I guess.
We talked about how do you see yourself in the future. But where do you see yourself?
That’s a good question. Actually I thought about this and maybe on purpose I didn’t want to give myself a strong answer, which I don’t know if it’s good or bad. I think it’s better to think in specifics, because that way you know what you’re looking for is you have a goal. The more specific you make the goal, the more attainable it is. I plan on going to Berlin to work as a doctor. I guess in the end when you’re working in show business a lot of people end up in the United States. You don’t have to of course, but that’s where like the creatives are. It’s easier to work with people you can drive to them rather than sending sessions over the Internet, which is also possible. Location is important, but I know it’s not the most important thing because of the Internet now. You don’t necessarily have to be in the same place, but it’s important to be in the right place as well. So I see myself in one of the big hub of art, so that’s why I’m saying Berlin, London or somewhere like Los Angeles. I don’t say New York, that’s too crowded. Most importantly the hope is I’m getting into these places, because my career has gotten to a point where I have a good solid fan base that support my music and they want to hear more. And this will allow me to make this move into like bigger place, meeting maybe bigger artists in my genre and collaborating, so that that’s where I want to be to be in the hub of art. Where I can use my talents and my time and my resources to serve my fanbase.
You mentioned that releasing a song every other month. Do you ever think about releasing a whole album?
Up to this point I have released 2 EPs. I do think about releasing an album, but I think it is not the time for me to release and now I don’t yet feel like it. Also the music industry sort of changed, streaming has changed things and right now I think singles are more a better way to release music and you can release a couple of singles and then at the end put them all in an album and rerelease them and will be at one or two songs and this is a better strategy to get your album to be listened to I guess. In the age of streaming of course albums are not dying away it almost means that you would have to be better now even has to be more has to be catchier, you have to put more work into it. But I think for now I’m focusing on singles and releasing these singles, because it can also help me target and build my fanbase.
Name a perfect album.
I’m a big Kendrick Lamar fan so I would say To Pimp a Butterfly is 10 / 10 for me. I can listen to that album over and over and over again and it would always be a feeling. Not to sound very vanilla, but Thriller is also perfect. I listen to Thriller a lot mostly because when I was little my father had a lot of Michael Jackson CDs. So we have a Thriller CD and the video CD and you would watch it over and over again and it just felt like you were noticing something new at the time we listen to it even till today. The production on it was amazing and I’ve even seen documentaries about it and how there was a first version of the album that Michael Jackson hated and he was crying when he heard the first. There were pictures of him crying in the studio, he left the studio into the hallway and was just sitting there, because he didn’t like it. They basically rework the whole album. It’s amazing that this is what they came out with. I don’t know what the first one sounded like.
Someone who reads this interview and haven’t heard about you before which would be the song from your collection to start with? Which one describes you the most?
It’s a hard question. I don’t think right now I have a favorite song. But I have think a little bit, maybe I would pick three. First from my first EP there’s a song called Holding on. I wrote everything on it. There’s a vocalist on it and her name is Dara, a friend of mine and she was amazing. I wrote the lyrics and I think it really defines my writing style, because it’s very emotional, very thoughtful, very poetic. Then I say Like a Fire, because I like a lot of love songs and I think that’s the one of my favorite that I’ve written and also this one, Gin and Tonic of course. I think it’s obvious you’re involving and you know every new edition of yourself is maybe your favorite. Maybe in two years I wouldn’t like it either, but right now I think I worked so hard on all the song. I had to mix and master myself because that’s just the way I’m working right now and I spent a lot of time with the song tweaking a lot of things so I would recommend these three.