Delai Dokidoki and Black Rose may be the current stars of the local music scene but they owe their success in part to those who came before them.
The two bands may have very different styles, Dokidoki is a trio of brothers who sing along to programmed music while Black Rose is a live band that fuses traditional Fijian chants with modern techno beats but what they both have in common is an approach pioneered by the likes of Seru Serevi, Laisa Vulakoro and Georgina Ledua.
You may not be familiar with their names but they are household names in Fiji – stars in their own world, the world of Vude. Vude in Fijian literally means “floating”.
In music, it’s the combination of old Fijian chants with modern music. “It’s the rhythm of floating,” says Seru Serevi, the King of Vude. “You can go up with the waves and down with it.”
It all started in 1980 with Serevi recording his first album called “Vude”. This happened to be the first Vude album and the trend took off.
In 1993, the first Fijian CD recorded was recorded by South Pacific Recordings and released internationally.
This was called “Vude Mai” meaning “Float to Me”. The album’s title song “Vude Mai” was the first local song to gain international recognition in 1995.
Serevi featured on the World Chart Show, an international weekly radio programme on music.
“Vude Mai” was ranked number seven in the world rating.
So how did Vude come about? “It’s to keep the younger generation in contact with their culture,” says Serevi. They now prefer modern music. The way to retain Fijian custom was to use it. And the way to do it was to combine the old chants with modern music. “The music is always the same, it is the language that differs,” he says.
Usually chants are composed for special occasions like chiefly marriages, welcoming of guests and farewells. The chants are then choreographed into “meke” which is one form of traditional Fijian dance. The most common of all meke now is the war meke also known as the spear dance.
Special war chants were also composed, some of which are still performed today.
Local music has come a long way in the last 30 years.
Since the 70s, most local musicians have played at hotels and still do to this day.
Back then, they had to be pretty versatile and were required to do covers of the popular hits that tourists were familiar with and had to switch from one music genre to another. For budding musicians who started...