Davina and the Vagabonds Q&A – Jazz and Blues Festival

Davina and the Vagabonds are a high-energy, sharply dressed, blues/jazz/roots fusion, focused on putting a brand new spin on a classic sound. Davina Sowers (and Vagabonds Dan Eikmeier, Ben Link, Connor McRae and Matt Blake) have been jamming since 2006 and have released two studio albums (most recently, 2014’s Sunshine) and one live album (Nicolett and Tenth). Gearing up for their third appearance at Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, we grabbed Davina for a chat.

When did you start making music as a career?

I started Davina and the Vagabonds about 12 years ago, professionally. I used to carry a guitar around and sing as a teen and a young adult, but it was 12 years ago I started this project, and I haven’t looked back.

Where did the name Vagabonds come from?

Because of me. It’s really ironic – out of all of us, I’m probably the vagabond of the group. I’ve been travelling since I was young. I was quite a free spirit. I am now too, but now I’m a free spirit with a mortgage. I travelled all over the US when I was really young. I’ve been on my own since I was a kid. I thought it was really well suited for me and mine.

Last album Sunshine is a bit of a rollercoaster. How does it relate to your state of mind these days?

I’m your typical self-deprecating artist. My heart is always up and down because I’m a pain in the butt and that’s just how I’m made. Every album that I’ve had is always up and down, because that’s when I decide to write: when I’m extremely happy or extremely in love or I’m extremely sad and I extremely want to punch someone in the face. That’s when I write.

Are you working on anything just now?

I’m always writing. We just finished an album we’ll be able to bring to Edinburgh – it’s called Nicolett and Tenth. And of course I’m always trying to write in my busy schedule. I have tons of songs on my computer that are just horrible, but there are about two or three right now that I’m happy with.

For people who might not have encountered you before, how would you persuade them to check you out at Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival?

I always tell people it’ll make your face hurt from smiling. We’re very active and high-energy on stage, and we’re always at our level A performance. To me it’s very important to portray energy not just through the music, but through your heart. I can guarantee a phenomenal time.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I’m proud of being a 30-something female who has done this full time and made a career from nothing. I’m proud that I’m capable of being 100% myself on stage and not having to apologise. It’s not an easy thing to do, to form a career on your own or to do exactly what you want to do.

What are some career goals you still have to fulfil?

Well, world domination. Just joking. The goal that I have is to continue doing what I’m doing. I want to continue to meet people all over the world. Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival was on my bucket list: who can do something on their bucket list three times? It’s amazing to me. I think continuing to live my dream is a pretty good goal.

Davina and the Vagabonds play The Spiegeltent, St Andrew Square as part of Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, from Fri 15-Sun 24 Jul.

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