Experimental, intimate, unplugged. Those are all words Nick Hampson and Jack Saville used when telling me in what ways the second Live Session would diï¬€er from the ï¬rst. Despite this description, it is diï¬ƒcult to tell whether Saturday’s gig at the well-hidden Vaults and Garden café in the University Church went entirely according to the two New College students’ plans, or not quite. What is much easier to deï¬ne, however, is the success of the event. As had already been suggested by the speed with which the tickets sold out, the relatively small room was ï¬lled earlier than expected and the audience discovered the four acts of the evening with much enthusiasm.
This successful gig and the recent activity of the duo of founders show just how far Vulture Sessions have come since their beginning a year ago. During an interview in between another session and the ï¬nalists’ preparation for their approaching exams, Nick described the origin of this joint project as the result of his frustration with the magazine format. “I wanted people to engage instantly with the content, so I thought it would be interesting to work on something and see the results on that same day.” Organising live events was the next step, which they decided to take last autumn to bring music even closer to its listeners.
Not entirely satisï¬ed by last term’s edition, which featured a series of musicians singing a maximum of two songs and supported by microphones to reach all 180 members of the crowd, Nick and Jack chose to limit the programme of the second session to four artists, each with a set of four songs to play: Barnaby Wynter, Georgia Bruce, Via Sanda and the acclaimed Fusion Project were respectively the chosen ones for 5th February.
Instead of showcasing the variety and number of student musicians in the area, Live Session II aimed to create a coherence between the acts and ï¬nd voices both suiting and capable of adapting to an intimate atmosphere. “Sometimes people can just be good performers, and we get to see that when we do the videos, but a live session is really the only way to make that accessible,” Jack explains. Nick adds that, “all genres are welcome, from a few weird experimental analogue synthesiser things we’ve had, all the way to a classic girl-with-her-guitar-and-a-lovely-voice type of thing. It’s been a pleasant surprise all along, and the quality has just been so high.”
This was clear to all during the session itself. Mostly written by the artists, the songs they performed had vibrant texts and technically ambitious vocal parts. While Barnaby Wynter’s versatile voice gave the impression of trying a bit too hard, the accents on certain phrases brought movement to the otherwise bare sound of the keyboard’s chords, which were mainly there to set a rhythmic pattern. With Georgia Bruce, the audience was touched by a free sensitivity and a raspy voice evoking nature in a contemplative mood. Via Sanda, which is the name under which Italian musician Robin Finetto goes once on stage, offered a longer guitar intro and a duet. The Fusion Project, performing at St John’s the next day, were the main surprise of the evening, basing their intense music on a harmonious mix of Indian and Western identities and combining three singing styles without sounding artiï¬cial.
In addition to the Sessions’ success in Oxford, Nick and Jack have a more global vision. “There aren’t that many ways of ï¬nding artists until they’re already big enough. You couldn’t possibly look through the internet to ï¬nd these people, a lot of stuï¬€ gets lost in the mass. Ultimately we’d like to have eyes and ears in all the universities in the world.”