VUKOVI’s Janine Shilstone On Honesty, Creativity & Being Your Fuckin’ Self

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2020 saw Scottish duo VUKOVI release their second album and they kick-started 2021 with the release of new single, Kill It. The band, which was previously a four-piece is now made up by Janine Shilstone and Hamish Reilly.

Kill It is not only their first release of the year, but also the first to be released since their return to LAB Records. Speaking about signing back to the label Janine said, “it just felt right, we had another two offers from quite big labels…but it just felt like the right thing to do in our gut, we loved working on the first album with them [LAB Records], and it’s gone really well already.”

Released on April 16th, Kill It speaks about Janine’s battle with OCD, which she has spoken openly about since her diagnosis almost year two years ago and is what the second album, Fall Better was all about.

“It worsens when I’m stressed or anxious, it comes in spells of like being really bad and really consuming, to then spells of like, barely noticing that it’s there, but I just know that it’s always there, it always eventually comes back and catches up with me.

I feel like I came at a crossroads when it was at it’s worse point, where it’s do I give up or do I fight it? You need to look at the things that are worth fighting for and then realise that you’re stronger at it and better than it.”

“I don’t really write about happy things…I don’t know if it’s like cathartic… for me like talking about it, it helps me and it’s honest. Some people when they listen to music like they feel like they want a bit of rawness because whatever’s going on in their lives, it’s so easy to relate it to themselves, doesn’t have to be about OCD. It’s definitely something that I feel like I have to write about because it’s, it gets my frustration on it out,” she says.

I hate the thought of people suffering alone and in silence, I’ve done it for so long, myself.


Janine first discussed her OCD publicly in an interview with NME and explains how she freaked out a bit about the interview and wondered “why would anyone care what I have to say about my problems?” But after being talked into doing it and realising that it gave her an opportunity to talk to other people who might be suffering, she took the plunge to speak about it.

“One thing we do to much is carry our own burdens and then feel like you have to put this pretence on all the time, but y’know what just be fucking honest, because half the time when you do start talking to someone about it you do feel so much better when you’ve shared your own experiences with mental health…I hate the thought of people suffering alone and in silence, I’ve done it for so long, myself.

As with the majority of bands across the world, VUKOVI had to release their new music from behind closed doors, without the chance to get out on the road and tour it. While they did take part in a few live stream performances Janine echoes what many of us feel, in that nothing really beats that feeling of actually being in a room with the band and crowd. “We actually got asked to do so many of them, and we were just super picky about them, because I just feel like, it’s just not the same. I don’t see the point in doing stuff just for the sake of it, like I’m more quality rather than quantity. They definitely felt like they were well received, but honestly, for me I don’t get a lot of enjoyment out of them, I’m gonna be honest…I feed off a crowd with performing and that’s where I get my energy from.”

As a musician, who also writes for music for film, TV and advertising, Janine’s creativity also comes in the form of her direction and styling for VUKOVI’s photoshoots, which has seen many vibrant and out of this world

“I genuinely want to start doing it for all our clients” she says. “It’s something that I’ve sort of learned on the way, what works and what doesn’t and I’m starting to get a lot more confident about it, so that’s why I would honestly love to start branching out and doing it for other artists.”

Janine’s creativity, uniqueness and honesty is a strong reminder to be brave, bold and to always be yourself. “I always feel like I want to try and encourage the younger generation to not be so obsessed with this whole like Photoshop perfection trend. It’s so toxic and dangerous, I’m just trying to be like, listen look no-one fucking looks like that, it’s not real...I just want to try and encourage more people to be like, fuck it attitude and to be themselves, actually embrace who they are.”

VUKOVI are due to play a selection of festivals this summer and with a third album on the way, who knows, we might even be treated to a tour of their own. You can see their current live dates here.

If you need help or support please don’t suffer, in silence there are many free services available:
ocduk.org
mind.org.uk
samaritans.org

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