Wolverhampton unsigned act VITAL is giving back to the community with gig at Slade Rooms
We often hear about musicians who’ve made their money and want to then give back to the community.
It’s an admirable move; any help for the less advantaged is welcome. So when an artist such as up-and-coming VITAL encourage others right from the start, that’s even more inspirational.
The Whitmore Reans-born vocalist, real name Vernon Caisley, his big ambitions for the VITAL name. And if he can influence somebody else to follow in his footsteps and pay back to the community themselves, then he’ll see it as worthwhile.
“I go into schools like Moreton High School in Bushbury to talk to the children,” the 26-year-old rapper and grime artist says. “I go into prisons such as Oakwood. I want to inspire them to do more when they come out, that there’s no point carrying on as they are and re-offending.
“I go into communal spaces such as The Way Youth Zone where I talk about music, media, video editing and the skills kids need to make their own material. I love interacting with them and getting them to come to shows. If they come, I can show them how us, kids from Wolverhampton, can put on these shows in our city and we don’t need to go to Birmingham.
“I always want to promote my music. I want them to see that their background can be hard but it doesn’t matter. A lot of these kids have not really left Wolverhampton. So I want them to see that I might have been on a few planes this year but I still live here in Wolves. If I can do it, they can do it too.
“I tell them there is loads they can do. I tell them all the places they can go and give them something to look forward to. You can come back home, you can live here, but please venture out and expand those horizons and experiences.”
So the city is something that is deeply rooted in his style, then.
“Yeah,” he laughs, “that ‘yam yam’ thing always plays a part in my music. It affects who it goes out to, and how they receive it. I think there’s lots of genres from the city’s music scene that come through in the songs.”
The former Heath Park School pupil has been busy on the music front as well as the community work over the past year.
It all started with a show he performed in his hometown in April last year. Held at The Slade Rooms with a night called POWERS, the interest that was created that evening has built over the last 12 months.
“It went extremely well and the city came out,” he remembers. “Families came out and it was a great vibe.”
And it’s culminated in his latest venture – the Clean Hearts Only Tour – with a return to The Slade Rooms on June 10. And he will build up to that with three consecutive radio shows on the BBC WM Introducing show on Tuesday, and again on May 29 and June 5.
“I wanted to recapture that vibe with Clean Hearts Only,” he says. “Only good people are welcome who want to have a good time. It’s like a part two to POWERS. There’s a fun element, like it’s a one-time only experience in the city before this gets bigger and it might inspire people to do more.
“There’ll be a mixture of grime, hip hop, R‘n’B, reggae and dance. I’ll be headlining and there’ll be a mixture of Wolverhampton and Birmingham artists.”
VITAL has already confirmed to us that two big names on the Wolves music scene – DJ KINGPIN and Jinx Touchwood – are lined up to play, and there will also be a big name special guest who will ‘blow minds’, but is being kept under wraps for now.
Being dubbed the ChoShow on social media, it will mark the end of this part of the Clean Hearts Only Tour that will see VITAL playing as far away as Rotterdam in Holland.
“There’s a bit more love from the crowds,” he says of previous tours abroad, “and I love the new energy towards the music.
“It’s a new way of being received. Sometimes they are unaware of our culture here and I don’t really know theirs so it’s great to connect.”
And a digital album – also called Clean Hearts Only – released last year has been winning over the public during his performances.
“The tour as a whole has gone really well. I’ve gained some new supporters and followers,” he says. “And I’ve been documenting it as I go and will release a video at the end of the tour.”
The news of the mini online documentary, which will be available on all his social media platforms once it’s ready, will not surprise those who have been following his career. The acronym DIY embodies VITAL’s approach, and his enthusiasm and drive has not been lost on those who have witnessed his talks; one describing him as ‘such a nice guy’ and ‘really inspirational’ to us.
“I edit my own videos, engineer beats, write and perform,” he adds. “I learned to do it all myself.
“There’s no infrastructure for this kind of thing in Wolves so you need a team around you to take the weight off you. Someone you can trust to do things right. I fund it all myself and any money I make I keep investing and reinvesting.
“If you do it all right then the best winner is yourself. It can be difficult, but it’s all worth it. I am just happy – happy building and happy to keep growing.”
l To get updates on VITAL’s releases, shows and community work, follow him on Twitter and Facebook @VITAL0. For tickets to the Slade Rooms show on June 10, visit www.iamvital.co.uk and follow the links.