Modernising oviritje, killing its identity

By Rosalia David

MANAGER of Oviritje music group‘Wild Dogs’ Steve Uahupirapi has pointed out that the genre is losing its spark due to musicians modernising the original sound.

He said that most oviritje musicians who are pioneers of the genre have now given up on music as the new generation continues to dominate the industry with a ‘new sound’ copied from elsewhere.

“Back in the days, oviritje music used to be very popular and would be pumping in bars and all over town, but now, people are changing the genre to other things. You will find a song which sounds like an oviritje tune and the same time sounds like a house song,” said Uahupirapi.

He pointed out that oviritje and other cultural music should have grown to become part of the  country’s identity but the genre has somehow been overshadowed by other genres.

Uahupirapi added that people barely listen to oviritje music anymore or hardly book the artists to perform at shows as many well-known singing groups have separated due to different reasons.

“Oviritje groups consist of many members, a live band, singers and dancers so now that many are solo or doing their own thing it kills the vibe because people are used to seeing a huge performance that would keep them glued to the television.”

Despite the current status of the genre, he said he will continue to push the remaining members of Wild Dogs to instill hope back as many are starting to give up on their talent.

“Now that there is Corona, things are worse now, people are not making money, and they are stressed. We were planning on releasing a DVD of visuals from when we started up to now, like a documentary, but we have to wait and also save up for it.”

Uahupirapi said this is to take a different approach to the way of releasing music as CDs are now getting out of fashion and sales have dropped.

“People don’t buy CDs anymore. Technology is taking over, that is why people have now moved to releasing albums on USBs,” he said.

He went on to say that in order to survive throughout the pandemic, he will be starting a small business where he and his group members will be selling vegetables to make an income and invest in their music.

“Some will call you and say, ‘boss I am really hungry’ or ‘I just need something to feed my kids or family’… these things are happening and that is why I decided that something needs to be done”.