Vika and Linda
|This biographical article relies on references to primary sources. (May 2007)|
Born from a Tongan mother and Australian father, Vika and Linda grew up in Melbourne but maintained close links to the Tongan community. As children they were always around music and enjoyed singing with the family and also at the Tongan church they attended. They learned singing and harmonies from their mother, but they both have had musical training - Vika had singing lessons for a couple of years as well as learning to play the piano and read music.
From an early age, Vika wanted to be a professional singer whereas Linda wanted to be either a painter or a micro biologist. They received support from their family to do whatever they wanted, but knowing how competitive the music industry was, their parents wanted them to have something to fall back on if this didn't work out (Vika is a trained legal secretary).
They both enjoyed singing and when in 1984 Vika was offered a job as a backing singer with a Melbourne band called Fear of Flying, she jumped at the chance. She stayed with them for two years before moving onto another band called Sophisticated Boom Boom.
At this time Linda decided that she wasn't enjoying what she was doing, so she decided to leave University and give music a try. She knew that she could harmonize well with Vika, but she wasn't sure whether she was a good enough singer in her own right, but she joined Vika in Sophisticated Boom Boom in 1987. During that time Vika also took the opportunity to gig with other bands including John Justin and Thunderwings and The Blue Tomatoes.
After that they formed their own band called The Honeymooners. Around this time Linda met Justin (who was the percussionist in Bachelors From Prague), and they married in 1993. Also around that same time, Vika met John (who was the drummer with the James Reyne band), and they married in 1997.
Their big musical break came in 1988 when Joe Camilleri took the girls into The Black Sorrows as backing singers - this is when the girls profile was raised. Vika was prominent on a couple of their big singles and their reputation grew. During their time with The Black Sorrows, they also performed on other people's songs - people such as Hunters and Collectors, John Farnham, Seven Stories and Archie Roach. Whilst working on the Archie Roach's album, they met and started working with Paul Kelly.
After six years with the Black Sorrows, they felt it was time to take the next logical step, which was to be lead singers in their own band. They had enough material and wanted the opportunity to perform it. So, in 1994, they left the Black Sorrows and took their music to audiences at places like The Esplanade and the Cherry Tree - at this time they were playing covers of Country songs and started to introduce their own songs into the sets. The reaction to their music was very positive and with that came confidence in what they were doing and they started refining the material for their first album.
Six months after having left the Black Sorrows, they released their debut album called Vika and Linda, as they tried to develop their own identities rather than be known as 'the girls from the Black Sorrows'. The album was produced by Paul Kelly and reaching gold status quickly and then certified platinum. The album was nominated for an Australian Music Award.
All the songs on the album were originals - Paul Kelly had offered them 12 tracks of which they recorded five. Three of the tracks written specifically for them, "When Will You Fall For Me' by Mark Seymour, "House Of Love" by Wayne Burt and "These Hands" by Eris O'Brien. For a limited time, there was a bonus disc that came with the album, which contained some gospel songs.
In 1995, they went touring around Europe with their band, and during their month in England, they spent a week at Peter Gabriel's studio recording their next album called The Mouth Of The River. They were invited to England to take part in the World of Recording Week, which was part of a WOMAD event (World Of Music Art and Dance).
They then started work on their next album, which they were going to co-produce with Diesel and Jeremy Allom. This album was mostly material that they had written along with collaborators such as Paul Kelly, Tim Finn, Michael Barker (their drummer), and Diesel. The recording of the album, Princess Tabu took place in Melbourne, Sydney and Tonga. Along with the album is a bonus live disc (recorded at the Continental) which contains live acoustic versions of songs from the Vika and Linda, Mouth of the River and Princess Tabu albums.
In the following two years, which the sisters used for gigging, writing new material, each of them also gave birth to daughters, Vika's daughter is called Mafi and Linda's is Tapana Lavinia.
In 1999 came the release of Two Wings an album of spiritual songs. The album was produced by Paul Kelly and Renée Geyer and contains songs penned by such people as Bob Marley, Paul Kelly, Archie Roach and Tim Rogers.
In 2000, they brought out another album, Live and Acoustic, which is almost a 'best of' collection, and it contains all live tracks recorded at the Continental Hotel. They co-produced the album with their longtime friend and guitarist, Jeff Burstin.
In 2001, Vika and Linda were released by Mushroom Records despite still having two albums left on their contract. The basic reason for their release was that Mushroom couldn't fit the girls into a category that they market. The sisters were happy to take control of their careers and to be responsible for the direction they choose to move in. They now have the load of promoting themselves and the distribution of their music, though Mushroom still hold their back catalogue.
In 2002, they bought out their next album entitled Love Is Mighty Close which is more of a country/blues record. The twelve tracks were all written by Australian artists such as Paul Kelly, Chris Wilson, Cyndi Boste, Rob Snarski and Dan Brodie.
Since the release of Love Is Mighty Close, the sisters have been concentrating more on their gospel roots. They altered the band replacing Jeff Burstin with Dion Hirini. They performed a three month residency at the Cornish Arms where they played and recorded many gospel tunes. The result of those gigs was the album Tell The Angels which was released in 2004.
Since that time, the sisters have taken a break from music, during which Linda gave birth to her second daughter, Emmikiki. They have now started gigging again allowing for Linda to spend more time as a mother. They have also opened their own shop in North Fitzroy called 'Hoochie Coochie'.
- Vika and Linda - Mushroom Records (1994) Platinum
- Mouth of the River - Mushroom (1995)
- Princess Tabu - Mushroom Records (1997) Gold
- Two Wings - Mushroom (1999)
- Live and Acoustic - Mushroom (2000)
- Love is Mighty Close - Independent (2002)
- Tell The Angels - Independent (2004)
- Between Two Shores - Liberation Blue (2006)
- Vika & Linda: Live 2011 - Independent (2011)
- "When Will You Fall For Me" - Mushroom (1994) AUS #51
- "House of Love"/"Ninety Nine Years" - Mushroom (1994) AUS #98, NZ #32
- "Hard Love"/"Saved" - Mushroom (1994) AUS #81
- "We've Started A Fire"
- "Love Comes Easy"/"Princess Tabu"/"The Long Walk" - Mushroom (1996)
- "Grandpa's Song" (1997) Promotional release only
- "Caution"/"Take It Easy" (1999)