Vita and the Woolf: Creating an ‘eclectic’ soul sound

The electronic soul pop band is scheduled to go on tour in October.

On one of their past tours, the members of Vita and the Woolf were eating in a Thai restaurant when they heard about a barn show at Codfish Hollow, a venue in Maquoketa, Iowa, about 30 minutes from where the two were staying.

Within minutes, the band members called the venue and got themselves in the lineup. That night, they performed for a crowd of about 500 people.

“That night encapsulates some of funnest stuff that could occur, that could only happen when you’re in a new place for the first time,” said Adam Shumski, the drummer of Vita and the Woolf and a 2015 jazz production alumnus. “It can be really fun to go with the flow.”

Vita and the Woolf has an upcoming album entitled “Tunnels” to follow “Fang Song,” an album that Shumski’s bandmate Jennifer Pague released as a solo artist in 2014. The band will go on a cross-country tour starting in October.

Shumski became a member of Vita and the Woolf in 2014, joining Pague, a 2013 media studies and production alumna.

Pague started Vita and the Woolf out of Downingtown, Pennsylvania in 2012. At the time, there were seven band members playing an array of instruments including a saxophone and violin.

Pague said she originally envisioned the band would have a “weird burlesque” sound. Vita and the Woolf is now known for its electronic soul music, mixing R&B with her own “powerhouse vocals,” she said.

The band’s evolution is reflective of Pague’s growth as both a creator and listener of music. She said she never wants to be “pigeon-holed” or stuck in the same genre.

“There is so much you can do with electronic music and I like to experiment,” Pague said. “Unique sounds, buzzy sounds, looping. The eclectic sounds just make music interesting.”

Inspired by artists like James Blake, Pague wrote all of the songs for both albums and said she already has enough tracks prepared to possibly release a third.

“It’s a mixture of emotions,” she said of writing her own lyrics. “It’s very up and down. … I’ll just lock myself in my studio to try and write.”

Pague’s passion for music started when she learned to play piano at the age of seven, a time she said she aspired to be either a Spice Girl or Britney Spears.

“Music has always been a thing for me,” she said.

“In fourth grade, I was more worried about what snack I was going to have when I got home from school,” said Shumski, who started playing drums in elementary school.

On Oct. 6, Vita and the Woolf will play at the Boot & Saddle in South Philadelphia for its first stop on a cross-country tour supporting New York-based band, Rasputina. The tour is the band’s first foray to the West Coast with stops in cities like Las Vegas, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Despite performing on stages at SXSW Festival and XPoNential Music Festival, being on tour has been “the biggest thing” Vita and the Woolf has offered Pague, she said.

Pague said touring allows the band members to do “the s–t you should be doing at this age,” like meeting people and seeing new things across the country.

But touring also means Pague and Shumski are constantly exposed to different artists’ work. After a while, what they hear on tour becomes  repetitive, which motivates them to create a unique sound.

“You see a lot of the same music night by night,” Pague said. “Everyone is kind of writing the same s–t.”

“It’s not like we are the second coming of Bob Dylan or something,” Shumski said. “We are just different in a way. It’s awesome.”

CORRECTION: In a version of this article that appeared in print, it stated that Adam Shumski joined Vita and the Woolf in 2015, but it was in 2014.

Grace Shallow can be reached at

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