Words: James Frostick
Artist image: Liz Ham
It’s been just over a month since heralded darkwave artist V released their grief-saturated opus So Pure, and its reverberations are still being felt across the scene. We are looping back to chat to V about the record, its inspirations and the idea of confronting loss through music.
Writing an album about grief is not a particularly easy task, let alone a cheery one. Existentialistic freak-outs aside, lingering on death and the inevitable demise of everyone and everything we cherish serves mostly to dishearten even the most spirited of us, but nevertheless there is a cathartic benefit to dwelling on loss. So Pure by V is an album solely focussed on grief and the empty feeling caused by someone’s untimely departure. Though dissonant and confronting, V’s darkwave exorcism carries an immense amount of sincere emotion – an earnest cry showing strength and heart in the face of the endless void. So Pure was constructed over six years, a period of time that saw relocations, the rise and demise of other creative projects and an intensive amount of learning. During this time V catalogued their thoughts on grief and the importance of mourning, as well as a nod to our eternal spirit and the enduring vitality of our essence after our bodies turn cold. I had a quick back-and-forth with V via email to get a sense of what went in to the creation of the record, and what they hope it communicates to listeners everywhere.
Image: Claudia Brijbag
To start, I’d love to know what you think have been the greatest influences on your work, musical or otherwise?
Living in Germany was probably the biggest influence for me, I got really into 80s darkwave, via the D.I.Y. punk scene there. Bands like Malaria!, Abwärts, Siouxsie Sioux, all the bands on the B.I.P.P.P. french synthwave compilation. Contemporary artists like Berliner Petra Flurr, Barcelona-based Belgrado. Playing in the grindcore band Batalj has also shaped my musical practice dramatically.
You spent many years living and creating in Berlin – how did your experience there inform your creative process?
Berlin is very multi-cultural (multi-kulti), I was exposed to many other musicians and artists from all over the world. That was inspiring. Being able to travel for a few hours and be in another country with another language and culture is absolutely amazing. Access to cheap rehearsal rooms made a difference too. Being exposed to the punk and D.I.Y. scenes have also affected the way I record and perform. Actually a big one for me is funnily, riding my bike around in the dead of night on deserted streets in Berlin. Many verses were written in this way.
What does a city like Melbourne offer in terms of inspirational fodder compared to the communities of Europe?
There is still the same love, drama and tragicomedy to draw from over here. I’m lucky to have forged many meaningful relationships in the 2 years I’ve lived here, many through music and collaboration. It took moving back here to finally accept Techno as a more than tolerable genre. Artists like Lucy Cliche, Nina Buchanan, Rebel Yell are making hardware tech music, amazing to watch and inspiring. There is a world-class music scene here, bands like Bitumen and Habits are a couple of the projects who have been an inspiration to me and my sound, they’re touching the vein of something universal, something like the Zeitgeist. It’s an exciting time to be around.
Image: Strey Katt
It took a period of six years to write, record and piece together you record So Pure. What important moments occurred during this period of time that fed into the record’s inspiration?
Part of why it took such a long time is I was involved in other projects at the time. There was the tail end of Batalj, Holysix and Transylvania. I’m probably forgetting others. I was travelling and touring allot in those 6 years, recording and writing in bits and pieces, in places like the UK at the home of my bandmate in Holysix, in Padmini’s caravan in the ADM squat (R.I.P.) in Amsterdam, in a dilapidated former leather factory in Brussels where I lived shortly in 2016 to focus on finishing the album. I did the final vocal takes and in a shed in Coburg, Melbourne.
So Pure deals heavily with grief – the idea of confronting loss and the toll death takes on our connections. How did you initially choose to approach the subject in terms of doing justice to the weight of the topic and the way grief has affected you personally?
I’m honestly not sure if its possible to do the subject justice. In some ways, putting what is essentially poetry to dance music is a bizarre way to deal with those heavy themes. I tried to not force any of the writing and let the songs write themselves. I went with my gut, for me it was important not to over intellectualise it and come from a more emotional angle.
What revelations (about the nature of grief or about yourself) did you unearth during the process of creating So Pure?
That the spirit lives on. I learnt that grief doesn’t necessarily ever go away, it changes. I was further affirmed in the belief that the meaning of a work can change and adapt over time.
Do you see So Pure as having an overarching statement on grief, loss and connection?
Yes. I see it as a eulogy. But also as a stepping stone to my next work.
Would you say the creation of the record as a cathartic process overall?
Absolutely 100%. However abstracted, I’m writing about some pretty personal shit. It has for sure been a way for me to process the aforementioned overarching statement. There is something also very powerful in sharing a story with an audience, seen or unseen.
You can obtain a cop of So Pure through DERO ARCADE, and you can catch V live on Tuesday March 26 at The Quad in Lismore (supported by Ov Pain, Tralala blip and The Din Trio) and again on Thursday March 28 at The Bearded Tit in Sydney (supported by Ov Pain).