THIS interview sees me talking with Verasect…
who discusses the new E.P., Sleep Stories. I ask what themes inspired the work and what the story is behind the single, Aeon – Tom Vera (Verasect) tells me which albums and artists are most important to him.
I was keen to know whether the E.P. was fun to put together and what music he grew up around; whether there are any favourite memories from his career so far; which artists he’d support on the road given the chance; how he chills away from music – he ends the interview by selecting a great song.
Hi, Verasect. How are you? How has your week been?
I'm doing well. A lot of traveling for me. I've been away for London for a few weeks now. I was in New York visiting friends and listening to some upcoming remixes for the first time. Now, I'm down in West Palm Beach which sounds exciting - but I'm not a beach person at all. Or a daylight person, for that matter. But, I’ve had some things to take care of down here.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I'm Tom Vera and produce under the name Verasect. The name is short for ‘veraciter sectari’ or ‘hunt the truth’ in the Latin.
I'm originally from New York and was born out of the underground Industrial/Goth scene. I spent my youth stomping around East Village basement clubs but now that I'm older my music has moved in a more nuanced and emotional direction. My music is a mix of Darkwave, Synthpop, and Witch House with ethereal female vocals. I work with guest vocalists around the world but I write or co-write all the lyrics and vocal melodies, keeping a common narrative across all my music.
Aeon is out now. Is there a tale behind the song?
Aeon is based on a concept in the novel Ubik by Phillip K. Dick that I found incredibly strange and haunting. In the book, when you die you’re brought to a facility called ‘a moratorium’; revived and placed in a dream-like state. Your family and loved ones can come visit and ‘wake’ you up to talk via a headset.
But, the amount of time you can be awake is finite. It is used sparingly until you ultimately pass and can no longer be woken up. I read that book when I was a kid and that part always stuck with me. While it would be great to prolong life, are you just extending the pain for both side?! Aeon is about how it would be to have someone you love in that state of being between life and death.
Sleep Stories is your new E.P. What ideas and stories inspired the music? Is there an overall arc/theme?
I've been an insomniac all my life, so I spend a lot of time in bed, staring at the ceiling lost in my thoughts. I keep myself super-busy during the day and am keeping lots of plates spinning but, at night, it's just you alone in the bed with the universe; past, present and future surrounding you.
While I consider myself an emotionally strong person, this is the time when I feel the most introspective but also the most vulnerable. So, whenever a thought or feeling would keep me up at night, I would try to form it into a song. I'd keep a notebook next to the bed and jot down ideas or lyrics. When in the studio, I'd use those notes as inspiration for songs which turned into this E.P.
Was it quite an enjoyable E.P. to put together? How quickly did the music form and cement?
I knew I wanted to do something different from my previous projects so I spent a lot of time exploring new sounds and techniques. I was really struggling but everything came together while writing Catch Your Breath and I knew I found the sound I was looking for. I wanted to finish the E.P. in a year and it took a bit longer than that. I can only write music when I'm in the mood and sometimes I need to walk away from music for a few weeks at a time.
Can you tell me what sort of music you grew up around? Which artists struck your ear?
I grew up on Industrial and Goth music. In high-school, I was the only kid really into that stuff but managed to drag some of my Metal and Punk friends to clubs in N.Y.C. There I was exposed to a lot more music and became friends with lots of local artist and D.J.s.
I tend to gravitate to older music. My all-time favorite band is Frontline Assembly - who are still putting out great albums after thirty years. For more modern Electronic music, I love The Glitch Mob and Jon Hopkins as well as a lot of female-fronted projects like Purity Ring, Chvrches and Grimes.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
A remix E.P. should be done by the end of the year. I'm lucky enough to have two good friends who are experienced re-mixers in their respective genres: Tony Rohr for minimal Techno and Dobie for Trip-Hop. Ofdream also remixed a track - so talking to two more artists to complete it.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Probably the first time my music was played in front of a group of people, which happened in a bizarre way…
I had been producing for a few years and had a bunch of songs that I shared with friends but wasn't posting online or playing shows yet. Now, I'm at a big Fourth of July party at my friend's house with one-hundred-plus people. I was supplying music from my phone plugged into a P.A. system and stepped away so I put on ‘shuffle’. A few minutes later, a piñata comes out and I can get dragged over and blindfolded.
Just as I'm about to swing, I hear one of my songs start to play. I froze. It was like instantly and unexpectedly being put on stage, except I couldn't see anything which made it super-weird. I couldn't see anyone's face and gauge what they were thinking. I contemplated running over to turn it off but I just rolled with it and fuck*d that piñata up. When I took my blindfold off, I saw that nobody was revolted by my music and some people were actually enjoying it. Not a bad first gig.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Nine Inch Nails, definitely. Trent puts so much creativity and effort into their shows and would love to be a part of it. Also, their touring keyboardist, Allessandro Cortini, is a huge gear-head and would love to nerd out with him backstage.
My rider would be pretty simple: fast Wi-Fi and Phish Food.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Just do your own thing and stop trying to replicate other artists. YouTube tutorials are great but it's hindering creativity and originality. Mess around, turn some knobs randomly and turn mistakes into something interesting.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
After the remix E.P. is out, I'm going to finish up another E.P. of original songs and play some shows in London. We'll see what happens after that.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Skip this - I don't know any new music (smiles).
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I have quite a few projects outside of music so leisure time is rare these days. My other creative outlet is photography which I do casually and is more of a relaxing hobby for me. For exercise, I powerlift, longboard and play squash.
Probably my most interesting hobby is Shibari, which is Japanese rope bondage.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Everything Connected by Jon Hopkins