Echoes From Foreign Spaces is the first release from upcoming East London post-punkers V E N N. Over the past few weeks I’ve had the immense pleasure of discussing V E N N’s origins, influences, environment and creative processes. Surprisingly, this conversation led us around the topics of German House, Black Metal, DIY ethics, personal space, calculation, recalculation, natural deviation and, of course, the joy of playing music with your friends.
Recorded as a trio, the young band has already parted with a founding member, but carries forward with it’s original principals; enigma, passion, isolation. V E N N successfully creates a hypnotic, danceable environment through the arrangement of solid bass lines, expressive guitars and bellowing synths. All of which are finely compliment the sporadicism and calculation found V E N N’s hauntingly processed vocals, adorning the sinister groove with a romantic, autonomic element.
When I first got in touch the guys, I quickly discovered that the bandmates had been celebrating their recent release by spending some time apart.
HG: This seems like an appropriate place to start. How was the trip?
V E N N: The trip was excellent, thanks. I was in Berlin for six days. I go there every few months to reset and diffuse after London gets needlessly hectic. I stayed with a friend and we ate, drank and slept in the park, bought a cheap bike, told stories, visited the beautiful Turkish market at Yorckstrasse &c. I also saw some Lebbeus Woods drawings, bought records, drank in the street ’til early with another friend, and danced to Rodhad’s closing set at Berghain. That last one was quite life-affirming! Have you been?
HG: Talk about a trip! And can’t say I have. Which records did you buy? What else have you guys been spinning lately?
V E N N: It is a city that means a lot to me. I didn’t have much time to dig properly, but managed to find the new Kettenkarussell album, Easy Listening on a fantastic label called Giegling, the Solemn Days E.P by Levon Vincent, a DVS1 E.P on Klockworks and a new MDR released twelve inch, which I believe is a set of remixes by Luke Slater/P.A.S of Marcel Dettmann tracks. The latter one was recommended by the guy working in Bass Cadet Records and I haven’t had chance to properly look at it. I usually buy anything connected to Dettmann. His music has this overwhelmingly propulsive, almost belligerent, quality to it. He makes very ecstatic records. Other than those I have been listening to No World by inc. an awful lot, and Wolves In The Throne Room’s Celestite. Oh, and To Be Kind by SWANS. I’m not sure what I can say about that last one. I’m in awe.
Ben recently introduced us to Bobby Beausoleil’s Lucifer Rising soundtrack album which is fantastically beautiful and creepy. He also listens to add N to X a lot, and more recently Inga Copeland and the ATM release on 1080p. From your own fair city.
HG: Honestly, I’m not too surprised that Black Metal and German House are on your palette. There is definitely something dark and hypnotic about the V E N N tracks. Is this intentional? What was the recording process like?
V E N N: I don’t know if it is intentional, but I understand why you would make that observation. We are more attracted to exploring the darker, violent, sinister and melancholic streams of music and art, so there is an inevitable alchemy between the specifics of our personalities and our tastes that feed into what we create. But at the same time we have never set out to write a dark and hypnotic piece. It’s all very natural.
The recording and writing of ‘Echoes From Foreign Spaces’ were intrinsically linked practices, and there was/is no real set formula or role structure. What is important is that the process is fully collaborative, non-precious, adaptable, and kept as internalised as is logistically possible. We do enjoy external collaboration, and there is certainly some of that on the music released thus far, but we do operate under the general direction of if we can do it ourselves, then we will. This extends to all aspects of what we currently are.
The actual labour of writing and recording was done in our own studio in Dalston, East London. This space influenced our music massively. Not in terms of any aesthetic or formalistic referentiality to the architecture – but in what having an affordable space of our own allowed us to do. We were able to spend time playing, recording, and working with our ideas before deciding which emergent sounds and structures fit with the wider piece. It’s a constant feedback of performance, documentation, analysis, re-performance, that is also resulting in a lot of new material to develop – and that is very exciting to us. For now at least.
HG: Have you all been satisfied with your reception? How has the local response been? And on another note, what are couple of other principals that V E N N is founded on?
V E N N: I’m not sure our music has been picked up that much here in London, and we haven’t played any shows yet, so a local reaction beyond close friends isn’t something we can really comment on right now. There have been a few nice things said by people we really respect, though, and that has been very satisfying.
For us, the fundamental principle and function of this project is that the labour involved in playing and recording our music, as a unit, must be pleasurable. We don’t approach our work with any expectations beyond the joy of crafting music together. I think you can tell if art has been calculated and produced through cynicism – work made out of personal necessity and ecstasy affects us much more, and it is only this type of work that we are interested in making, ourselves.
Perhaps another constancy that we have already briefly mentioned is the relative isolation in which we operate. This is partly a result of necessity, in that things we want to happen often take far too long if having to rely on other people – you can’t expect these people to care as much about your work as you do, yourself. Further to this, we have all come from quite different musical histories to meet and be playing together. A couple of us have been involved in more commercial streams of music production and distribution for a while now, while I come from a DIY background. Given this, as much through ignorance to an alternative, it has always seemed inevitable to me that we would maintain complete responsibility for our work at this stage. We have arrived at a very liberated situation in which collectively, we have a great deal of knowledge of the workings of the entertainment industry, along with a stubbornly disrespectful DIY attitude of usurping its customs when it proves to be a hindrance to our intents.
If any of this sounds like a manifesto, it isn’t. Your question provided an incentive to interrogate what has been a very natural process, thus far – free from any form of consciously imposed doctrine or conceptual framework.
HG: How can I get a copy of these wonderful tracks?
V E N N: Right now, you can only get a physical CD-R if you find one. We’re leaving them in various places around London and the UK and will be posting the locations on our facebook. They are all hand-assembled, and so limited, but they do exist. I’m visiting America in a couple of weeks, so I’ll be sure to dot some about.
We plan to make these recordings available for people to purchase, but it will likely be in a slightly different format – if only to keep the hidden copies unique and worth finding. Until we find the a befitting means to do so, this feels like the appropriate way to distribute our work.
Meanwhile, we encourage people to talk to us – weare.VENN@gmail.com