Melbourne’s striking darkwave artist V
Melbourne-based underground artist V has an inscrutable name – try searching online for his esoteric music – but it fits perfectly with their intriguingly undefinable sound.
Their upcoming album Faithless is a rousing post-industrial collection full of stunning synths, wistful vocals, vintage electronics and spellbinding tape manipulation.
It’s also one of the most intriguingly produced local albums for another reason, as V uses the distinctive sound of Melbourne’s famous Federation Bells to embellish their compositions.
A haunting meditation on the failings of the mental health system in Australia today, V’s sublimely crafted interpretation of Darkwave is resoundingly the right shade of shadow to cover such a profound lyrical study.
To celebrate her album announcement, we caught up with the multidisciplinary artist as part of our Get To Know series to find out more about Faithless, her odd composition, her life and her soulmates.
V’s Faithless is due out March 31st via Heavy Machinery Records (pre-order here). The title track is out now (see below).
How did your stage name come about?
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That’s my nickname since I was a kid. Also, I’m so underground you can’t google me.
How would you describe your music to your grandma?
Musical performance art with some screaming and aerobics.
Tell us about some of your tracks; their titles and what are they about?
I was commissioned by the City of Melbourne to write a 45 minute composition just after the first COVID lockdown in Naarm in 2020. It was an extremely grueling process. I wrote and erased the full album four times before arriving at this final version that I was happy with.
The bells are a very tricky instrument – it’s a distinct sound and I was somewhat limited by certain physical limitations as to how many times the hammer can hit the bell. Each bell is different, the lower ones can’t be hit super fast or they might crack but the smaller ones can get wild.
The title track is called “Faithless”. It was written for our fallen sister, Bridget Flack, who died in the first year of the pandemic. She was an extraordinary person and it was a huge blow to the queer community in Naarm. The song is a lament for her, for what might have been if the Australian psychiatric system hadn’t failed her so much.
It also marks my first collaboration with the amazing Angel Connelly aka Hunny Machete who wrote the arrangement for, recruited and directed the choir. Watching Angel conduct the choir as we recorded vocals at Rolling Stock Studios was one of the proudest days of my life. The song also took on a lot of new meaning and dimension when Angel and the chorus got involved. It became less of a lament and more of a poignant statement of community caring and the labor of love.
The first half of the album was written in a windowless, soundproof shed in Braunschweig during the first COVID lockdown. The song “Cockroach” was written in the second half of lockdown when I was living in a one-bedroom apartment in Chinatown. Rents got really cheap there for a while after the exodus of international students and city workers. The apartment was amazing until it was discovered that there was a severe infestation of German cockroaches that predated my occupancy well in advance.
These bastards have been tormenting me for 7 months, tiny little nymphs and grotesquely slim and shiny adults crawling all over my body and the walls. They started growing in my Elvis cassette box and in my picture frames. It was so horrible, I’ll be glad I’ll never see a German cockroach again. Unless it’s the German art punk band Cuntroaches.
As for the other songs, these are sonic aesthetic exercises that I wouldn’t necessarily ascribe too much direct “meaning” to. They draw more from the physicality of the analog gear and of course the bells. The old Minipops drum machine I found in the grass at a flea market in France plays a big part in the record. It was 2 euros – this beautiful unit is one of the first commercially available drum machines, made by the pre-Korg company Keio in the 60’s.
The backbone of the album is arpeggiated bells, routed through a reel-to-reel player and further influenced by analogue delays. This so-called “backbone” (save for the title track “Faithless,” which stands out as the only traditional “verse chorus” song on the album) is off the grid, and the tempo mutates constantly and subtly. I mixed and recorded the whole album except for the choral singing.
What do you love about your hometown?
I was born in Meanjin aka Brisbane but I wouldn’t necessarily call it my hometown as I move around often. I love the hot Queensland weather, the lush green tropical jungle and how laid back it is. I like the Brisbane accent, it sounds kind of lazy, mellow and bohemian compared to other Australian accents. The experimental music scene of the 2010s was absolutely wild. And my favorite solo artist of all time, SCRAPS lives there.
Career highlight so far?
Right between opening for Eartheater before COVID and opening for DAF at Melbourne Town Hall when I was drumming for Dark Water.
Favorite hobby outside of music?
Ride my bike.
What’s your dream driver?
The PG version: Sparkling water, coffee (not instant) and plant-based milk, local vegan sweet and savory delights, full-length mirror with good lighting for makeup, whiskey, bowl of M&Ms with greens removed.
Dream Music Collaboration?
A few days of jamming and recording with Group A’s Cosey Fanni Tutti and Tot Onyx aka Tommi Tokyo, both of whom I count as influencing figures in the making of this work. Add in well-known synthist Renée Catherine from Ov Pain and I would call this the most perfect collaboration ever.
I would also like to duet with Jonny Telafone, Anne Cessna, Ghostbitch, Patrick Adams from Factor XIII or Punko. Or work on a track and check out the synthesizer collections of Soft Cell’s David Ball or DAF’s Robert Görl.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’m not sure I could be in a ditch or rich. Probably somewhere in the middle. The future is uncertain.
What’s your favorite karaoke song?
The Clash – ‘Should I stay or should I go’.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
don’t tell lies From my father.
What is one obsession of yours that no one would guess after hearing your music?
There was a time during lockdown when I was unhealthily obsessed with the old-school computer game Minesweeper.
Faithless by V
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