By Vasco Dega
French post-punk three-piece Versari, present their splendid third album, Sous la Peau, out on 16th November via Good Deeds.
Hi Versari how are you?
Hi, I am well, thanks, and hope you are well too.
You’ve announced the UK release of your album Sous la Peau, can you tell us the themes contained within the record?
It is, as always, a very personal record. This one might go deeper than previous ones though. Looking back on it now I realise it is an album about loss: loss of bearings, loss of perspective, loss of love…Some lyrics were written overnight, but it then took me months to find the last two sentences.
As a collective, how does the creative process work when coming up with new material?
We know each others very well, so we work a lot in free improv (not jaming). We play together and when an idea seems relevant, we record it to a phone or whatever is available. Then I’ll take it back with me and work on structure, and lyrics. The words tend to give form to the tracks.
Has the pandemic impacted upon the art you create?
Not on our creation: we don’t live in the same city to start with. I am in Paris, when Laureline (bass and BVs) is in Rennes and Cyril (Drums) in Angers, both are in the west of France, so we meet once a month for practice/composition sessions. We were not allowed to leave our city during confinement so we didn’t meet then, but otherwise it hasn’t changed much. It has impacted our touring though, as everybody else’s.
You will release a video for album track Brûle. How does the process of marrying the visuals to the music work?
It’s a new experience for me, to be honest. Although I’ve always wanted videos for my music, and am very interested in music for films, I’ve only recently started actualy thinking about what I’d actualy want. Des Images really came from an idea I had that is very related to why I wrote these lyrics (in short: where do you stand when it comes to your watching images of things you relate to on a physical/emotional level).
I love movies and directors such as Fatih Akin, David Cronenberg, David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmush, François Truffaut, etc… videos seem important to me, and everytime unique. You can’t fail anything on a three minutes plus video…
As a French band, does your surroundings influence the kind of music you produce?
Always, but I don’t feel it is really french. As Joe Strummer put it (I think): “No input, no output, maaannnnn”.
You can only be influenced by your surroundings, especially as an artist. I do think our next album will have a political/social dimension that everything I’ve done only had in thinlines. France’s government is far right, ultra-violent, and billionaire driven. Now more than ever. It’ll have to transpire somehow, in a subtle way ha ha.
How has the music industry changed since you began playing in bands
Gosh. Where do I start. I was lucky enough to sign to a major label with my previous band, Hurleurs, when I was 30. They valued our artistic input, they didn’t want more than one song that could eventually make the radio, and they spent quite a lot of money on the album production, letting us do whatever we felt was right.
By the end of that contract (four years later, when I left the band) they were already asking for « at least three singles » – because of course they know what a single is. Anyway. After that, I remained independant. I started my own label fifteen years ago and we have been letting artists do exactly what they wanted, and we lost loads of money ha ha. But we are absolutely proud of everything we did.
You have collaborated with Adrian Utley of Portishead, how did this come about?
I met Adrian on the recording of Hurleurs’ last album. We very quickly got on and became very good friends. For Ostinato (our previous LP), it felt right to ask him to produce, and it worked perfectly, it was the perfect timing for us (versari and him). Sous la Peau, on the other hand, was recorded over a very long haul, so it wasn’t easy to get him involved on the same level, but we mixed it in Bristol and he added guitars and synths.
If you were stranded on a desert island which three albums would you choose to wash up on the shore?
Three is not enough!! I would be happy with three compilations: one by John Peel, one by Nick Clift, and one by John Savage…
With live performances on hold for the moment, do you have any plans to find different ways to connect with your fans?
That is a really hard one, yes. We are starting to work on “producing” a streamed show. It feels a little wrong, but that’ll have to be a start. I am active on social network (as shit as they are) so people can always reach out to me/us there.
What are your plans for the rest of 2020?
Make more videos, try to get the album visible in more countries, write new material – we have started. I din’t expect to be capable of that before we were done with this album.
Photo by Renaud De Foville