Smooth grooves, rhythm and emotion are just some of The Veldt characteristics. They are a NYC based shoegaze/soul quintet with long history on their backs and many collaborations to celebrate. But you don’t need to know much before you listen to them, just learn how to pronounce their name and let their music run in your veins.
Answers by Danny Chavis of The Veldt
2016 was a year of rebirth for you with a new EP and shows all over the USA and Europe. What is keeping The Veldt alive and what changed for the band from the late 90’s until now?
Well what keeps The Veldt going is the driving desire to play music and to play for different people around the world. This is what has recently been an inspiration! Other than that the only thing that has changed is we finally have a chance to play in front of much more people than we did meaning Europe and Canada, back in the day a lot of people would tell us anything to not have us play for selfish reasons or fear of the unknown, you know typical race shit which got really boring.
‘The Shocking Fuzz Of Your Electric Fur – The Drake Equation’ was released last year. Tell us why you chose that title and how you felt going into the studio again?
‘Shocking Fuzz…’ was a new venture of sounds that we had begun to experiment with more soundscapes mixed with heavy 808/909 sound and feed back loops and such, Hayato had opted to play guitar live which helped drive the sound home a little more, we wanted a massive cloak of sound that you could lay a naked body on as the poem by E.E. Cummings softly explored the sensuality and passion of his lover’s body it inspired me like a Marvin Gaye song would.
Some people say that you make “white music”. Personally I felt kind of awkward when I read it, not only because I never thought of it this way but also because I feel that racial categories can’t be an issue in the nowadays’ music industry. So do you feel the cultural issue project in your work? What kind of music would you say you make?
Man I’ve felt awkward for a very long time and have had many racial things flung at us and as I said it gets to be a boring topic and I just think people need to get over themselves when it comes to music, you don’t see Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine or Spacemen 3 ever talk about race stuff why should we?? all we ever did was just try to make music just as they did, we just happened to be black, nothing more nothing less, there is no such thing as white music to me, there is just music some good some bad in my opinion, I make music that’s just it. From time to time I have said shoegaze, but I know where that term came from because I was around when it was first coined in the 90’s and it was not so cool, but fuck it!! If you like it you like it, there’s no contest at being cool with me because I don’t have that kinda time, music is made to be enjoyed, I’m mature enough to know that folks that liked it back in the 90’s might still like our music and those that didn’t probably still don’t like it their loss I guess and we still move on to the new people that do.
From Cocteau Twins to Radiohead, your music influences do not seem to have limits. Has that changed as you mature? Did you find yourselves exploring a more specific music genre? With all these new sounds that are introduced, how easy is to classify your music?
Not so sure about pigeon holing the music other than to call it what one’s opinion is to the beholder but I wouldn’t say shoegaze to limit myself because when all the other bands quit in the late 90’s we kept going and introducing new sounds within the genre itself because I always thought that it would eventually morph into another sound but they all broke up, Robin Guthrie was working with Seefeel at the time and I could see where he was heading unfortunately it didn’t go any further and the Cocteau Twins broke up. Having that period 1997-1999 we introduced more hip hop beats into the music and further alienated a lot of people who still didn’t get it.
Your lyrics are dark, talking to a certain other, which also feels like talking to yourself. Who writes these lyrics and how do they become a part of your music?
A lot of the lyrics are done by my twin brother the certain other whom he singing too I have no idea who that is, he’s kind of weird in that aspect, the darkness comes from whatever dark things are lurking in his brain a black mirror on love that I don’t go near. Because I never know what he is thinking on a subject that’s when the twin part ends and the lyrics begin. I tend to contribute to lyrics when it hits me, but for the most part I leave the writing to him or we do it together.
The video of ‘In A Quiet Room’ was praised for its elegant aesthetics. Toshi Kaneiwa, the director gave a deep sensual visualization to your music with an artistic twist. How did this collaboration come about and should we expect more in the future?
Toshi is a very close friend he has a great eye and sense of sensuality for the music we hope to work with him again, it came about with his own vision and letting him be free to take his imagination wherever it was going and he took every note and put it into a very beautiful video, we’d like to work with a lot more in the future!
I believe that Hayato Nakao, your bassist, has started being a significant influence in your creative process. From the beginning of the band, Daniel and Danny Chavis, as not only brothers but also identical twins, worked together by building a mutual perspective for your music. Do you feel that you will still be changing?
Hayato Nakao joined us back in 1997 as Apollo Heights we both play bass and guitar but he is a master on the bass, and we constantly make beats and tracks whenever we have the chance we do it more than ever these days he is a great person to play with and also a good cook. Original drummer Marvin Levi is back in the fold as well and is doing some live programming and drumming as well which make live format really great.
My brother and I started the band back in 1984-85 he was in a professional r&b band and I was playing in church until I was fired for playing too loud. We built the mutual idea of the band through the years from hanging around the local music scene in my home town of Raleigh NC and Chapel Hill with ex bassist Joe Boyle, I think the sound will continue to change as it should because we have grown with it so long and never let go the desire to see it grow as it has now, back in the day you couldn’t give it away because of grunge music, much like us Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre has the same kinda story they never gave up despite what they’ve been through and look how every one is enjoying their music now , I think it’s groovy.
Leonard Skully Records, your new label, is based in the UK. What made you decide to release music there? Who is behind this label?
Dom Jam in Manchester had a band called Krack we played at a few years back and he really liked us so we kept in contact and never lost contact he’s salt of the earth one of the best people we worked with since we started playing music, we decided to release music there because it seemed that people were into it more over there and in Canada as well bands like B-17 and Magic Shoppe, Your 33 Black Angels, Dyr Faser are but a few of the many groups pushing the envelope, this is a very good time to be around kinda like the 60’s for me with trump and all rednecks popping up here and there let the good times roll my brother.
Last summer you visited many European cities as part of your tour. What happened there? What is happening now with your live shows?
Europe was a dream come true, it’s everything I thought it would be I loved everything about it and they loved us, we played Spain, France. Portugal, Italy, England nothing but love for the music was received as if we didn’t skip a beat, people wondering why we hadn’t been there earlier in our career, we are going to start work on our live stuff sometimes after the new year we may add Alex Cox (bass) who played with us back in 1997 and possibly Micah Gaugh on keyboard and saxophone if time permits.
I have the feeling that in the USA there is a debate whether NYC, Austin or Portland has the most vivid indie music scene. Can you please describe the indie scene of NYC and how did you find yourself connected with small hubs all around the USA?
Well unfortunately I never thought we fit into any scene here in NYC because of the sound or we weren’t cool or hipster enough or for simple fact we never really cared to fit in.
After years of being told you don’t belong in something we are kind of numb to it all and just play and go where people like us fortunately this sound is around again and why not enjoy it while we can? We haven’t toured as this version of The Veldt in the USA so I wouldn’t know quite yet although we played Austin last summer at psych fest courtesy of the Robert Bartholomew and the BJM Austin seemed to have a lot going on it was cool there, I haven’t been to Portland yet but I heard great things, there are a lot of great bands coming out here in the US I look forward to seeing and playing with them all.
Photo credits: Ed Marshall (1st one), Alexander Kretov (2nd one), Marine Perven (3rd one)