interview + album stream: Versing
If you haven’t already gotten familiar with Versing, now is the time. Ahead of the May 3rd arrival of their new album, 10000, the band took some time to chat with TGE about life as a band after the release of their previous album, Nirvana. The Seattle-based band is making some of the most exciting music out there, and as Daniel Salas revealed, this new album was inspired by a lot of different things — like Marvel movies and Dril. And lucky for you, there’s no need to wait until next week to see how all of these influences worked their way into the recording, because we’ve got your exclusive stream!
Below, read up on all things Versing and stream the album at the same time!
The Grey Estates: I know that some of the members had originally met while working on college radio. So, if Versing was in charge of a radio station now, what would you play?
Daniel Salas: 100% smooth jazz. Kirby and I listen to the local smooth jazz station all the time and keep a playlist of our favorite tracks. Saturday Afternoon by Euge Groove is absolute 🔥🔥🔥.
Between Nirvana and 10000, did you decide to make any changes to your sound or learn anything between now and then that you wanted to incorporate in this release?
I (finally) got really into synth music the year after Nirvana came out and I definitely wanted to incorporate some of those elements into this album. Most of the songs have some synthesizers going on in the background, and I think there’s a subtle early 80s goth or New Wave vibe to some of them. We even tried using an 808 for the intro to the opening song “Entryism” but it ended up not working out quite right. Still, there was definitely an attempt to embrace electronic music and incorporate synthesizers into our sound.
The song “Renew” you mentioned in a press release is about “taking care of yourself even when things are fucked up.” Why did you decide to approach this subject of self-care? And what do the members of Versing do to take care of themselves when everything is shit which is basically all the time, tbh.
I think the subject matter of many of the songs on the album is sometimes a little bleak – bloodthirsty aristocrats, scatterbrained conspiracy theorists, demonic portals, the general state of life under capitalism – so I wanted to write something more hopeful to act as a counterweight. Sure, everything is shit, but I didn’t want to just bum everybody out. In times of uncertainty and anguish, it’s important to still find ways to renew yourself and fill the well within, so to speak. I didn’t set out to write a “self-care” song, but I guess it ended up turning out that way. The song “Loving Myself” is kind of similar - the lyrics are a mantra to remind people to love themselves (and everyone else) even in the face of disaster.
It may seem obvious, but for me music is the most helpful form of self-care. Listening to and writing music both nourish me when I’m feeling particularly shitty. That and my vape pen.
Additionally, you mentioned that it’s more interesting to write politically than personally. What are some of the things that you focused on then for this recording?
To be honest, my lyrics generally just start with whatever comes out of my mouth as I’m writing the melodies. I’ll usually fixate on a few random words, phrases, or syllables that just sound right to me, then start building out the rest of the lyrics from there.
So they start out pretty abstract, but as I write more I get a better idea as to what each song is actually about. I never set out to write a political song or to focus on any particular themes, but since I’m a political person, it’s hard not to let my beliefs seep into the message. With Tethered, I initially just liked the sound of a group saying “we’re tied together” – it wasn’t inherently political, but I couldn’t help basing the rest of the song on the idea that some people are averse to the idea of humanity being connected, and they should be called out for it. Offering started similarly – I just ad libbed some lyrics about a mystical portal being sealed away, and I liked the sound of them so they stuck. But as I wrote more of the song, I started seeing the portal as a metaphor for the different existential crises we face, and imagined a scenario in which many people stood on the sidelines and talked about doing something about the portal instead of actually fixing the problem. There are obvious connections to the situations we experience in the real world, but I try to make sure the political themes are more metaphorical rather than ranty or preachy. I definitely pull from science fiction and fantasy in that regard – using unreal scenarios to comment on things that are very real. I guess I’d rather write about weird, made-up situations that have political undertones than about my own life, but my personal beliefs are definitely still embedded in every song.
Growing up, as young Versing, like kid Versing, what bands did you listen to?
In 4th grade I loved Alien Ant Farm and Linkin Park. In 5th grade it was Nirvana, Green Day, and Weezer. In 6th grade Radiohead, Metallica, AFI, and Rage Against the Machine. I really don’t know how to explain that last combination of bands, though RATM definitely played a part in radicalizing me.
What are some of the snacks, artists, things, weather, etc. that inspired this album?
Absurdism, sci-fi & fantasy, Vija Celmins’s engravings, mango Juul pods, dril tweets, heatwaves, 19th century history and literature, leftist podcasts, and all the Marvel movies.
What’s the dream Versing merch item?
We wanted to make pencils because we’re a bunch of nerds. It hasn’t happened yet, but maybe someday.
What advice would you give our readers?
Unionize your workplace. Play Dungeons & Dragons. Pre-order our upcoming album 10000 online here.