Originality is a trait some musicians aim for, while others feel content in refining already established forms of expression. Vero Elektra belongs to the former category. Her moody, yet upbeat, chill wave tracks, infused with vocal snippets functioning as sounds among the rest rather than conveyors of messages, have unique qualities. They strive beyond.
How does your musical background look like and what made you end up where you are today?
I grew up playing a lot of acoustic instruments and singing a bunch. My parents have always been very supportive of my musical interests. They took me to lessons when I was young so I learned theory and notation pretty early on, though I enjoy playing by ear much more. About three years ago my brother and I collaborated together and started On Top of Low Earth, a hardware based electrorock group. I got the Octatrack when it first came out mainly to process vocals live but now I use it for just about everything. I learned all about synthesis from it and I’m pretty sure it’s the cause of my obsession with hardware gear. I’ve never been too wild about working on a computer for production, maybe because the thought of “computer neck” is terrifying! But mainly it’s because hardware feels so much more natural to my work flow.
I started my solo project Vero Elektra last year because of my infatuation with EDM. It’s great to be able to play a electro rock show one night, then bang out a dance set at a club the next night.
How do you work with your gear? Is there a fixed method?
All my beats usually start from an ambient pad or atmospheric sound. From there I’ll start involving drums, bass lines and then melodies. I can’t build a song beginning with a bass line or drum loop like some people can, I need to know the mood of the beat right away or I usually hit a wall. Most of the synth sounds I use I make myself, so there’s plenty of sessions where I’m just making patches the whole time. I think making sounds from scratch really pays off because they translate in a more personal way through my music since I shaped every parameter, It’s like a true extension of what I was feeling at that moment. I really don’t like to use a whole lot of samples other than some drum hits. I’m not very strict when it comes to method though, I like to go where the song takes me and having guidelines for working would probably impede that freedom for me.
Your music is heavily centered around various tweaked vocal samples. From where do you collect your material?
Yes, I love using vocals in my songs. I will tell myself, don’t do it on this beat, but sure enough they’ll be in there (laughs). Right now I’m recording all of my own vocals, processing them using Logic, then loading them back into the OT for arrangement. I feel that using my own vocals is just another step in being original, but I’m definitely not against using other artists’ material for some remix action in the future.
What in your opinion are the greatest obstacles when producing, and how do you overcome them?
The first thing that come to mind is staying original. This is a really hard thing to do nowadays with such a saturated industry. It seems like everybody is making music and there’s nothing new that can be done. I think originality comes from the sum of our personal experiences in day to day life, and how that is reflected through us. Everyone has something unique to offer, nobody shares the same exact sequence. When it comes down to it, we all want people to like our music and to have a fan base, so it’s easy to take what’s mainstream and copy it. But people will respect artists for doing their own thing, and at the very least I know I’m being true to myself when I approach it this way.
Another thing that’s difficult is keeping a track from getting too cluttered. I know this one is a constant struggle for me, especially since I’m working with just the Octatrack most of the time. I have to be very selective on what to add. My natural instinct is to want to layer way too much, like three synth lines when the beat only needs one, but not having the space to do so is actually a huge benefit as it keeps my tracks from getting muddy.
Lastly motivation is always an enemy and distractions are equally rampant with cellphones and internet wasting time. I recently got a new dedicated studio space that is very private so I can totally retreat there away from everything. It has made a big impact on the distraction factor because no one knows where it is, and I shut my phone off when I’m working. I don’t seem to have too much trouble when it comes to motivation though because making music is what I live for!