The Melbourne-based underground artist V has an inscrutable name – try searching for their esoteric music online – but it’s wholly befitting their mesmerisingly undefinable sound.
Their upcoming album, Faithless, is a stirring post-industrial collection, filled with stunning synths, yearning voices, vintage electronics, and enthralling tape manipulation.
It’s also one of the most fascinatingly-produced local albums for another reason, with V using the striking sound of Melbourne’s famous Federation Bells to embellish their compositions.
A haunting meditation on the failures of the mental healthcare system in today’s Australia, V’s sublimely-crafted take on darkwave is resoundingly the right shadowy hue to cover such a profound lyrical study.
To celebrate their album announcement, we caught up with the multi-disciplinary artist as part of our Get To Know series to find out more about Faithless, its curious composition, their life, and dream collaborators.
V’s Faithless is scheduled for release on March 31st via Heavy Machinery Records (pre-order here). The title track is out now (watch below).
How did your artist name come about?
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It’s my nickname since childhood. 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 a few of your tracks; their titles and what they’re about?
I was commissioned by the City of Melbourne to write a 45-minute composition not long after the first COVID lockdown in Naarm in 2020. It was an intensely gruelling process. I wrote and deleted the full album four times before I arrived at this final version I was satisfied with.
The bells are a very tricky instrument – its a distinct sound and I was somewhat limited by certain physical restrictions of how many times the hammer can hit the bell. It is different for each bell, the lower ones can’t be hit super fast or they could crack but the smaller ones can go wild.
The title track is called ‘Faithless’. It was written for our fallen sister Bridget Flack who passed away during the first year of the pandemic. She was an exceptional human being and it was a huge blow to the queer community in Naarm. The song is a Lament for her, for what could have been if she had not been so badly failed by the Australian mental healthcare system.
It also marks my first collaboration with the amazing Angel Connelly aka Hunny Machete, who wrote the arrangement for the choir, recruited the choir and directed them. Watching Angel direct the choir when 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 once Angel and the choir got involved. It became less of a Lament and more a poignant statement on community care and the labours of love.
The first half of the album was written in a windowless soundproofed shed in Brunswick during the first COVID lockdown. The song ‘Cockroach’ was written in the second half of the lockdowns while I was living in a one bedroom apartment in Chinatown. Rent got real cheap for a while there after the exodus of international students and city workers. The apartment was amazing until it became apparent there was a severe German cockroach infestation, long predating my occupancy.
Those bastards tormented me for 7 months, teeny tiny little nymphs and grotesque slim and shiny adults crawling over my body and the walls. They started breeding inside my Elvis cassette boxset and inside my picture frames. It was so terrible, I’ll be happy to never see another German cockroach again. Unless it’s the German art punk band Cuntroaches.
As for the other songs, they’re exercises in aural aesthetics that I wouldn’t necessarily assign too much direct “meaning” to. They pull more from the physicality of the analogue equipment, and of course the bells. The vintage Minipops drum machine which I found sitting in the grass as a flea market in France plays a big part in the record. It was 2 euros – this gorgeous unit is one of the first commercially available drum machines, made by the pre-Korg company Keio in the ’60s.
The backbone of the album is arpeggiated bells fed through a reel to reel player, further affected by analogue delay. This so called ‘backbone’ (excluding the title track ‘Faithless’, which stands out as the only traditional “verse chorus” song on the album) doesn’t sit on the grid and the tempo is constantly and subtly mutating. I mixed and recorded the whole album with the exception of the choirs vocals.
What do you love about your hometown?
I was born in Meanjin aka Brisbane, but I wouldn’t necessarily consider it my hometown due to moving around often. I do love the hot Queensland weather, lush green tropical jungles, and how laid back it is. I like the Brisbane accent, it sounds kind of lazy, gentle, and offbeat compared to other Australian accents. The experimental music scene in the 2010s was absolutely wild. And my favourite solo artist of all time, SCRAPS, lives there.
Career highlight so far?
Equal between opening for Eartheater pre-COVID and opening for DAF at Melbourne Town Hall when I was drumming for Dark Water.
Fave non-music hobby?
Riding my bicycle.
What’s your dream rider?
The PG version: fizzy water, coffee (not instant), and plant milk, local vegan sweet and salty delicacies, a full length mirror with good lighting for the makeup, whiskey, a bowl of M&Ms with the green ones taken out.
Dream music collaboration?
A few days jamming and recording with Cosey Fanni Tutti and Tot Onyx aka Tommi Tokyo from Group A, both of whom I count as influential figures in the creation of this work. Add the noted synth player Renée Catherine from Ov Pain and I’d count that as the most perfect collaboration ever.
I would also love to duet with Jonny Telafone, Anne Cessna, Ghostbitch, Patrick Adams of Factor XIII or Punko. Or work on a track and check out the synth collections of David Ball of Soft Cell or Robert Görl of DAF.
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 go-to 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 Dad.
What’s one obsession you have that no one would guess after listening to your music?
There was a period during lockdown I was unhealthily obsessed with the old school computer game Minesweeper.
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