Interview: Bert Verso | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Newcastle DJ, producer and DJ Bert Verso has been a positive force within Newcastle’s effervescent underground over the last two decades. Part of beat collective Grey Tapes, Verso is known for his adaptability and eclectic approach to rhythm-led branches of hip-hop and electronic music. 

ICHLU is the second in a run of three EPs for the label This by Bert Verso and the first time his music has been released on vinyl. It features four original tracks, alongside a remix by Eden Burns, and is a vibrant bubbling of sharp beats and spirited sonic samples with notes of everything from club to chill to chiptune. It’s an invigorating listen and a must to soundtrack your summer.

We caught up with Bert Verso to find out more about his latest release…

How would you summarise your sound? Who are your musical influences?
Generally speaking, I make sample-based beat-driven electronic music that is warm, layered, colourful and melodic. I try to make music that blends different styles of electronic music, and this blurring of genre boundaries makes the writing process really fun to me. Hopefully, the knock-on effect of that is a record that a DJ can play in their sets whether they’re looking for dancefloor energy or early doors atmospherics.

Briefly describe your songwriting process.
I generally like to work on my own in the studio with a bunch of hardware synths, samplers and drum machines. I get the machines grooving along with each other whilst I add more layers to the mix until it’s all sizzling away nicely. At this point I’ll put it onto the computer for arrangement and finishing touches.

ICHLU is the second in a run of three EPs. What sets this release apart from the previous and future release?This EP is like day and night… dawn and dusk. Side A features more club-oriented tracks for the DJs and dancers, whilst side B captures more dreamy atmospheric moods for those introspective moments. These themes of day and night are echoed in the wonderful artwork by Mihai Badic. 

How did you order the three EPs? Do they follow any kind of narrative or dynamic?
The three EPs were simply scheduled in the order that I made them. ICHLU was meant to be the first of the trilogy however with lead-in times for vinyl manufacturing being so long we bumped the digital-only Honeybees EP to the front of the queue.

Kiwi producer Eden Burns contributes to the EP with a remix of the track Azure Pops. How did that collaboration come about and what has their remix brought to the track/EP?
Eden Burns is a producer I’ve been into for a while so when Claudia (This) and I were brainstorming potential remixers we both agreed that Eden’s style would really complement the record. His remix of Azure Pops is an absolute banger and is already getting lots of airplay from underground house DJs all over the world.

The track Daisy was formed whilst looking forward to the birth of your daughter, Alva. Can you tell us more about that.
Man, it’s a trip looking back at the Daisy track now because it takes me right back to a very special time in my life. My daughter has just turned 3 now so listening to this song is like looking back over her life so far. I guess as a musician who makes mostly instrumental music I can merely channel this emotion into the music and then let the listener find their own stories in it.

And how, if at all, has fatherhood influenced your songwriting?
As a father, I’m learning to trust my instincts and go with it. That’s a superpower in the face of studio procrastination and perfectionism which I’ve found quite crippling in the past. And then with the ups and downs of parenthood, you’re never short of inspiration so even though I’ve got way less time in the studio, when I do get in that creative space it just kinda pours out.

Tell us about the vinyl. What was it like to have your music on a physical release?
I love records… always have, always will. The sound quality, the artwork, the liner notes, everything about it is steeped in romantic tradition and I love it. The ICHLU EP sounds a-mazing on record thanks to brilliant analogue mastering by Thoma Bulwer and cutting by Keith Tenniswood at Curved. Shouts to Mihai Badic for the beautiful artwork too. Also, did I say that it sounds amazing?!

What have you got coming up in the near future? 
I’ve got a show as part of Grey Tapes at the brilliant Alphabetti Theatre on 9th June and it’s pay you feel. ‘This Records’ are hosting a label launch in September, so I’ll be heading down to London to do a live set with a great family affair line-up of DJs. Other than that I’ll be working on new material when I manage to steal a few studio hours in between nappy changes and park hangs.

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