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

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One fifth of beat collective Grey Tapes, producer and DJ, Bert Verso’s releases his debut album, Internal Shlurpee, on Kaneda Records, featuring 7 brand new infectious, beat-driven offerings. To celebrate its release there will be a launch party at The Cumberland Arms on Saturday 12th October. We caught up with the master of the rhythm to find out more.

Who would you say your biggest musical influences are?
I’m generally drawn to stripped-back, groove-based music with influences from J Dilla, DJ Rashad, Caribou, Radiohead and Theo Parrish. From New York hip-hop to Chicago footwork, UK dance music and Detroit techno. I like that balance of repetition without being repetitive, give me a soulful Theo Parrish groove for 12 minutes and I’m a happy man. Same goes for hip-hop producers like Dilla, there is so much soul poured into the drum machine and sampler combo, and I don’t need much more than that really.

Tell us more about your debut album, Internal Shlurpee.
I wrote these tracks in between Grey Tapes sessions in 2018 as we were recording our debut album as a collective. This side project started out as me trying to make club tracks but soon ended up being far more varied than that, striking a balance between deeper headphone listening and left-field dancefloor fodder. 

Lead track ‘Dumbshit’ is injected with the energy of Chicago footwork, exploring my love of the frenetic drum patterns and transitions that the genre is known for.  In Crosswinds the vinyl crackle is thick and atmospheric, honouring the late Ras G who famously spoke out in favour of not cleaning the records he found in thrift stores as the dust and crackles add “seasoning” to the music.  

Eventually, I played the demo tracks to the guys at Kaneda Records and their positive energy has been really instrumental in getting this project over the finishing line. I can’t thank them enough.

What’s the difference between this work and your previous Grey Tapes releases?
It’s all one and the same to me really but I guess whilst Grey Tapes songs are often recorded without a click track and left completely unquantised for that organic feel, I wanted to make my solo stuff ‘in the grid’ with each track beginning life as a 16-step sequence, forming a solid mechanical foundation for the more intricate layers of dusty samples and synthetic sounds. The way Grey Tapes works as a collective there is every chance you will hear different versions of these songs played live by the band in future – watch this space.

Why do you prefer making your music on hardware as opposed to software?
I genuinely think it’s one of those things where it’s each to their own. For me, looking at a computer screen for any length of time usually ends in involuntary sleep so the physical experience of playing with electronic instruments is a lot more fun to me. The body is engaged, as well as the mind, which is great when jamming out new ideas in the studio and performing live.

What can people expect from your launch show at Cumberland Arms on 12th October?
Kaneda Records know how to throw a party and this one features a fantastic line-up with Squarms, Calm C, Goa Flashbacks and myself. With different styles of electronic music on show, there is something for everyone. As a special one-off for the album launch, artist Alexandra Hughes will be decorating the space, creating a multi-colour, immersive shimmer world for the audience to enjoy. 

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