Introducing Interview: Versari

Following the release of their second album, Sous la Peau, last year, long-standing French post-punk trio Versari have now shared a new four track EP, consisting of three different remixes of their single ‘Brûle’.

Propelled by dark bass hooks and a swirling eerie atmosphere, the original captivates the ears with its bewitching majesty, whilst the remixes all differ with their own unique grace. On the EP, the track has been revisited and reimagined and includes remixes by artists including Gareth Jones (Depeche Mode, Einstürzende Neubauten, Wire, Erasure) and Erica Nockalls (The Wonder Stuff).

We spoke to bassist Laureline Prod’home to find out more…

Hi Laureline, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Well, I’ve been a bass player for 25 years already! Music has always been a part of my life and I started playing in a band when I was 17 years old, in high school (I was playing the guitar and singing). When I was a kid I wanted to play drums (my first love), but I finally started playing guitar and singing because my dad had a folk guitar. He writes his own songs and we always sang at home. So, it was the most natural way for me to make music. I discovered the bass “by accident” a few years later when I joined the band Candie Prune (a Riot Grrrl band) which was looking for a bass player. I gradually fell in love with this instrument, and it is a story that lasts. Then I had my band The Dude – we did two tours in England in 2005-2006, including an opening act for the band The Others; what good memories! I also played with Howe Gelb’s band Giant Sand for four years. I was able to live from music for a few years but it’s very difficult, even in France and even playing in several bands at the same time (which I still do). So I went back to school and I earn a living now as a clinical psychologist, while continuing to play music of course!

How did you initially decide to start creating music, and how did you get together with the other band members to form Versari?
Oh, it’s a long story – playing music, playing in a rock band, has been my dream since childhood! As far as I remember, I never dreamed of anything else. Regarding Versari, I first met Cyril in 1997-1998 when I was playing in the band Candie Prune and Cyril was the drummer of Sloy, also a rock trio. We had the same tour manager and we often played together, sharing the same stage. We quickly became good friends – we had the same musical culture, the same influences (Jesus lizzard, Shellac …) and we still are, 25 years later. In 2000, Sloy split and Cyril started to play with Theo Hakola. The funny thing is that Theo Hakola had just produced the album of the band Les Hurleurs, which was Jean Charles Versari’s band… I went to see them play in Rennes (where I live), and the bass player was playing in both bands. When he had to make a choice, Theo no longer had a bass player and Cyril asked me to join them. That was in 2001 and I’m still part of The Wobbly Ashes (Theo Hakola’s band), but Cyril left the project in 2007. At the same time, the first Versari album was released and they asked me to join them: that’s how I really met Jean Charles and that’s how our beautiful story started. Then we became a trio, it’s the ideal formula I think and I’m really glad that we found each other.

You’ve released a four track EP featuring three incarnations of your single ‘Brûle. Can you tell us a bit about each of the remixes and the decision to put them together in an EP? 
Well, we gave carte blanche to the artists who wanted to remix each of our tracks. And these three are so amazing and different – not only from the original but also from each other – that it would have been a shame to keep them, selfishly, all to ourselves! It’s an exciting and surprising experience to let other people give in to their imagination by appropriating your music, which then takes another form and lives a whole new life. In fact, it doesn’t belong to you anymore and I find it very poetic. These remixes are creations in their own right, all three of them – they really deserve to be heard and to live their life. I would add that it allows us to make the pleasure last and that’s always worth it!

We love your gritty post-punk sound, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
As a bass player, I was certainly influenced by women who played bass in rock bands, maybe even unconsciously. I think of Kim Deal from the Pixies or Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth – two bands that I love and that I listened to a lot. But I was rocked by many influences, from the Velvet Underground to The Cure, through to David Bowie, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave and Joy Division.

How have you been connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
With Versari, we never cut the contact during this cursed period. It was very hard because we were about to leave for a tour in the USA at the end of March when the confinement fell; we had been working on this tour for one year and our disappointment was immense! On the other hand, we continued to hold our rhythm of rehearsals, namely a weekend of three days once a month approximately. Our album was released at that time, in April, so the communication was already on the way – to keep the contact with the public, there are social networks, fortunately! But as far as this part is concerned, I am really a dinosaur, though fortunately Jean Charles is there – he manages these much better than me!

And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, throughout these strange times? 
I have always been impressed by the fact that human beings are capable of giving and being the best and the worst. And this is exacerbated in times of crisis. This strange period has concentrated all this paradox. What I mean to say is that what helped me to keep some hope is to see the solidarity and the strength with which some people fight to help their neighbours and to find solutions to support those who need it. It helps to keep hope in a possible future in these difficult and anxious times.

How do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
On the one hand I think it’s much easier to get known than when I first started out, twenty five years ago. Thanks to social networks, anyone can film themselves singing in their kitchen, or record a song with their band and even shoot little videos and broadcast them. But at the same time, there is such a quantity of videos and musical projects that, paradoxically, it is much harder to stand out. There used to be “niches”, networks that helped artists make their way in this or that musical genre. Now, I have the impression that despite the great diversity that exists, what is finally audible is very formatted. I’m not sure if it’s easier in the end…

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming bands that you’d recommend we check out?
I would advise you to go and listen to other bands from Rennes, like the young Guadal Tejaz, or The 13th Hole (not as young!), which are part of the family of bands that rehearse at the Balloon Farm studio where we recorded the Versari album. There is also Lighthouse, Laëtitia Sheriff and Frakture …

Finally, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for Versari? 
We just released the four tracks with the remixes and the video of ‘Brûle’. And then we have some concerts planned, in France and in England: we are booked in London at The Dublin Castle on 13th November with 1919… We hope there will be others, after a year of frustration and disappointments, we are so eager to play our album live!

Massive thanks to Laureline for answering our questions!

Versari’s Brûle EP is out now. Listen here.

Photo Credit: Renaud de Foville

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