How did you get into music?
Yash: I grew up in a village in India, and started singing when I was four, regional songs that I’d heard on the radio. My only connection on most days to the outer world was through radio and cassettes that my mum bought – and then music became an integral part of my life, regardless of any time or place I was in, I always wanted to make music and nothing else. In school I studied Indian classical music, when I finished school I wanted to study western classical music but the education was limited in India so I moved to United States, then to Tanzania, and then ultimately settled in England (land of trip hop) and formed Venusian with John.
Adam: Music for me has always been my main focus in life, I was inspired to learn a brass instrument after seeing a Jazz trumpet player blasting out some music on an advert when I was five years old.
What’s the latest song/EP/album you have you – and what does it say about you?
John: Our last few releases have been EPs, because I think our sound has changed a lot over the last few years, and now it’s really evolved into something new with the addition of Alex on bass, and some new synths and hardware. Our current EP/demo is very lo-fi, there is a mix of ambience with heavier beats, and we’ve been introducing some more 80s synthwave style keys and synths. It sets the scene for the album we’re recording for later this year.
Did you have any particular artists in mind as an influence when you started out? What about them do you think you’ve taken into your music?
Yash: Elizabeth Fraser, Ikue Asazaki and Bjork. They’re like my holy trinity. I like the serenity in their voice, it’s very universal, but they have their own style of singing, which has been ever evolving, both lyrically and vocally. Through Venusian, I wanted to observe the earth and its beings and wanted to use the natural and raw elements in the voice. I worked on my voice so it changes with time but has its past influences. My voice would carry tradition and technology to manifest the ideas behind Venusian.
John: Probably Massive Attack and Portishead, they’re like the obligatory influences for a trip hop artist. But then I really love Burial, and his sound has really influenced how I’ve produced our songs, with the vinyl crackle and tube saturation that makes everything feel ancient, like it’s some piece of machine you found while excavating, whirring to life under dust and cobwebs. Akira Yamaoka too, who wrote the Silent Hill soundtracks, and how his songs are simple but can be so dark and melancholy.
Do you feel a responsibility to respond to current affairs or contemporary situations through your music?
Yash: At the beginning, our idea was Venusian being from Venus looking in on the earth and the universe around and expressing it through their music, which evolved into us being aliens of/in society, as a metaphor, using this to see the environment around us and express it in our music, whether it’s war, agriculture, we’re taking ideas that span from fashion to war to animals to capitalism, borders, immigration, tradition, nature and elements.
John: I think we respond indirectly. Like definitely there is dystopia in the music, and we’re influenced by dismay with our surroundings and by conflict and oppression. It makes the sound darker, and I know it’s there in Yash’s lyrics. But we don’t explicitly address anything, I think it’s pretentious, and you can begin to look like you are riding peoples’ struggle to get somewhere with your music. I’m into radical leftist politics, I think it really influences a lot of what we do, including who we work with, venues we play at, how we DIY produce our recordings and CDs, and also in where we are aiming and who we want to hear and be inspired by what we are doing.
Adam: As a performer and composer I feel that nearly all music is a reaction to everyday life in some form. It could be escapism from the hardships of life, or it could be the aspiration of something better… pursuing something more optimistic. From personal experience, I find it impossible to not be influenced by the environment around you – both local and international.
Would you say there’s a distinction between yourself as a songwriter and as a musician?
John: I don’t think so. Writing songs for me usually means I find a good sample or a few chords, then I start building on it, then do it with Yash, Alex and Adam, and it changes, and every time we rehearse it changes. Then when we record it changes again. So there’s no line between the two, all our songs evolve as we go along.
How do you see your career progressing from where you are now (in an ideal situation)?
Yash: I want us to play more in Liverpool, and get out to other cities and to festivals too. And I’d like to tour next year. We recently started with Adam and Alex in the band, and it’s really added a lot to our live sound, and our presence on stage. I want Venusian to keep growing and keep evolving in our sound and aesthetic.
What do you like doing away from music?
John: Me, Alex and Adam all teach our instruments. Adam and Alex both do composition for games and orchestras. Yash is in another band, Unstoppable Sweeties Show. Most of what we do is music. We watch a lot of sci-fi and anime, I guess we do some normal stuff too like cycle and play video games.
Yash: I love gardening, hiking and animals – I like to study the plants, their biological bodies remind me of frail beings from outer space, but they’re something that gives life to our planet.
Why is music important to you?
Yash: I’ve evolved my brain into thinking music is the only thing for me, I don’t know what else I’d do. It’s our profession, whether it’s gigs or teaching, but it’s also how we keep our feelings and our minds together, and relax, and express ourselves.