Interview with Versari

10 Fragen / 10 Antworten

French Post-Punk/Rock artists Versari release their third album Sous La peau.

Drawing their influence from the French style of songwriting Chanson, Sous La peau is an awakening for Verari, shedding their skin from their prior form and being reborn in a sonic fire to their current state. Sous La peau features radiating guitars, a powerful bass and percussion section that are intense, yet elegant and seductive. All match perfectly with vocalist Jean-Charles Versari lyrics, which sings stories of purifying pyres, burning lies, and false pretenses. Sous La peau features guest musician Adrian Utley, founding member of the iconic Trip-hop band Portishead. A combination of all these elements lead to a powerful and provocative album.  

1.When and why did you become a musician ? 

In High school I started playing music… well. Being part of a band was it, and I was doing backing vocals in a high school band called Xox Sinoe. It didn’t last long but I knew I was intersted by doing more than going to shows. I was intersted by two things: Music and photography. After high school I started being active in both. Took a lot of pictures and worked as an assistant, and I started my first band: Hurleurs. Both being time consuming and expensive (no digital cameras then), I made a choice and chose music as my main activity. I was 20 years old.

2. What are your characteristics? What makes you special?

            That’s a hard one. I would say that With every instrument i learned to play (starting with the accordion, then moving on to piano, and then the guitar), I always tried to find my own approach, so what I would do would not feel like a copycat of musicians I enjoyed. I did take some courses in all these instruments but only went as far as knowing enough to experiment. The guitar is the one instrument with which I feel the freer in that sense. I am not necessarily a good technician, but I have my own ways.

3. Who and what inspired you?

I was a teen when « New Wave » appeared, and I really built my musical culture on that music. I’ll cut the story short  : I was given a The Cure tape with « Faith » on side A and 3seventeen Seconds » on side B (which is chronologicaly wrong and I’ve always thought about it afterward ha ha) and everything changed for me from then. My favorite bands at that time are The Cure, Joy Division, Minimal Compact, Echo & the Bunnymen, Einsturzende Neubauten, Marc Seberg, Dazibao… And from then I expanded my taste. Regarding my guitar playing: I was learning by listening and watching Sonic Youth, Adrian Utley, Serge Teyssot-Gay, François-Régis Cambuzat and Marc Sens in France, amongst many others… And all the music I discovered afterward. My inspiration comme from all art, and stories, and encouters. With the years I try to be more accurate in my songwriting, and pay more and more attention to how I use words. I discovered my low singing tone thanks to Ian Curtis and Samy Birnbach.

4. How do you imagine listening to your music? Where do you like to listen?

Listening to our album is not a peaceful listen. It is a challenging album. Even though we chose to release songs that tend to have a short format, we tried to make it so everything would question the listener, and there would never be a truly peaceful moment. The lyrics will raise questions, come and echo wth the listener’s own story… The music feels like it is always on the edge, even when it seems like an open and positive moment, there is always a tension behind it.

I listen to a lot of music, so I listen to music everywhere. When I ride my bicycle to the studio, at home, at the studio (I am a music producer). After a long session, I always enjoy playing a few songs I like before leaving, it resets my brain. I will usualy listen to music when I get home: sitting on the sofa in frot of the speakers. I go out to goth nights in Paris too, I love the loudness of dance parties. I DJ there too sometimes…

5. Who are your most important role models and why?​

I feel my role models are from my life, not in the artists I follow.

Be it positive or negative role models. My parents, my close friends, female and male, a lot of them are my role models.

I’ll say that the Velvet  Underground allowed me to think I could make music too. There is a simplicity in their songwriting which made me think it was accessible. And I started playing the guitar to their songs…

6. What role do social media play in your career? How important is YouTube or Instagram for you?​

Social media is something you can’t really work without these days. I admit I wasn’t really paying attention to social media for the band, and realised I missed something essential, so I caught up with it. I am the one taking care of it all and it is very time consuming. I am trying to keep it simple and true to who we are.

YouTube: I only recently took proper care of our YouTube channel, and I like it as it is now. Again, simple. I like to add videos people will shoot with ther phones when we play live, I like the fact that I have control and can choose to be inclusive.

InstaGram: I like IG. I have had a personal account for a long time. I like how you can just create a narrative with IG. It’s your choice of pictures which creates a story. So when I created an IG account for Versari, I thought I should see it the same way : it is a personnal storybook with little text of the band’s life.

7. Do you actually do anything besides the music?

The three of us have « regular jobs ». Cyril (Drums) is a tour manager and a general manager at a Paris venue, Laureline (bass & backing vocals) is a therapist, and I am a recording & mixing engineer and a music producer.  We haven’t been earning enough with money to make rent, so there… Our works allow us to still be there when we need for the band, so it has been working out well. I chose to become a sound engineer quite late in my life, and even though it is not always easy to earn proper money there either, I truly and deeply love this work.

8. What has been the best performance you’ve seen so far?

So many… Einsturzende Neubauten, Minimal Compact, Echo & the Bunnymen, Gallon Drunk, Pere Ubu, Arcade Fire, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (many times), The Ex (many times), Dirty Three (many times), Portishead, Marquis de Sade, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Noir Désir, Fugazi… I probably forget a lot of them…

9. Who should play you when your life is filmed?

That is a tough one !! I have no clue. Maybe I should get to acting and play myself… I do like Ed Norton though…

10. Last question: What do you want for the next 10 years, what do you need for it?

We would very much like to tour a lot more, and outside of France. With the pandemic, all our shows for this abum have been canceled, and we were supposed to go to the USA.  We plan on not waiting so long to release new albums, so hopefully five more in the next ten years. we would love to work on music for movies as well, which is a hard nut to crack it seems. I don’t really know if we need anything more than what we already have. Just to get our word out more…

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