The Veldt make a triumphant comeback with its pure embrace of mood music; premiere new single, “Sanctified”
North Cackalacky natives and twin brothers Daniel and Danny Chavis grew up listening to Echo and the Bunnymen—but also Prince, one of the first Black artists to step outside of what was musically accepted since the days of Hendrix and Love. These outsiders developed a sound that mixed raw rock and roll with emotion and atmosphere. They came up in the (white) alternative music scene of Chapel Hill—which saw the rise of indie bands like Southern Culture on the Skids, Archers of Loaf, and Superchunk—but it was the English dream-pop bands like the Cocteau Twins that they most related to.
In fact, after originally signing with Capitol Records, the brothers went to London to record their debut album with the Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie, but, unfortunately, it never saw the light of day. Their A&R did not like the record and it was put on ice. The world never got to hear what might have been a very true representation of their sound. Instead, the label wanted the next Living Colour. The Veldt would move on from Capitol, but things wouldn’t get any easier. After a brief stint with Chapel Hill indie Mammoth Records, they ended up in litigation and moved on again.
Listen to the Veldt’s new single, “Sanctified”:
They would finally release some material in 1992, the EP Marigolds, put out by PolyGram/Mercury subsidiary Stardog Records. For this recording, they again looked to England, teaming up with Lincoln Fong, bassist for the fuzzy shoegazer band Moose. The album featured bombastic drums and heavy guitar riffs in line with the grunge wave that was sweeping the U.S. at the time—yet, simultaneously, Daniel Chavis’s voice often echoed the influences of his overseas contemporaries. While the record would not do much, it was enough for Mercury to give them another shot with 1994’s Afrodisiac, a more experimental outing with dreamier melodies and funky drum machine programming, but still not abandoning their heavy, layered guitars. Robin Guthrie also guested on the album, playing guitar. The album featured their biggest hit, “Soul in a Jar,” but still the label was unsure what to do with the band.
Guitarist Danny Chavis recently relayed to The Guardian a frustrating conversation with their A&R: “I was like, ‘I know we’re niggas, but can you understand what we’re saying? Try looking at our faces, please?’” The label even “vetoed a European tour with Cocteau Twins in favor of a slog through redneck bars in the Southeast with New Jersey’s the Smithereens.” They weren’t even given the chance to find their audience.
After years of being all but forgotten, the Chavis brothers reformed as Apollo Heights and released 2007’s White Music for Black People, produced in part by Robin Guthrie and TV On the Radio’s David Sitek. It was a comeback of sorts, and showed their sound—especially “Babytalk”—evolving more towards dreamy and less bombastic.
Now, nine years later, the Chavis brothers are back again with their original sci-fi moniker the Veldt (borrowed from the famed Ray Bradbury short story) and a new EP, The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation (while the Drake Equation is probability theory regarding extraterrestrials within the Milky Way galaxy, their usage may also be a nod to the music of the Canadian superstar). The Veldt’s first single, “Sanctified,” premiering here for the first time (above), sees the band evolving evermore towards a true shoegazing sound—a sound that feels like what they were meant to achieve all along. Perhaps this time, listeners will fully understand and embrace the band, now that other Black artists have proven that it’s acceptable to make emotionally moody music and ambient soundscapes—from the Weeknd and Miguel to Drake and Travi$ Scott. The Veldt finally feel like they’re in the moment, with a perfect blend of past, present, and future—drums traded for drum machines, heavy guitar riffs for textured ambiance. “Sanctified” floats along with trap-triplet programming, atmospheric screeching guitars à la Robin Guthrie and the Cocteau Twins, and Daniel’s falsetto melodies weaving their way into another place, another time—one that accepts art for art’s sake and artists for being true to themselves.
The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation will be released March 18 on Leonard Skully Records.
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