Based on the East Coast but hailing from Alabama, Sharp Veins built up a reputation last year with a series of Soundcloud uploads, and has contributed to several various artists EPs and compilations. On his full debut, released by Glacial Sound, he makes music for fictional places: “idyllic, isolated locations far away from where I am now, all viewed through a digital prism. It’s escapism, or a brand of it heavily informed by all the fucking time I spend on the Internet searching for places I’d rather be.”
Stream the full EP below, order it here, and scroll down to read our interview with Sharp Veins.
The press release for Inbox Island talks fictional places and isolated locations – could you expand? What sort of visuals are we talking here, and are these all places that interlink?
The Aleutian island chain off the coast of Alaska is probably the best reference point I can give for what visually inspired this EP, but more generally, I found myself drawn to mountains, boulders, volcanoes, rocky bays, verdant slopes and valleys, snowy peaks, dense vegetation, moss, trees, the occasional relic of human activity.
Of course, being that I was discovering most of these evocative places and images via stumbling down online wormholes, disparate imagery started to collage and coalesce. The places I found are real, but they take on an unreality when the closest you can come to them is via the mediation of an amateur YouTube channel or photographs from an ornithological expedition. I basically wanted to assemble some enigmatic, isolated whole from little fragments of places all over the world.
By its very nature, with all of these things from the regular world scattered then assembled into some new aggregation, there’s an immediate familiarity and unfamiliarity that arises, kind of like a dream. I wanted it to feel like a safe haven, but I could never completely rid myself of the knowledge that the places I drew from were/are often unkind to life, especially human life, taking a foothold.
You built up your name on Soundcloud, but this is your first release proper. Do you see Inbox Island as something totally distinct/removed from those uploads, and how would you ideally like people to perceive this EP?
Most of the tracks on the EP were made around the same time as those various Soundcloud uploads, but I think that they do feel distinctly separate from those songs. I don’t know if it’s as easy as saying they’re more visual or something, but they definitely seem to better fit into/better conjure up images of this place/collection of places that the EP as a whole resides in. Even so, in terms of technique, the songs on Inbox Island are all pretty much in line with what I uploaded (as well as what I didn’t upload). I want people to take this EP holistically. I hope they’ll like the tracks on their own, but I really do think that it stands up best when all the songs are played together. I hope it’s something that people can zone out to if they want but also scrutinize and enjoy. I hope it’s something that people take refuge in.
Are there any acts that were particular influences/reference points for the EP? Anything people might not expect? The press release mentions Southern hip-hop, and you’ve said you’re a big fan of Lil Ugly Mane.
I think my most overlooked musical influence for this EP, dub techno, is probably also one of the most imperceptible influences in my music, at least for now. I spent most of the summer working my way through the pretty much immaculate Chain Reaction discography. Listened to lots of Rhythm & Sound as well. There’s a space and atmosphere in that music that I really tried to emulate when working on Inbox Island. Hip-hop wasn’t as much of a factor for me strangely enough. I listened to some older Memphis tape rips but it was a sporadic habit. Constants were Grouper, Gas, Actress, Björk and The Congos, as they all make music that I think has some sort of otherworldly or supernatural texture to it, even if it’s thoroughly rooted in earthly means or sounds.
Finally, are you an inbox zero kinda guy?
No, not quite. I don’t think I have the dedication required for that lifestyle even though I do have a bad habit of compulsively checking my email. Despite that tic, I’m okay with leaving a few things unopened for long periods of time, and I don’t trash most emails either, just let ‘em accumulate in opened form. For what it’s worth, I did lose one account due to incessant Google Alert updates – we’re talking thousands of emails flooding my inbox rather quickly – so I’ve learned my lesson on that front.