Tag: The Veldt Marigolds

New Video: JOVM Mainstays and Shoegaze Pioneers The Veldt Return with a Lush Seductive and Moody Record Store Day 7 inch

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the past 12-18 months, you’ve likely come across at least one of a handful of posts featuring the pioneering, Raleigh, NC/NYC-based sheogazer rock quintet The Veldt. Currently comprised of founding members, primary songwriters and identical twin brothers Daniel Chavis (vocals, guitar) and Danny Chavis (guitar) and Martin Levi (drums), along with along with Hayato Nakao (bass) and Frank Olsen (guitar), the band can trace their origins back to the Chapel Hill, NC music scene of the late 80s and early 90s — a scene that included Superchunk, arguably the most commercially successful and best known of the acts from that region, Polvo, Dillon Fence, and others.

With the band’s initial lineup featuring the Chavis Brothers and Levi, along with Joseph “Hue” Boyle (bass) and later David Burris, the members of The Veldt managed to be a rarity as a shoegazer rock band that prominently featured black men in a place and time, in which it was considered rather unusual, if not extremely uncommon — and they hailed from the South. Interestingly enough, the band quickly attained “must-see” status and with the 1992 release of their full-length debut Marigolds, the band saw a rapidly expanding national profile as the members of the band were profiled by MTV as a buzz-worthy act. And as a result, the then-Chapel Hill-based band earned a much more lucrative recording contact with Polygram Records, who in 1994 released their highly-acclaimed Ray Shulman produced sophomore effort Aphrodisiac. Thanks in part to being on a major label and to a pioneering sound that meshed elements of old-school soul, shoegaze, Brit Pop and early 90s alt rock, the band found themselves on the verge of international and commercial success opening for the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush, Oasis, Cocteau Twins, Pixies, Fishbone, Corrosion of Conformity and others; however, the members of the shoegazer quintet experienced embittering difficulties and infighting with both their label and their management, who repeatedly told the band that they found them “too difficult to market.” And as a result, the band was dropped from Polygram and subsequently from two other labels.

While going through a series of lineup changes, the band released two albums, Universe Boat and Love At First Hate before officially going on a lengthy hiatus in 1998. Now, here’s where things get rather interesting: Several years later, the Chavis Brothers had resurfaced in New York with a new project Apollo Heights, which began to receive attention locally for a sound that effortlessly meshed soul, trip-hop and electronica with shoegazer rock — and for their Robin Guthrie (of Cocteau Twins)-produced debut effort, White Music for Black People, which featured the band collaborating with Guthrie, Mos Def, Deee- Lite‘s Lady Kier, TV on the Radio‘s Dave Sitek, and Mike Ladd. (Around that time, I remember reading a profile about the Chavis Brothers in the long-defunct New York Press, a publication that a few years later, I wound up briefly writing for, before their demise. )

And although the members of The Veldt have toiled in varying amounts of relative obscurity over the past 20+ years, the Chavis Brothers’ and their bandmates’ work has managed to quietly reverberate, becoming much more influential than what its creators could have ever imagined as members of internationally renowned acts Bloc Party and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek have publicly claimed the band as influencing their own genre defying sound and aesthetic.

Last year may have been arguably one of the bigger years of the band’s history as the members of the recently reformed band released the first batch of new material in almost 20 years, The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation Mixtape, an effort, which revealed a subtle yet noticeable meshing of the early shoegazer sound of The Veldt with the trip-hop and electronic-leaning sound of Apollo Heights as you’d hear on the swooning “Sanctified” and the sultry and moody “In A Quiet Room.” Building upon the buzz of those singles and the EP, The Veldt went on several tours, opening for the likes of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and others, and much like the resurgence of Detroit-based proto-punkers Death, the Chavis Brothers and company firmly reasserted their place within Black musical history and within musical history in general, making a a vital connection between The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cocteau Twins, The Verve, Fishbone, Marvin Gaye, Prince and TV on the Radio among others.

The Raleigh and New York-based band begin 2017 with the “Symmetry”/”Slow Grind” 7 inch vinyl single, which North Carolina-based indie retail store and label Schoolkids Records will be releasing exclusively for Record Store Day. “Symmetry” is a slow-burning Quiet Storm soul meets shimmering and moody shoegaze single in which Danny Chavis’ ethereal crooning placidly floats over a stormy mix of swirling electronics, stuttering beats, a propulsive bass line and shimmering guitar chords — and throughout the song there’s a urgent and plaintive yearning that’s forcefully visceral. The recently released video pairs stock footage from the 1920s, featuring a brooding Flapper-type looking at a mirror and lying down before jelly fish gently undulating in lava lamp-like water take over the screen. We then see two women swimming in perfect symmetry before returning to the video’s initial imagery. And as a result, the video possesses a dream-like logic and vibe.

“Slow Grind” is a swaggering yet dreamy and slow-burning bit of shoegaze featuring staccato bursts of stuttering beats, deep low end, swirling electronics, shimmering guitar chords and distorted vocals to create a sound that evokes the sensation of being submerged in a viscous substance — or being enveloped by sound. The recently released video features a young woman seductively grinding in front of superimposed images of manta rays leaping out of the water and bright, explosions of colors. Certainly with these two releases, and growing attention on the band, I’m looking forward to seeing what else the band will be releasing over the course of this year and onward.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Veldt Return with Sensual and Moody Visuals for “In A Quiet Room”

Now, earlier this year the newly reformed The Veldt released the first batch of new material in almost 20 years with the release of The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation Mixtape an effort which revealed a subtle meshing of the original The Veldt sound with that of Apollo Heights — and the result is a sound that pairs towering and shimmering guitar chords, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and Danny Chavis’ soulful yet ethereal crooning as you would have heard on the swooning “Sanctified” and their sultry yet moody latest single “In A Quiet Room.” And as those two singles and the tour supporting their EP revealed, the band’s sound manages to make a vital and important connection between The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cocteau Twins, The Verve, Fishbone, Marvin Gaye, Prince and TV on the Radio among others.

Directed by Toshi Kaneiwa, the recently released music video possesses a painterly quality as the gorgeously shot black and white video features a nude woman brooding and posing in a room. And with each shot, you can almost picture an unseen photographer or painter creating a moody portrait.


Earlier, I wrote a lengthy post about pioneering Raleigh, NC/NYC-based shoegaze quintet The Veldt. Currently comprised of founding members and identical twin brothers Daniel Chavis (vocals, guitar) and Danny Chavis (guitar) along with Hayato Nakao (bass), Frank Olsen (guitar), and Martin Levi (drums), the quintet can trace their origins to the vital and quirky Chapel Hill, NC music scene of the late 80s and early 90s — a scene that featured Superchunk (perhaps, the best known out of that entire scene), PolvoDillon Fence and others. Initially featuring the Chavis Brothers and Levi along with Joseph “Hue” Boyle (bass) and later David Burris, The Veldt managed to be a rather extreme rarity  as shoegaze act prominently featuring black men in a genre, as well as a place and time in which it was considered highly unusual — and honestly still is; however, despite how unusual it seemed, the then-Chapel Hill, NC-based band quickly attained “must-see” status in their home city and a rapidly growing national profile with the release of their debut effort Marigolds. 

Their 1994 Ray Shulman-produced sophomore effort Afrodisiac propelled the band towards international recognition and the band wound up opening and touring with the likes of  The Jesus and Mary ChainLushOasisCocteau TwinsPixiesFishbone, Corrosion of Conformity and others. Unfortunately, throughout their initial run together, the members of the band found with their management and labels who found them “too difficult to market” as their sound meshed elements of old school soul and shoegaze. And unsurprisingly, the band got dropped from their label. Struggling to fund writing, recording, releasing and marketing their work and touring, the band went through several lineup changes before officially going on hiatus in 1998.

Several years later, the Chavis Brothers had relocated to New York and started their post The Veldt project, Apollo Heights, which received quite a bit of buzz locally for a sound that added trip-hop and electronica to their previous mix of shoegaze and soul. In fact, I can clearly remember reading a raving and informative profile of the band in the old New York Press, a few years before I started to write for the publication. And honestly, it shouldn’t be surprising that critics and journalists were raving about the band — their 2007 Apollo Heights debut White Music For Black People was produced by Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie and featured guest spots from Guthrie on guitar, Mos DefLady Kier of Deee- LiteTV on the Radio‘s Dave Sitek, and Mike Ladd.

Sadly, despite their early successes the Chavis Brothers work have been reduced to largely cult-favorite status; but interestingly enough, their work in The Veldt and Apollo Heights has managed to quietly reverberate and influence some highly regarded contemporary musicians — the members of  Bloc Party and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek have publicly claimed The Veldt as influences on their work and sound, which has proven that the Chavis Brothers had the somewhat bitter misfortunate of being about 20 years ahead of their time; however, with the forthcoming release of The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation Mixtape, their first batch of original material in almost 20 years, the members of the reformed band seek to firmly establish their claim as the forebears and pioneers of a sound and aesthetic that has captured the blogosphere and fans by storm. And interestingly enough, they hop they do so in a similar fashion to the incredible renaissance that the members of Detroit-based proto-punk/proto-metal band Death has seen over the past few years.

“Sanctified,” the first single off The Shocking Fuzz reveals how deeply indebted TV on the Radio’s sound is to The Veldt as towering squalls of guitar chords played through gentle amounts of reverb paired with skittering yet propulsive drum programming and Danny Chavis’ soulful crooning in a tender and swooning song that evokes the feeling of being desperately, madly, stupidly in love — in a way that nods at subtly cosmic version of The Jesus and Mary Chain, if they had been influenced by Fishbone , Marvin Gaye and Prince; in other words, it’s shoegaze that manages to be irresistibly sexy.