Hear First: The John V. Variety Hour’s john v. variety loves u ( ´ ∀ `)ノ~ ♡

An EP premiere from John V. Variety, and some words on the "tumultuous timing" of its creation.

Sarah Goldfarb was my best friend, my closest artistic collaborator, my mutual muse, my most natural companion and artistic partner, my leader in our band Red Widow (and soon our two side projects) and co-leader of our dreams — and a few months before COVID, she passed away in a senseless accident. She haunts this EP almost as much as she does my waking hours. It’s a bass-first, gothic-tinged, dark pop odyssey, complete with a synth of samples of her voice via mixer and co-producer Alexei Petrov. It is anchored by our last two major songs together, which have been arduously worked and re-recorded and re-arranged for use here, and from which I see the middle section as a sort-of “Sarah Suite,” which begins and coalesces with her signature plunking bass, her signature sway you can nearly see. In the three-headed closer (Alexei deserved a credit, I decided against their protests, as they made substantial cohesive changes) the aggression and the low-end all seem to come alive to me, in a way that I’d never felt before. In a wistful way, in which I am both mourning and looking towards the future. 

john v. variety loves u ( ´ ∀ `)ノ~ ♡ is meant to (humbly) convey this feeling of ambivalent triumph. Nothing can stop me from thinking of Sarah every day, but perhaps these days will grow easier now that I’ve released our final work to the public along with songs meant to confront myself — “Please, Be Undead!” is my spooky Eno-esque pop exploration of helpless mourning; the lead single, “Gender Neutral Song,” tackles questions of my own identity I’d been afraid to broach until Alexei cranked the rave and hyperdrive; “Dive in the Lion’s Teeth” uses an old Variety theme to explore a futuristic cybernetic death trip with Alexei — and confront our unreleased last songs, which I’d felt had gone neglected for so long. 

The EP’s title also stems from its tumultuous timing. I recorded pretty much all of the stems for this at complete bottom, not seeing people for weeks, rotting in depression following an ill-advised drug spiral and interpersonal explosion, floating from band to band (I even had a concussion and was bedridden for a month during the sessions, but I don’t want to make this too long). Coming into contact with Alexei Petrov, aka Marcy the Baptist, a genius 21 y/o composer who left Berklee to make future-pop, played a massive role in this work’s completion. As one of my few confidants for much of this time, Alexei learned much of the mythology of Sarah, as well as my relentless demos made to fill the humiliating hours. One day, I forget who, one of us decided to give collaboration a shot; they started with “Please, Be Undead!” — an early laptop speaker mix which sounded master-ready to me — and from then on, as I finally moved back to Brooklyn to make an attempt at a return to the “scene,” they pushed me forward, to pull some of these songs and projects together, to make sense of this mess.

We worked relentlessly in fresh, empty rooms. Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s hardcover biography lay near my foot on the cover, along with our stacked laptops, because I didn’t yet have a desk. Alexei knew this was important, and their work was meticulous and astounding. I don’t think this EP would sound nearly as good as it does without having had their hands in arranging and percussion and general killtronix. KILL MUSIC LLC! That’s our brand. Nobody take that. Please. We’re not great at names.

Having said this, I think this is Hour’s finest, and I’m absolutely thrilled to debut it here. I hope it resounds with people like it does with me; I hope someone out there grieving something will feel catharsis in this motorized textural avant rave, and maybe get choked up a little bit when they hit the coda of “Bollard Block” — a strange little phrase that has stuck with me, meant to represent the self-made immovable structures of grief and fear that inhibit inspiration, an incidentally ideal metaphor for the release of this EP — where, I, Sarah, and Alexei come together for what I believe to be the finest climax to any work I’ve ever made. It feels as if three minds are interlocking together, across generations, time, spaces, existences. 

What does the future bring? A Marcy and John V. full-on collab? Maybe a KILL MUSIC LLC collective? Regardless, I am going to continue moving, I will develop this strange psychedelic goth dance genderfuck sound. I will continue to embrace the new, to try and fool the algorithm with that One Weird Trick. It’s what she would’ve wanted, and it’s what I want too. 

John V. Variety Loves U!

John V. Variety is an employee of Variety Enterprises and the alien-born host of The John V. Variety Hour, a “psych pop rave-up” from another galaxy that has found syndication on earth in Miami, Berlin, and Brooklyn. His brain is upside down and he’s sustained several concussions, so his idea of pop music is strange and abrasive — but he nevertheless tries, often bursting through the dark gothic pallor with glamorous gleeful explosions and psychedelic surprises, as well as a rotating motley crew of collaborators onstage and off (including, but not limited to: the French-German sound artist Laure Boer, the rapper Big Baby Gandhi, and Jah Jah of Ninjasonik). He often shares his askew thoughts on twitter under @johnvvariety. The success or failure of this EP will determine his life or death.