Pioneering shoegazers The Veldt present their new single ‘Aurora Borealis’, the original 1989 version produced by Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie, which also sees Elizabeth Fraser make a cameo appearance on backing vocals towards the end. Complementary to this A-side is the B-side remix of this song, created by The Veldt around the turn of the century.
This is the second taste of their ‘Illuminated 1989’ album, which Guthrie produced in autumn 1989 and subsequently remastered in 2023. While this record was intended to be the band’s first album, their label Capitol Records shelved the recording (resulting in the debut album now known to us as ‘Marigolds’ being produced by Lincoln Fong of Moose).
The lead track ‘The Everlasting Gobstopper’ was also offered on vinyl with B-side ‘Joshuu Lullaby’, a previously unreleased vinyl exclusive, produced by Robin Guthrie in 2023. The accompanying video was produced by Jammi York and the late Yuko Sueta.
One of the most notable first-wave shoegaze bands, formed in North Carolina in the 1980s, The Veldt surrounds identical twins Daniel Chavis (vocals, guitar) and Danny Chavis (guitar). Their unique sound was influenced by Cocteau Twins as readily as Marvin Gaye and free-jazz warriors Sun Ra and Pharaoh Sanders. Referencing European post-punk while embracing modern hip-hop, these trailblazers work with transient dreamscapes as fluidly as solid song structures.
Pitchfork included The Veldt’s album ‘Afrodisiac’, produced by the legendary Ray Shulman (The Sundays, Bjork, The Sugarcubes) and released via Mercury Records, in the top 50 shoegaze albums ever released, while Stereogum included ‘Until You’re Forever’ in the top 31 shoegaze tracks. Their sound also inspired future generations of alternative artists, including TV On the Radio.
“This song is about my brother’s love for his newborn daughter. Written out of high school and dug out around the time the band had started to get noticed. We had written so many, but it was one of the newest pieces that we had begun experimenting. This would signal our departure from being a band that made people dance to a band that made people confused. ‘The Everlasting Gobbstopper’ came shortly thereafter and was being finished,” says Daniel Chavis.
Danny Chavis adds, “This song was written in 1986 and was included in the first batch of songs we demoed under the name VELDT. Having heard ‘Treasure’ by Cocteau Twins, this song was inspired by that very album and RUN DMC’s ‘Sucker MC’s’ around the same time that year.”
The Veldt’s journey is fascinating. Performing since they were children, the Chavis brothers’ musical roots lead back to the church and southern juke-joints, and listening to music that included gospel, Motown and Pink Floyd. The Veldt formed in the late 80’s in Raleigh amongst the legendary North Carolina music scene of the time, initially signing with Mammoth Records – leading to a chain of major-label relationships that took the group across Europe and the U.S. playing shows with the likes of Throwing Muses, Pixies, Cocteau Twins and Jesus & Mary Chain.
After moving from Raleigh to New York, they briefly performed as Apollo Heights before returning to their original name The Veldt. Joined by Japanese bassist-programmer Hayato Nakao, they together forging music that is a heady and sensual blend of shoegaze and progressive soul, dreamy soundscapes and infectious grooves. Some of the band’s recent notable releases include ‘The Shocking Fuzz Of Your Electric Fur’ EP (2017) and the album ‘Entropy is the Mainline to God’ (2022).
Over the years, The Veldt has collaborated with TV On The Radio, Mos Def, Lady Miss Kier (Deee-Lite), A.R.Kane and toured or played with Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Pixies, Throwing Muses, Echo & The Bunnymen, Cocteau Twins, Manic Street Preachers, Phantogram, Modern English, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Oasis, Chuck D, Living Colour and Schooly D.
As of September 1, ‘Aurora Borealis’ is available everywhere, including Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp. Later in autumn, the ‘Illuminated 1989’ album will be released on vinyl, CD, cassette and digitally via Portland-based Little Cloud Records and 5BC Records.
The Veldt performs next at the Noir Bizarre festival, a free event that involves appearances at The Grey Eagle in Asheville, NC on September 4 and at the VAE Raleigh space on September 8-9, along with Dead Leaf Echo, Candy Coffins, The Mystery Plan, Knives and Daggers, Honeychild Coleman, Micah Gaugh Trio, Lazaris Pit, Origami Phase, Stray Owls, Canary Complex, Flood District, Spirit System, The Action Group, Dead Cool and Dark Red.