Music is in Vel Haze’s blood. She has been playing classical piano since age six, but releasing music is new to her in 2021. Her new video for Shadow is a trip through ethereal indiepop, and a hell of an introduction to the versatile artist. We could define her genre as dream pop, but there are elements of the psychedelic–part The XX, part Mazzy Star.
Someone once told me, ‘I have 7 masks and I know which one to wear each day of the week.’ That line always stuck with me.
As the Canadian daughter of middle eastern immigrants, it was a measured decision to diverge from the “traditional” path of getting a job more stable than music could offer. Vel obtained two music degrees and lived all over. She notes a passion for understanding other cultures, which is apparent in her work in world music. After living all around, “I found when returning from England back to Canada that I was no longer Middle Eastern, not British, not North American, but a cultural mutt stuck somewhere in between.” And that seems to be the grey area in which she excels.
Vel has a pretty typical, but pretty cool story of how she started playing the music that led to the music she makes now. After her first concert, Arcade Fire in Toronto,
I went out and applied for a loan to buy a Rolland Phantom X8 keyboard the next day.
She has not looked back, and she’s looking forward to releasing a full catalog.
Lisa: What’s your favorite sound?
Vel Haze: I like to synthesize sounds with analog that evoke emotion and stay in your head, just like bad relationships do.
Lisa: What is your creative process like?
Vel Haze: It’s messy. I scoop up a handful of chaotic spaghetti from my mind, throw it on the wall and see what sticks. As I play around with melodies on the piano, I see music in colour and shapes, and those visions manifest into sound and lyrics.
Lisa: Where did you write your latest songs?
Vel Haze: I wrote half of my songs in a harsh Canadian winter where I didn’t leave the house. I wrote the other half in Joshua Tree, looking out at an infinitesimal landscape, where I felt like I was breathing in fire and sweating out the ocean.
Lisa: Your latest single and video release is awesome. What inspired you to write it?
Vel Haze: My Shadow is about the different roles we play to please others and ourselves in our day-to-day lives. Someone recently once told me, “I have seven masks and I know which one to wear each day of the week.” That line always stuck with me.
Lisa: How would you describe the music that you typically create?
Vel Haze: I grew up playing Hijaz scales on the organ at mass, which is just about as mysterious sounding as they come. My synths have that vibe, but also give you that feeling of when you were lost as a child and your mom finds you, yells at you and holds you in her arms. It’s unsettling at the time, but you also feel safe again.
Lisa: What non-musical entities and ideas have impacted your music?
Vel Haze: I am fascinated with space, extraterrestrial, and astrology. I am currently reading books on women of the Vril society and aliens. I noticed a lot of imagery from the text I am reading in movies like Dune or Star Wars. That sort of stuff inspires me.
Lisa: What are you working on right now?
Vel Haze: I am shooting a video for my next single called, “Leave you to the light.” This video is going to take place in space, but I can’t really tell you anymore.
Lisa: What’s next for you?
Vel Haze: Now that this interview is finished, I’m going to lay down for two days.
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