Mysterious producer Veryan makes bewitching ambient soundscapes as immersive and inspiring as the remote Scottish forest she calls home

“I’ve had no training whatsoever,” says the anonymous electronic musician Veryan from her home in the middle of a forest in Scotland. “I listen and go, ‘Well, that fits there. And that works there’. And I just layer stuff up. If it sounds good, it sounds good.”

Veryan’s admission is surprising for an artist with the ability to craft highly melodic, evocative and emotional instrumental music. Her new album for Werra Foxma, ‘Reflections In A Wilderness’, is the latest in a series of releases that are redolent of mystery and haunting passages, immediately enveloping, yet simultaneously elusive, as if you are grasping at an illusory image.

“I keep promising myself I’m going to learn the guitar,” she says, gesturing to a collection of instruments behind her. “But I work spontaneously. I hear stuff in my head and I have to get those ideas down quickly. I can do that with a keyboard and computer. I can press things and move stuff around.”

Veryan grew up in a house on a small island where music was always omnipresent, but the idea of making music of her own was never really something she contemplated back then. Instead, she followed a corporate path, until a series of significant events occurred in quick succession circa 2015, prompting a re-evaluation of her life.

To distract herself from what was happening around her, she decided, on a whim, to attend an Ableton course in Shoreditch, London.

“I loved it so much,” she enthuses. “I had no idea whether or not I was any good at it, though. In the end, I thought, ‘You know what, I’m just going to stick a couple of tracks on Bandcamp’. This was in 2019, about two years after I’d done the course. The first person to send me a message was Mark Peters from Engineers, who said he really liked them. I’m such a fan of Mark’s music, so that was confirmation enough for me to believe I should carry on with it. That led to my first album, ‘Ebb & Flow’, in 2020.”

That creative pivot also coincided with a series of moves, first to Yorkshire and then to the remote part of Scotland that Veryan now calls home. Her local environment has become an important factor in the evolution of her sound.

“Most of my ideas come to me when I’m walking,” she says. “Where we live is beautiful. My husband and I walk every single day, come rain or shine. We talk about all kinds of things, and that might spark a musical idea in my head. It could be a theme, a feeling or something visual. It could be an emotion. I’ll come back home and start wondering about the sounds related to that idea. Often that works beautifully and becomes fully formed quite early on.”

‘Reflections In A Wilderness’ is easily Veryan’s most beguiling work to date. Full of interconnecting melodies and widescreen landscapes, it balances delicately on a tightrope between melancholy and hope. Melodic flourishes emerge and subside with a languid, classical grace. There’s a constant feeling of latency, of something significant or dramatic poised to happen, as on the exquisitely hypnotic ‘The Emptiness Of Inner Fields’ and ‘Snow In Still Air’.

“When I submitted the album to Frazer at Werra Foxma, he played it in his studio while his son was there,” says Veryan. “His son was playing on his phone, and as he listened he looked up and said, ‘Oh, this sounds like music from a video game. It takes you on a journey. It feels like you’re going to some kind of space colony’. Of course, it’s not about anything like that at all, but maybe it should have been!”

The actual inspiration came from something much closer to home and rather more of this world than outer space.

“It’s basically a love letter to winter up here in Scotland,” Veryan explains. “It’s that feeling of isolation and chill, but also knowing that the sun will return. It’s so changeable, so unpredictable. All you can do in the winter is hold on to the fact that the weather will eventually get better and you’ll feel warm again – you’re just never quite sure when.

“Things really feel out of your control, and there’s something that’s really quite powerful and amazing about that,” she elaborates. “‘Reflections In A Wilderness’ was me trying to come to terms with it… this whole thing you can’t grasp, that you’re just at the mercy of.”

While ‘Reflections In A Wilderness’ reveals an artist completely owning her aesthetic, Veryan is highly conscious of being typecast as an ambient one-trick pony. This has led her into the realms of collaboration in an effort to challenge herself in different ways, just as she did when first engaging with Ableton back in her former life in London.

Recent split releases with The Lonely Bell, Everyday Dust and Xqui have given her vital new pathways to explore other ways of creating music. Her latest endeavour is ‘Insights & Sounds’, an EP and digital magazine. As well as inviting artists to talk about a specific word or phrase that guides their aesthetic, Veryan composes new tracks for each participant, using a sound that they’ve provided.

“I felt I needed to do something different,” she says. “That was on the back of doing the collaborations, which I really enjoyed, because they made me break out of this cycle of producing yet another ambient album and instead approach music in a different way.”

‘Insights & Sounds’ is a prime example of this urge to shake things up.

“I have absolutely no idea what sound anybody’s going to send me,” she admits. “I’ve got to work with what they give me, and I’ve also got to somehow make the tracks that I create from those sounds fit in with what the person has talked to me about in the interview.

“There’s a danger in becoming too comfortable with what you’re doing,” Veryan muses. “I need to experiment, but it’s not experimenting just for the sake of it. It’s about what’s going to push and challenge me, and what’s going to be different and unexpected. That’s what I’m constantly asking myself.”

‘Reflections In A Wilderness’ will be released by Werra Foxma

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