VRSTY is no stranger to industry and business disingenuousness, they nipped it in the bud before even releasing their first record.
With a rather unorthodox sound that fuses singer Joey Varela’s R&B upbringing with his high school love for metal, choosing the right label was even more crucial. And after self-producing VRSTY’s debut Cloud City EP during the onset of coronavirus, the need for a team was evident and Spinefarm Records fit the bill. In addition to studio support, the deal finally gave VRSTY a chance to air all their frustrations from past business experiences with the release of single “Massive.”
“’Massive’ is pretty much about having people tell you that you need them to succeed. And then constantly taking advantage of you,” Varela told American Songwriter. “But then you come to the realization that you are the reason you’re there, not them. It’s because of your time, dedication and grind.”
After the release of “Massive” Varela’s intentions for the band and its management were even clearer. Since the band’s formation five years ago, Varela has been an avid visionary for the band. He has handled the music but also recording, producing and management himself. VRSTY’s fierce efforts pushed the boundaries of what a band could do without representation, when they landed producer Andrew Baylis for Cloud City, ahead of their signing to Spinefarm.
“We made this EP ourselves,” Varela said. “I wrote and recorded the music at home. For Mixing and mastering, I hit up Andrew Baylis. We showed him some songs and he was super interested. And he just wanted to work with us instead of getting paid. So, we took a trip to Ohio and re-recorded everything. And we started putting out a plan to release the EP.”
Just as Varela along with bandmates, Javy Dorrejo, Chris Cody, and Paul Gregory were planning to roll out Cloud City independently, Spinefarm caught wind of their previous successes. Prior to Cloud City, VRSTY had released their EP Lights and Blck and Blck Deluxe that produced streaming hits, “You & I” and “Colorblind.”
“Spinefarm happened to hear some of our older songs and hit us up,” Varela explained. “They asked what we wanted to do, and we showed them the new EP. They loved it and it was smooth sailing form there. Everything else happened very quickly.”
Setting off the new relationship with Spinefarm prior to the release of “Massive” was the first single, “Shameless.” The lead song was instead co-written with Baylis in studio and opened up a new writing dynamic for the band.
“He is perfect for us,” Varela said about Baylis. “Working with him was incredible. I would write something, and he would know what I wanted to od ahead of time. It just worked.”
Despite it being the only song Varela did not record at home and the last for the EP, Spinefarm saw the song’s potential and the creative bond established between Baylis and VRSTY, and slated “Shameless” to introduce Cloud City.
“That one was never a thought to be a single,” Varela said. “It was the only song I didn’t write at home. Andrew and I write it in the studio. I wrote the breakdown and Andrew did the verses and programing. I started singing and it just happened in maybe two hours. I love the song, but I didn’t think it’d be a single. We sent it Spinefarm and they loved it and wanted to put it out first.”
With their first producer experience under their belt and an honest label to encourage and their vision, the once jaded band had a new perspective. And VRSTY can finally expand upon their reach and get their music out to a new demographic of fans. But as a humble artist, Varela says he is happy if people just give VRSTY a listen.
“I would honestly love people to just listen,” Varela said. But the way the metal scene is I know there will be certain people who will hate it. Because my voice isn’t something, they’re into but that’s ok. People are not going to like everything, but I appreciate them checking us out.”
And after a long-anticipated release with Cloud City and experiencing New York during the pandemic, Varela is ready for whatever comes next, though he has some hopes after experiencing lockdown.
“I would love to tour with Sleep Token or While She sleeps,” he said. I definitely want to leave the country after being locked up here.”
Cloud City is available on December 4 on Spotify and all other streaming services here. See the band in action with their music video for “Shameless” here on American Songwriter.