VARIEN’S ALBUM ‘THE SECOND INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION’ HACKED BY FANS AHEAD OF IT’S DECEMBER 6TH RELEASE.
How was Varien’s album hacked?
Varien’s album hacked ahead of release by several of his followers, managing to successfully assemble multiple images of the pixelated QR code into one full code, which lead them to a file containing a press copy of the album and its accompanying manifesto. The hack surfaced on Varien’s Twitter feed earlier this week after fans noticed a picture featuring promo copies of the album lasered onto circular saws.
The image of the circular saws was also included on an official album flyer posted online by Varien yesterday. Just hours later followers in Moscow, Hong Kong and Santiago, Chile printed and posted the flyers in what are currently some of the planet’s most contentious political hotspots.
At the time of going to press, the flyers were also posted in Belgrade, Amsterdam, Brunswick, and Livingstone in New Jersey and Wolfsville, Nova Scotia.
Unsurprisingly, the elusive US producer was unfazed by the hack and supported the spread of the flyers, praising both as indicative of the cyberpunk nature of the project.
What did Varien have to say about the hack?
“In these times of discord, we must remember the power of the human spirit,” he commented. “It built civilizations, it connected the world through the internet, and we need to remind those in power that we are not for sale, we are not to be shackled, and we are not disposable. WE MATTER. WE’RE NOT YOUR FUCKING WHORES.”
Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Varien’s early career was heavily influenced by metal and rock, experimenting at high school with grindcore, metalcore, screamo, hardcore and power metal before studying the composition and theory of music as part of his jazz band class. From his first steps into electronic music production in 2009, it was also increasingly evident that music from the worlds of gaming and film had crept into his musical psyche. Varien himself cites Shin Megami Tensei, Final Fantasy, Metroid and the work of the Wachowskis as dominant factors in building his own sound.
Varien’s Musical Journey
His first public production surfaced in 2010 on the back of a slowed-down remix of Justin Bieber’s ‘U Smile’ – the quite literally titled ‘Justin Bieber 800% Slowed Down’ – covered by media around the world including MTV and Entertainment Weekly. In 2011 he released three singles under his Halo Nova alias on Monstercat – ‘Triceratops’, ‘The Force’ and ‘Totally Radical’ – before turning towards the Varien moniker to remix Ephixa’s ‘Division’. It was the Varien name that was to stick, Kaelar using it to release a compilation album of trailer cues for TV, film, and video licensing in 2013 called ‘Pick Your Poison Vol 1’, followed in 2014 by a second volume.
His ‘Big Break’:
Varien’s natural ability to produce sweeping and expansive compositions led to a huge influx of licensed material. After teaming up with Two Steps From Hell on a private trailer cue compilation called ‘Open Conspiracy’ he went on to create music for ‘300: Rise Of An Empire’, ‘Bones’, ‘The Purge: Anarchy’, ‘Face Off’, ‘America’s Next Top Model’, ‘Planetside 2’ and ‘Monsters: Dark Continent’. Meanwhile, his relationship with Monstercat continued to grow with a sweeping run of releases from 2011 to 2016 that individually clocked up millions of views on YouTube and introduced him to a wider international audience.
Release highlights included his ‘Valkyrie’ trilogy: ‘Bloodshed’ (2014) featuring Laura Brehm, ‘Lacuna’ (2014) featuring Cassandra Kay and ‘Atonement’ (2015) with Brehm returning to reprise the vocal role. Interspersed among the three tracks Varien also dropped the hugely influential EPs ‘Mirai Sekai’ (2014) and ‘My Prayers Have Become Ghosts (2016), and his 2015 long player ‘The Ancient & The Arcane’. The album was acclaimed upon release, with Dancing Astronaut hailing it “a cinematic masterpiece”.
In 2017, in a move that shocked fans, Varien pulled back from all production work, deleting his social accounts and removing himself entirely from view. He later revealed in a series of interviews with US site EDM Sauce that the move was predominantly motivated by the negative psychological impact of social media, telling the publication he “needed a break from it”.
Varien returns with a bang:
It wasn’t until a year later, via a YouTube message on his channel – which had remained intact – that he announced his return with a run of self-released material including ‘Blood Hunter’, ‘Oh, Sparrow’, ‘Claws’, ‘Eventide’ with Diskord and the Swarm co-production ‘Never Ending’. By the end of 2018 he was back in full flow with his third EP, ‘Death Asked A Question’, released on Most Addictive and featuring the singles ‘God, The Misanthrope’, ‘Whore Of Babylon’ and the titular ‘Death Asked A Question’. The EP once again received mass critical acclaim with Dancing Astronaut calling him “a true mastermind of the electronic realm” and “a figurehead for a shadowy genre all his own” while EDM placed him “on the same playing field as Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor’.
Adored by critics and followed with a feverish, almost cult-like manner by fans, elusive US electronic producer Varien – aka Nick Kaelar – continues to push the boundaries of his chosen genres from his position within the shadows of American musical counter culture. His is a unique space, flexing across countless areas within music but continually refusing to compromise or dilute his work.
With a release date set for December 2019 and new material already in the works, Varien looks set to continue through into 2020 with a renewed sense of purpose for the next chapter of his musical journey.
VARIEN // STREAM: