Rising stars VEPS dazzle with their raw and vulnerable 90s-tinged indie rock

Meet VEPS – the Oslo four-piece proving to be one of 2021’s most exciting new guitar acts.

Aged just 17, the fast rising quartet dazzle with their hook-filled, 90s-tinged indie rock that’s setting the scene abuzz.

Signed to New York’s super cool Kanine Records label, the band, consisting of Laura Dodson, Helena Mariero Olasveengen, June Urholt and Maja B Berge, are a true DIY outfit, producing their forthcoming EP Open The Door entirely themselves.

The ethos also stems to their music videos. Infectious recent single Ecstasy saw the group decamp to Laura’s basement armed with cameras, protective suits, and huge amounts of cake, for a brilliant, albeit extremely messy, self-directed clip.

Follow-up track Girl On TV, which is also on Open The Door, is equally stellar. Laura and Helena interchange vocals over raw, melodic guitars as they tell a poignant tale of loneliness and idealisation.

“What’s really cool about this EP is that it’s our coming of age EP but we’re still coming of age because we’re still so young”, Laura told Daily Star.

“The songs are a document of what we’ve been through these past three years.”

VEPS formed in middle school aged 14 and soon started making waves with DIY shows. In 2019, they dropped self-released Do I Hear A Maybe?, setting themselves on the path towards Open The Door and becoming one of Europe’s must-see emerging bands.

Last week they played The Great Escape’s digital festival and will perform at Larm Festival 2021 in September.

Daily Star’s Rory McKeown caught up with Laura and June over Zoom in Oslo’s Palace Park to talk about VEPS’ origins, Open The Door, their influences, working with Kanine Records, and their hopes.

Hi both. How’ve the past 12 months been for VEPS?

Laura: “The first part of last year was pretty dead because we weren’t able to practise. We didn’t meet at all. We didn’t have any concerts.

“Last fall we started recording our EP. We still didn’t have any concerts or anything. Then the ball started rolling and a lot of things happened.”

June: “We planned for a lot of things to happen. We would have played a lot of concerts in Oslo but since the virus spread so rapidly we had to cancel a lot of gigs. Now we’ve moved them to this fall so we’re very much looking forward to that.”

You’ve just released your single Ecstasy. What’s it about?

June: “It’s a song Laura wrote all on her own.”

Laura: “I was feeling bad. I was at a hotel room in Italy while my family were swimming. When I write I like to tell stories so they’re not necessarily based on real life. This song is a story about a person who is interested in a guy but the guy is scared of commitment and is scared to commit to something real.

"So instead of committing to the person singing he’s hooking up other people or getting validation in different ways. He’s getting short term validation instead of long-term love. That’s why it’s called Ecstasy because it’s symbolism for that feeling is like a drug and you just want to get validation instead of actually feeling something real.”

What made you choose it to be the first single from the EP?

June: “I think we have had a lot of response from our friends and family.”

Laura: “We’ve played it for a long time at our shows and it’s always been our opening song.

June: “Our last single was Funny Things. We had a long argument over whether it was going to be Funny Things or Ecstasy, so it just had to be the one!”

Laura: “It was tight.”

I love the music video too, A real DIY effort filmed in Laura’s basement. What was that experience like? Looks like there was a lot of cake involved….

Laura: “It was very fun but it was a lot of work. We filmed everything in my basement and did everything by ourselves. We didn’t have cameramen. We had to buy supplies ourselves. The suits, for example, we had to drive all around town. It took hours just to find these suits. But it was a lot of fun!”

June: “It was exhausting! We did 30, 40, 50 takes every day for three days. We danced. You probably can’t see it but the suits are not breathing. You get very sweaty.”

Laura: “We were in a basement without any windows but it was fun, but also very messy!”

How much cake did you eat?

Laura: “Enough for a while.”

June: “We won’t be eating cake for a while. It was a very fun experience to do everything ourselves. You really get to see how much you can do just by yourself if you really put the effort in.”

Is the DIY process important for you as a band?

Laura: “I think so. It’s important for us that we always stay down to earth. When things are very DIY it gives us more of the personality of the band. We all have very prominent and fun personalities.”

You’re releasing your new EP Open The Door in June via Kanine Records. When did its writing and recording process begin? Have the songs been around a while?

Laura: “These are the first songs we’ve written together. Most of them are from our beginning phase. We’ve played them at concerts for years. We were planning on releasing it this fall because we didn’t have a label or anything. We were going to self release it. It then it got picked up and it’s taking more time.”

June: “It has been really fun writing all the songs. The song Oliver was the first song ever made by us together. We just re-did the lyrics because we weren’t really fond of what was in them the first time.”

Laura: “We have done little adjustments here and there but they’re the first songs we did together.”

When did you get together?

Laura: “In exactly one week we have been together for three years.”

You’ve evolved as a band and grown up as songwriters. How can you describe the past three years?

Laura: “It’s interesting because we’re all so close. We’ve grown up together. We’ve experienced a lot of things together, we’ve experienced heartbreak together, we’ve written about those heartbreaks together.”

June: “We’ve done everything together now I think.”

Laura: “What’s really cool about this EP is that it’s our coming of age EP but we’re still coming of age because we’re still so young.

“The songs are a document of what we’ve been through these past three years.”

June: “I think they really describe how we’ve felt in middle school. We started in middle school and everything just comes together really nicely with how we are today and who we are.

“I think everyone in the band can really relate to what the songs say but in a very different way, and I like that about this.”

How would you describe the VEPS sound?

Laura: “It’s very hard to perceive our own music! It’s very homemade, it’s poppy and fun. Every song has serious undertones and themes.”

June: “It’s been very important for us to keep our music interests in the songs or to try and reflect the music we listen to in our own way and our own take.”

Laura: “We all have similar but different music tastes. Some of us listens to more heavier, grungier music but some of us listen to poppier music. All those elements are melted into our sounds.”

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Do you have any main inspirations or influences?

June: “That’s always a really hard question.”

Laura: “Not a common one. Everything we hear.”

June: “Anything we can take inspiration from.”

Laura: “One of the songs has a chord progression that I played on the classical guitar in a classical piece. We get inspiration from everything.”

You’re signed to the effortlessly cool New York label Kanine Records. How supportive are they as a label?

June: “Very supportive. They’re very open to ideas and what we want to do. It feels like they really see us as a band. I think a lot of people would be a bit sceptical to us making our first music video by ourselves but they just said ‘just go!’.”

Laura: “They’re very cool people. They’re very much on the DIY thing.”

It must be great to have a label that says ‘go with it, we want to see what you can do’.

June: “We get so much creative space or freedom with the label.”

You’re from Oslo, Norway. What’s the music scene like there and how has it shaped you as a band?

June: “In Oslo we have an organisation that works for getting girls into playing music, instruments and playing in bands. We’ve got a lot of help and a lot of support from this organisation.”

Laura: “We didn’t grow up in town where the music scene is. We grew up outside of town in a very suburban area. When we started playing, we got introduced to this whole new scene of people and new way of doing things.”

June: “And appreciating that you actually like doing music. I think we’re the only band from our only area and it’s a huge area. You were weird if you started playing music and acted on it.”

Laura: “When we moved into playing in town and into that scene, we got a lot more support. People know who we are, which is cool, at least in our age group.”

June: “We’re happy seeing younger girls starting early, playing electric guitar. Having an electric guitar on their back makes me so happy. I believe there’s a future for them in Oslo.”

What’s next for VEPS? What are you hopeful for this year? Do you have an ultimate goal?

Laura: “We want to finish writing an album.”

June: “We want to play a lot of concerts and festivals once everything opens up.”

Laura: “We want to play a lot. We really miss playing live, especially playing more around Europe and not just in Norway.”

VEPS’ EP Open The Door is out on June 11

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