VEIL is a very special artist who has been distributing her low-end frequencies around the world for over a decade. A staple of Liquid Stranger‘s WAKAAN label, she also serves as the label head of Street Ritual, an esteemed underground bass hub that pushes up-and-coming artists to the masses.
She’s performed at the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater multiple times, just got off of tours with Subtronics and Black Tiger Sex Machine, and is truly at the forefront of pushing experimental sounds toward the masses. We had the pleasure of chatting with her at Suwannee Hulaween, as she prepared for her performance at the Spirit Lake stage.
As another massive contribution to the HIHF guest mix series, VEIL also threw down for her ‘Road To Hula’ guest mix. You can check that new VEIL mix out right here.
Check out our exclusive conversation with VEIL at Hulaween below and be sure to show her some love on social media, as well as her label, Street Ritual! We hope you enjoy the interview as much as we did conducting it.
HIHF: Hey guys, Ty and Ari coming at you live from Hulaween 2023! We are here today with VEIL and we are so excited about it because she provided our team with the first official Road to Hulaween mix for this year and has been killing it ever since. We’re looking forward to catching her on the Spirit Lake stage tomorrow, VEIL how are you doing today?
VEIL: I’m doing absolutely excellent, so excited to be here. Hulaween, what a magic place!
HIHF: We’re so excited to hear your sounds in the forest tonight! To start off, can you tell us a little bit about your SURVEILLANCE EP?
VEIL: So I made the EP with the intention of having it be more of a story. I actually wrote the whole story myself – I didn’t do it all at once, I kind of went track by track. It’s about a woman named AZAL who is a hacker and while she’s doing her hacking in the real world, she starts realizing that she is also in this alternative world, essentially. The inspiration came from this scene of AZAL hacking at her desk, then flashing to her being uploaded to the underworld. She’s covered in cords, wires, and dark, so it’s like her default reality mixing with her other-world reality. Then, she gets trapped in that server. There’s all these server entities floating around telling her what she needs to do because she’s like, “Why am I here, what am I doing?”
She encounters a couple different server bosses who are not on her side. But, she has another one that is kind of in her ear and telling her what rooms to go to, what to do, which code to program, and all that. It was really fun to conceptualize the whole project from start to finish. After I wrote the story for each song, I’d put it in a little AI machine and then I’d have the AI talk the story out. Then, I’d essentially make my own samples out of that and then put them in the song. It was really interesting for each song and that’s obviously how the EP is laid out. If you listen to it from start to finish, you’ll get the whole story. But I think if you are just kind of listening to it bit by bit, you aren’t really going to get the whole story. I’ve had a lot of people be like, “Oh, wow, I locked in” and that’s really cool. It’s a little allusive, there are no crazy plot points or anything like that, it’s still a bass music EP.
The project was amazing and my visual team, 5ive9ine, who does all my creative direction, as well as Tower Media, set up a “hacker den” that we had built for three days in my haunted attic in Denver. It just kept getting darker and weirder and we shot all the content. I was dressed as AZAL, obviously. So we had her default world and then her dark side.
HIHF: With the opportunity to bring your visuals and storyline to life in mind, what are some of your favorite performances or festival appearances lately?
VEIL: That’s a tough one because there are so many good ones that are good for different reasons. Most recently, I played Lost Lands into WAKAAN Festival, which was a crazy kind of back-to-back. I had a blast at WAKAAN – I got to play the 2am slot after Liquid Stranger closed the mainstage, so that one was extra special to me because I’ve been playing a lot of opening slots for BTSM and Subtronics. I would be playing like 7pm, 8pm, I played 2pm a bunch this summer, so that 2am slot at WAKAAN meant a lot for me. I mean, it’s my favorite time of the night to play, I think my music fits amazing then, so that was really special. Also, just being surrounded by friends, peers, and collaborators and whatnot, so I’d have to say WAKAAN. It’s a really special place.
HIHF: Speaking of the other tours you’ve been on, what has the BTSM tour experience been like? I know that’s your most recent.
VEIL: Yeah, BTSM was kind of like, I’m still having a “pinch me” moment with it. I remember the day they followed me on Instagram and I was freaking out for a week. I’m like, “What is going on?” This was months before the tour started. Then the offer came in and I couldn’t believe it. I just felt really seen. It was like, “Wow, the people at this level are digesting and getting it.”
Also, my music is obviously different from theirs, so I think that it just felt good coming from someone who’s kind of more in that “riddim-esque” world. I mean, same with Subtronics, but someone who is just recognizing the underground sound, regardless of whether it’s riddim or not. I think they also loved my visual experience too, and they’ve always been a huge inspiration for me with their visuals and everything, so it was completely surreal that they were on board and I still am really stoked on it.
The Red Rocks show was insane. They played for the first time with all three of them in two years, so it was a really special night. I’m still buzzing from it.
I feel special in those scenarios with more mainstream dubstep artists because let’s say the audience is in a younger age bracket. Instead of people in their thirties, it’s people who are like 18, 20, 25, and maybe they haven’t been exposed to a wide range of variety yet. So, I cannot thank artists like BTSM, Subtronics, Boogie T that are showcasing stuff that’s like “Hey this is actually really cool shit and we are going to deliver it to you.”
HIHF: We love seeing artists showcase who they think is up next and doing something creative.
Moving on to something pretty different – this may be a little niche. We loved your Ghost.Games account, where you have some great graded OG video games, computer games, I know there is a graded Charizard Pokémon card in the collection. We love to hear and learn about non-music things that the artists we cover do. Can you tell us a little bit about that hobby?
VEIL: That’s so funny, because did you see the Charizard totem? The Thicc Charizard? That was a project I started with my partner at the time, he goes by Saltus. He manages TRUTH and Deep, Dark, and Dangerous and all that. It was a COVID project that kind of had accelerated into a “Woah, this is a real business.”
It started with a couple friends just giving him cards to send in to be graded and then we’d do research and resell. It eventually grew into having a shipping station and a cleaning station where we would clean the cards and then send them off to get graded, which is a lengthy process. There are dozens of forms per card that you have to fill out. It’s really crazy.
HIHF: Was it just Pokémon cards?
VEIL: Primarily Pokémon because that was where the interest was at the time, but I’m also a huge Magic: The Gathering player. So, I collect a lot of MTG and we definitely were flipping those a little bit. We sold a couple of my dad’s old NBA cards, too. It just blew up from like a couple people being like, “Oh, he’s got Charizards?” and at this point, his collection is extensive. It’s very big. The best card he had, the PSA was like a 9 point something that was worth tons of money.
HIHF: What about original video games?
VEIL: Yup, he had the original World of Warcraft, he had the original Zelda.
HIHF: What are some of your favorite video games?
VEIL: I play Magic: The Gathering literally all the time on their app. I used to play in paper, I learned in paper, and I still play paper, but it’s just easier to play the game online. I’m also currently playing Harry Potter: Hogwarts Legacy. It’s really good.
Also, over this Ghost.Games era, over COVID, we got super addicted to World of Warcraft classic and I played competitively with a forty-person raid team. We were raiding three nights a week and practicing like two nights a week. I was one of the only women on the forty-person team and I had never played that game. I think I’m just competitive so once I got into it, I was really into it, like staying up all night. And we were really good!
I was kind of on the B team for a while but every once in a while, I’d get brought up to the A team. There was this one really huge WoW crew, I don’t remember their name now. But they did a World’s first clear on something and they did a raid to one of my mixes. It’s on Youtube and there are like millions of views and it’s just got my music in the back.
HIHF: Supporting up-and-comers is really important to us at HIHF, especially platforming artists who have never gotten blog support. We spoke recently with one of our long-time supporters, Yoko, who mentioned you as a close friend and influence. Besides Yoko, I want to talk about Street Ritual. Can you tell us about spotlighting those underground acts? Who can you not stop listening to?
VEIL: Slang Dogs, we just put out their EP on Street Ritual. They cannot make a bad song, I swear, their dubpacks are just extensive and always really good. Sometimes, you get packs from people and it’s like thirty tracks and you’re like, “Cool, I’m gonna DJ these two.” When Slang Dogs send thirty, it’s like, “I’m gonna DJ all thirty of these,” so definitely Slang Dogs, they’re at the top of my list.
Mirror Maze is another one who isn’t releasing a ton or touring a ton but he sent me ninety unreleased tracks and I was like “What are you on?” He’s so good. Such a great variety of music. Definitely Mirror Maze.
Xotix, love those boys. Brainrack. He’s a good friend of mine, we just did an EP together. Some of his tracks I’ve just been loving. There are a handful of artists that are really small that I was digging around for Red Rocks; Myrias, KRYPTT, Humorme, RYNS, AG. A lot of these guys are from Wubaholics. Myrias just dropped an EP with them and I think it was my favorite track I played at Red Rocks. I’m going to play it tomorrow [at Hula].
Obviously Yoko, that whole crew like Choppy Oppy, Mantra Sounds, everyone at The Gradient Perspective. We love Jared (Choppy Oppy).
Torcha, he’s got insane dubs coming out. He’s someone that all of the producers know but the kiddies are still finding out about him. Criso, same thing. He’s an East Coast boy.
HIHF: We just did mixes with both Torcha and Criso!
VEIL: What about FLY? He’s another staple of mine. His flip mixes and all of his tracks are just top-tier to me. LYNY too.
HIHF: What’s running the label like? Tell us a little bit about Street Ritual and what the process is like for getting music submitted and sifting through it.
VEIL: I started working for Street Ritual in 2011. It was started by Noah aka NoOne. The first label manager ever for Street Ritual before I came on was ill-esha. Prior to my time, there was twenty releases and it was like Thriftworks, Equanimous, a lot of West Coast bass-centered sound, and more underground. I came on and started managing the label. I kind of took over and Noah, who’s still a close friend, kind of faded out. Then in 2014, I took over ownership of the label and started running it myself. Now, I have a team member Hannah, shoutout Hannah. She works with Red Light now, Hannah Kang.
So when I started it was a lot of like, “Okay I’m gonna release my friends!” At the time it was like Duffrey, kLL SmTH, DRRTYWULVS, Detox Unit, Somatoast, Soulacybin, Bogtrotter, A Hundred Drums, the list goes on and on.
We had CloZee’s first US release in 2015 on a compilation. We had Charlesthefirst. Back then, it was a lot of me accessing my immediate network. Then for years, we would sign demos out of submissions too. It was a point for me that even if someone has fifty followers but we love their sound, we want to be able to put that on. For us, it’s never been about like, “ooh followers” or anything like that. It’s always been more about the sound.
Flash forward to now, we get so many submissions, it’s hard to keep up. Every once in a while, we will sign a “cold” where we just get something in and you’re like “Oh, I’ll sign this.”
But now, it’s a little more strategic. Hannah and I work together to figure out what artists and then we will be on the offensive and say, “Let’s do a release together.” It’s been cool to see the transformation of how we get our releases too, because it’s made me realize, “Oh, we really do have a good curation system and also just like an awareness around our business to be able to do that.
So, our next few releases are actually really small underground artists. They are Seek, Kurei, and Realms, who I actually had as support for my SURVEILLANCE EP headline. Realms is a trio of three amazing friends of mine; Digital Vagabond, Ceiva, and Khu. All three of them separately are amazing producers and together it’s honestly for people who like Tipper and more psychedelic-leaning music. I keep saying their stuff is like if Ternion Sound and Tipper had a baby. It’s a little bit of both, I opened Red Rocks with their track and I got fifty people being like, “What is that track?” We are definitely going to put that out in the new year.
Then after that, we have actually our 200th release. Basically, we’ve been doing a thing where when we get singles, we aren’t really releasing a lot of singles at this point and if we do, it’s with people we’ve already released with. This will be our third compilation where we are taking all of these new artists and putting them all together, so that will be coming out in spring 2024.
HIHF: Huge thank you to VEIL for sitting down and chatting with us! Be sure to check out her SURVEILLANCE EP, go listen to some Street Ritual releases, and keep an eye/ear out for their third compilation, set to be their 200th release!
Be sure to show VEIL love on socials and stream her SURVEILLANCE EP and ‘Road To Hula’ HIHF guest mix. Also, don’t forget to check out our Hulaween interview and mix from Khiva that was published last week! We hope to see you all at Hulaween 2024!
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Featured Image from Nathan Lane Media
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