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Void Vision: Analog Vision Quest.

September 14, 2012

Text by Maddy Court. Image by G.W. Miller III.

Void Vision is the name Shari Vari gives the gloomy, labyrinthine electronic music project based out of her Fishtown basement.

“I call it synthpop,” she says. “I get lumped in as cold wave because I’m associated with Wierd Records but I feel like my music isn’t that minimal. It’s a little more complex.”

Void Vision’s original incarnation as a full four-person band was short-lived. Soon after founding the project in 2009, Vari and guitarist Hayden Payne decided the project worked best as a synth duo. A year or so later, in the middle of recording their first 7-inch record, Vari and Payne decided to part ways after artistic differences made collaboration impossible.

“They were 98 percent my songs,” Vari says. “I had put a lot of time and effort into it. I believed in it. I just kept going. It was my project. Usually in guy/girl duos, the girl isn’t very technical. She’s just a front, eye candy. But I wrote all these songs and did all the directing.”

Now 27, Vari is emerging from a two-year recording absence with a new, yet-to-be-named Void Vision LP. The album, which she expects to complete by November, features “To the Sea,” a waltz-like ballad about love gone wrong. It’s a heavy, emotive song befitting of someone whose love for electronic music is rooted in childhood nostalgia growing up in Holland, Pennsylvania.

“I was always really tuned in to the music in commercials, video games and TV shows,” Vari explains. “I used to watch my brother play a lot of video games. I would try to transpose music onto the piano.”

When she was 12, Vari’s brother introduced her to Buzz Tracker program, minimalist software that allows users to make electronic music. As a teenager, Vari used the fledgling Internet to indulge her interest in synthpop and obscure retro music.

“The Internet helped me a lot because I was out in the middle of nowhere growing up,” Vari offers. “There were no other kids at my school who were into the same music as me. I had 13 channels on my TV. There were no music shows. I found things by downloading stuff from the Internet.”

Today, Vari is the web animator behind the hoagie-ordering computers at Wawa. She uses computers at work but would rather create her music on the analog synth and drum machines that fill her basement. Much of her equipment dates from the ’70s and ’80s. Vari believes that technical limitations spark creativity and make artists work with more thought.

“You can do anything on a laptop,” she says. “I prefer people in rubber monster suits to computer-generated monsters. Special effects take away from the creativity. You don’t need computers to make cool things.”

Vari’s attention to craftsmanship and ability to alchemize old into new material shines through in each Void Vision song.

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