Traversing Disorderly Seas: A Conversation with Fabio Brienza of VARAHA

Diving into the quartet's heartfelt reimagining amidst the troubles of quarantine.

In what was one of this year's best release dates on June 26th, Chicago's VARAHA introduced us all to Reves, a re-working of A Passage for Lost Years (2019) standout Severance. This new iteration is the a product of purity and camaraderie between the musicians involved, each of which recorded their parts from the comfort of their home to bring forth a soaring composition of eloquent melody. Featuring the likes of Sarah Pendleton (SUBROSA), Kim Cordray (SUBROSA), Mitch Harris (NAPALM DEATH) and Sam Applebaum (VEIL OF MAYA) among many others, Reves comes a cohesive, well-layered listen that unfolds with each passing time.

Music aside, VARAHA reconnected with renowned artist Travis Smith to present the cover for A Passage for Lost Years in a new light, representative to that of the contemporary world. Though the artistic changes are simple in scope, there's more to be seen and more to be felt as you observe it through an analytical lens.

We talk to VARAHA frontman Fabio Brienza on how it all came to be:

In reimagining ‘Severance’ as ‘Reves’, you’ve welcomed a maelstrom of talent from the comfort of their homes onto a heartfelt track from last year’s ‘A Passage to Lost Years’. How did this all come together in organic fashion?

Brienza: I need to rewind to March 22 and the Illinois Governor “stay at home” mandate in order to to fully address how this all came to be. It’s been a journey, to say the least. The dawn of the pandemic was brutal: tours cancelled, shows cancelled, all unable to rehearse, unable to access recording studios, unable to see each other or our friends. We were all stuck at home in self-isolation hell. So with 'Reves', we simply did something together in order to connect, and to feel involved and engaged, inspired and alive.

It kinda all started from a Facebook post by Nick Sadler (Daughters). Nick posted about the upcoming Isolate/Create Project, and challenged me to do a Remix - I accepted, I fired up my old glitchy Mac, and used whatever music gear I had laying around at home to make it happen. I recorded vocals with my phone’s voice memo app, and I attached a thrift store Casio keyboard to my guitar pedalboard! I had fun. I was hurt both emotionally and psychologically during those early days of the pandemic, and doing this exciting Daughters/Varaha collaboration kinda helped me snap out of it - and exactly because of it, I developed a sudden mindset and philosophy to keep staying creative and positive, and to post daily art, play-thoughts and ideas on my personal socials - I did that so to stay motivated, active, and sane. I did that to stay connected with the artistic community, having a wish to hopefully inspire others at home or a thousand miles away to “just do it”, and to keep creating while in isolation rather than just waiting for time to go by. Time is all that was given to me, I wanted to make good use of it and it didn’t matter if the ending product was crap. It was all about doing, and building, and creating instead breaking down and falling in