InstituteEventsHaunting, poignant and completely intoxicating. VOID, an anonymous, ‘faceless' duo based in London, have returned with double A-sided release in the form of iHurt and MEDICATE. The latest offering from the pair, who go under the moniker of Jax and Rocco, combine a fusion of rare groove, evocative vocals and ethereal soundscapes, capturing the sentiment and mood at present perfectly. Both tracks were recorded and mixed at The Lounge in Abbey Road Studios with Dustin Dooley and mastered by our very own Alex Wharton.Their hugely personal, self-penned lyrics touch upon the subject of mental health, and both of their own personal struggles with the illness. After sharing the tracks online, VOID found that many people were benefiting from their words and music in a similar way to how the band had themselves. Through this they created the VOIDfeels podcast, creating a ‘place’ where even more people can share experiences and find calm and peace, irrespective of their demographic or background.
Following iHurt's premiere on Phil Taggart’s BBC Radio 1 Chillest Show In The World, we spoke to the band about the inspiration behind the tracks, how they found working at Abbey Road and three things they would advise to anyone who is struggling right now.
VOID talks to Abbey Road
Can you tell us how you wrote I Hurt and Medicate and what was the inspiration behind the tracks, or what you wanted to communicate?When we write we always lead with chords. Whether that’s on a guitar or an organ/keys depends on how we’re feeling that day to be honest! We like to add delays and blend reverbs of all different lengths to create a sound bed.
When we find chords we like we’ll get them recorded and start looping. We play the loop through the monitors and one of us starts throwing around some improvised melodies. We then take what we think are the best, and most natural melodies and build on them from there.Then we feel out the melodies and how they make us react emotionally. The lyrics seem to come naturally. Honesty is important to us and we like to think that translates not only verbally but sonically.
We both have been affected by mental health issues, and we continue to be, however, when we write, it’s a form of therapy in itself. We don’t hold back, and we truly hope that through our honesty we can help to break down the negative stigmas surrounding mental health issues. We believe there was a reason we survived. We want to share with, and help as many people as we can through our music, podcast and by working to grow our online community.
Medicate is a bit of a personal story for Jax "I was on antidepressants at the time, and was also receiving CBT sessions for my anxiety/depression and intrusive thoughts. I met someone, who completely changed my world. Supported me and helped me through the roughest of times until I no longer needed to ‘medicate’ It's an important song for us both actually."
iHurt is true to how we felt at that very moment of writing it. Sometimes overwhelming feelings of not being good enough, anxieties eating away, a numbness that just consumes you. It’s about being driven to the point of almost breaking down completely and wanting someone to take the pain away.
Could you share one technique that you use in your songwriting that is an essential part of your process?
It may not be the most typical answer but ‘VIBE’. Haha. I think that we know pretty early on in a session whether we’re digging what we’re creating. We sometimes get no further than a chord progression because it doesn't get us going! We have to create something that jumps out at us. We need to be vibing! We move on pretty quickly if not, but at least there’s a graveyard of half finished songs we may get round to finishing one day! VOID: the basement tapes coming soon.
What was your experience of working at Abbey Road like, across each stage – from recording, mixing and mastering?We were so excited from the moment we were told that we were going to be recording behind those gates at Abbey Road. Iconic isn’t even a big enough word to describe the studios. We didn’t feel like we deserved to be in a place where so many of our idols have recorded. We were honoured to have been given the opportunity. It’s such a safe, welcoming space and we felt at home - and for us that isn't easy, but everyone was truly lovely. The breakfasts are pretty banging too! We worked with producer Dustin Dooley, he's a cool guy who understands us and what we're trying to achieve. All in all, we had such a good time.
And what was it like working with Alex Wharton?Nigel, our manager mastered the tracks with Alex Wharton. Nige was struck by the delicate touch Alex used on the masters, he 'got' what the tracks, and I guess we, are about. We remember Nige describing the mastering session as 'being so much more than a technical process'. We all fell in love with sound of the masters and we're really happy at the way iHurt sounded on its Radio 1 debut, it sat beautifully during an evening of other tracks.
How have you been feeling during lockdown?We have tried to avoid using the term 'lockdown', it's almost a bit of a trigger in itself. We've tried to use the enforced time at home to write, record demos by working together online. We've recorded two special versions of our podcast from our homes in the hope that someone may find comfort and calm from them, they're a bit daft in places, so we also hope that they might provide a little bit of light hearted distraction too!
In general, we've tried to stay positive and to do positive things, we go through 'dips' like everyone, but we've made the best efforts to forge ahead with the positives.
What three things would you advise to anyone who is struggling right now?To anyone out there feeling anxious right now remember you aren’t alone. No matter how truly isolated you may feel, you should try to find solace in the fact that there are so many people fighting the same fight and that you can do it. Normalise your own problems and acknowledge that your feelings and thoughts are valid. It's being said a lot right now, but it really IS ok to not be ok. Reach out, please reach out. This pain is temporary and there are safe ways others can help you get through this.A big thank you to VOID for taking the time out to speak to us.
The double A-Side of iHurt and Medicate has been released on the Music Republic label and is available across all good streaming platforms now. Find more from VOID here.