NME Radar: Breakout

Verzache: Toronto’s bedroom pop titan embraces the unknown

His debut album gets so dark his parents’ copy came with an emotional warning

Each week in Breakout, we talk to the emerging stars blowing up right now – whether it be a huge viral moment, killer new track or an eye-popping video – these are the rising artists certain to dominate the near future

As bedroom pop continues to expand beyond the homely four walls of its early stars, this Canadian powerhouse producer and songwriter is preparing to shift the needle some more when his sprawling 19-track debut ‘My Head Is A Moshpit’ arrives in March.

Verzache aka Zach Farache first started experimenting with music in his parents’ basement, and it wasn’t a humble acoustic guitar or the idea of penning lyrics in a scrappy notebook that sparked his interest either – it was making mash-ups on Garageband. “It was like these two worlds are colliding,” he explains over Zoom, vividly describing the moment he struck gold layering a Childish Gambino a capella over Drake’s “Pound Cake” at some point in 2014.

When he did transition into making his own original material, early releases like his EP ‘D97’ were brimming with DIY charm. The lo-fi fog and feel-good energy of his 2018 single ‘Needs’ saw the track go viral on TikTok, and it’s remains Verzache’s top track on streaming services. People still ask him ‘why don’t all my other songs sound like that’ but he’s quick to point out any artist who’s been in that position is often expected to replicate not only the success of their hits, but the sound too.

Incorporating his early hip hop influences with an ever-evolving palette of indie inspiration, shoegaze fuzz, and sparse electronica, the young star manages to distill his chaos into a cohesive body of work. Detailing some of his darkest moments, ‘…Moshpit’ showcases vulnerability through its coming of age story which loosely runs in chronological order.

Out of the basement and at home in his own place in downtown Toronto, we caught up with Farache to reflect on the years he’s put into this album, his fraught relationship with social media and why avoiding classic genre tags doesn’t mean he’s pretentious.

Your debut album release is just weeks away! How are you feeling?

“I’m excited because I’ve been working on it for two years, and now it’s finally being released and I’m nervous, not because people will think it’s bad, but because I’ve really opened up on this shit. I’ve been very vulnerable. It’s kind of a thing I try to do, but I’m more nervous about my family. Whenever I drop anything they listen to it critically, like ‘what does this mean?’ My girlfriend does it too!”

Have your family heard the record yet?

“They’ve heard the singles and I sent my parents the album. My family is very supportive and I’m super appreciative of that. It used to be like, ‘Zack get out of the basement. You have to go to school.’ And then I went to my parents being like, ‘go to the basement. Work on music.’

I don’t know if they listened through yet, but I sent them a big message with it to say that it’s very personal and that I’d appreciate it if they don’t ask if I’m OK, because I’m OK right now. It’s fine, I promise you. I’ve gone through shit, but this is just my work. This is my art and this is what I do.”

Is there part of the album which will be the most difficult to share? 

“The second half of the album, no doubt. That has the most revealing parts, but I think that it’s going to feel good to get it out of my system. To feel that this album is out, and those songs are out, and you’re not holding it in anymore, it’s a release to be honest. It’s really just me talking and getting my shit out because you’re gonna listen to yourself, you’re gonna hear your own voice like ‘yo, I’m just talking to myself and helping myself out here.’”

Verzache
Credit: Press

“Last Year” is a particularly raw and personal moment, (surprised how far I made it / think I’d be dead now / I thought I’d be dead”) where was your head at this point?

“I wrote it thinking about it being the start of something new, looking back at all the shit from last year, and now I can almost relate it to every single year that’s passed since then. I listen to it and feel like I’m there again. It was a tough one, it was a mental struggle and me admitting to deep feelings that you wouldn’t just admit to people in a conversation. I feel like I’m not lying to myself anymore from holding it in and I just got it all out of me and now we’re good.”

How have you navigated viral success?

“My relationship with social media and honestly, my relationship with music, as well, is a little bit altered from just doing this as a career. It’s a very mental thing and I think that a lot of it has to do with the Gen Z shit, growing up with this stuff and being a part of this new age. I get really anxious sometimes to be on social media. Every time I post something, I’m like, bro, I’m gonna have a heart attack and I’m just making a post about promo, so yeah… that’s just how it’d be and I still use it every day. I want to wake up and not pick up my phone, like that’s not the way to start my day.”

Your sound has undergone various shifts since you started releasing music, where have you ended up sonically on the record?

“I started to drift a little bit poppier and that’s because the music I’ve been listening to lately. A combination of hip hop, shoegaze rock, and indie, bedroom pop. So the sound is just some sort of clash of all that shit with some chill singer/songwriter. It comes across as pretentious if someone asks you what music you make or what kind of genre it is and you say you can’t put it in one genre. It’s a clusterfuck, but I understand why people would ask me that. They like something, so they want to hear more of it and that’s totally understandable.”

“I can’t put my music into one genre; it’s a clusterfuck!”

Do you hope your music will inspire other artists? 

“That’s the biggest thing. The community of artists is a huge drive for me and it’s a recent thing. In the past couple of years, the vision I’ve had, the drive is to put music out into this space and see the progression as all of these artists listen and learn from each other and get different inspiration. I think there’s so much cool shit that could come out from that. I’ve felt the same thing happen to me from listening to other people’s albums.”

Looking back at everything so far, what have you discovered about yourself on this journey?

“Oh man, it’s been insane. I can’t really catch myself slipping right now, I gotta keep the momentum up. The work on the album, in particular, has been a very fun/therapeutic/grieving process. I think I’ve learned a lot about myself in terms of how I react to things, how I feel about things, and more self awareness. I’m most proud of the persistence – of always just naturally wanting to do music and being obsessed with it and that obsession taking over my life. I think it’s the mentality of always wanting to do new things and keeping an open mind, even if one thing sounds off to you to give it time and don’t just shut things down straight away. It leaves room for the unknown.”

Verzache’s ‘My Head Is A Mosh Pit’ is out March 5