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Brad Jeans

Q&A

Who The Hell Is Vispera?

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Who The Hell Is Vispera?

Over the last few years, the face of underground music has changed. More of a focus on vocals has helped many artists truly explain their music and the thought behind what they’re putting out. The resurgence in grime and the focus on the MC in electronic music has only helped to stoke this change, and at the same time, artists like Nia Archives and A Little Sound have continued to show what is possible with some serious DIY attitude and truly great vocals. 

One such artist a shining example of all the above, coupling spoken word and drum and bass is Eve Piper aka Vispera. Already touring internationally with the likes of Phase Records and working with Sofa Sound in the UK, the young MC really sets the bar high. Showing exactly how commitment to the craft and a clear vision for your own future can coexist harmoniously to lay the groundwork for a lengthy career as a touring artist. 

 This year is no different for Eve; with a debut EP set for later in 2024 and a promotional tour of some of her favourite haunts across the country. We sat down with her a few weeks back to talk about how the next 12 months are looking for this inspirational young artist. 

How’s things? 

Things are good. I’m in my little sister’s bedroom while she’s away at uni. I’ve hijacked it to be my little desk space. It’s been really nice.

I’ve got to start by talking to you about your Next Hype entry that you filmed whilst at Boomtown; that was such an eye-opener to the level of dedication to your success. Where does the commitment come from? 

It was so much fun doing that. I think I’ve always felt very lucky that I’ve always had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do. It was just a case of that I could always feel a space in the scene and I felt an urge to fill it. It was a case of getting the confidence and the skill set to allow myself to do it. I’ve always been a big advocate of writing as a self-help tool. Every day I do “morning pages” and that really helps in manifesting and challenging myself to do the things that my younger self could only have dreamed of doing. I was quite shy when I was little.  

Thank you for being so open about that. It’s certainly inspiring from a self-help point of view…

I couldn’t recommend it enough. I find it natural to get my thoughts down. Not everyone does. I feel really lucky that I can do that. It’s my way of letting myself get it all out and just get everything down- channelling it into a line really helps my head. It’s a good thing to do. I used to do it before work as well. Before you go in for the day you’re honouring your own inner voice which I think is helpful.  

My interest in spoken word stemmed from a brilliant Mancunian poet called Chris Jam. He came into our year nine drama class and introduced us to the genre. It inspired me and gave me that first bit of confidence to do it. 

Spoken word is often a very political genre. I grew used to the idea that if someone has a microphone in their hands they should use their voice with meaning and either to spread a message or tell us something that needs to be heard and like to maybe address imbalance or advocate for a cause or and just make use of the fact that the voice is amplified. We’re all more than aware these days of the gender-based issues and the safety of women at events but I wasn’t hearing female voices and the female experience at the raves that got me into drum and bass when I was younger. Back then I absolutely adored MCs I thought they had a wizard-like command of the space. As a poetry fan, I’d always be right at the front, transfixed by the word-play and the rhymes. It just took me a while and a bit of growing up to believe that I could have a go at it too.  
 
It’s really important that females feel represented and have the female experience and voice heard to address the imbalance that still exists. Having something to stand for is what led me to keep pushing it and have a motive to do it. A reason other than just for myself. 

Is there one aspect of performing- in terms of either the mental aspect or the physicality of the performance that you prefer over the other? 

Being on stage is an electrifying feeling and there’s nothing like that energy transfer between the crowd and the performer. I feel so privileged to play a part in the scene that conjures up such intensity of feeling. Music unites us more than any other force I’ve come across. I especially love it when girls come up to me after and say they enjoyed it, or say they were happy to see a female. If I can inspire any woman to feel a bit more empowered to get their voice heard and take command of the space; I feel like I’m doing my job. I feel so super lucky to be able to perform my words at the raves. Equally, I’m happiest on my own- with my notebook. Alone. I’m a bit more introverted naturally. 

Do you find yourself feeling that those two elements of performance balance and encourage one another? 

100% they balance and encourage each other. I’m still learning to try and have a hold of that balance and understand it. In my first year of MCing, I told myself that I’d say yes to every opportunity to gain experience. I learned so much and I met so many amazing people, but I was doing that for multiple sets a weekend for weeks and it took it out of me and my body was showing the signs of exhaustion. I was losing my voice before my head wanted to admit it. I need a lot of alone time to recharge and it’s the only way that I can connect to my inner voice and get it all down on the page. 

Nice, it feels almost like a pendulum moment. You take your time away and you come back swinging through like this. 

Beautiful metaphor. Yes definitely. 

You’re getting involved with labels like Sofa Sound and have been touring internationally with Phase Records; it feels like this is only the start of a well-executed master plan to affirm your place in the scene. How did those links come about? 

I could only have dreamed of working with Sofa Sound. When I moved to Bristol they were “it” for me and I just love that label so much. I met Onset at the Crofters Rights’ Collective nights and I’m so grateful that he invited me to get involved with a few things since. One night I was heading back to Manchester and I luckily got a lift back with him. It was so amazing to get an insight into how it’s been for him. It was just pretty amazing for me. Then I got the call to join them in Brighton with Gusto and Freddie B hosting for Sofa Sound and DLR’s album launch Volks in Brighton.   

With Phase (Records) I couldn’t say enough about Gifta and Phase. She’s been really life-changing for me. She’s such an amazing boss. Such an amazing label owner. Getting mentored by Hospital Records she’s dripped down all everything she’s learned, all the insight she has. All of that advice is passed on to the residents. She puts so much energy into bringing everyone up individually to make the brand stronger. She encourages people to go and do their own thing and she’s just brilliant to work with. She’s been an amazing friend, and an inspiration and has given me some great opportunities.  

What’s scoped for the next few months? 

I’ve got quite a lot of sets coming up before summer and festival seasons looking exciting. Off the back of that I’m going to tour my first solo project; a four track EP I’m releasing towards the end of the year. 

How did the EP come about? 

The EP is a modern retelling of the story of the fall of man. The biblical story of the original sin; Adam and Eve. Eve eating the apple and being expelled from the Garden of Eden. I wanted to tell the story from a modern perspective. Eve’s experience of coercion to eat the apple by the snake and disobedience from the path of what she’s supposed to do. I wanted to flip it as a metaphor. The Adam and Eve story serves to blame women for man’s fall from paradise. It frames women as weak, untrustworthy and sinful and that justifies the subjugation of women in the eyes of the church and therefore society. I wanted to try and reframe it presenting the act of disobedience as a rejection of patriarchal rule and blind coercion. 

The ejection from Eden is an excel from that control and a bit of an eye-opening allegory into being a female in the scene. The danger and the abuse that can happen behind everything in this male-dominated scene. It’s a story that I tell over different tracks and each producer for each track is from a different city.  

I’m working with some amazing producers who are providing the music for it, I chose them because I love all of their individual sounds, they’re very distinctive. It goes from more of an old school organic sound to a jungle vibe and some dark techy aggression at the other end. I’d say that’s the feeling and sound that these producers achieve so well. It’s what made me want to partner with them to tell elements of the Eve story. 

Are the tracks the same genre? 

Yes, they’re all drum and bass with me telling the story. I will MC with elements of spoken word delivery. 

Is production something you want to do in the future? 

I definitely want to learn more about vocal production and learn more about how to record myself properly. Just be more independent as a recording artist because that’s been a learning curve for me. I’d love to learn to produce my own vocals. I’m very aware that I’ve got a lot of friends who are amazing at production and I thought it might be better to focus my attention on getting better at what I do and providing that for now. I really want to learn about working in the studio and getting better at processing vocals and understanding the process of that more- that’s a skill that I’m trying to improve upon.

I’m so lucky to have some friends who are unreal producers and I feel that as my role was more with words. It makes more sense to collaborate with these people to create something for what’s right now in my career but it’s definitely something to be I’d like to do in the future. As a kid, I played piano and learnt a little bit of production by doing it at AS level. For now, I think my role is to provide the words and be an MC. 

How have you found the process of the EP, from conception to its finalising moments? Is there something that you will take away from the project?  

Definitely, its been a learning curve. These things take longer than you think- they always do. There’s been a lot of travelling and I love that. I wanted to tour with different people in different cities where I’ve been trying to build a network and the cities the producers on the release are from too. I had more intentions with it other than just putting an EP out. I wanted it to form part of a bigger plan and have something where the music to be made with the idea in mind that it’s telling the story, that it’s going to have it’s chance to connect with the city in which it was made. 

Musically what sounds or producers have inspired the project? 

It has been different across the board. From some old school hailing from Bristol and then the London side is a lot more aggressive. Obviously, with different producers, it could be a challenge for the EP to sound cohesive as a whole, but because of the narrative arc that links it together; I think it works. 

Where are you bringing the tour? 

Bristol is with the Full Spectrum crew. I was so grateful when Ffi reached out and that when I told her my plan, she was onboard. Then in Birmingham, I’m working with Sisterhood at The Dark Horse. There are also dates in Manchester and London too. I’ve got some wicked DJs I love to support on the dates. Every night of the tour is going to have different people playing different sounds, which is really exciting. 

You’re seen to work closely with the Full Spectrum and Sisterhood collectives, it feels like community is important to you… 

Community is super important to me. I’d like to say I 100% agree with that. For everyone who’s on this graft, trying to make it as an artist and establish themselves; it’s easy to get in your own heads. You’ve got a lot of ego in the scene but we all rely on each other. We’re all putting energy into it. We’re all working together. That’s what makes it a scene. That’s what makes so many opportunities. You take out of it and give energy back.  

We survive by supporting each other and putting everything into it. I’ve seen so many amazing collectives like Sisterhood where everyone wants to bring each other up and it’s so healthy and sustainable. They’re great at providing opportunities for people who have gone without. Providing that representation to bring more of what is needed and of what’s lacking in the scene helps it be more diverse, varied and representative than it is. I feel very honoured to be involved with brands that are at the forefront of their mission and especially to be working with them for this tour and everything that the EP represents. 

What about inspiration? Where does that come from for you in terms of being an MC? 

For being an MC, it was the Manchester MCs that I grew up going to watch. LEVELS, Strategy, Sparks, Chunky, DRS and Fox. I was taken in by watching them and that’s what made me think; I want to do that. 

You are spoilt up there! 

This city is truly blessed when it comes to live MCs and lyricists and Manchester’s got such a rich history of music. But, for me, I’m most grateful for their stage presence and the way they used their accents. That’s what inspired me with the MC side then when I moved to Bristol that’s what inspired me musically 100%. I feel very grateful to have lived in both cities and in terms of writing for myself that works well. 

I prefer to have a theme or a prompt. If I’m working with a producer, I’ll always say “What were you picturing in your head when you made this, what was it about for you?” Then I try and put the words to that. If you’re creating something together, I find it harder to write if they just say “Do whatever you want”.

With mine and Artillery’s track “UV Rage” he was so articulate about his thoughts when he had been creating the idea for the track. It’s about mental health struggles and trying to suppress rage and anger. I already had written something about rage and this idea of inner turmoil so having that conversation led to a really strong idea that we were both fully behind.

Your performances are much more of a connected story than a hosting style, would you agree? 

Hosting definitely didn’t come naturally to me. I had to really learn how to do that, I’ve never been the loud person in the room with new people. That’s why I wanted to do as many sets as possible, to get as much practice and to learn how to do it. I’ve written my bars and I often like to have a bit of a sense of narrative to them and I could do them but at the end of the day if you’re MC it’s your job to be that connection between the crowd and the DJ. 

How do you find representing a part of the new wave of female MCs? 

Super proud. There are so many strong women coming through right now on the new wave. Massive salute and respect to the originals like Chickaboo. Massive inspiration of mine. OneDa is killing it at the moment with the Pussy Power EP. On the new wave there are so many I could shout out. I’m going to say big ups to Ekstatic as well. She’s so talented and so professional and so creative and so unique. Someone who should have the microphone as well as being a sick DJ. Give us a chance!  
 
Savvy B is killing it, Charlie Tee’s MC. Foxi in Manchester, Kemsey, Bee Rosebud. Abi Nyxx has inspired me for a long time. Mamba.exe. Kaz too. Pablo is a sick vocalist as well! Too many to mention! Big up to brands like Sisterhood and Sexy Lady Massive as well for bringing through these acts and giving them the opportunity. 

Are there some producers you’d want to work with in the future? 

Collaborating with people is the best part of being a drum and bass MC. I’ll get in the studio with anyone and see where it leads. The creative process is everything and I love seeing how different producers work and finding a way to connect into their workflow creatively. That’s often led to some really good friendships for me as well. 

Getting something in the works with a big name would obviously be an amazing opportunity but honestly, if anyone asks me to do vocals for their tune it’s a huge honour. I’d try to make it happen. I remember thinking before “Wouldn’t it be amazing if producers wanted to make tunes with me” and now I’m at the point where I can tell people want to work with me. There’s a bit of a wait cause I’ve got projects to work on, apologies to anyone waiting but I couldn’t ask for more at the moment. 

If you did have to chuck one big name in there… 

Visages. 

Dare we ask about 2025? 

If all goes to plan I could still be doing what I do and still hopefully getting to host for loads of sick nights across the country with different brands. I’ve got a similar idea to this year with another release in mind, but it should be bigger and better. 

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