Nicolas Varien Kaelar (born May 15, 1990), better known by his stage name Varien, is an American composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. Varien has incorporated or experimented with styles of industrial, metal, orchestral, neofolk, and ambient music. He is known for his work on film soundtracks, along with his unconventional approach to electronic music, including many live instruments not normally found on tracks within his genres.
Nicolas Kaelar in 2019
|Also known as|
|Born||May 15, 1990|
Tampa, Florida, United States
|Occupation(s)||Composer, producer, DJ|
In 2019, EDM.com cited him as the Trent Reznor of electronic music.
Kaelar was born as Nick Pittsinger on May 15, 1990 in Tampa, Florida. He claims to have had a connection to music from a very young age, and his family supported his passions. At the age of 11, Varien began playing the guitar and attempting songwriting, and he joined a number of bands experimenting with genres of rock, grindcore, metalcore, and jazz. Kaelar fully developed perfect pitch when playing the keyboard at age fourteen.
Kaelar was in multiple bands in high school, playing grindcore, metalcore, screamo, post-hardcore, and power metal before joining his school's Jazz band for two years. He cites these years as pivotal to his artistic development, learning sheet music, jazz theory and improvisation. Kaelar also cites this as the time he developed a profound interest in electronic music, folk and metal.
He decided to focus on solo composition and began producing in 2009, with music in video games serving as his most longtime influence to date. He claims Shin Megami Tensei, Final Fantasy, and Metroid as his biggest influences when it comes to games. Kaelar is also fascinated with the works of The Wachowskis.
2010–13: Career beginnings
In August 2010, Kaelar achieved online virality with his slowed-down remix of Justin Bieber's "U Smile", titled "Justin Bieber 800% Slowed Down". He was interviewed by Entertainment Weekly and MTV and had articles written about the track from all over the world.
In July 2011, Kaelar released his first Monstercat single "The Force" under the alias Halo Nova. He subsequently released two more singles under the alias before abandoning it and continuing to make music under the alias Varien, with one of the first releases as Varien being a remix of Ephixa's song "Division".
On February 26, 2013, Kaelar released Pick Your Poison Vol. 1, a compilation album of trailer cues that he had done strictly for the purpose of film, television, and video game licensing. Pick Your Poison Vol. 2 released a year later.
2014–16: The Ancient & Arcane and My Prayers Have Become Ghosts
In 2014, Kaelar teamed up with Two Steps from Hell on a private trailer cue compilation entitled Open Conspiracy. 2014 saw an abundance of licenses for Varien. His music was used in trailers and promotional media for 300: Rise of an Empire, Bones, The Purge: Anarchy, Face Off, America's Next Top Model, PlanetSide 2, and Monsters: Dark Continent. Los Angeles-based singer Roniit's song "Runaway", produced by Varien, was used in multiple trailers and TV spots for the film The Loft.
During his time with Monstercat, Varien reached new levels of success with all his tracks nearing or surpassing a million views on YouTube and topping worldwide charts. His track "Gunmetal Black" was made in six hours.
On August 5, 2015, Kaelar released his first LP, titled The Ancient & Arcane, on Monstercat. Prior to this, he released two tracks, "Beyond the Surface" and "Aether and Light". In an interview with UKF, he elaborated on his songwriting process for the album, saying: "I make so many other types of music so I thought I’d sit down and write – no theme, no story. It’s a very Zen experience. Very spiritual. Wake up. Do yoga. Make music. No regard for the club. No regard for where it will be played or comparisons to my past music or anything else that’s going on. I’ve never gone to any of these places I’m exploring right now. I want people to listen to it and think ‘is this Varien?’ Psychedelic, worldly, ethnic, trippy... People have never seen me go there. Yet."
The Ancient & Arcane was acclaimed upon release, with EDM website Dancing Astronaut calling it a "cinematic masterpiece", giving particular praise to "Ghost Spores" as "reinvigorat[ing] the soul with its harp-tinged melody and orchestral instruments that once again highlight Varien’s idiosyncratic musicianship."
Kaelar's next EP, My Prayers Have Become Ghosts, was released on October 31, 2016, via Monstercat.
2017–present: Hiatus and return
In 2017, Kaelar announced a hiatus from the Varien alias and removed all of his social media accounts. Across two interviews with EDMSauce, he cited the psychological impact of social media on humans as his reason for going on a blackout, also saying he "needed a break from it.". However, in 2018, Kaelar announced via his YouTube channel that he would begin producing music under the Varien name again, after his hiatus allowed him to "take a deep breath from it all". As of 2018, Varien has begun releasing music independently on his own imprint, Kitsune Soundworks, a name inspired by 90s game and media developers like RareWare, SquareSoft, Bethesda Softworks, and Arc System Works.
In April 2018, Kaelar wrote, arranged, and produced K-Pop group VIXX's lead single for their album Eau de VIXX, "Scentist". The track went on to hit #1 on the Mnet charts and was licensed for Korean television shows like The Return of Superman.
As of May 2018, Kaelar had reported over 20,000,000 Spotify streams.
On October 26, 2018, Varien released his next EP, Death Asked a Question, via Most Addictive Records. In an interview with EDM Joy, he cited the EP as being the physical manifestation of his struggles during his hiatus, in contrast to the "fantastical" narrative of The Ancient & Arcane.
|The Ancient & Arcane||
|La Douleur Exquise
as Nick Kaelar
|The Second Industrial Revolution||
|Pick Your Poison, Vol. 01|
|It's Showtime!, Vol. 01
as Chrono Rabbit
|Pick Your Poison, Vol. 02||
|My Prayers Have Become Ghosts||
as Nick Kaelar
|Death Asked a Question||
As featured artist
|Tokyo (The Remixes)
by Gareth Emery
|Space & Time EP
|Cataclasm (The Remixes)
|Regenades of Light
|Cloak and Dagger||2011||Monstercat 003 – Momentum||Monstercat|
|Throne of Ravens||Monstercat 005 – Evolution||Monstercat|
|Skrillex Orchestral Suite||Bangarang||OWSLA|
|Mirrors||2012||Monstercat 005 – Evolution||Monstercat|
|The Alchemist's Nightmare||Monstercat 006 – Embrace||Monstercat|
|Seduction||Monstercat 007 – Solace||Monstercat|
|Resurrection of the Dagger||Monstercat 009 – Reunion||Monstercat|
|The Anthem (with Project 46 & Ephixa)||Monstercat|
|Nights in Bangalore||data-sort-value="" style="background: #ececec; color: #2C2C2C; vertical-align: middle; font-size: smaller; text-align: center; " class="table-na" | non-album single||Play Me Records|
|Morphine||Monstercat 011 – Revolution||Monstercat|
|Lilith||Monstercat 012 – Aftermath||Monstercat|
|Nights in Bangalore Pt. 2||2013||Monstercat|
|Toothless Hawkins (And His Robot Jazz Band) (with Razihel)||Monstercat 013 – Awakening||Monstercat|
|The Scarlet Dawn||Monstercat 016 – Expedition||Monstercat|
|Memories of Melodies Past||Monstercat – The Best of 2013||Monstercat|
|Metalworks||data-sort-value="" style="background: #ececec; color: #2C2C2C; vertical-align: middle; font-size: smaller; text-align: center; " class="table-na" | non-album single||FiXT/Position Music|
|Moonlight (with SirensCeol) [featuring Aloma Steele]||2014||Monstercat 017 – Ascension||Monstercat|
|Valkyrie (featuring Laura Brehm)||Monstercat 018 – Frontier||Monstercat|
|Valkyrie II: Lacuna (featuring Cassandra Kay)||Monstercat 019 – Endeavour||Monstercat|
|Mirai Sekai Pt. 3 – Aeon Metropolis||Mirai Sekai, Monstercat 019 – Endeavour||Monstercat|
|Whispers in the Mist (featuring Aloma Steele)||Monstercat 020 – Altitude||Monstercat|
|Aether and Light||2015||Monstercat 022 – Contact||Monstercat|
|Supercell (featuring Veela)||The Ancient & Arcane, Monstercat 023 – Voyage||Monstercat|
|Hypnotique (featuring Charlotte Haining)||Monstercat|
|Beyond the Surface||data-sort-value="" style="background: #ececec; color: #2C2C2C; vertical-align: middle; font-size: smaller; text-align: center; " class="table-na" | non-album single||Self-released|
|Valkyrie III: Atonement (featuring Laura Brehm)||Monstercat 024 – Vanguard||Monstercat|
|We Are the Lights (with Mr FijiWiji)||Monstercat 025 – Threshold||Monstercat|
|Sacred Woods (featuring Skyelle)||2016||Monstercat 027 – Cataclysm||Monstercat|
|TEVA833||My Prayers Have Become Ghosts, Monstercat 029 – Havoc||Monstercat|
|Catherine (with K?D)||2017||Non-album singles||Self-released|
|Wrath of God (with Teri Miko) [featuring Flowsik]||Spinnin' Records|
|The Dark Harvest||Self-released|
|Of Foxes and Hounds||Self-released|
|Never Ending (with SWARM)||Self-released|
|Eventide (with Diskord)||Circus Records|
|Death Asked a Question||Death Asked a Question||Most Addictive Records|
|Born of Blood, Risen of Ash||2019||Non-album singles||Lowly Palace|
|Can You Feel My Heart (feat. Andrew Zink)||Self-released|
|Hush the Storms Away (feat. STRIX)||Self-released|
|A Pale White Horse||Self-released|
|One Shot, One Kill||Metanoia Music|
As Halo Nova
|The Force||2011||Monstercat 001 – Launch Week||Monstercat|
|Triceracops||Monstercat 002 – Early Stage||Monstercat|
|Milkshakes and Chill||2016|
|Storm The Gates (with Sakuraburst)|
Kaelar also composes and licenses music for all forms of visual media. His music has appeared in the following:
|2013||Breaking Amish: Los Angeles|
|2013||Pain & Gain|
|2013||The Tomorrow People|
|2013||The Challenge: Rivals II|
|2013||NASCAR Race Hub|
|2014||America's Next Top Model|
|2014||300: Rise of an Empire|
|2014||The Purge: Anarchy|
|2014||Monsters: Dark Continent|
|2015||The Walking Dead|
|2017||Doki Doki Literature Club|
|2018||America's Got Talent|
|2018||The Return of Superman (TV series)|
- "Varien: Trent Reznor Dark Lord of This Generation in Electronic Music". June 12, 2019. Archived from the original on June 20, 2019. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
- Jenkins, Dave (January 27, 2015). "Exclusive: Varien is about to blow minds with his new album!". UKF Music. Retrieved October 30, 2017.
- "NP Unzipped: Varien". May 10, 2013. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
- "Entertainment Weekly interview with Nick Pittsinger".
- "LISTEN: Varien's (formerly Halo Nova) remix of Ephixa's "Division" - Suburban Apologist". Suburban Apologist. October 26, 2011. Archived from the original on February 27, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
- "Varien Releases "Pick Your Poison Vol. 02"". January 27, 2014. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
- "Two Steps From Hell: Open Conspiracy « Trailer Music News". trailermusicnews.com. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
- Diaz, Jordan (August 10, 2015). "Varien's debut album 'The Ancient & Arcane' is a cinematic masterpiece". Dancing Astronaut. Retrieved October 30, 2017.
- "Varien Goes On a Social Media Blackout... What Does It Mean? [EDMSAUCE Exclusive Interview]". December 1, 2017. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved June 20, 2018.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Varien Rises From Ashes Victorious [EDMSAUCE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]". July 13, 2018. Archived from the original on April 18, 2019. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
- Varien (January 27, 2018), Varien is Returning [VLOG], retrieved February 1, 2018
- "Varien weaves a dark and vulnerable web in 'Death Asked A Question' [EP Premiere + Interview]". www.dancingastronaut.com. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
- "Interview With Varien On Mental Health & Coming EP". October 15, 2018. Archived from the original on June 20, 2019. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
- Endykiewicz, Paige (August 6, 2015). "The Ancient & Arcane LP by Varien Finally Emerges [Monstercat]". Your EDM. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
- Desk, TV News. "Varien Release New Album, 'The Second Industrial Revolution'". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
- "NEWS: Varien Releases Cinematic Inspired Album « Bring the Noise UK". www.bringthenoiseuk.com. Archived from the original on August 17, 2017. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
- "Varien discusses composing for video games, Pick Your Poison Vol 2". The Untz. January 31, 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
- Meadow, Matthew (September 3, 2014). "Varien & 7 Minutes Dead - Mirai Sekai EP [Monstercat]". Your EDM. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
- MrRyanHarcourt (November 8, 2016). "Varien - My Prayers Have Become Ghosts EP - EDMTunes". EDMTunes. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
- "Position Music - Nick Kaelar "Into Oblivion"". www.positionmusic.com. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
- "Skrillex - Bangarang EP - Reviews - Alternative Press". Alternative Press. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
- "Gareth Emery - Tokyo (The Remixes) - EDMupdate". EDMupdate. April 9, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
- "Space & Time [Discontinued]". Klayton.info. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
- "Mona’s Imprint (Varien Remix)" on YouTube