Varien

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.

Varien
Nicolas Kaelar in 2019
Background information
Also known as
  • Chrono Rabbit
  • Halo Nova
  • Koinu
Born (1990-05-15) May 15, 1990
Tampa, Florida, United States
Genres
Occupation(s)Composer, producer, DJ
Instruments
  • Piano
  • Guitar
Years active2011–present
Labels
Associated acts

In 2019, EDM.com cited him as the Trent Reznor of electronic music.[1]

Early life

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,[1] and his family supported his passions. At the age of 11, Varien began playing the guitar and attempting songwriting,[2] 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.[3]

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.[2] 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.

Career

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.[4]

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".[5]

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.[6]

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.[7]

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.[2]

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."[2]

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."[8]

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,[9] also saying he "needed a break from it.".[10] 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".[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

Discography

Studio albums

Title Details
The Ancient & Arcane[14]
  • Released: August 5, 2015
  • Label: Monstercat
  • Format: Digital
La Douleur Exquise

as Nick Kaelar

  • Released: September 29, 2017
  • Label: Subterra Records
  • Format: Digital
The Second Industrial Revolution[15]
  • Released: December 6, 2019
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital

Extended plays

Title Details
Pick Your Poison, Vol. 01[16]
It's Showtime!, Vol. 01

as Chrono Rabbit

  • Released: February 6, 2013
  • Label: Subterra Records
  • Format: Digital
Pick Your Poison, Vol. 02[17]
  • Released: January 23, 2014
  • Label: Subterra Records
  • Format: Digital
Mirai Sekai

(with 7 Minutes Dead)[18]

  • Released: September 1, 2014
  • Label: Monstercat
  • Format: Digital
My Prayers Have Become Ghosts[19]
  • Released: October 31, 2016
  • Label: Monstercat
  • Format: Digital
Into Oblivion[20]

as Nick Kaelar

  • Released: December 6, 2016
  • Label: Subterra Records
  • Format: Digital
Death Asked a Question[12]
  • Released: October 26, 2018
  • Label: Most Addictive Records
  • Format: Digital
Title Details
Bangarang EP

by Skrillex[21]

Tokyo (The Remixes)

by Gareth Emery[22]

Space & Time EP

by Celldweller[23]

  • Released: December 11, 2012
  • Label: FiXT
  • Format: Digital
Cataclasm (The Remixes)

by Crywolf

  • Released: July 29, 2016
  • Label: Okami Records
  • Format: Digital
Regenades of Light

by LSDREAM

  • Released: April 12, 2019
  • Label: Wakaan
  • Format: Digital

Singles

As Varien

Title Year Album Label
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
Gunmetal Black 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
Mutiny Outerloop Records
Blood Hunter 2018 Self-released
The Dark Harvest Self-released
Of Foxes and Hounds Self-released
Claws Self-released
Monarch Butterfly Self-released
Never Ending (with SWARM) Self-released
Eventide (with Diskord) Circus Records
Oh, Sparrow Self-released
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

Title Year Album Label
The Force 2011 Monstercat 001 – Launch Week Monstercat
Triceracops Monstercat 002 – Early Stage Monstercat
Totally Radical Monstercat

As Koinu

Title Year
Milkshakes and Chill 2016
Storm The Gates (with Sakuraburst)
#SHIBESQUAD
Gainax Bounce
Tomodachi
Kuroneko

Film/TV/video games

Kaelar also composes and licenses music for all forms of visual media. His music has appeared in the following:

Year Title
2012 Intervention
2013 Breaking Amish: Los Angeles
2013 Pain & Gain
2013 The Tomorrow People
2013 The Challenge: Rivals II
2013 NASCAR Race Hub
2013 Runner Runner
2014 America's Next Top Model
2014 300: Rise of an Empire
2014 PlanetSide 2
2014 The Purge: Anarchy
2014 Face Off
2014 M.A.V.
2014 Monsters: Dark Continent
2014 Bones
2014 The Loft
2015 The Walking Dead
2015 Furious 7
2017 Injustice 2
2017 Doki Doki Literature Club
2018 America's Got Talent
2018 The Return of Superman (TV series)
2019 Replicas [24]

References

  1. "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.
  2. Jenkins, Dave (January 27, 2015). "Exclusive: Varien is about to blow minds with his new album!". UKF Music. Retrieved October 30, 2017.
  3. "NP Unzipped: Varien". May 10, 2013. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  4. "Entertainment Weekly interview with Nick Pittsinger".
  5. "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.
  6. "Varien Releases "Pick Your Poison Vol. 02"". January 27, 2014. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  7. "Two Steps From Hell: Open Conspiracy « Trailer Music News". trailermusicnews.com. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  8. Diaz, Jordan (August 10, 2015). "Varien's debut album 'The Ancient & Arcane' is a cinematic masterpiece". Dancing Astronaut. Retrieved October 30, 2017.
  9. "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)
  10. "Varien Rises From Ashes Victorious [EDMSAUCE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]". July 13, 2018. Archived from the original on April 18, 2019. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  11. Varien (January 27, 2018), Varien is Returning [VLOG], retrieved February 1, 2018
  12. "Varien weaves a dark and vulnerable web in 'Death Asked A Question' [EP Premiere + Interview]". www.dancingastronaut.com. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  13. "Interview With Varien On Mental Health & Coming EP". October 15, 2018. Archived from the original on June 20, 2019. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  14. Endykiewicz, Paige (August 6, 2015). "The Ancient & Arcane LP by Varien Finally Emerges [Monstercat]". Your EDM. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  15. Desk, TV News. "Varien Release New Album, 'The Second Industrial Revolution'". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  16. "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.
  17. "Varien discusses composing for video games, Pick Your Poison Vol 2". The Untz. January 31, 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  18. Meadow, Matthew (September 3, 2014). "Varien & 7 Minutes Dead - Mirai Sekai EP [Monstercat]". Your EDM. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  19. MrRyanHarcourt (November 8, 2016). "Varien - My Prayers Have Become Ghosts EP - EDMTunes". EDMTunes. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  20. "Position Music - Nick Kaelar "Into Oblivion"". www.positionmusic.com. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  21. "Skrillex - Bangarang EP - Reviews - Alternative Press". Alternative Press. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  22. "Gareth Emery - Tokyo (The Remixes) - EDMupdate". EDMupdate. April 9, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  23. "Space & Time [Discontinued]". Klayton.info. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  24. "Mona’s Imprint (Varien Remix)" on YouTube
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