Breakout Leicester-based DJ and producer Varski has been a busy man of late. He spent lockdown crafting a new sound so fresh and accessible that’s his singles have been snapped up by New State Music. While he rose to prominence as the host of Club MTV’s Dance Show and festival series, and as a producer with a more bass heavy sound as heard on ‘Jeddah’ on Macky Gee’s label, Down 2 Earth Musik, Varski has a new plan of attack. He’s back on a UK tour to unveil his party starting tunes and armed with bag of clever reedits that showcase Varski’s skill to work a dancefloor. We caught up with the ultimate showman Varski to chat about his latest single, his struggles in lockdown, and the state of UK clubland.
Welcome to DMC World Varski.
Thanks for having me, guys.
Let’s kick off with your new single ‘Gravity’, it’s a change in direction for you musically. Tell us how that came about and the inspiration behind the track.
With Gravity and my new direction, I just want to make people happy and feel good about themselves. After the year and a half we’ve all had, I wanted to project positivity.
In terms of my inspiration for Gravity, as soon as I heard the vocals by Vesa, I pictured myself back at O Beach in Ibiza and wanted to take all the elements from that and put it into the track, i.e., the strings in the chorus, kicking back after taking the 50th selfie with Wayne Lineker, and vibing to the DJ and the violinist.
You’re back on tour. How does it feel to be playing out again? Does it feel like the old times or are there noticeable changes in clubland?
It doesn’t feel strange, I just get nervous like I did when I was a kid which feels amazing! When you’re on the road for so long, sometimes you don’t appreciate how blessed you are to be doing it, but since Covid I count my blessings everyday.
Clubland wise, venues are much busier than pre-Covid. I’ve never really seen the kind of queues outside clubs like I have during my most recent shows. It’s great for the industry.
How did you get into music – was it always your dream?
I fell into music purely by accident. I used to do the promo for a small nightclub in my hometown, Leicester. After leaving to get a ‘proper job’, I really wasn’t happy, I missed the buzz and lifestyle the industry gave me.
I went away for a few weeks, came back and managed to get my friend who was now managing this club to give me a Friday residency – bear in mind I didn’t know how to DJ then!
5 days before my first show, I went into the club when it was closed with a lot of coffee and practised by copying some of my favourite DJ’s mixes, like DJ EZ’s Pure Garage, until I taught myself how to mix. I literally camped inside the club and I even cleaned their floors as a thank you.
My first set was so bad! I still remember it but I was so passionate about it. I kept learning and evolving until I was offered a residency for their Saturday nights, their busiest night of the week, and the rest as they say, is history.
How did you land the Club MTV job? And was it a tough decision to leave?
I was introduced to the guys at MTV through my manager at the time. They had seen me perform with Ministry of Sound and we hit it off straight away – all positive vibes.
The decision to leave was definitely the toughest I’ve had to make, professionally. I am so grateful for everything Club MTV did for me and all the opportunities they gave me; it was one of the most fun times of my career. I knew when I left that I was risking everything, but I believed in myself and my work ethic. Hard work always pays off and I’m in a really happy place at the moment.
You wrote a very honest Facebook post about how you struggled with your mental health in lockdown. How are you feeling now, mate?
Honestly, it’s a day-to-day battle. But being back performing and actually seeing people sing and dance to my music is the BEST FEELING EVER! I am so much happier since restrictions were lifted in the UK. It’s also nice to be back earning some money so I can buy stuff again lol.
Varski & Cammie Robinson - Over You (Official Video)
What drives you to achieve?
The fear of having to work in an office working a 9-5 in a job I hate. Honestly, the fear of failure is what drives me.
What’s the story behind your name?
My real name is Ravi and when I was 14, I was looking for a ‘cool’ MC name for myself. My brother came up with the name ‘Var’ as that was Rav reversed. Then at school we always added ‘ski’ on the end of everything – pass the pen-ski, you off home-ski … then the name Varski just happened.
Who would your dream collaboration be with and why?
I would love to collaborate with the Chemical Brothers. The more appreciative of music I become the more I realised how groundbreaking these guys were. I actually owned ‘Exit to Planet Dust’ on CD. Working with the Chemical Brothers would be a dream. Them and Michael Jackson (obviously).
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
Probably performing in Saudi Arabia. This was their first ever mixed gender festival with live music. The people of SA were amazing and it was so surreal playing there on the same line up as Janet Jackson, 50 Cent and Chris Brown.
Release wise, what else do you have coming up?
My VIP Remix of Gravity has just dropped and I have been busy producing more music. I have at least 10 tracks now unreleased which hopefully you will all get to hear real soon.
3 tracks to listen out for on your Gravity tour:
My edit of Burns’ ‘Talamanca’
My ‘Gravity’ VIP Remix
My VIP of ‘Turn Up The Speakers’ by Martin Garrix and Afrojack – this is one of my best edits ever.