Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Justin Chamberlain, frontman for The Very Reverend, is a west-coast alternative artist. Blending elements of Pop, Rock, and Electronic music to create gloomy, nocturnal songs and visual metaphors about love, sex, and the human condition, The Very Reverend inscribes Pop hooks and authentic lyrics, delivered in a charming, falsetto-heavy snarl.
Delving into the depths of a slow-tempo thunder, The Very Reverend puts forth, “BELLADONNA.” This single sways in and out of a conscious state as we submit ourselves to a universe that is dressed in syncopated components of Alternative-Pop fusion.
The ominous soundscape pulls you into a lyrically encrypted venom that encourages you to take another sip of the mystic concoction before you. Revolving around the appeal that humans tend to take in toxic lovers, Justin Chamberlain’s lyrical offering sweeps you into the highs and lows of a dizzying cycle of love that consumes you whole. Attacking the narrative with conviction, the sway of temperaments that we are introduced and are purposefully placed for the theatrical swing of vehement influences to accompany the striking visuals to pair with the single.
“BELLADONNA” oozes with the quintessence of sparkling horror show synths, rumbling bass and tolling, forlorn guitars over a heartbeat of drum machines, all handled by Justin Chamberlain himself. With the mesmerizing vocalization displayed by Justin Chamberlain, the rich harmonies heard throughout are courtesy of Autumn Sky.
If you’re already on the hook of The Very Reverend, we should let you know that the “BELLADONNA” music video will have you fully engulfed in furtive, DIY creativity at its finest. Illustrating the spectrum of erotic to neurotic, be prepared for The Very Reverend to live rent-free in your mind for time to come.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, The Very Reverend! We’re obsessed with the vivid imagery you paint in, “BELLADONNA.” What moment or story inspired you to write a song about toxic lovers and the cycle of tension it put us in?
Thank you so much! It's a song ABOUT obsession so I'm glad to hear that. Imagery is really important to me. I wanted this song to feel like a dreamy slow-dance at a prom in hell. It's a love song, gone wrong. I've lived this story, seen it with friends, read it in books, and watched it in films my whole life. That addiction and submission to someone bad for us who comes and goes in a cycle, it's really powerful as a true story and as a metaphor. It's a bit beautiful, in this sick sort of way. It's part of the human condition. The beauty in that toxicity is where the name comes from; this is a song about beautiful poison.
What was it like filming the music video for, “BELLADONNA?" Was this always your creative vision when it came to the visuals?
It felt like...filming Glenn Danzig's B-movie vampire erotica horror film, which is everything I could ever hope for. The concept was to make the process simple and DIY, and yet to create these beautiful, creepy, striking visual metaphors I saw in my head. This was my first time directing and editing a video and I loved it. The actors are a real couple and I asked them to be very vulnerable and affectionate on camera. It taught me a lot about respecting and protecting that process and allowed me to be vulnerable in my own performance. We only used two lights, an LED and a blacklight, and shot it in 4K on my iPhone and I feel like you'd never know - maybe I should have kept that a secret! I love sci-fi and horror films and was bingeing Twin Peaks during lockdown while creating the song and video, all of which definitely shows. I found all these weird-ass thrift store props and mixed up some fake blood, some glitter goo, and some UV paint to pour all over myself and the actors - the aftermath looked like the set of The Exorcist or a vampire's OnlyFans or something.
Could you please take us into what it was like working with producer and recording engineer Jesse Mancillas at Rosa Mortem Studios, as well as mix engineer Jonathan Wyman and mastering engineer Adam Ayan? Did they take your vision and soar with it?
I met Jesse and Ashley (of Rosa Mortem), and they were just starting this studio up and forming this artist management / collaborative team/production house all falling under the Rosa Mortem title. They do so much. They're even the actors in the video. The studio is intimate and feels like such a creative space (and kind of a second home at this point). Jesse and I have a lot of common ground and a lot of influences unique to ourselves. He did a great job at refining the sound I'm chasing while keeping me grounded in what I come from. I brought all my synth and drum tracks, most of which we cleaned up and kept for the finished track. I performed the instruments and vocals at the studio, Jesse played bass on the track, and an artist named Autumn Sky - who's out in Nashville now - recorded some vocals on the track remotely. Passing it off to the team of Jonathan Wyman and Adam Ayan back on the east coast - who respectively produced/mixed and then mastered all my previous work - felt like the right move. They're both beyond talented and have some big names between the two of them, and I feel really blessed to have this team that takes my sound to that level.
Falling into such a unique category artistically, have you always had the sound that we know and love? How has it developed over time?
This song is a stylistic statement for me and definitely signals a change in some ways. I started this project really heavily influenced by alt-rock bands, but I was never really satisfied in leaving it at that. Parts of me have always felt missing. I took the move to California as a chance to really establish myself as a solo artist and build on all the things this sound could be. So many of my influences are pop artists, electronic artists, film and tv composers; I wanted to bend some rules and bend genres, to change my own expectations of what "rock" can be, to keep that attitude and those elements but live in my own world. There's so much happening in alternative music and I'm just trying to carve out my own space in that.
What's next for you?
Got a whole string of singles, and visuals to go with, coming this year. This is just the beginning. I'm really active on Instagram, Twitter, and Tiktok and there's tons of content there. I'm working as a solo artist with a great team, taking a very indie / DIY approach, finding my place and my audience. I'm excited for my music to reach people who vibe with me, who connect with the songs. Cannot wait to safely play shows again and get back to touring, but for now, I'm here saying "this is me, this is us, you're a misfit and so am I, let's be friends."