Sierra Kusterbeck, Blake Harnage and Devin Ingelido are quickly rising in popularity as the harmonic alt-rock trio Versa Emerge. After nothing short of a stellar performance at Warped Tour, they retire to their bus before heading back into the chaos that is Warped Tour to check out the crowd and other bands. Sierra and Blake graciously pause for a moment to share some words with me.
Fantastic set, guy. I’ve never heard you perform before but I really loved it.
Sierra and Blake: Thank you!
That being said, how would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
Sierra: I would say it’s very energetic and texture-y.
Sierra: Yeah. Full of texture.
Blake: She just likes to add Y’s to the end of words.
Why not? Who are your influences for production?
Sierra: Lyrically, I’m pretty influenced by everything I see. There are definitely a select few people, though, like Jeffrey Eaton, who has an interesting writing style. Him and Bjork, who is kind of like a god to us.
Blake: Musically, she is kind of my role model.
Have you ever met Bjork?
Sierra: No. Have you?
Blake: I admire imaginative people like her. That’s what so many good bands lack; that component of imagination.
Speaking of good bands, have you seen any good bands that you are surprised you like on this tour?
Sierra: Enter Shikari, from the UK. They mix dubstep into their hardcore breakdowns and its super electronic-y. And their stage presence; I’ve never seen anything like it!
How would you describe it?
Sierra: They dance, they flip around. There are no bounderies with them.
And how do you feel about your stage presence?
Sierra: Stage presence is always very entergenic.
Blake: I have a high level of energy. I almost had to use a cable instead of a wireless adapter for my guitar so I was getting bummed out that I wouldn’t be able to run and jump around, but was able to use a wireless, thus saving my dopification.
Sierra: I’m different every day. It really depends on my mood. Emotion takes over for me so it just depends on the energy.
Blake: we really feed off the crowd in terms of stage presence.
Are performances mostly improved in that sense?
Sierra and Blake: Yes
Blake: We definitely have our thing that we do, but it’s a mixture.
Sierra: I try to do something new every day just to refresh myself.
You’ve got to keep it crisp.
Sierra: I’m also good at tripping over cables.
Was that the main influence in getting the wireless adapters?
Blake: Yeah, that way you don’t have to worry about wrapping up with someone else on stage.
So what’s the production process like when you’re writing music?
Blake: Sierra and I write most of the music. Sierra takes care of most of the lyrics and I take care of most of the music. But we feed off of each other, where if I have a guitar idea for a melody, we’ll just go back and forth until the song is finished. We’ve worked with a lot of different people, kind of just experimenting a lot and trying new things.
Where are you guys based?
Sierra: Florida. We’re all from different cities. I’m three hours away from them.
Blake: Yeah, we’re all really spread out.
Does that make it difficult to jam and record?
Sierra: At first, but it was kind of fun. I was a stranger. My mom was driving me three hours to stay on his couch.
Blake: It does bind you into isolation though, since she can’t, like, come over a few days a week. If she comes over, she is over for, like, two weeks.
Do you get a lot done in that time?
Sierra: Well, we try.
Do you find yourselves recording things digitally and swapping songs via e-mail?
Blake: Not so much.
Sierra: Sometimes they’ll send me stuff and I’ll listen to it via e-mail and I’ll be like, “I have to wait until I’m with you.” Our brains really read each other so when we write it just works. We have this system that just comes so naturally.
Blake: We can read each other’s brains.
You have good chemistry here?
What are your plans after Warped Tour with the band?
Blake: We have a little time off, and then we’re back on the road. We’re setting it up now and still working out all the details.
When are you going to produce new content?
Sierra: Right now we’re focusing on touring and being a band and playing live.
Blake: In the meantime, we can be as creative as we want live. We’re big on bringing the whole cinematic feel into a live show. You know, make it more than just us up there playing songs.
Do you have an idea of what you want to produce when you next get to the studio?
Sierra: I’m always writing lyrics and stuff like that. But nothing is set in stone.
Blake: Yeah, you never know. We’re really strict on making it feel natural, so we won’t know until we’re writing what we’re going to feel like at that time.
It’s good that you’re getting your name out there and establishing a fan base with these live performances since you definitely have a unique sound. Thanks for chatting with me guys.
Photos by Pamela Lin