INTERVIEW: Vera Blue
Vera Blue is one of Australia’s most exciting upcoming artists. After placing third on The Voice Australia in 2013 under the name Celia Pavey she took a few years to further discover herself as an artist before being reintroduced as Vera Blue in 2015. Her first EP “Fingertips” saw her have this strong folk meet alternative pop sound with an electronic tinge. For her debut album “Perennial” she further explored the electronic influence with a grittier sound that enhanced her emotional storytelling. The record is a reflective collection of tracks that perfectly outlines the three stages of a break up; The initial hurt and grief, the anger and hate and then the reflective consciousness that just wants to move on. She is currently on a national tour of Australia, performing to sold out crowds and giving fans an intimate, energetic and memorable live show. I recently got to have a chat to Vera Blue about her new album, heartbreak, touring and flowers. Check it out;
TB: Congratulations on having your debut album “Perennial” out in the world. The record looks at the three stages of a break up. Was this a concept you went into the studio with or did it naturally fall into place because of the personal heartbreak and growth you were going through?
VB: Thank you! That’s exactly right, the writing period went over two years so we didn’t intentionally work it out that this was going to be a three chapter piece or know what the album was going to be about. Even towards the end of it I was like “what is this record about” and it took my cowriter and really close friend Tom to look back from his perspective on everything I went through and he structured the album into those three different phases I went through to overcome the break up. So when I look at the album its not necessarily a break up album its more like a repairing, self growth development and mending album really. It’s quite lovely and it’s really nice to look back on. I’m very proud of it.
TB: ”Perennial” begins at the very crux of the break up with the emotional “First Week” delivering the revealing lyrics “I’ll be whole, I’ll be whole but I don’t know when” which haunts the listener. Break ups can already be a very emotional time, what was the process in creating this song to allow yourself to be so raw and honest?
VB: I think the ability to be vulnerable and honest actually came from collaborating with Andy and Tom. Andy is my producer and Tom is my co-writer and they are very close friends of mine and they are also brothers. So I think it came from being very close with them and understanding everything that I was going through. I was able to open up to them and it kind of just happened naturally. Looking back at it, toward the end of the record I was saying very honest things and saying things I normally wouldn’t say if I was collaborating with someone else. So i think there was a true honesty and I broke down those self conscious barriers and didn’t worry about so much what I was saying and was just being true to myself. So I think that was something which was really special about creating this record and obviously the EP before too and the ones we will continue to work on.
TB: “First Week is really such a beautiful, heartbreaking and perfect way to start the record
VB: Yeah it is, it was a pretty raw time. The first chapter of that record I was feeling so many different things. I was experiencing that first phase where I couldn’t really overcome it and I had songs like “Regular Touch” where I had this vision of myself in the future where I could walk freely and not feel like I was heartbroken and feel like I was happy on my own and in that very chapter I didn’t feel like that. I was sad, I wanted to keep falling back into the relationship and that wasn’t healthy for me and it is what happens to a lot of people.
TB: ”Lady Powers” embodies the empowerment perfectly of the next chapter of the break up. Musically it’s very different to anything you’ve done before. What influences were you channeling?
VB: Yes! That song was the most recent written and it just fitted so perfectly in that chapter because it was looking back on what I was going through at the time. I noticed my surroundings, I noticed I was being a little disrespected, I noticed that I was being used, I noticed I wasn’t being treated well as a woman in new relationships. I was realising these things that were happening and I was like “No, this is not happening”. I feel like I have a right to say something, I feel like I shouldn’t have to change for something I feel like I shouldn’t have to be someone else or change the way I look to please someone else or their vision. So that song, Tom and I wanted the production when we started working on it with Andy and Adam to have this drive and angst and energy and that backing vocal part that is like “ahhhh” it just had this drive and constant beat throughout the entire song so it was just very like empowering, moving forward I know who I am and I’m not going to be disrespected ever.
TB: It’s such a bop!
VB: *laughs* It’s so fun, I get really excited performing it live too because I say “this one goes out to all my ladies” and everyone screams and goes crazy. I like to say also when I perform it live that I like to dedicate it to the males as well to give the women beside them some respect and strength and it’s not discarding the men at all its just the fact they should know how to respect women and everyone should know how to respect anyone in general
TB: For the album you seemed to have found a new defined confidence being cited in the heavy electronic influence but you still remained to hold onto your alternative roots. Was this direction you always wanted to go towards musically for this album or were you inspired?
VB: With the EP I put out last year “Fingertips”, this album is only an extension of that. So I feel like the songs if anything were just extended on it. We had no fear with the production. In “Private” if I had an angsty moment where I felt like it needed more guts then we would add those thicks synths or those electronic drums. But we always, with every single song have an element of folk-iness or celtic melodies. Something where I come from. We always write the songs on the acoustic guitar and piano so it’s just kinda the way we work on it. And it works really perfectly with the songs as well, having those two different sounds adds to a lot of the emotion which is what I love.
TB: ”Mended” concludes the album with the reflection chapter of the break up. This song is one of the most raw and mature tracks. How did you feel being so raw and open about something SO personal on this record. Did you have anxiety when the release day loomed and how did you overcome it?
VB: Thats a really good question! Because the record is called “Perennial” and it’s emotion feelings and memories that are everlasting and always coming back, I’m always a little sensitive about it. But I don’t have a fear, I don’t fear it within my soul because I knew the songs were going to come out and I knew the people who they are about would guess that there would be songs coming out. I haven’t be approached by any of them about it, which doesn’t mean they are terrible people it’s just one of those things where music is music and we have to be honest through our music and be real and its just something we have moved on from.
TB: Well that was going to be my next question, if any of the guys that the songs are about have listened to the record and have said anything. But they haven’t?
VB: Not since the record has been released but the amazing thing about the song “Mended” is that it’s not about the relationship that came to an end last year but it’s about one well in the past that we had this hectic weight on our shoulders. I remember thinking about it a lot and thinking about it when we were writing “Mended”. We wrote the song in Malibu and when I came back to Australia I received this message from him and it was really truly like it was like it was mending. It was like we haven’t made amends and I feel like there are things we haven’t said but we’re both sorry and it was amazing. There was an amazing weight lifted off both of our shoulders and it was a very adult thing to do. Like I hope you’re well in life and now we can move on and things are okay. So it was kinda crazy that it happened that way, like I don’t even know how it happened but it just did.
What I think is great with that song in particular is that it’s helping people. I’ve done a couple of meet n greets and people are approaching me and telling me that this song has helped them kind of patch up things with past relationships that may not be necessarily love but may be friendships too. A relationship that ended badly and it’s a nice feeling that my music is helping people in that way.
TB: You’re currently on a massive national tour of Australia, what can your fans expect from the live show?
VB: It’s a very new live show, we have a lot of songs from the new album which is really fun. The shows that we’ve already done have had what I believe are all the bangers from the album and there is a lot of dancing and so much feeling. I think people are feeling a lot and every time I perform it’s a very emotional experience and I’ve very vulnerable with my crowd and I think that’s something which is really nice. But we have a brand new light show that my tour manager built where we link up all the samples to these drums and when you hit them they light up. It’s very cool. We also have a lot of crew and my band are always amazing and I think there is just a lot of great energy. There is something for everyone to feel and we are having a lot of fun.
TB: I’ve noticed on Instagram that you’ve been buying a lot of flowers while on the road to give to the fans during the show, what was the idea behind that? It’s a bit romantic haha
VB: *Laughs* I don’t really know, I just remember at the sydney show walking past Woolies and I just saw these beautiful roses and I just thought to myself that I want something that the people who receive them or catch them can take away from the show. However I don’t know if roses are perennial, I will have to ask my dad because he knows, he’s the main perennial. But I think it’s just a nice little touch and goes with the essence of the album.
TB: Your album has only just come out but you posted a video the other day of you in the studio already… Are you already working on new music or what is happening?!
VB: *Laughs* Well when I’m with the guys (Andy, Tom and Jackson) it’s kinda just part of our routine. We just magically work on stuff. We don’t seem to think of it as work when we do music, it just feels like fun. We recently did an acoustic version of “Mended” which was really beautiful and I think people are really liking it so its just little moments like that where we are working on something really special. But definitely back in the studio working on some new stuff really soon after the tour. I’m feeling really inspired already, I’m listening to a lot of music and I’m ready to make some new stuff.
TB: Well Let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions where I am going to say a couple of sentences and you just say the first thing that comes to mind.
TB: My ultimate festival line up would be…
VB: I don’t know! *laughs* Honestly any Coachella line up
TB: Most mornings I….
VB: Wake up and go to my favourite cafe when I’m not touring
TB: One question I can’t stand in interviews is…
VB: Umm *laughs* I don’t know! “Why Vera Blue?”. Actually no, I like answering that question *laughs*. I’m pretty open to any questions anyone asks me in interview.s I’m really terrible at this game I’m sorry *laughs*.
TB: No, no you’re doing okay! *laughs* okay, The most unexpected thing on my rider is…
VB: A big block of chocolate! But it’s not really that unexpected because who doesn’t like to delve into a big block of chocolate after a show *laughs*
TB: My guilty pleasure song is…
VB: Glamourous by Fergie!
TB: YES!!! That’s such a bop
VB: It’s the best song!
TB: You should do a random cover of it in your live show with a folk or electronic twist!
VB: It would actually work really well with “Magazine”! *laughs*
You can catch Vera Blue on her current Mended Tour across Australia this August and September. And her debut album “Perennial” is out now and available from all music retailers.
Vera Blue Mended Tour Dates
Friday 25 August – The Triffid, Brisbane SOLD OUT
Saturday 26 August – The Mills Precinct, Toowoomba
Sunday 27 August – Miami Marketta, Gold Coast SOLD OUT
Thursday 31 August – UOW Uni Bar, Wollongong SOLD OUT
Friday 1 September – The Beery, Terrigal
Saturday 2 September – Metro Theatre, Sydney
Friday 8 September – Bar On The Hill, Newcastle
Saturday 9 September – Odeon Theatre, Hobart
Sunday 10 September – 170 Russell, Melbourne SOLD OUT