“It’s funny, I really took a whole 180 on “love you forever”” VÉRITÉ says during the opening moments of our chat about her third studio album. The Brooklyn based singer, songwriter and producer, took a moment of reflection during a very turbulent time in her personal life where the world was also plunged into a stillness due to a global pandemic. While she was trying to process the end of a long-term romantic relationship who also doubled as a close creative collaborator, she was also learning to live in a new normal where there was no touring, and her path as an independent musician suddenly changed. 

Adapting to the situation, she taught herself how to produce and began an introspective journey to process her relationship with grief. What did it look like? How did it sound? How did it make her feel? And through that she penned ten tracks that perfectly represented the darkness she experienced. Becoming a very theatrical affair, she ended up describing it as “a record about loving someone so much, you murder them and drag their body into a lake”

It’s been three months since “love you forever” was released into the world, and since then VÉRITÉ has embarked on a North American tour where she created an immersive performance for her fans, and has launched some incredible NFT technology in t-shirts to forever relive the tour. And as we are talking to each other, she reveals that she’s already heading to Los Angeles to start working on the next batch of music, whatever that might be. 

Throughout our in-depth conversation we discuss grief, the growth she’s had between each record, creating intimate performance experiences, and the importance of understanding evolving technology as an independent artist. Check it out BELOW; 

THOMAS BLEACH: Last time we spoke you said “New Skin” was a lighter and collaborative record for you compared to “Somewhere In Between” which was a darker and more sterile record. Where do you think “love you forever” and its creative process fell?

V: It’s funny, I really took a whole 180 on “love you forever”. Whereas I think “New Skin” was much more collaborative. I invited a lot of people into my world. I really stretched myself out of like the black and white imagery, and sonically it was warmer. “New Skin” was a love record. It was a record about the realities of what it is to be in love, not necessarily what people wanna portray. And I think that a lot of “love you forever” came from a lot of things falling apart. Yes, it was a relationship falling apart, but it was also the result of when you open yourself up and let people in, and you experience that kind of vulnerability.

I had a lot of these experiences that felt like you’re getting stabbed a little bit. What it really did was open up a flood of having to look at myself and sit with myself and wonder, and grieve the loss of relationship, and grieve the loss of friendship. This record really came from that process, which is a really chaotic process, and in some ways is a really violent process. So yeah, we’ve definitely taken a much darker turn, even darker than, “Somewhere In Between”. But I think without the sterile nature. I think this record definitely feels it all, in the most visceral way.

TB: It actually kind of felt like the older sister of “Somewhere In Between” with its foundations, while having a new perspective there as well.

V: Yeah, definitely. I think the EP’s were my exploration in figuring out how to be an artist, how to write, how to craft songs, and how to produce. And then, I think each of the records really stands in its own different point in time in my life. But I think that “love you forever” is really me coming into my own as a producer and coming into my own confidence as an artist where I very clearly know who I am, I know what I wanna say, and I know what my perspective is. I know it makes me unique, and makes me unpalatable to a TikTok algorithm.

TB: This was a very theatrical record about grief and you described it as “a record about loving someone so much, you murder them and drag their body into a lake”. From writing these songs, producing them, doing all the visuals and then touring it, what has this record taught you about your relationship with grief? 

V: I learnt a few things. One, that I was really bad at letting go of everything. I’m someone who just believes that you can communicate and really work any conflict, pain, or miscommunication out. And I think what I really learned was that you get to cut it off and move on. I keep describing it like sometimes you need to kill off the parts of yourself that refuse to let go. But you also need to hack at the limbs that are actively holding you back. And it’s a two-way process in that sense. So I spent a lot of time really contemplating and living with that. 

I also learnt what the difference between an incapacity and a choice is in others. For me, I have this tendency to see the good in everything and believing that everyone has this capacity to grow. But sometimes you realise that maybe it’s not an incapacity, and sometimes people just make fucking bad choices that are harmful. 

And we see that played out in our relationships with one another, but also in like the broader culture. There are tools for education, and there are tools to be better, and some people just choose not to use them, and we have to contend with that head on. But sometimes you also just get to cut that off. So a lot of it was if “New Skin” was me really opening myself up and living in these ecosystems, then a lot of “love you forever” is like “wow, this doesn’t serve me” or “this doesn’t feel good”. Sometimes I think some of that opening up was me trying to push myself out of my comfort zone, and I think “love you forever” is me knowing exactly what I am and who I am and what I fuck with and what I don’t. And actually, that’s a good thing. 

TB: One of my favourite lyrical portrayals of trying to understand grief on this record was in “a lucid dream” where you sing “Maybe you’re a lucid dream. I tried to keep locked up in my mind, but you’re just another casualty I tried to leave buried in the yard”. Do you remember the studio session when you wrote this lyric and the feeling you had when you wrote it?

V: The full band version of “a lucid dream” came from the epilogue. I was in London, and I was so fucking sad. I was just so drained. I was so exhausted. I wasn’t sleeping, and all I had in me was the epilogue. I had no more energy. I had nothing. So we did it in one take. I feel like the lyrics had kind of been formulated, but I think the sentiment of the song felt like that. And so there was a while where that was the only “a lucid dream” that existed. 

I had kind of abandoned the idea of a full version, and It was the last song we wrote for the record. It was about November, and I remember being on the FLETCHER tour and it was something I was writing in my head the whole time. My cousin Matt was on tour with me, and him and I co-produced most of the record, and we co-produced the full version of “a lucid dream” together. 

It’s a very fucking sad sentiment, but it’s also kind of beautiful. It’s this idea that everything gets recycled. Every experience gets recycled, and every loss gets recycled. We are all gonna die, and we’re all gonna go back into the earth and our energy is gonna go back into the universe.

TB: That’s a really interesting sentiment. A lot of this record was written in the lockdown where you had time to really sit down and process the breakup you went through, which was kind of a unique luxury compared to a breakup pre-Covid. Do you think that influenced these realisations, and the direction you went in for this record?

V: Yeah, it’s weird that that’s such a luxury. Even now I’m kind of coming out of touring and I’ll be in LA next week working on what’s next. I’m going into it so unprepared because I’m so tired. Like, I don’t even have the bandwidth to sit alone and do all the meticulous planning. So the next batch of music will be beautifully spontaneous. But yeah, I feel oddly grateful for it all. My ex-partner and I were together for a long time and we also co-produced “Somewhere In Between” and “New Skin” together. So it was also a creative partnership. Him and I are actually on really great terms, which I think is a testament to when you love someone and respect them. But I think that when the relationship ended, it wasn’t just personal, it was also like.. “oh, I can’t do this without him”. I didn’t have the skills I needed to make music on my own, but what it did was really force me to develop the skills to be creatively autonomous, to not need to rely on producers externally in order to create music. So with this record I did co-produce it. I was bouncing the stems, and all the sessions were all mine. I was at the helm. There’s like a different level of creative ownership that exists within this body of work. 

TB: “cry cry cry” is a moment that stands out on the record with its soft vocals and tender vocals, and it’s truly just an incredible song. Can you explain the creative process behind this track?

V: Well, what’s funny is “cry cry cry” was written in 2018, which is wild. I think that sometimes songs are like premonitions in a weird way. The song just didn’t work with “New Skin”, so it just sat around for a while. Then I worked on it a bit in 2020, and developed the production a little bit more. And again, it didn’t work for that project, which was “New Limbs”. I ended up choosing “i’ll take the blame” for it because it fitted better within the project. So “cry cry cry” has been on a short list for a while, but it needed to be recontextualized. We added a lot of those driving guitars at the end.  

When I originally wrote the song, I was in the studio with Andy Seltzer, who’s a really great producer. I’m not a big collaborator lyrically. I like writing alone in my head and then bringing songs in. There are only two songs that I wrote in the room with people on this record, and “cry cry cry” is one of them. He just created a space for me to be really fucking sad.

Like I said, sometimes songwriting is like a premonition, and I wrote this before my relationship ended, and before what was a year and a half of literally crying every day. I must have known something intuitively inside that it wasn’t working.

TB: Well, I’m glad you had that song when you were going through it and you were able to work on it and be like “Oh, I do have the knowledge and inner strength to get through this” and process it. 

V: Yeah, it was good. And it’s actually really good to play live. What’s really funny is that on tour I started saying before I played it, “Do you wanna cry with me?”, and everyone would just scream. And I’m like, “wow, we’re all fucking sad”. Like, I’ve never heard so much excitement to cry, like, cry together in a group *laughs*. 

TB: Well I did want to talk to you about the tour, as you’ve just got to play this record live and bring the audience into the visual world. How long did you spend trying to figure out the setlist and how particular songs from previous records fell into the visual identity you were creating? 

V: I think it’s always a challenge. There’s too many songs now. People will leave disappointed.

Like there’s nothing I can do. But I think that there’s some songs that I know people love to hear live consistently. Like, I always play the cover of “Somebody Else” and I always like to go back to “Underdressed”. I’m really conscious of wanting to give people a great experience. We played nine outta 10 of the songs on the record, so we really played most of the record. I wanted to make sure that I got “New Skin” songs in because the “New Skin Tour” was cut short. But it’s really about trying to match the vibe, and you’re trying to match the tonality of the stems. There’s a lot of factors that go in, so for me it wasn’t necessarily the set telling a complete narrative.

We start off with “are we done yet?” and “a lucid dream” and then we go back to “ocean”, “save up”, “Phase Me Out”, “good for it”, and then we kind of hit “cry cry cry” at just a good moment. Then we do the throwback section which is tracks like “Somebody Else”, “think of me”, “Need Nothing”, “Underdressed”, “gone”, and everything balled up. And then we really dive into the record. So I think that flow always felt really good after we tightened it up. We were bookending it with the record, but then really giving people the shit you know they love, and I’m so grateful that they love. But it’s definitely more about the tonality for me when building a set. We tried to put in “weekend”, but it just doesn’t sound right as it’s from a different era. The music just didn’t sound right. 

TB: I watched a lot of videos from the tour and I did see that every night you tied up a fan during “love you forever” and sang it to them. You’ve said you wanted to create intimate performance experiences with your music, has doing this encouraged you to do more unique things live?

V: Yeah. I have a lot of ambitious goals of what merging immersive theater and live performance in a band setting looks like. Because I think we see a lot of that in one context, but not necessarily in the other. But I think for me, we have so much of this feigned intimacy and we’re constantly scrolling through our phones and there’s just such a facade. 

So in that moment I’m like giving you a bit of my anger and your like, kind of taking it on in a weird way. I’m kind of like yelling the song at you at some points. And people’s reactions were amazing, and everyone’s were so different. I got everyone’s consent beforehand. I would explain exactly what’s gonna happen, because it’s a vulnerable position to be in, in front of people. Most of these people aren’t used to being on stage. And most people’s response when I was like, “is this okay?” They’re like, “do whatever the fuck you want to me. I would pay for this” *laughs*. Some people were so down, and then you could tell they got timid or uncomfortable and were having trouble looking me in the eye. And then other people fucking leaned in and were like “bitch, you’re gonna look at me in the eye? I’m gonna look at you in the eye” *laughs*. So I really loved all of the reactions and I found them to be fascinating.

TB: Now, you’re releasing a tour T-shirt that has NFC technology built into the sleeve where fans can tap it with their phone to watch videos and access content from the tour. Which is so innovative and incredible. You were also a very active artist with NFT’s when they started. So how important is understanding technology for you as an independent artist? 

V: I think that understanding where the world and culture is moving is really important. I looked left and right in Covid and realised that the systems, structures and platforms I built my career on weren’t necessarily viable paths towards continued growth. So it really just put me in this exploratory mindset, and I think that falling into emerging technology really piqued my interest. 

We’ve all seen all of the press, good and bad, about all of this, and I think for me it was really framed as experimentation. I’m definitely not an evangelist for adoption of any technology, but that being said, I think that as an independent artist it’s really important to adapt quickly. Experiment with everything. And really learn for yourself what works for you and what doesn’t, so that you can build a sustainable and long-term career. I’ve definitely had a lot of success doing it, which was kind of wild. But it’s a really temperamental market, so I kind of pivoted towards maybe less sexy, less immediate revenue generating use cases for blockchain technology like the sweatshirt I’m wearing now. Basically the idea is what if the memories of a tour could live in a garment? Through it you can get premier access to the record by tapping your phone to your wrist. And then if you wanna explore it further, you can actually claim your garment on a chain so that your digital identity is tied to this and authenticates it. There’s a ledger that shows that it came from me to you. So if you ever wanted to sell your garment, it’s already verified to be official. 

So I think for me it’s really been rooted in how I can utilize all of this technology to build out really cool experiences for my fans. And then on the other side, how can I create diversified revenue streams and alternate ways to grow my business and monetize music when we realize that we live in a culture that doesn’t value paying for music. So I want to utilize both of those pillars to enable me to be able to make a fourth, fifth, and sixth record and keep doing this independently. 

TB: What I loved about the t-shirt was that it felt like the future of tour programs. Like, instead of buying a tour book, you are able to scan your shirt and access all of this exclusive high-res content. 

V: Yeah, totally! we have the remaining stock on the website, and there’s just gonna be some exclusive performances up there that we recorded. There’s like two that I did in a Airbnb which is super cool. We wanted to make it that there’s only exclusive full experiences and performances gonna live there.

TB: As an independent artist how do you look at international touring in a place like Australia where you haven’t been to yet – is that something that is on the cards for you – or has it been a bigger conversation to figure out how or if you can even do something like that?

V: I’m sad that I still haven’t been to Australia. But I believe we’re manifesting it to be true. I think that for me it’s like if we’re talking practically, I’m looking at how do I bring an impactful touring experience to these other places that’s completely practical and doable. I’ve been floating this idea of, what does a solo tour look like? And I think for me it’s not this big production performance. Like if I do a solo tour, or maybe it would be a duo tour where I would play a piano and Matt would play guitar, and I would break down these songs in a completely wholly unique experience where it’s almost like the intimacy of the meet and greets that I have on tour, which are a lot of q&a, and back and forth, and then performance. So that feels like the first way that I’m probably gonna come to Australia. And we’re talking about maybe going to London, or Berlin etc with a show like that.

“Love You Forever” is out now!