Call me a stubborn, Generation X sentimentalist, but our current era of on-demand music consumption and instant gratification courtesy of streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal is a double-edged sword. On one hand, technology has made it substantially easier for artists new and old to disseminate their songs to the masses. And this is a very good thing. On the other hand, the proliferation and widespread availability of free or inexpensive music has, I think, made it harder for listeners to discern and commit their ears to true talent. Call it a collective case of musical attention deficit disorder or sensory overload.
However, every now and then, a new voice emerges that forces us to focus and enables us to cut through the clutter. Kelsey Byrne, publicly known by her stage moniker VÉRITÉ, is a prime case in point. Next month marks three years since she released her divine debut single “Strange Enough,” the initial spark that ignited what has proven to be a prolific run of genre-defying musical output from the Brooklyn based singer-songwriter. Three self-released EPs and more than a dozen official singles by my count have followed in the short time span, the impressive quantity of her work never undermining its undeniable quality.
Later this month, on June 23rd, VÉRITÉ will unveil her first proper long player, Somewhere In Between. Without divulging too much about Albumism’s forthcoming review of the record, suffice to say that its thirteen songs—a handful of which are sprinkled throughout this page—demand to be heard, and heard often.
A few months ago, W magazine posited “Is VÉRITÉ the next Lorde?” Well, no. She is the first and only VÉRITÉ, and however well-intentioned such comparisons to her peers might be, they sell her unique talents criminally short. But does her songwriting warrant the same level of global acclaim and success as Lorde’s? Absolutely. Hence why it was my pleasure to learn much more about the woman herself, who recently and generously took time out of her busy schedule to discuss where her ascendant career has been, where it is now, and where it’s going in the future.
Justin Chadwick: Although you are just now unveiling your debut full-length album, you’ve already been remarkably productive for someone still billed as a “new artist.” Talk about your musical journey over the past few years and what releasing Somewhere In Between to the world means to you.
VÉRITÉ: Being billed as a “new artist” is definitely strange, as I’ve released three EPs, but I remind myself that in growing, I am a new artist to an ever-evolving audience. For the past three years, I’ve kept my head down, steadily released music, and toured a ton. At this point, releasing Somewhere In Between is an exhale. I’m happy from what I learned in making this album and stoked to see where I go with it.
JC: Indie-pop. Alt-pop. Electro-pop. I’ve seen these and a few other labels applied to your songs, but when I listen to them, I simply think “great music.” What do you make of others’ categorizations and how do you define your music?
V: Others’ categorizations of my music don’t phase me. People always want to box things in. I don’t think of genre when writing. I want to create driving and dynamic music, and you can call it whatever you’d like.
JC: Across all of your songs, and as particularly evidenced on Somewhere In Between, it’s obvious that you have a penchant for the confessional and, at times, emotionally vulnerable when it comes to your lyrics. How do you reconcile the inclination to share your personal experiences and feelings in your songs with the need to preserve or protect parts of your identity for yourself?
V: All of my writing stems from streams of consciousness which eventually get strung together into finished songs. I don’t process emotions normally at times and a lot of what I feel escapes into my writing. I don’t need to protect anything. I’m happy to be an open book.
JC: Would you say that your approach to songwriting is different when you’re at home in Brooklyn versus when you’re out on the road touring? Which scenario is more conducive to writing for you?
V: Yes and no. When I’m traveling, I tend to collect ideas. When I’m home, I work on those ideas and finalize. I’d say it’s just two steps in the same approach versus two differing mentalities.
JC: What other musicians and songwriters have had the most profound impact on your music?
V: So many. I grew up listening to The Cranberries, The Breeders, The 4 Non Blondes and other badass female front women. I think the idea of being assertive and daring in my writing and overall personality came from having those influences.
JC: Sonically speaking, the songs on Somewhere In Between sound HUGE and enveloping. Nevertheless, your vocals shine through and aren’t overpowered by the production. How did you and your various collaborators strike this balance in the studio?
V: First, thank you. That was my goal. I wanted the album to be a statement. I felt confident in the nuances of my voice, melodies and writing to be distinct and strong, and I sought to craft the production to complement the core of the songs without being washed out or timid.
JC: Upon listening to Somewhere In Between beginning to end a few times now, I feel like all 13 songs are standouts and warrant being released as official singles. Though, if push comes to shove, “Floor” is the one that stands out the most for me—it’s stunning. How do you decide which songs to release as singles?
V: Thank you again. That was my second goal. I didn’t want to make an album of singles and fillers. I tried to write each song, hoping that each would be able to stand alone. The singles are usually easy to decide on. I don’t overthink my choices and go with my gut. I try to choose songs that are immediately captivating and show are an accurate cross-section of the album.
JC: The notion of control—in its many manifestations—seems to be a recurring theme in your songs. Professionally speaking, you’ve opted to exert control over the music-making process by self-releasing your music. Why have you chosen the independent DIY route as opposed to going down the major label path?
V: Control is definitely a recurring theme on the album. I’m independent because I want to be in control of what music I release and when I release said music. Initially self-funding this project, I got to see the value of streaming and building a solid foundation on my own. Major labels aren’t terrible, but they are a gamble. Signing away ownership is signing away your agency.
JC: When you envision how your career might evolve in the years to come, what does success look like to you?
V: For me, success is being able to tour consistently in gradually larger rooms.
JC: As the name itself suggests, Albumism is all about celebrating the album format. So an obvious question for you is…what are your five favorite albums of all time?
V: Radiohead’s In Rainbows, Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism, St. Vincent’s Strange Mercy, The Breeders’ Last Splash, and Bright Eyes’ Cassadaga. This list will change daily.
SEE VÉRITÉ on tour | Dates