Vérité talks new album, nationwide tour, and having her music streamed 250 million times
Singer-songwriter to play all-ages show at Middle East in Cambridge on Oct. 24
October 24, 2019
Singer-songwriter Vérité is about to launch a new album (“New Skin”) and a nationwide tour, which will start with an all-ages show at Middle East in Cambridge on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. Despite her busy schedule, she took some time for an interview with the Raider Times last week. Vérité was in New York, the students were at Watertown High, and the whole interview took place using GoToMeeting.
Below is a transcript of the interview. (Note: Transcript edited for clarity and space.)
Raider Times: What makes your new album different from any other?
Vérité: I think when you make a record it’s really weird. You have to, like, exist in the space that you’re creating in it, and I think for me it’s… You know, my other records were done remotely, so I would write something, the producer would produce it kind of separately from me and we’d go back and forth with notes, and so it’s a fine process, but it doesn’t necessarily create like a world environment. So with this record I went to Nashville and I kind of immersed myself in a studio and I produced the record with a few other people. My goal is to create a space where people can escape, they can just, like put headphones in and get lost in a world of 10 songs, versus listening to song after song after song and, like, skipping through the second half of the record as you do.
Raider Times: When did you first realize that you wanted to do music as a full career and why?
Vérité: I’ve always been a musician and I’ve always played instruments. I grew up playing classical piano and in middle school/high school I always played in bands. I think the idea that I could make it an actual career happened a little later, because it feels like such an unrealistic path, I think. At least, it did to me when I was younger, but when I got out of college I moved to New York and I was waiting tables and started saving all of my money and I invested all that into my project and it started gaining traction and for me it was like a really practical shift of, like, “Great, I can practically make this my whole life, and it’s not just a hobby.”
Raider Times: Why did you choose the name Vérité instead of anything else? What made you think of that?
Vérité: So when I decided to change the name from my own name [Kelsey Byrne], I just needed some distance from myself … I couldn’t embody the thing that I wanted to be. So I think for me creating a name kind of gave me a space to grow into. And Vérité, it literally translates to “truth” but the cinema vérité is kind of a representation of, like, a candid realism in film, and so that idea of, like, “I’m trying to do that within my projects and the music I write.”
Raider Times: What was your inspiration? Did you have any idols?
Vérité: When I was younger (and I’m definitely dating myself) I grew up listening to alternative radio, because that’s kind of, like, all that was available. I remember, like, I didn’t grow up with CDs, there was no downloading music, which seems so crazy. I remember when, like Limewire came out and I would illegally download all the albums that I couldn’t afford to buy. But I grew up listening to, like, The Cranberries, Nirvana, Green Day, and then some things like 4 Non Blondes, like, really just like the things that my parents listened to and I had access to, but I think like that sort of grungy attitude. I like to keep that with me.
Raider Times: Who would you like to work with in the future?
Vérité: Currently — I mean, this changes every day as well, but — I’m obsessed with Labrinth. He did, obviously the whole “Euphoria” score, but even the stuff he’s done before, like his production style is so unique and he’s just insanely talented, so I keep throwing that, like, into the universe and maybe it’ll come back to me.
Raider Times: What are your goals for the future?
Vérité: What I’ve learned is success is really relative. Right now, I’ve independently built a sustainable project that I own, and I try to remember that, but also it’s like, I wanna sell out Madison Square Garden. Like, I don’t have humble aspirations, and so I think it’s important to, like, set the goal really high, but also, kind of, enjoy where you are as you go forward.
Raider Times: What would you say so far is your biggest accomplishment?
Vérité: I think my biggest accomplishment is having over 250 million streams as an independent artist. That feels like a good number. I want it to be a billion, so, like, that’ll be my biggest accomplishment when that happens, but I’ll stick with that.
Raider Times: What are some problems you’ve faced throughout your career?
Vérité: Uh, everything? I feel like, when you’re building something, there are so many problems. And, not even problems, I wouldn’t call them that, I would just say roadblocks. It’s like you’re on a path, and the amount of times that, A, I get told no, or, B, we invest in something and it doesn’t necessarily react in the way that we wanted it to, or, you know, especially in music you release a song and it doesn’t react the way you want it to, and I think, like, the beauty of existing in the time that we do is you can really handle those conflicts one way or another. A lot of people stop, or they get held up, or, you know, if they’re signed to a major label and they don’t own their music they can get dropped. For me, I just keep working, and so I get a roadblock and move around it. So it’s only a problem for, like, a day, and all the sudden if you, kind of, find a solution you’re at least moving forward.
Raider Times: What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out with music?
Vérité: There’s a misconception that you need people to start something, especially in the music industry. It’s like: “You need money. You need connections. You need XYZ.” You don’t need anything. I mean, you need, like, a work ethic and you need to be willing to learn, but I think the idea is that if you build something of your own, even something small, you’re going to attract people to it. So you’re going to attract fans to the music. If you’re looking for, like, management or a team you’re going to attract them to the project because they see what you’re doing. Don’t wait to do something, just do it, and let all the good things come to you.
Raider Times: What do you think is the best piece of advice that you’ve received?
Vérité: The best piece of advice I ever received is definitely from my mom. I think it’s — and I said this a little before — that success is relative. I’m playing my own game and that’s OK. We’re constantly looking left and right at everybody else and seeing what they’re doing, especially online, and this idea of, like, “No, I’m gonna stay in my own lane and I’m gonna keep doing my [thing] no matter what’s happening around me.”
Raider Times: When you’re doing videos and such, who’s in charge of your image? How is that determined?
Vérité: It’s all me. It’s a weird psychological process because I hate looking at myself, like, in photos and on camera and all of this, so I have to take a very detached look at myself and the project. Nothing to me ever looks consistent, but you just try and, again, it goes back to building a world. The easiest part for me is building a world sonically and musically, and then it’s really about trying to pair images with that world that feel natural and compliment it. It’s definitely taken me time to get to a point where I feel comfortable, but I think that it’s just about trying to put one foot in front of the other and trying to keep everything cohesive.
Raider Times: When you’re doing these videos, how long does it take to shoot something like that and put it together?
Vérité: A day, usually. I mean, budget-wise hiring a crew for an extra day is just, like, [shakes head] awful. So we are super quick and I shoot with a director out of London who’s really brilliant and so usually it’s just like a nice, 13-hour day, and then we wrap and go home.
Raider Times: What is your favorite part of performing?
Vérité: I think it’s people. In day-to-day life I’m super anti-social and kind of a loner, so I think the idea that, like, I get to go and perform music and we get to have a collective experience around that and feeding off of that energy is literally my favorite part of making music in general.
Raider Times: Can you tell us a little about the tour?
Vérité: I feel like setting up a tour has gotten easier. When I first started I was doing everything on my own and now I literally have someone who works for me whose job it is to set up the tours, which is amazing. I’m coming to Boston [Oct. 24] and I’m doing a super small show. It’s like, a half practice show for the upcoming tour that I have, and then I have an upcoming record-release show on the 25th, and then I go out with X Ambassadors this fall, so I’ll be out for a few months, and then next year I’ll be back and I’ll do, like, the full tour for the record.
Raider Times: How do you prepare yourself for a tour?
Vérité: You just do it. It’s such a weird thing, being away for so long. Being on tour is such a weird schedule. It’s like I’ll be working every day for a month and a half straight with limited amounts of sleep. I just try and eat well and I keep exercising. It’s really the basic things, like staying organized, making sure my suitcase is organized, and all that stuff makes me feel at least like I’m at home and safe and then puts me in a good state of mind for doing shows.
Raider Times: What are you looking forward to about Boston?
Vérité: I like doing shows in Boston because … being from New York, we think we’re cool, and everyone in New York, at shows, we’re much more reserved. But Boston? Everyone yells all the words like they don’t care. That energy is like: “We love the music. We’re here to party,” and so I really appreciate that about Boston.
(Interview conducted by Raider Times staff reporters Mariana Urizar, Tino Themelis, Selina Nebiye, Casey Master, Aaliyah Inkiala, Eleni Hum, Fathema Heidari, Karen Guler, Liam Connolly, Henry Broadstone, and Gabriela Bondaryk.)
–Oct. 23, 2019–