Interview: Rising Brookyn indie-pop artist VÉRITÉ plays Visulite

 By Michelle Wheeler

February 25, 2018

Brooklyn-based indie-pop artist VÉRITÉ (Kelsey Byrne) has been steadily building a fan base and climbing the charts since releasing her debut EP in 2014. This week, she’s performing in Charlotte for the very first time as part of her headlining tour supporting her latest full-length release, Somewhere in Between. We caught up with VÉRITÉ as she preps to kick off the tour.

Michelle Wheeler for CLTure: Tour starts this week, how are things going? Are you doing something totally new this time around?

VÉRITÉ: I feel like we’ve already started because we’ve been in production rehearsals, and I’m dancing every day for like, 8 hours! This tour, I feel, is similar to the last run when it comes to the setup, but we have a new band, so it’s been a lot of meeting new people, and we kind of just want to build on the old set. You go out, you do 30 or 40 shows, and you come back home, and you realize where you can make it better. We’re always just trying to push that.

Vérité (Kelsey Byrne)

MW (CLTure): I want to talk a little bit about your background. I read that your dad is also a musician. What was that like growing up in a house where there was music playing all the time?

VÉRITÉ: I feel like my dad is a jack of all trades, and we always just had a space for music. Now he doesn’t even play music anymore, he’s like an artist and paints. He’s turned the music studios into art studios. But it was good to have a place to go to kind of create even back then, and no one ever told me to, like, “be quiet” or “keep it down,” so I’m grateful for that.

MW (CLTure): Was there one moment or one thing that happened that led you to doing music as something more than a hobby or as part of your own artistic expression? When did you know you wanted to pursue it professionally?

VÉRITÉ: The trajectory of my career has been, a little different than others’. I always knew I wanted to do music and be a musician, but didn’t necessarily see a path to where that would be realistic. When I was 23, I think I figured out I could somehow make this into a living. Up until then, I was just kind of writing music and doing shows and hitting wall after wall after wall, which got really discouraging. But when I decided to invest all my money into a project and put out an EP through proper distribution channels, I made a full decision to transition [to doing music full-time].  

Vérité (Kelsey Byrne)

MW (CLTure): It seems like the last two years have seen a ramp up in broad listener awareness, do you feel any change in how you approach performing in front of crowds who are really there to see you?

VÉRITÉ: I think coming from a background where I had no idea what I was doing and was playing shows to no one, I’m super grateful if I can get 50 people in a room who love the project and are aware of it! I see that as a very important and unavoidable building block. So, I try and keep that perspective, because it’s also really easy to compare yourself to the top 1% of musicians, and be, like, “oh well, I’m not selling out arenas, I guess I should go home.”

MW (CLTure): One of the things that did get a lot of attention was your cover of Somebody Else by The 1975, which I was a huge fan of personally. What drew you to that song in particular, and what do you find interesting about doing covers in general?

VÉRITÉ: First, thank you very much, I’m glad you liked it! I think that song in particular is just such a beautiful, perfect, well-written song, that it’s immediately relatable. For me, I covered it because I was listening to it non-stop. I’ve released a lot of original material, but the idea of just [doing] covers has pushed me to keep the ball rolling because I like to keep working. But there’s something to reinterpreting a song and bringing it into your world and then sharing it with people too. I’m excited to have a song like Somebody Else bring people into my world.

MW (CLTure): If people are finding you because of that song or because of a single outside of an album, how would you prepare them for what else they’ll hear in your catalog?

VÉRITÉ: I think I’d describe the music as driving and dynamic pop music. It’s not monotone in a way I think some pop music is, but I’d really just say come see a live show. They’re fun.

Vérité (Kelsey Byrne)

MW (CLTure): You’ve had a lot of streaming success, how do you feel about that side of the music industry? And especially, when you’re writing, do you think about someone listening to an entire album or the person who’s adding a song or two to a playlist?

VÉRITÉ: I think you have to consider both. I’m very pro-streaming, because that’s how people listen to music, and I’m not necessarily here to argue with what the masses want. The masses want easily digestible, initially hooky things to put on their playlist, and that’s just where our culture is shifting. That being said, it is important to create a cohesive body of work that is a journey for the listener in a way. When I made this last album, I kept that very forefront. I wanted to have something that would stand on its own if it’s listened to individually track by track or front to back.

MW: What does the writing process look like for you?

VÉRITÉ: I always have a bunch of iPhone notes and voice memos and sometimes if I’m in a studio we’ll work off a track. If somebody sends me an instrumental that’s inspiring, I can sometimes write off that. It really just depends. I feel like most of the songs that end up getting released are written by myself when I’m alone, and then edited and brought to a producer and we kind of flip it on its head.

MW (CLTure): I read that you write from a personal place, but you don’t mind if listeners bring their own experience to the music. Can you expand on that idea and explain what that means in a practical way as a songwriter?

VÉRITÉ: For sure. For me, and maybe this is weird, but things being painfully literal is really uncomfortable. I don’t like to map every detail out a hundred percent. I think it borders on cheesy sometimes. So, I think there’s always a way to express an emotion or a visual or an experience in a way that is more artistic. And, I think as a listener, you interpret music how you need to in that moment. I want to allow people to feel whatever they want to feel, I don’t want to dictate that to them.

MW (CLTure): You don’t want to go on the record, like, “this song only means THIS.”

VÉRITÉ: Exactly.

MW (CLTure): Charlotte will be one of your first stops on this tour. How do you feel about debuting new music in front of a crowd?

VÉRITÉ: It’s definitely my favorite part of making music. I don’t know if I would make music if I couldn’t perform it. Or I would, but I wouldn’t like it as much. The idea of taking something from nothing to a very visual live experience is really attractive to me and gets me excited. Especially going into new markets. I’ve never been to Charlotte before, so meeting new people who haven’t had the opportunity to see the live performance before…that energy, no matter how many people show up, that’s what I crave.

MW (CLTure): What can the Charlotte audience expect from the show Tuesday night?

Verité: I think they can expect intimacy. I feel like doing these initial runs into new cities, I never know what to expect, so I just want to meet everyone and welcome them into this world and this experience, and build my Charlotte people up a little bit.

Catch VÉRITÉ at Visulite Theatre on Tuesday, February 27.

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