Pop music is a crowded genre. New artists and names are constantly emerging in the field, and many go unnoticed; however, New York’s VÉRITÉ is making a name for herself.
BuzzFeed regards her as “one of the best artists in alt-pop,” and it’s easy to see why. With only a few EPs to her name, VÉRITÉ (real name Kelsey Byrne) is grabbing the attention of the masses with her ethereal voice and cool synth melodies.
On June 23, the singer-songwriter will release her highly anticipated debut album, Somewhere in Between, a record that is bound to make a splash this summer. But before that, Byrne is hitting the road, opening up fellow pop queen Betty Who’s Party in the Valley tour. The tour will be making its way to Portland’s Wonder Ballroom on Friday, April 28, and before you catch her set, we asked a few questions to help you get to know VÉRITÉ.
You write synthpop now, but you grew up on bands like Green Day, The Cranberries and Nirvana and got your start in music in a middle school punk band. How would you say these types of music have influenced the music you're making now?
I think the alternative rock/punk/live bands have really influenced me even in my transition to left-of-center pop. It's pushed me to be emotive, impactful and moderately heavy. It's allowed me to keep aspects of my music rougher around the edges than some traditional pop.
What artists making music now inspire you?
So many. [I’m] in love with Anderson.Paak, Chance the Rapper, Kehlani, Childish Gambino, K. Flay, Anne-Marie and more.
You started writing your own music at age 16. What's the first song you remember writing? Have any early songs survived into today and onto a VÉRITÉ record?
No old songs have made it into the VÉRITÉ era. The first song I wrote that I remember is called "The Rant." It is a literal rant and there is a recording that exists in the world.
Vérité means "truth" in French. What inspired you to choose this name?
It came from a day of Google and a commitment. I like the idea of being candid in my writing. The sentiment fit.
When you released "Strange Enough," it was an almost instant sensation, jumping to #1 on Hype Machine. Were you expecting such a huge reaction? What were your thoughts releasing it and seeing the impact?
I was genuinely surprised with the reaction. I think it was the right moment for that song to come out. Releasing it was a rush and the impact really pushed me to up my game.
When the first EP was released, you were still working as a waitress at Applebee’s. Then you finally quit in 2015. Were you nervous taking that leap into music full time?
Absolutely. It was hard in the moment but a necessary transition. I quit before the project was sustaining itself. Once I left, there was no security blanket and I was forced to make this work.
Your debut album is being released in June. What was the process of creating this like and what are you most excited for people to hear?
Creating this album was like putting together a very complex puzzle over an extended period of time. It was about perfectly shaping each piece—coloring a part of the picture to be whole on its own, but also cohesive with the greater picture. I'm excited for people to hear it all.
You said the songs on this album are meant to "dissect fragments of my experience as a human and twist them in unusual ways." What inspired the lyrical content of the record? Can you take us through your thinking and writing process?
Lyrics come to me subconsciously. The initial words aren't thought out or calculated. I’ll find a phrase or a line, and a verse or chorus will really write itself. From there, I start to ascribe meaning, add form, craft, and string things together. The content really comes from whatever I'm feeling in a given moment. The end result is really this analysis of my mind and various emotional states I visited while making the album.
You've amassed a lot of fans over the span of the last few years. What's the best fan encounter you recall? The strangest?
My favorite fan interaction was when someone came up to me in an Urban Outfitters and called me Kelsey. I got so confused and figured I just wasn't remembering this person, but she was apparently a massive fan and was so, so genuinely excited to see me. I'll keep the strange interactions to myself.