The world was already coming apart in Vérité's life before the COVID pandemic became the latest shoe to drop this past winter.
By the time the singer-songwriter was forced to call off her sold-out tour due to the national emergency, she was mourning the end of a long-term relationship and with it the loss of her home. With few options, she retreated to her parents' house and wasted little time getting back to work, completing her forthcoming EP, New Limbs, Volume 1, with some of her most divergent music yet.
"My tour got canceled halfway through, so essentially that album cycle got shut down," she tells Q104.3 New York's QN'A. "There was this sense that I need new material to move forward, so I spent a lot of time writing, doing a lot more production, throwing this idea to the wall."
The first new track to emerge was "younger women" this past August. Stark in production, slow-jam in tempo and lyrically as fierce as anything in her formidable catalog, "younger women" is classic Vérité in its jilted conception, but an exciting new path in its execution for an artist coming into her own in every stage of songcraft.
Strange times bring new opportunities for those keen to dig them up. Vérité has been honing her craft in isolation these past six months, putting her fingerprints on each aspect of her new music — from writing to arranging to mixing — and grasping new breaths of independence with each step forward.
New Limbs, Vol. 1 is unlike any prior Vérité release in that it's a bit like all of them and yet not really like any one of them.
Whereas "younger women" succeeds with its dejected wit, New Limbs' second single, "i'll take the blame," is a genuine ballad. The contrast of the two tracks, which encompass the latter half of Vol. 1, might have given Vérité pause a year or two ago but no longer. If it comes from her, and it's good, it's good enough to put her name on.
"It’s this idea that I am a cohesive thread that can tie everything together and then I can do whatever the f—k I want, so long as it’s genuine and feels like me," she says. "That’s the current exploration that I’m on."
Read the full QN'A with Vérité below!
You were on tour when things started shutting down because of the pandemic; how much of what you’ve done since has been just throwing something out there to see if it lands?
I mean, I feel like that’s my whole career. I feel like that’s the life of an independent artist.
For me, traditional routes have never made sense. It’s always trying to find a work-around or trying to find a new and creative way to make an impact or connect with people, and that’s something I think I’ve done really successfully over the years.
I’ve been working non-stop since March. I feel like I’m opposite a lot of people. I’m thinking maybe in October, I’ll take a week off and try not to work. But it’s been one of those things where I knew if I didn’t push forward, I’d be in a strange spot.
My tour got canceled halfway through, so essentially that album cycle got shut down. There was this sense that I need new material to move forward, so I spent a lot of time writing, doing a lot more production, throwing this idea to the wall.
I have another event coming for the album release that is strange that I’m really excited for. It’s a time of experimentation.
The new EP is New Limbs, Vol. 1 and that’s coming out in October. Is Volume 2 coming up behind it or is this going to be a longer-term project?
I feel like me categorizing it and packaging it as an EP was less because that’s what I wanted to do, and more so catering to the external people who need something to latch onto.
My perspective on New Limbs as a project goes much further than this one volume. And I think for the next year my plan is to consistently release singles and music and I might package it up as a Vol. 2, I might package it up as a playlist. I’m lucky that I have full freedom and control to kind of do what I want in that sphere.
I have probably another five songs to choose from going forward. I wrote a song the other day and we just planned a release date for it. From my perspective, it’s more of an exploration and this idea of…I want to go in a lot of different directions. I want to go more alternative, more grunge, more pop, right? And not be limited by a record because when you’re making a record, you’re making a world.
I just want to have fun and not overthink things as much.
Do you think you’ll do more full-length albums in the future or will you stick with the EP thing?
For this year, my plan is EPs, singles, experimentation. An album will inevitably come out of that, probably.
I think my goal is to just write really great music. And albums really write themselves in that way, where eventually maybe I’ll have 10 of these songs that feel very much like they live in their own world and I’ll release it like that.
Right now I’m loving the feel of the short-form.
I can see how that would be motivating and less potentially daunting.
And quicker. I think everybody is so inundated with so much digital content right now. I stare at my computer all day, working, and I’m assuming you do as well.
So it's this idea of just feeding people and giving people music and giving people visuals and giving people art and letting them digest however they like.
It seems like you've slowed down the tempos since your first few releases. Have you ever thought about your music like that? Do you think there’s a reason why that is?
I think new skin, especially, was a sadder album than I thought it was (laughs). It was part of me that was, ‘Oh, I’m pushing it.’ Now I look back on that record, and I think that was my exploration into these warm, organic sounds and tones.
Honestly, I think [it was] a reaction to the success of the cover I did of [The 1975's] "Somebody Else," of not wanting to be labeled ‘female indie electro.’
I don’t know why I feel like that title and label put me in a box, and I wanted to show, ‘Oh, I can do this.’ I’m in love with new skin as an album, but it is looking back, a sadder, beautiful, still record.
Now, going into New Limbs — “Save Up,” for instance, feels like an homage to The Weeknd and my much earlier work. I recognized that I was putting myself in these boxes. New Limbs is kind of a response to that: no boxes, no labels. If I want to do a dance song. I’ll do a dance song.
“I’ll take the blame” is probably my first-ever ballad.
Right, with that waltzing feel…
Yeah. They can’t be more separate.
It’s this idea that I am a cohesive thread that can tie everything together and then I can do whatever the f—k I want, so long as it’s genuine and feels like me. That’s the current exploration that I’m on.
Lyrically, most of your stuff explores similar pools of weaknesses but from a position of strength, and then with new sounds all the time. You have all this work where the feel of it is wildly different in just four or five years.
It’s funny, looking back at my past work, I view it as unpolished because I was unpolished. I came into the music industry with no money, zero expertise, right? It was just me being like, ‘Well, this is what I can do right now,’ and this idea of constantly moving forward and growing.
I co-produced my last record, but “younger women” and “i'll take the blame” are the first two songs I produced. I brought in somebody on the tail end to elevate and push me.
It’s this idea that you’re constantly hoping to grow and push yourself and up yourself. Hopefully this next body of work is indicative of that, and hopefully the next round is better.
You mentioned in the ‘Anatomy of a Song’ live stream that with “younger women,” you were kind of hammering away at just one part for like a six days. Is that typical for your creative process?
It’s funny. I hadn’t written alone in so long. I think as an artist you’re constantly pushed — you need collaborations, 'in the room you’re going to get better things.' I don’t know if I believe that’s true for me.
I sat with that first verse and played it over and over again for hours and hours. And then eventually, I had a pre-chorus. And eventually the chorus came, and it was all written stream of conscious, and linearly like that — pushing forward and eventually finding the right things.
I don’t think I would ever have given myself that space in not-quarantine. I feel like it’s confirmed for me a method that really works.
Did all the songs on this EP come after the shutdowns?
“Best of me” was finished right before quarantine, we just mixed it. “Save up” was a songs I actually wrote in 2018 that, again, didn’t have a place on new skin because of tone. But it was a song that I always really liked. That was produced with my friend Pam in quarantine — her and I did many FaceTime sessions to get that where it is.
“Younger women” and “i'll take the blame” were written from scratch in quarantine, produced out by me and then brought to Aron Forbes who elevated and made that s—t sound so much better.
in writing so much, have you sustained a positive headspace as far as your own creativity goes? Have there been ups and downs?
I think that my strongest personality trait is work ethic; I constantly have a goal and I’m constantly pushing forward to that goal. That helps me in creative downtime. So my mentality is that there’s always something that I can be doing. I feel like I’m a boulder rolling down a hill; there’s always momentum.
My life really fundamentally changed at the start of all of this. I was in a long-term relationship that ended. I lost my home; that shifted. The tour got cancelled. So everything felt for a moment just like the sky was falling. So I think that finding my own autonomy in creation — in writing and production — has felt like a really great home for me.
And I just try not to beat myself up. I’ve been binging a lot of shows. So I work really hard all day, and then at night I just like stare at the television. That helps me balance. I don’t know how healthy it is, but it works.