In 2019, people are open. On a personal level, we have more avenues than ever before to share what’s going on in our lives and where we want to take our next steps. We’ve gradually become more accepting of opening up about our feelings, our struggles, and how those affect us every day. In art, things are open as well. Artists blend together sounds from all sorts of genres to create something entirely new. Filmmakers borrow ideas from television, and television writers do the same in return. Experimentation and openness are the name of the game. No one is in better position to take advantage of that than Vérité. After three EPs, a debut album, and years of experience, she’s ready to expand her thinking and her music as far as she can cast them as she works towards the release of her second album and builds upon the success and sound of recent single “gone.” In a world that prizes such insight, Vérité is flinging the door wide open.

Vérité (given name Kelsey Byrne) isn’t feeling like her life is open when we speak in early June. “Life currently feels like it’s been a little bit of tunnel vision,” she says, explaining she’s been in LA exclusively for the past week and a half working on the new album, which does not yet have a name or release date. While she loves the work, she jokes that recently it’s been hard to keep track of the date, saying with a laugh she’s “also a little confused about [her] schedule because it’s literally like wake up, work in the studio, dinner, and back.” More than anything, she’s excited to share what’s coming next.

While the work has ramped up now, the new album is not “new” to her, as she says she’s been working on it for roughly two years now. She wasn’t always this zoomed in on the process of working on it, as at first a new album is a nebulous idea that doesn’t necessarily have that much day-to-day work to do on it. But she explains it’s now much more tangible, giving her something to work towards. She says “I think now that I’m getting closer it’s like there are much more specific goals to reach every day.” This has been a change for her, as she admits with a chuckle she’s as prone to procrastination as anyone if she doesn’t lay out a plan. “If I’m not pushing things forward and I’m not holding myself accountable, it’s so easy to just push things off a day or push things off a week,” she says.

Part of the challenge this time around was the big shift in the timeframe of her work. For each of her last projects (2014 EP Echo, 2015 EP Sentiment, 2016 EP Living, and 2017 album Somewhere In Between), she was “ahead on music,” as she puts it. As each project was released into the world, the next one was already completed and ready to go. “After I released my first record it was the first time I wasn’t ahead, and I had no new material and it was like staring at a blank slate, which was intimidating,” she remembers. It took her a bit to begin formulating what she wanted the new record to be, and even says it’s only been within the last three to four months that a clearer picture has emerged of the album.

Behind the scenes, one of the biggest changes this time around is Vérité’s increased role in all aspects. “This record is different from the first in that I’m much more involved with the production. I’m co-producing a few of the songs and so I’m very much here and on the ground every day, which is fun. I’m a newly detail-oriented person, so it’s been a shift,” she says. This has always been a goal for her, but this is the first chance for her to fully realize. Logistical challenges like geographic separation of producers prevented her from doing as much as she would have liked on previous projects, combined with what she describes as her “reserved” personality. With encouragement and support, she’s now taking charge, and while she’s proud of this, she’s quick to say she’s not doing it entirely on her own. She says, “With this record I’ve found a team of collaborators where I think everybody compliments each other and I feel like I’ve built a little family around the music, and that’s always been my goal.” Still, as an independent artist, she wouldn’t have it any other way. “It’s a feeling like this is my ship, and if the ship sinks I’ll die with the ship, and if we dock and everything goes really well I get to own that success,” she beams, and later jokes that now she “literally [has] to be pried away from the computer,” to prevent her from working 24/7 on the songs.

This new approach is immediately evident in “gone,” the first new single from the project. The song retains many of the elements which have made Vérité shine, and pairs them with an orchestral flair that feels expansive and thrilling. This new sound is partially inspired by her inability to ever stop thinking critically about her work. “I can’t listen to anything I’ve done without being like ‘these are the 20 things I hate about it that I want to do better next time.'” she says with a laugh. Listening to her old material, she describes it as sounding “boxed in” to her, meaning that the songs felt slightly too produced for her. Combine that with her experience working with all-female orchestra Little Kruta on December 2018 orchestral EP Bunker Studios Sessions, Brooklyn, NY, and she had an idea of what sound would come next. She went to Nashville to write and record some of this material, and “built the production from ‘gone’ up in the room.” Her goal for the record was to record as much of it live as possible, although she does say there are varying degrees of that across the new project.

If you’ve listened to “gone,” you also know there’s an emotional rawness and honesty in the track, as Vérité explores the last fading moments in a relationship. For her, living in the minutia of these moments was a key part of writing this record. “I saw myself getting caught up in this idea of ‘If I get X, that’s the thing that’s going to fulfill me. And if I get Y, that’s the thing.’ And then you move through these things that you get in your life and you’re like ‘oh, this fulfillment is fake,'” she explains of her starting point. Instead of trying to focus more on these arbitrary milestones we measure our lives by, she has decided to focus more on the smaller ideas and moments that are just as important, but don’t get as much attention. “We focus on the beginnings of relationships, the really exciting parts because those are the really emotionally charged high frequency moments. Then I’m focusing on these really low frequency moments that encompass what reality is,” she says. She explains she believes this is true for all relationships, not just romantic relationships, and that this idea is what has shifted the sound. She says “I actually get to be a little lighter and I think I get to be a little bit more fluid in my writing, and I think that’s where these more orchestral, pretty soundscapes are also coming from.” She’s experiencing this fluidity in ideas and concept even as she finishes the project, joking that in interviews six months from now she’ll have completely different answers to the same questions.

The overarching goal for Vérité is to tie all of these things together into one cohesive package. This extends not only to the sound and lyrics, but to the imagery around the project. She turned to frequent collaborator Charlie Manton to direct the video for “gone,” and praises his ability to take what she’s thinking and put it onto film. Having the video outside was a change for her, and she says having the video breathe and the scenery to extend into the horizon are an extension of what she’s trying to do on the album. “I think it’s a precursor of what’s to come in a way that I want it to start really simple and beautiful and then get weird from there,” she says. She also has high praise for dancer Pia Vinson, who appears in the video. Vérité explains “She helped me move a little bit more, since I can be a tad rigid. She was really helpful in opening me up. I feel like that’s my goal now: open up, take shit less seriously, and move a little bit.” She wants listeners to be able to feel that openness as well and experience this new project for themselves. “You always want to create a line in your theme that is solid enough for people to follow, but also not rigid enough that people can’t interpret how they want and that people can’t have their own experience with the song that has nothing to do with my experience with it,” she says.

Openness is good. It allows us to understand each other as people more, and it gives art infinite new avenues to explore. Vérité is opening up herself, both personally and with her new music yet to come. You can hear it in “gone,” and you can hear it in her voice when she talks about what’s coming next. It’s to everyone’s benefit for us to be open, and Vérite is as honest and free as she’s ever been.