‘Younger Women,’ the newest single from singer/songwriter Vérité, named Kelsey Byrne, is an exercise in confronting the end of a union and having the courage to call it out. A verbal funeral and musical cleansing at the same time. The beginning of the song finds Byrne’s voice meeting the threads of synths as she speaks to the unsure feeling in the air of love leaving the room. It feels as though you are inside the emotions she is poetically conveying as only she can:
“I held my breath for as long as I could
And I sunk myself to the bottom of your room
And I waited, still and patient
For you to cut me like a blade would”
Honesty is nothing new to the world of Vérité. With her upcoming release, New Limbs: Volume 1 due on October 9th, Byrne describes it as a ‘living album.’ It’s a collection of songs without boundaries, expectations, and letting inspiration take you to a place where it’s meant. As a fully independent artist, Vérité continues to build a fulfilling body of work as she continues to develop both musically and personally. I spoke to Byrne about her new single, living life in the Northeast during quarantine, and where the inspiration for New Limbs: Volume 1 came about.
I figure I’d start this with a basic, but complex question – how are you doing? We both live in the Tri-state area and things have been upside down since March. It’s gotten better now, but how are you dealing with all this?
Vérité: I feel like I am simultaneously very fine and not fine at the same time. I think this is this whole situation has like provided an opportunity to like not run from anything, right? There’s no distracting yourself from things that you should be facing. I am alone, so much of the time, and I am ready to kind of sit in all of my shit. Also, I’m really excited. It’s been a productive time and a time to reimagine how we distribute music and how I connect with fans. It’s definitely been a bit of both for me.
You posted on social media about crying in public. We’re all in this shared experience where we’re trying to emote in different ways. For an artist that’s always been forthcoming with their emotions, have you discovered fresh ways to confront parts of yourself that you may have not known were there before?
For sure. I started this whole quarantine situation with the ground being pulled out from under me unexpectedly. So, I really made a commitment early on to not run and distract myself. I made a commitment to leave this time better as a person – healthier and figuring out how to emote properly. I also wanted to leave this time a better producer and a better writer.
It’s funny – being almost six months into this shit and feeling the results of that. I feel independent and solid, but on the East Coast, this has been a very serious thing for a long time. As of now, we’re getting a respite. So, it’s weird to see that I can go sit outside with other humans.
With your second album, New Skin, it saw you coming out of the burnout and depression of Somewhere in Between. It felt as though you were navigating this new place where you’re more comfortable with yourself and collaborators around. Where did the concept for New Limbs: Volume 1 come about? You stated that you were in a situation where you had the rug pulled out of you. How was viewing that from a music standpoint?
Right now where I’m at in my career and how I feel with music being released, I didn’t want to stick to making an album or EP. I feel like calling it an EP was a compromise based on where the music industry is and what external people need to latch on to. I view New Limbs as a living project. I just want to write and release great songs. I don’t care about cohesion.
I just want to go down different tangents and explore different feelings, sounds, and genres. Figuring out how to collaborate when you can’t sit in the same room with someone. With New Limbs, it felt like I was putting together these separate ideas. Then, oddly as it always does, it also feels like this cohesive body of work. I think I’m getting the best of both worlds with it and I’m excited to see where it goes next.
We go through such a wide range of emotions, so it’s good to capture that in a living body of work. You have self-produced a lot of aspects of this upcoming EP and your music in the past. How did it feel going through that process alone?
I’ll put an asterisk on self-produced, I did most of the production for two of the songs. Meaning I started them, I took them to like 65%. Then, I brought in a co-producer to help elevate my ideas. That’s ‘Younger Women’ and ‘I’ll Take The Blame.’ I also co-produced ‘Best Of Me.’ I was super heavily involved with all the production as I always am because it’s my shit and I need to run it. I co-produced my last record, but never sitting at the computer. Never at the helm of my own session with no one else around. It was challenging and frustrating, but also exciting when the puzzle pieces came together.
I recognized that this is not only great, but it’s also special because it is mine. ‘Younger Women’ just like feels like my baby. I haven’t been attached to music like this in a long time. I think it’s because I’ve sat with this song and built it from the ground up.
I know you usually record in isolation, but especially now, isolation is all we have. There was a point where we could do very little. Did that aspect bring about a new wrinkle for you?
I started out creating music remotely because back in the day; I was working so much. I didn’t have time to go do sessions. I would sit and write alone in the pocket of four hours I had. I was so tired back then. Then, I would do production remotely via email – so that process has been oddly simple. There’s technology; we use audio movers. So essentially, I can hear the audio in real time. It’s close to being in the same room.
For instance, ‘Younger Women,’ I spent a week on that production. I finished it up with and Aron Forbes and him and I were probably on FaceTime for a sum of 24 hours. Not in one day, obviously. Just going back and forth and honing the production. So it’s just getting comfortable with that median.
Let’s talk about your new single, ‘Younger Woman.’ The line that sticks out to me is “if you don’t want me, just say it.” Sometimes in relationships, two people know that it’s over, but are afraid to acknowledge that. In this song, you see the end on the horizon and in this song, you’re not afraid to take it head-on.
Oh, for sure. I mean, I think you’re always looking for an end and closure. I don’t know why the universe does this to me, but I never feel like I get closure. I never feel like something has a period at the end of the sentence. It’s always like an ellipsis. I’m always sitting and thinking, “I don’t know what just happened.” Something has shifted and I’m in this unfamiliar landscape with no closure. I don’t know why it continues to happen.
So, I think this is like my desire to be like, “just fucking say it. Just lay it out.” Because I am such a blunt person- I’ll fucking say it. Every once in a while, you want a period you’re not kind of writing out yourself. ‘Younger Woman’ is definitely a super personal experience. It’s about the moment something ended and all the anger and sadness that comes with that. I think it like turned itself into something beautiful. It’s my baby. I’m super proud of that.
Throughout your career, I admire that you are vulnerable and direct through your music. Has the lens of how you view love changed for you? With the pandemic, you can’t express love in the same ways that we used to. You have to get creative with that because the physical element is on hold en masse.
I think love and how we relate to people is a constantly changing thing. But I think historically, I’ve been very black and white, right? We’re this or we’re that. There’s love until you do this, and then there’s fucking hate. I think that now I realize that love is this complicated and nuanced thing. It’s where multiple things can be true and false. You’re just trying to navigate it with as much integrity and compassion as you can for people.
I think that’s where I’m trying to live now. Both in relationships that are romantic, but also friendships and family. You have something like a massive global pandemic and it completely shifts where your priorities are and where your focus is. I spend my time trying to be present for the people around me. Socializing in the ways that we can be safe. Being there for people is the key and focusing on the communities we have.