An Interview With Vera Blue

Note: This interview was conducted before Vera Blue’s O-Week performance. It has been edited and condensed for clarity.

BLITZ: Welcome to the Roundhouse, Vera! We’re really happy to have you here. How has your day been so far?

Vera Blue: My day’s been super chill, I’ve just been relaxing at home. I was actually really looking forward to coming here, getting back on to this campus. My brother used to go to this university, so it’s nice to come back and have that familiar sense of community and everyone learning, it’s really cool. It’s an exciting time for O-Week.

BLITZ: What’s your rehearsal process like before a performance?

VB: Normally before we do a big tour we’ll get together in a rehearsing studio - I have a band, so we set up – and we just practice the songs over. Sometimes, we’ll have new songs to go over. I’m really excited, we’ll have a couple of new songs [for the O-Week performance].We just have to go over them, make sure they’re perfect and plan what the stage design is going to look like - the lighting, getting all the missing pieces back into place - making it all exciting.

BLITZ: You first found your success in 2013 at The Voice with ‘Scarborough Fair’. If you were able to talk to 2013 Vera and give her a piece of advice, or just say something to her before that audition, what would it be?

VB: I would say, “Stay strong, trust the process and enjoy it.” All those things- I’ve trusted the process, I’ve enjoyed it and I’ve enjoyed the ride. It’s been a very daunting experience, especially going through it quite young. But I think at the end of the day I’ve benefited from that, and now I’m here and can do these really cool things.

It’s going to be something that I’m always working on in the future, making connections and collaborating and making music. It’s not easy but it is fun, I enjoy it.

BLITZ: How do you think 2013 Vera would react to your career now?

VB: (laughs) She would be amazed… I had no idea what I was going to do. Two years after The Voice was when I started to realise who I wanted to be as an artist moving forward, and the kind of music I wanted to make. At the time I was doing folk music, and then I started to experiment with electronic music. I started to really love electronic artists like FKA Twigs and Banks.

I really wanted to make music that was cool and different and edgy. Kind of blending those sounds… I think 2013 Vera did not know that was coming, a different change in sound.

BLITZ: You’ve definitely developed quite a unique style in the last few years.

VB: Yeah, and through working with people and collaborating and doing writing sessions, I met my producer Andy Mack, who I still work with to this day. We’ve created the sound of Vera Blue. At the moment, with new music, we’re trying to build on that and change it up a little bit, but still that signature sound.

BLITZ: You grew up in Forbes, in central New South Wales. What was that like, and how did you begin to have an interest in music?

VB: Growing up in Forbes was really nice! It’s a beautiful town. I think there’s a festival there now called VANFEST, and a few people from Sydney come to that festival and it’s nice to have people coming to our town and giving it some love. I think it’s a really beautiful place.

I had a beautiful upbringing there. My family’s amazing, we had music in the family so I couldn’t really avoid doing it. It was something that my mum was always playing around the house, playing folk music or going to church, it was always here and there and everywhere.

BLITZ: In 2015, that was when you started the project Vera Blue. It’s a beautiful name. How did you come up with it?

VB: Well, I was releasing folk music under my real name for a little while. Once I met my producer and created a new sound, I also worked with a writer called Gosling and another writer called Tom Mack who I still work with today. Gosling suggested that I could have an artist name. At first, I was like ‘I don’t know, I kind of want to keep my name’. And then I thought, because the music had its new sound, a whole new vibe, I thought it doesn’t sound like Celia Pavey music and needed its own brand.

The name Vera came from Vera Wang Princess, which was my first perfume when I was young. My mum used to be called Blue or Bluey. So, Vera Blue, it had a nice ring to it and fit together. That’s when we started building a style that name sense with the project.

BLITZ: Do you think you’ll ever return to a folk music style?

VB: Well, to write the songs for this project, they would always start in a folky way. It would either be on acoustic guitar or piano. They start from that folky style and we just build on that. I guess there are some songs that don’t necessarily need all the electronic stuff. Sometimes if you throw too much stuff on a song, it can be a little bit of overkill. But at the moment, yeah, I’m still working on a bit of pop.

BLITZ: Do you start writing with lyrics, or the sound of the song before the lyrics?

VB: It’s always inspired by something that I’ve been through. I’ll have an idea or a thought that pops into my head, about heartbreak or a friendship fallout or love. Sometimes I’ll have a lyric, but most of the time I like to just mess around with some chords and see what kind of vibe it brings. It’s a really lovely thing to do, and that’s where the piano and acoustic guitar comes into play. Just fiddling around with the progressions and seeing what emotions that takes us to.

It’s crazy how sometimes the ball just starts rolling and by the end of the day we’ve got a song. Other times it’s harder, we’ll struggle but that’s okay, it’s part of the creative process.

BLITZ: What’s your favourite and least favourite part of the whole creative process?

VB: It’s at times a little bit exhausting. For an artist like me, we’re constantly talking about our emotions and wearing our heart on our sleeve. It’s very emotionally taxing, but at the end of the day it’s super rewarding when we get to go out and perform because the people in the audience are connecting to the words or emotions, so I never feel like I’m doing it along. So, yeah, it’s awesome.

BLITZ: And how did your fashion style evolve?

VB: Once we got the sound of Vera Blue, I worked with a stylish called Jana Bartolo who I work really closely with now. We first created a look that was quite dark, all a bit mysterious. And then it was a reveal for the album when there was colour brought in.

It depends on what the music is doing as well. The music in Perennial, my last record, was very colourful. There were songs about going through dark places and then coming out of them, heartbreak and things like that. But now with tours, we just go crazy. For Falls, I was wearing all kinds of crazy things. Jana gets to pull from local designers like Alice McCall, as well as international brands like Gucci. It’s really fun. The styling part is something that I’m really invested in and have a lot of fun doing.

BLITZ: You mentioned Falls Festival. You’ve also been at Splendour, and even SXSW in the States. Out of all the different venues you’ve performed in, has there been one that’s your favourite?

VB: Being on tour with Flume for the past year has been really amazing. We performed at a venue called Red Rocks in Colorado, and it’s just the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.

BLITZ: Do you have any advice for newcomers to uni this year?

VB: Just stick to it and have fun! Enjoy O-Week. Enjoy studying as well. I studied at AIM for a second, but never really got to experience the community vibe of staying on campus or being at uni for a long time. I think just enjoy it and make friends and have fun!