An existential crisis is defined as, "a moment at which an individual questions the very foundations of their life: whether this life has any meaning, purpose, or value"–it is also the basis by which rising New York City-based songstress VÉRITÉ constructed her already highly-acclaimed debut album, Somewhere In Between.
Released on June 23 via Kobalt Music Recordings, the 13-song collection is a raw examination of the universal uncertainties associated with identity, love, and finding purpose in life–what she describes as "somewhere in between living and dying." Yet, don't let that fool you into thinking that the album is not meant to be enjoyed–sonically, VÉRITÉ single-handedly radiates melodic left-field pop and rhythmic undertones that keep us singing along from start to finish. It's no wonder that the young artist has accumulated over 100 million Spotify streams to date and is set to embark on a headline tour this fall.
Listen to the Somewhere In Between album in full, and then get to know the prolific writer behind it in our Q&A below.
OTW: So tell us about how you originally got into music.
VÉRITÉ: I've been playing music for for a very long time. I started playing classical piano when I was six or seven, and then I started playing in bands when I was like 13, and I was in an all-girl punk cover band. We were not good [laughs]. I started writing when I was 16 so I had an overly-ambitious indie folk rock band, and then I started this project when I was around 21, 22.
OTW: Got it, and would you say you've reached the truest form of yourself?
VÉRITÉ: Yeah, it just felt right, and it hasn't stopped since.
OTW: And I understand you were independent for like the longest time, if not still?
VÉRITÉ: Yeah, I still technically am. Kobalt is an amazing strategic partner– they are handling all of the distribution in the U.S. and internationally, and so I'm really lucky to have them come on.
OTW: Why did you chose to remain independent otherwise?
VÉRITÉ: Because I want to be in control of when I release music and what that music is. I think I just saw a trend around me of people signing away their ownership at a really early stage and then losing momentum at a point when something didn't go as planned and the label pulls the plug or takes a step back. I just always wanted to have this forward momentum, and this has kind of allowed for me to keep that going.
OTW: So do you plan to remain independent moving forward?
VÉRITÉ: Yeah, I believe so. I mean I don't wanna limit myself, but I like where I am at right now; it's a good place to be.
OTW: Any tips for artists who are on a similar path?
VÉRITÉ: Yeah, get a job.
As depressing as that sounds, get a job and fund it yourself–you can do it. It's not going to be fun, you won't sleep, but ultimately it'll take a very small investment from yourself to get something started.
OTW: Makes sense. So you've released a few EP's out before the Somewhere in Between album. How would you say your music has evolved from The Echo to Sentiment to Living, to now?
VÉRITÉ: I feel like the themes of the EPs are all very similar–they're all this hyper-analyzation of my surroundings and me having an existential crisis, but I think there's a definite progression sonically. The first EP was definitely this toe-in-the-water experimentation of, "What do I want to sound like?" and then I think Sentiment was like, "Okay, I can do this," and branching out, and with the last EP, there was more of a honing in and confident approach to finishing the songs. It was me taking control of how I wanted things to be placed, and now having all those under my belt, I've just learned a lot about myself and about production and composition.
So this album I is most straightforward representation of like how I want to be seen and how I want to sound like.
OTW: And what is that?
VÉRITÉ: I just wanted it to be a statement piece–I didn't want to be shy, I didn't want it to be drenched in reverb or hazy in any way. I wanted my vocal to be upfront, the lyrics to be upfront; it's a lot of heavy percussion, it's a lot of in-your-face sub-bass. I'll probably give it a month, and then he next album will be hopefully better because I just want to keep learning for myself.
OTW: Cool, and what's the story behind the title, Somewhere in Between?
VÉRITÉ: Well, it comes from the title track "Somewhere In Between," and the first lyric is, "Somewhere between living and dying." So it's very broad in a way, but everything is about existence and the human condition and analyzing "why we are here?" and "what do relationships mean?" and "how do I interact?" and "how do I exist?" So yeah, the album exists in that broad space.
OTW: And I understand you worked with a bunch of awesome producers on this one?
VÉRITÉ: I've definitely worked with a lot of producers, but then narrowed it to three producers who I definitely trust and worked with on the last EP. So the writing process was really scattered, delegating responsibilities and timelines and getting everyone in line with the vision.
OTW: So you essentially A&R'd your entire album?
VÉRITÉ: Yeah, which was much more of an undertaking than I realized it would be when I started, but I'm really happy that I did. I think that is another area that I'm much more confident in my ability to manage people and get them to see what the greater vision is and then give them precise instructions on how to get there. So I think everybody that worked on the album feels good about what they contributed, but it's still cohesive.
OTW: Do you have a favorite lyric from the album?
VÉRITÉ: It might be, "somewhere between living and dying." I also like the first lyrics of a song called "Better." I just like the first two verses–start like "fixed and false" and then "tried and true." I just like the alliteration.
OTW: I love "Phase Me Out" too. What would be your top relationship advice for someone in that situation?
VÉRITÉ: I think for me, all the relationship-sounding songs on the album are me basically taking a step back, being like, "I don't need anyone." I think my relationship advice to anybody would be to get to a place where you don't need anyone, and then figure out how to coexist with people, which I'm currently trying to do. So maybe the second album is like, "How do I, I don't know, talk to people?" [laughs]
I think this album is very much figuring out how to not need people, in a positive way, for my self-worth.
OTW: What would you say makes you different from other singers in this alt-pop space?
VÉRITÉ: I feel like the alt-pop space is so oversaturated–I'm surprised that I found a little lane for myself. I don't consciously find the differences–I just made a decision to be super upfront and involved and candid. I try and translate that to the music as well, and so I feel lucky that it has resonated with people in the way that it has, and so I'm going to continue doing that. Also, I play live, you know, I play instruments, I am involved in the writing, I'm involved in the production, and so I feel like being that creative force within the project helps.
OTW: What is your live step up like? Do you have a band?
VÉRITÉ: Yeah, I have a band–we have like drums, bass, and I have a little synth keyboard with little vocal processing. I like to be busy because I don't dance, so I have to fill my time somehow onstage.
OTW: What were your favorite moments with the Betty Who tour?
VÉRITÉ: The Betty Who tour was great–her and her crew were so good to work with. I think my favorite moments are always the moments that no one sees…we all went a little crazy in a gas station right outside of Seattle and definitely started dancing. The store clerk just looked at us like we were on meth.
OTW: [Laughs] So what are your plans now that the album's out?
VÉRITÉ: Touring and more touring. My goal with the album is to push it out as far out as possible and so whatever needs to get done, I will do.
OTW: Last question: who are your top Ones To Watch artists right now?
VÉRITÉ: Oh goodness. I feel like I just want to say Anderson .Paak, but he's just so established. You guys just actually posted about Brika–II think she's dope. And the girl SUMif who opened for me in San Francisco is also dope.
VÉRITÉ North American Headline Tour Dates:
August 23 Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
August 24 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
August 25 Montreal, QC @ Petit Campus
August 26 Toronto, ON @ Longboat Hall
August 28 Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
August 29 Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
September 1 Seattle, WA @ Barboza
September 2 Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt
September 3 Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
September 5 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
September 7 Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour
September 9 San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
September 10 Dana Point, CA @ Ohana Music and Arts Festival
September 12 Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
September 15 Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Jr.
September 16 Dallas, TX @ Three Links
September 17 Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall (Upstairs)
September 19 Atlanta, GA @ Vinyl
September 20 Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
September 21 Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel
September 22 Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg