About a year ago we first met Kelsey Byrne, aka VÉRITÉ, whom I characterized as the ultimate embodiment of “alt-pop”: “A popular chanteuse (not diva) who has integrity and a soul… equal parts ‘90s R&B, 21st century blue-eyed soul, and synth pop revivalist.” At the time she had released a few EPs and singles (one of which got a million streams on Spotify in two weeks and another of which debuted on Jimmy Fallon’s Tumblr) and was about to embark on a headlining tour, which included a beautiful and spectacularly intimate performance at Boot & Saddle. Well, VÉRITÉ’s debut full-length, Somewhere in Between, hits shelves on June 23rd and continues her sonic exploration of the space between alternative and pop music, and earlier this week she kicked off a batch of dates supporting Betty Who, which will have the two singer/songstresses at Union Transfer this Monday, April 17th. Kelsey Byrne and I recently got a chance to catch up and chat about how she’s spent the past year and the sounds found on her upcoming LP.
Izzy Cihak: I just realized that the last time I spoke to you was on your birthday last year. Although not a lot of time has passed since then, it seems like you’ve done a whole lot in that time. What have been some of the highlights for you?
Kelsey Byrne: I feel like since we last spoke, my life has been building up potential energy. It’s been a lot of preparation and ground work, some touring, a lot of writing and finishing the album.
Izzy: You’ve played Philly, or Philthy, a few times since then (I was at your show at Boot & Saddle, but had to miss your show at Union Transfer because it was on my birthday, which I always spend in, watching DVDs…) Any thoughts or favorite experiences in the city? Did you get a chance to explore at all?
Kelsey: I never get to explore cities the way I want to and I can say, despite having spent time in Philly, I haven’t had the opportunity to actually explore and hang. Eventually I will have a better answer to this question.
Izzy: Your first LP is set for a summer release. How do you feel like the album compares to the sounds of your EPs? Were you trying anything new, sonically? Last time we spoke you said that that was basically always the goal.
Kelsey: The idea was to build and grow from the EPs and refine and push the sound. I wanted to make a statement. All of the songs hit hard and the sounds match. I want the LP to be a better version of each EP.
Izzy: What would you consider to be the album’s most significant influences?
Kelsey: The album has a lot of influences and lives in an intended identity crisis between alternative and pop. It follows my own identity and existential crisis’, dealing with depression, boredom, and perceived meaninglessness. I was listening to Phantogram, Chance the Rapper, Anderson.Paak and Anne Marie. Lots of music that has impact.
Izzy: I really like your recent video for “Phase Me Out.” What kinds of things tend to most inspire the visual elements of your work?
Kelsey: I want to create a surreal world where things are a bit off. Somewhere that’s dark and kind of confusing. I just want people to think and feel.
Izzy: You just kicked off a tour playing a bunch of really big shows with Betty Who. How excited are you to share the stage with her every night? Were you previously a fan of hers?
Kelsey: Yeah, Betty Who is dope and I’m excited for the tour. We’re pretty different artists so it’ll be cool to watch her show every night and meet new people.
Izzy: What can be expected of the live experience this time around?
Kelsey: New music. I play more keys, my drummer is amazing, my bassist is amazing. I’m really just excited to play new music.
Izzy: Finally, what’s next for you? In addition to the release of your first full-length, what are you most excited for in 2017? Or is all of your energy pretty much focused on that at the moment?
Kelsey: I’m looking forward to build this project. I’m ready to release the album, play more shows, and happy to be busy.