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Vera Blue: “I Feel So Repaired, So Free”

Celia Pavey, also known as Vera Blue, has dropped her debut album Perennial today just ahead of a huge set at Splendour In The Grass. This album conceptually revolves around the waves of emotion, growth and change that come after a long-term relationship ends. Perennial is highly emotive, and features dynamic vocals and entrancing electro-pop sounds. Listening to this album takes you on an emotional journey that is incredibly relatable and empowering. We chatted with Pavey about the emotional journey of creating the record.

This period of your life seems so positive, and Perennial has a motif of healing and mending; was making Perennial like an antidote for the break up?

Yeah in a way! Andy Mak, my producer, Andy’s younger brother Tom who is my co-writer and Jackson Barclay have become such close friends of mine now because we’ve been through it all together. Just being with them and being able to open-up to them and talk about everything I’ve been through. That’s how we’ve been able to make such special songs, by being honest and real. It was a tough period of my life but I’ve come out of it and we’ve created such a special work.

What is the process behind working and collaborating with such incredibly talented artists like Andy Mak and Gossling? What is it like to make these emotive songs with them?

It’s so special. The first time I met Gossling I was fangirling hard, you know, it was so cool. To be able to continue working with her after we created ‘Fingertips’ has been wonderful. For the first few songs on Perennial to have that creative writing touch was so amazing. It was incredible to collaborate with them. I’m really stoked that I’ve found my little nutshell and people that truly get me. There were moments where sometimes I would cry, and sometimes I would be experiencing emotional things and being real and open about that with them was something I really treasure.

In Forbes I grew up listening to and writing folk music and now I’m delving into electronica. I really experimented and had so much fun with them! Every sound that we made had its individual purpose and place in each song.

There’s an array of potent emotions on this album. ‘Regular Touch’ is such a feel-good, girl power song! What was the inspiration behind writing it?

I really love that people are feeling that sense of empowerment now that I’ve released the song. After everything I’ve been through, it’s really, really cool! At the time, it was written at the very early stages of the album. I actually connect to the song a lot more now because at the time I was feeling like I was in the chains of heartbreak and wanting to overcome that, wanting to feel freedom and enjoy being on my own without having that sense of restraint. I wanted to feel worth something, and it’s awesome because now that I’ve released the song I am feeling that in myself. I’m happy on my own. I feel so repaired, so free.

I really love that people are connecting and relating to it in the way that it’s empowering, going “yeah! I’m happy on my own.” Relationships are beautiful and awesome but if you’re young and there are times when you want to get through heartache, then this is the song for you (laughs).

I personally really resonated with this record reflecting on my own break ups. I understood and related to the emotion that you’re communicating with Perennial. What is it like to make such an open and honest record? What do you hope to achieve in giving this to the world?

I guess the main thing with Perennial is vulnerability and being able to recognise it. In the making of this album I’ve developed a sense of acknowledging vulnerability and letting it be a thing that comes naturally and to let it happen. I think a lot of people try to brush it off and get rid of it, and that’s ok, that’s the way people deal it, but I want people to know it’s ok to feel the way you do, it’s ok to wear your heart on your sleeve and be emotional. Be who you are in your special way. Overcoming something is strengthening.

I love that people have connected to it and I’m excited to be able to finally give the album to everyone. It’s not mine anymore, it’s theirs. It’s now their special story of my own to make their own now. It’s a very extraordinary feeling to be giving them something that I’ve been working so hard on and put my heart and soul into.

I noticed that that your Instagram bio reads: “Vera Blue, a project by Celia Pavey”. What does that mean?

When I think of Vera Blue, I think of it as a few people, not just me. It’s Andy Mak, my producer, my co-writer Tom, Gossling, these people that have touched in and out of the project. Because we started it together, the music came before the name. So it’s like we are a special little crew of people that create music about stuff that I am personally going through that’s highly relatable. At the moment, ‘Vera Blue’ is something that’s keeping me busy and focused. Naming it a project also opens-up doors for me to be able to do so many other things. I’ve released records like ‘This Music’ and ‘Bodies’ under ‘Celia Pavey’. Now I can start doing new things and experimenting with new music. ‘Vera Blue’ fits and I feel that this is who I am. I am Vera Blue and this is what I love doing.

With changing my name, it wasn’t about removing myself from The Voice. I’m proud of my experience there and anything I’ve done prior to becoming Vera Blue. I’m not trying to hide. Celia is my real name, you can look me up on google (laughs). The Vera Blue Project is something I hold very dear to my heart.

 

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You’re performing at Splendour this weekend, are there any acts that you’re excited to catch?

Yes I’m super keen! I’m such a fan of so many people playing – Banks, Tove Lo, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, R.L. Grime – I love trap music. There’s such a big range and I’m really chuffed to just enjoy the moment. I’ve got a few girlfriends coming and I’m going to be hanging out with them backstage. I’m going to go and have a really good time and experience my very first Splendour in the Grass playing my own set!

Are you going to be camping?

No we’ll be staying in a motel. I’m doing a few feature pop ups during the festival, and it will be good not to be stuck out in the cold (laughs). In my case, by being a singer, I kind of have to stay indoors to keep healthy

And with those features, are they secret or could you tell me more about them?Yeah I’m really excited to play ‘Lady Powers’. It’s one of my favourite songs off the new record. We’re performing a few – ‘Regular Touch’, ‘Private’, ‘Mended’… we don’t get to play for a long time so I’m excited that I have new songs to pick from.

‘Lady Powers’ is a great song!

That song is so much fun! I have this really clear memory of when we were in the studio, working with my producer. We were in the final stages of the album and my girlfriends came to visit that night just to celebrate it all. I was feeling very strong, you know, I had my ladies there, I was comfortably singing and feeling like I was in the moment. We had an idea like “why don’t we get you girls to sing!?” So we put them in the mic room, put the headphones on them and they chanted the “lady, lady, lady, lady powers” part. It was so good! You can hear their voices on the song and I love that there’s another female’s vocal tone other than my own on this record. It’s really, really special.

I did notice that with the previous music you’ve released you’ve gone for black and white portraits on the cover artworks. Why did you decide to change to a colourful portrait with Perennial?

With the EP it was all so fresh and new. There was a bit of mystery behind it and we wanted to emphasise that. It was exciting to have people realise that this music was by me after being on The Voice. Now, with this album, there’s a bold sense of colour. Also with my hair – I think it’s something people will remember me by so I have to embrace that and add a bit of colour! (laughs)

Your music videos have a very witchy and ethereal aesthetic and theme to them, it’s such a unique way to represent yourself.

Yeah! I love fashion. I enjoy being who I am and with this project I can be myself. There’s something so fun about being able to dress up and wear exciting outfits. For Splendour I’m collaborating with an amazing designer called EWOL (Angela Lowe) who has made a piece that I’ve never seen anywhere before. Splendour allows you to go all out and be creative, wearing whatever the hell you want!

Vera Blue's Perennial is out today.

Photos by Dominique Berns-Blackwell