The Veronicas On Freedom In Music, Honesty In Songwriting & The Legacy Of ‘Untouched’

14 years ago, a pair of twins from Brisbane completely took the pop world by storm with their brazen lyrics, infectious melodies and unapologetically feminist personas. Now, The Veronicas have become mainstays of the Australian music industry, with each record showcasing a different level to their songwriting that fans haven’t seen from them before.

2019 marks the release of their upcoming album (their first album since 2014) and marks an especially honest sound for Jess and Lisa Origliasso. They kicked off their year with an iconic surprise performance at Field Day, and haven’t slowed down since. The sisters caught up with Music Feeds to chat about their new single ‘Think Of Me’, collaborating with Allday and Mallrat and the odds of them making another surprise appearance at Splendour In The Grass.

Music Feeds: Let’s talk about ‘Think Of Me’. The first thing that comes to mind when you hear it is just “wow, they’re really not holding anything back. It’s really honest.”

The Veronicas: I mean should anyone be surprised?

MF: No, not at this point, you’re right. But it’s so honest. Was that cathartic to write a song that wasn’t cloaked in metaphor or sugar coated, and just was exactly what it said it was?

The Veronicas: Yeah absolutely. With creating music, we really pride ourselves on our songwriting and being able to challenge ourselves constantly. It’s always a balance between “How deep will you go and how uncensored with your thoughts will you go?” or whether you get more creative and metaphorical, like you said. This song in particular, just because of the place that it was born from, needed honest lyrics and sits in that place of sarcasm and bittersweetness and innocent thoughts. For us, it was capturing dealing with that emotion of how it feels at the end of a relationship that you’re reflecting back on and how you can go between that feeling of being super bitter and having those 3AM conversations with yourself where you ponder new things about somebody. So it was really about capturing the essence of that.

MF: In that sense, was writing that song a form of closure?

The Veronicas: The whole album’s a form of closure really. It was the second song we wrote for the album. It was awesome to create something from those feelings, and put that somewhere.

MF: Speaking of the album, I’m assuming we can expect the same level of honesty throughout these new tracks.

The Veronicas: Yeah! The album really is a mix of that very raw honesty at the beginning of our writing and then, as an arc, it deals with letting go of something from the past and almost re-finding and empowering yourself in an entirely new way. We were both at different aspects of those journeys, personally, but going through that on a creative level, we really got to capture that entire journey arc of what that represented for us on the album. You do hear that come out on sonic elements that we’re exploring, collaborations and really finding your strength again. You can really feel that with this album. We haven’t had the opportunity to write cohesively like that since our second record due to record deals and stuff like that, but to be able to do that again is awesome.

MF: You’ve been making albums for over a decade now. Is it still kind of hard for both of you to find a way to create a song that captures both of your journeys and both of your life experiences?

The Veronicas: We definitely centre our voices around each other’s stories. We’ve always done that. So that’s something intrinsically, as sisters, we’ve always been able to do and then as songwriting partners. It’s almost like anything I go through in my life, or anything my sister experiences, we’ve been there through the in-between talks and vulnerable moments of it all anyway. It’s almost like you have another version of yourself from a more observational standpoint, which can then add to your perspective. It’s a pretty unique thing.

MF: That probably adds another depth to your songwriting that other acts don’t necessarily have.

The Veronicas: Yeah! We’re only realising that now about how we just lock in together. It is a really beautiful gift and it is an incredibly beautiful thing. When we first started songwriting it was just the two of us in our bedroom, and then two years later we started doing songwriting trips to Sweden, the UK and America. We got to work with the biggest songwriters in the world so quickly, and they taught us so much about co-writing for people. To have that experience, and to be able to do all that together has only strengthened our relationship as well as our relationship as co-writers.

MF: Yeah, definitely. On the album, you mentioned that you have been collaborating with some people a lot. I know that one of those people is Grace Shaw aka Mallrat-

The Veronicas: -OH! Love Gracieeeee!

MF: So my birthday is the day after New Year’s Day, right? And I spent my NYD at Field Day and thought I was going to have a chill day. Little did I know…

The Veronicas: Hahaha, chill?! No way. That day was so incredible. Field Day is always so wild, and we’d done a corporate gig at Luna Park that night for New Year’s Eve. A couple weeks before, Grace was like “I’m doing a show on New Year’s Day. Do you guys wanna come and jump on stage and we’ll sing ‘Untouched’ or something?” We were like definitely, that sounds so fun.

But we weren’t prepared for how absolutely nuts the crowd went. It was really cool.

MF: There’s only one word for it: ‘iconic’. It was such a moment, it’s one of those “you had to be there” moments.

The Veronicas: It was also really cool to do that with Mallrat. She’s such an incredible songwriter and we’re such big fans of her. We were so excited to share that moment.

MF: I also think you’ve been writing with Allday, is that right?

The Veronicas: It’s been amazing. We’ve actually co-collaborated on each other’s records. We’re huge fans of him. We met Tom about two and a half years ago and we all just clicked over superfoods, actually. We played this festival in rural Australia and we spoke to him that night – he was being so cute watching side of stage. The next day, we all sat down at the airport and started talking about superfoods and astrology and, you know, just the things you talk about in a rural Australian airport. We just hit it off, we went to a bunch of his shows and that’s when we met Grace. I had heard about her for a while just because she’s in the Brisbane local scene and she’s a badass feminist and an advocate for animal rights and a total boss. Tom’s the same. We’ve caught up so many times and it was such a cool natural progression that we could work together.

He is so impressive to get into the studio with. He’s such a force, and even being fans of him, to watch him create in such a different genre and how he pulls his inspiration is mind-blowing. Even the song we did with him, and I know we’ll be doing a bunch of press around that when that comes out so I can’t say too much, but we were just chatting for a couple of hours catching up, talking about what was going on in our lives. He was just like “okay, I got an idea I’m just gonna put it down on the mic.” He gets up on the mic, does a verse and a pre-chorus, and he had taken everything we’d been talking about and, without us realising, he’d been writing in his own head. It was just so authentic because it’s what we were going through, we were just chatting about life, and he pulled so much from it. It was really cool.

MF: Really excited to hear those collaborations.

The Veronicas: It’s so nice. Actually we were just talking about this the other day. Back in the day, because of how record companies would have you stitched up, you weren’t even allowed to collaborate. It was very difficult to collaborate with people outside of your own record label. I love now, because of streaming and the way music’s progressed, you can collaborate with your friends or with whoever you want and be able to be so much more free. You can cross genres, that level of freedom is defining music now. It’s really cool, we’ve got four collabs on this album. They’re incredible artists.

MF: Excellent, I’m intrigued. Now, you’ve been in the game for 14 or 15 years now – is that freedom the biggest change you’ve noticed or are there others?

The Veronicas: It’s changed so dramatically. It changes dramatically and rapidly year by year. Even since we released ‘In My Blood’, the way that music’s consumed and released, and the rate of it, has completely changed and how you can release multiple songs now within a time period and have them all around for months. It gives so much freedom to the artist. Obviously the biggest change is how people consume music and how artists can create entire worlds around themselves now and sustain themselves in a way that does allow for more independence. That only allows for a lot more people and artists and a lot more music. We absolutely love that, because that’s the goal. The more music that can reach people, the more people that have an opportunity to create art is only going to make the world a better place.

MF: Definitely. Sort of anchoring on the Field Day performance, there’s a been of renaissance of ‘Untouched’ I feel. The way people talk about it now and the more I hear it out has increased so much and so fast over the past year or so. Does that feel weird?

The Veronicas: To be honest, we don’t think about it a lot. For us, we really pride ourselves on songwriting and that song was our baby. It was just us and Toby Gad. We’ve had a long of co-writers and a lot of incredible success with songs and for that to be the one that has defined our identity as The Veronicas is the hugest compliment. We’ve done stuff with Max Martin and all these people, but for that song to have transcended time on a songwriting level and to connect with people, still connecting with people – there’s no bigger compliment. It’s having a part of our DNA out there that everyone loves.

MF: It’s also a testament to the argument that it’s a timeless record. 

The Veronicas: Thank you! At the time, it was such a big risk for us because it was coming off the back of Kelly Clarkson and all those kinds of artists. For that to have an impact now, I think it’s because we didn’t follow a trend and honestly it might’ve been a little bit before its time. People are just looking back at it now and really embracing it. We crossed a lot of genres, we melded a lot of genres, we did a lot of electro but put heavy guitars with it. I still don’t think there’s a lot of records that have been made with such a melting pot of genres together, in pop anyway. It was really a blueprint for us and we’ve continued to follow that blueprint. We’re proud of that.

MF: Final question, and I think I already know what you’re gonna say but I’m going to ask anyway. Allday is billed on the Splendour lineup as “Allday & Friends.” Are you some of the friends he’s talking about?

The Veronicas: Haha, we are friends with Allday and we are big fans of him. It would, you know. We would…that’s all we can say.

The Veronicas’ latest single ‘Think of Me’ is out now. Listen here

Must Read