Vera Blue
Vera Blue | Credit: Naomi Rahim/WireImage

Vera Blue: “You Have to Open Yourself Up or People Won’t Feel Anything”

Celia Pavey – most commonly known by her stage name Vera Blue – first rose to fame on season two of The Voice. Shortly after finishing third on the show, Pavey released her debut album, This Music, which featured covers of songs by Simon & Garfunkel, Dolly Parton, Gorillaz and Ellie Goulding. Her first album under the Vera Blue moniker was 2017’s Perennial, which was filled with original compositions.

The standout Perennial single ‘Regular Touch’ placed fifteenth in the triple j Hottest 100 of 2017, while Vera Blue’s pandemic-era single ‘Temper’ came in at number 72 on the Hottest 100 of 2021. Along with her high-profile musical ventures, the singer-songwriter also has brand associations with Gucci, Wella, Swarovski and Valentino.

Vera Blue’s new album, Mercurial, is filled with a blend of organic instrumentation and electronic influences. The songs explore a range of different feelings, documenting the artist’s realisation that emotions can be a superpower of their own. Music Feeds caught up with Vera Blue to chat about the creation of the album, the artists she’s currently loving, and what she’s looking forward to for the rest of 2022.

Vera Blue – ‘The Curse’

Music Feeds: I read that making Mercurial was a form of healing and therapy for you. What did you learn about yourself during its creation?

Vera Blue: I learned so much. It was a really long time coming. It took way too long to make, but we can definitely blame Covid for that. Mercurial, the title, means a certain shift in mood or alignment, and when we finally came to that title I was like, “Oh wow, that’s exactly what the last few years have been.”

There’s been so many ups and downs, there’s been new love found, there’s been all kinds of things; empowerment. I’ve learned a lot about myself. It’s just very colourful. All the emotions you could think of, all the colours of the rainbow, it’s all in there.

MF: This album moves through a range of different emotions, from manic and reckless behaviour to love. Were these all feelings that you were experiencing during its creation?

Vera: Yes, one hundred per cent. The first couple of songs were written… I got diagnosed with depression and anxiety and it was at that period of time that I did not want to accept it. I was like, “No, no, no, I don’t have time for this, I don’t understand what I’m going through with my emotions.”

As the album progressed, I guess you would say it’s a bit of a healing progression. I started to learn about how to cope with the emotions and know that I wasn’t alone in it all, which is also super powerful and hopefully for people when listen they to it, they can relate to it and feel that.

I started to realise that these emotions weren’t something I should shy away from or hide from. I could harness them and turn them into a superpower. I still have my ups and downs and there are emotions that I really struggle with, but I now understand that I’m not alone and that it’s relatable.

MF: I listened to ‘All The Pretty Girls’ a lot and I was just like, this is such a clever take on how some boys can be. So, it’s really nice to hear that this new album has all of the relatability in it too.

Vera: Yeah, I’ve had people in my life go, “Why don’t you write about something more political or about something else?” And I’m like, “Because I’m not ready yet.” I’m not at that point where those are things that I can talk about or I’m not educated enough or I’m just not ready.

I think that’s what I love about this album. I’m a very emotional person. I always have been since I was little, so I think it’s just something that I have to do it, I have to get it out of me.

Being vulnerable is also really daunting and like throwing all of your emotions out to the world, but I’ve also realised that you’re saying things in songs that people relate to and people want to hear that they cannot say themselves, so I think that’s also really amazing as well.

Vera Blue – ‘All the Pretty Girls’

MF: Some of the songs on the album, like ‘The Curse’ and ‘Red Rose’, they’re very raw. Was it difficult opening up and being that emotional?

Vera: The amazing thing about when I work with Andy [Mak] and Thom [Macken] – Thom is my co-writer and Andy is my producer and they’re brothers – they’re like family to me. So, I think that allowed me to feel open and comfortable enough to talk about those things and put those emotions into production or into lyrics. That’s what it’s all about – you have to open yourself up otherwise people won’t feel anything.

And they go through things too, especially with the new song ‘Mermaid Avenue’. It was going to be a love song. I wanted it to be a song about a street not too far from here – I wanted to write a song about having a dream with someone, living in a house, and that’s still what the song ended up being, but it had a heartbreak twist because Thom was actually going through a heartbreak at the time.

MF: Which song came together the fastest on the album?

Vera: Let me think. There were actually a handful of songs that were like, “Whoa, okay, that’s done, that was really quick.” ‘Lethal’ was done really quickly; ‘Feel Better’ and ‘Mermaid Avenue’. Those ones are actually the most recent songs written for the album. We just spent a week in the studio and I think we were just really busting to do it because we hadn’t done it in so long because of Covid.

‘Trust Fall’ I did over in LA with a producer named Steve Solomon and another writer. In LA, the sessions are very quick. You could be there for half a day and could have the song finished and ready to go. There’s something about the pace over there that’s different.

Some of them took a little longer. ‘Red Rose’ took much longer. It was one of the songs that needed time to figure itself out.

MF: What other artists are you really liking at the moment?

Vera: I mean, I love, love Harry Styles. I have all his records in the living room. I’ve been listening to a bit of Lizzo lately, who I really love. But a band that I always seem to go back to in the last two years is The War On Drugs. I just love the real depth in the ’80s production and his voice and the storytelling and the melodies. There’s just something about it that makes me feel home. I put it on in the car and I could drive anywhere and be like, I’m happy to be driving, this is cool.

There are always artists like alt-J. I listen to all kinds of stuff. It’s like, all over the place, but I love that because it inspires different sounds and different feels. Who was I listening to the other day? I watched that movie Call Me By Your Name and I was listening to Sufjan Stevens and his music is just beyond. The way his melodies go and the simplicity of the production. So yeah, there’s all kinds of different stuff that I listen to.

MF: What’re you most looking forward to for the rest of 2022?

Vera: Oh, I’m so excited. Well, I’m going on the road in November and December. I’ll do my own headline Mercurial tour, which I’m so pumped because I get to go back to the Enmore Theatre, the Forum and Fortitude Music Hall. I love that venue so much. I got to play with the Brisbane Symphony Orchestra there for two nights and I just fell in love with it.

In the midst of all that I’m doing some Flume dates as well. I’m supporting him for Adelaide and Hobart and then New Year’s comes. It’s gonna be a very busy time, but I feel like it’s a good time because I like being busy. I feel like I’m more stable. If I’m sitting around, twiddling my thumbs I’m like, “Oh god, what’s gonna happen?”

  • Vera Blue’s new album, Mercurial, is out now.

Further Reading

Wine Machine 2023: Hot Dub Time Machine, Vera Blue, Lime Cordiale and More

Girl Talk, Peking Duk, Spacey Jane Playing Inaugural Dream Machine Bali

Vera Blue Announces National Tour Behind Forthcoming Album ‘Mercurial’

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