It all started with an email. First an introduction out of the blue, then some rough ideas and tentative demos, and suddenly a blossoming artistic partnership neither artist could have foreseen was born. For the first six months of their collaboration, VÉRITÉ and producer Elliot Jacobson never spent a minute of their time in the same room together. Encoded in discreet packets of 1's and 0's, they traded verses and choruses, synths and vocals, drums and bass back and forth online, crafting and refining and polishing all the while. Two years later, those digital seeds have come to bloom with her debut release, the 'Echo EP.'
It's a collection that defies easy categorization, tight and danceable with alt-pop sensibilities and a dark emotional undercurrent haunted by her silky, ethereal voice. Lead single "Strange Enough" is already turning heads on both sides of the pond, with BuzzFeed calling it one of the best songs of the summer and The Line Of Best Fit hailing VÉRITÉ as a "rising pop star ready to make her mark." Upon its release, the track hit #1 most viral on Twitter and earned her the #1 spot on Hype Machine, along with additional love from Harper's Bazaar, Nylon, Refinery29, Idolator, and more.
The fact that VÉRITÉ's songwriting doesn't fit neatly into any one category is no accident.
"For me, the best part about the EP is that we wrote it with no intention for genre," she explains. "When people started calling it pop, I was almost shocked by that. It just so happens that the songs are chorus-heavy, which translates to pop, but I was listening to hip-hop when I wrote "Strange Enough," for instance, and there are a lot of different influences you can hear on the EP."
VÉRITÉ grew up in a musical household, where she was encouraged by her father (a Latin/rock musician) and addicted to alternative radio. She began covering The Cranberries and Four Non Blondes at open mic nights, started a punk cover band at the age of 13, and by 16, was writing her own material.
"One day I kind of woke up and just realized I should be writing my own songs," she remembers. "I called my cousin, who plays guitar, and it just came so naturally. We're still playing together today."
The disparate sounds of VÉRITÉ's synth and percussion-driven songs are strung together with the threads of her emotionally charged lyrics.
"When it comes to the words, I wind up writing everything stream-of-conscious and then editing from there," she explains. "I think the songs really just wound up writing themselves in that way. I remember sitting down and writing 'Strange Enough' in one sitting. There's a theme in that song that runs throughout the whole EP, which is about questioning our capability to truly love and be in love."
"I wanna go where everything’s the same / Memories keep rushing round and all we do is change," she sings on "Strange Enough." "Cause I wanna fall but every time you leave me down on the floor / Picturing the ways we move / Cause nothing ever stays the same / Strange enough, I don’t love you like you want me to."
The notion of apathy in romantic relationships and the struggle to find meaning (both from within and from those closest to us) comes up again on "Heartbeat," the first song VÉRITÉ and Jacobson collaborated on together. " Can you feel my heartbeat pounding into nothing?" she sings. "Broken bones are floating in my empty body / Can you feel it reaching, moving through the feeling?"
Elsewhere on the EP, she explores the role of nostalgia in our collective quest for meaning.
"In the town I grew up in, there's nothing to do, so people just get f*cked up," VÉRITÉ says of her rural New York state home. "The song 'Weekend' came out of going back and seeing all the people still there, doing the same things, caught in the same patterns. But it's an awesome glorification of that, and how great those things were at the time."
"Echo," another meditation on nostalgia, is perhaps the most straightforward pop song on the EP, with a stomping beat and an infectious hook. It's also a true document of the duo's e-collaboration.
"That was the second idea we ever had together, and it's gone through so many changes," she explains. "I got it in my inbox one day and Elliot had cut the whole song up so it was almost not even recognizable from its original form. I think there's something to be said for being in a room with someone and writing a song together in person, but our process of writing via distance allowed for so much flexibility. If something was dead or wasn’t working, we could shift our focus immediately and there was no one else in the room with different expectations or who wanted different things out of it."
The result is a stunning, poignant, gut-punch of an EP. Instead of shying away from painful moments of self-doubt, VÉRITÉ inhabits them with a rare artistic grace and confidence. Her and Jacobson's unique approach to songwriting and recording enabled them to be free of the self-consciousness that inevitably comes from cracking yourself open and vulnerably bearing your true heart to the gaze of others. Rather than isolate the two, the physical distance only helped to bring them closer together, and to draw the songs out in their purest form, with all the fear and beauty and desire and uncertainty that comes from opening yourself up without reservation.
Onstage, VÉRITÉ channels all those emotions into a captivating and unforgettable presence. Centered around her riveting vocals and fueled by the razor-sharp performances of her band rather than backing tracks and samples, her live shows are brimming with energy and human connection. As she prepares to take these songs on the road for the first time along with never-before-heard material slated for 2015 release, it's difficult to believe we've only just met VÉRITÉ. While the release of the 'Echo EP' feels in some ways like the end of a long and moving journey, it's truly just the beginning for one of the most exciting new voices in music.