Like Matt Corby and Lisa Mitchell, Vera Blue is one of the lucky few reality television contestants to break through and be embraced by the Triple J network.
After being a finalist on Team Delta on the second season of ‘The Voice’ in 2013, Celia Pavey went on a journey of self-discovery and collaborated with a diverse range of artists including Nick Littlemore from Empire Of The Sun, Flume, Slumberjack, and Aussie rapper Illy (on their triple platinum single ‘Papercuts’).
Vera Blue was born from a new love of electronic music; her breakout singles ‘Hold’ and ‘Settle’ seeing her selling out headline tours around the country.
After only wrapping up her third headline tour in April, later this week she heads out on her biggest tour to date in support of ‘Perennial’, one of this years most anticipated albums.
Brad was honoured to have the opportunity to talk to her on the phone before her set at Splendour In The Grass.
Hi Celia! Right off the bat, I just have to say that I am a big fan of yours. I saw you at the Factory Theatre in April for the ‘Private’ tour and your grandparents actually came up to me afterwards to say how much they enjoyed watching me bop along.
Oh really! That’s so good. They loved it, that was the first time my grandparents were seeing the show too and we got them seats set up at the back. It was so lovely… I’m glad you had a good time!
I was having a great time! You are incredible live – I can’t wait for people to see you…
Thank you! That’s very sweet.
Ever since you “forgot my words” on the ‘The Voice’ in 2013, we’ve been waiting for an album… what took you so long!?
(she laughs) Well since ‘The Voice’, I released the ‘Bodies’ EP under my real name which went really well. Then I had a bit of time to figure out what I wanted to do as an artist and who I wanted to be. I discovered electronic music which I thought was the coolest thing.
I decided to collaborate with lots of different people and I found my match in producer Andy Mak, his younger brother Tom and singer-songwriter Gossling. Together we collaborated on a song called Fingertips and from there we thought we’d continue working and created Vera Blue. Here I am now two years on with an album ready to go.
It’s such a great album too. I had the pleasure of going to your album launch show at Paddington Town Hall last week and the new tracks ‘Magazine’, ‘Regular Touch’ and ‘Lady Powers’ absolutely blew me away. The latter in particular I think needs to be a single. I see it as a girl power anthem and for the music video you could have your sister, Delta, Gossling, Montaigne, Julia Stone… what do you think?
(laughs) Well yeah you’re right – the exciting thing about that song is that I did get my group of close girl friends into the studio when I recorded that. We were celebrating the final days of working on the record and when I was singing the lead vocals I just felt so much strength with them there.
Andy was like ‘why don’t we have these girls in more often?’. He asked the girls if they wanted to do backing vocals and I just have this beautiful memory of them putting headphones and singing “Lady lady lady lady powers”. That’s a really special moment to put in the book of memories of making this record.
I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. I think the crowd is going to go absolutely nuts for you at Splendour. Last year you made a special appearance during Flume’s set to perform ‘Never Be Like You’. Will you be doing something similar and bringing anyone on in your set?
For my show I won’t be able to bring on any features but I’m really excited to be performing my new songs. Last year was really special getting to do that with Flume, and also the song ‘Fracture’ with Slumberjack and ‘Papercuts’ with Illy. This year I’ll be jumping on with Slumberjack again and there’s also another act which I’m keeping secret!
(Of course, we now know that said surprise performance was with local legends Peking Duk).
In the last two years you have featured on all the big festivals, supported the likes of Matt Corby, Broods and Conrad Sewell and headlined three sell-out tours. Splendour is just the start of your next tour which goes around the country until mid September. Are you ready for the tour life? What can fans expect from your shows?
I have been on tour for a long time now so I feel like I’m already in that tour headspace. I’m really really excited. You never know on tour what songs we will end up playing – it could be totally unexpected. We want to be able to bring the album to life on tour and show all the different phases I went through.
The album really does take you on a journey – I feel like I was there with you when you got your heart broken. Can you please elaborate about the three chapters of the album?
The album was structured into the three different phases I went through to deal with heartbreak. The first chapter is all about vulnerability; feeling sad and frustrated. It opens with ‘First Week’ which was written just as the relationship had come to an end.
The second chapter begins with the single ‘Private’ and represents a phase in my life where I was growing up and having new experiences. ‘Lady Powers’ was the moment of feeling a sense of empowerment which took me a long time to feel.
Then the third chapter came back to vulnerability in being able to feel close to new people again. Learning that it’s okay to wear your heart on your sleeve. The final song ‘Mended’ reminisces on the past relationship and accepts that you haven’t quite mended yet but that’s normal because that’s love and it takes time.
It was actually my dad who came up with it. My dad is a horticulturist and the term actually comes from plants and flowers that grow back year after year and are everlasting. For this album that relates to feelings, memories and moments that flood in year after year. Time after time, they continue to happen naturally with people and I feel strength in acknowledging that those feelings come back but you being able to look at them in a positive way.
You really get to the pain with the track ‘Said Goodbye To’. You have all these different emotions about the breakup but then there’s that lyric at the end where you repeat “whoever said it was better to love than to lose has obviously never loved anyone”.
That song is really sad. It’s when you come to that realisation that when you fall out of love – you definitely lose more than just that person. You have a connection to the people they’re surrounded by and mine was with his mother. It’s funny how they can look after you like one of your own even if you’re in a different city. It’s a really sad time when you realise you won’t ever see them again. I feel like it’s something that a lot of people can relate to.
There’s one song in particular that stands out because heartbreak isn’t the overriding theme of the song. ‘Magazine’. Am I right in saying that?
It is, but I feel like it still earns its place on the album. ‘Magazine’ is in the second chapter where I was being curious and having new experiences. Because I wasn’t in a relationship I was recognising my surroundings. I wrote it in LA when I was with my manager who lives where Kim Kardashian and Drake and all those amazing celebrities are. There was something about being in that environment that really enhanced my curiosity to fantasise about that.
Do you want to be a celebrity in the magazines?
Haha no, no not at all. When I was young I may have fantasised about being rich and all those materialistic things that don’t really matter. Everyone has secret desires – whatever they may be – so I think people can relate to the song. Also it’s just one of those fun moments on the album where you can have a dance and just feel awesome.
Your collaboration with Aussie rapper Illy on ‘Papercuts’ was the third highest selling Australian single last year; going triple platinum and being nominated for a mammoth six ARIA awards. You’ve also worked with the likes of Slumberjack, Nick Littlemore from Empire Of The Sun/PNAU, Flume, Gossling… all very diverse artists. I’ve been told collaborating with artists can feel like being naked as you become very exposed. Do you feel like that? What has your experience been like?
Yeah definitely! Especially in Australia there’s so many like minded special talented artists and I feel like we’re a part of a group that are very supportive of each other. We have the opportunity to be open and honest and be who we really are. No one’s fighting against each other and it’s been such a positive creative experience with the people I’ve collaborated with.
You’ve just released the single ‘Regular Touch’, which is very radio friendly. In fact, it’s been playing on commercial radio! Can you please tell us about the meaning of the song?
That’s amazing! I’m so excited to see it organically get on to a bigger platform. The song was written very early on in the stage of ‘Perennial’. The song is about wanting to feel freedom from the change of heartbreak, to feel happy and not need that regular touch to feel like you’re worth something. The song is talking about a girl and wanting them to feel this way.
Of course the girl is me and the best thing is that I’m only feeling like her right now as I’m releasing it. It’s a really special thing to be able to connect to it in this moment. Similar to when I wrote ‘Settle’, I was feeling a bit down and anxious and just wanted to feel freedom and now I feel that. It’s really really great.
Speaking of ‘Settle’, it was a breakout hit for you on Triple J, along with the incredible track ‘Hold’. You’ve decided to include them as bonus tracks on the digital release. I feel like it would be a crime for new fans to miss out on that. Was this a conscious choice that you made to include them?
Yeah definitely. I’m still just starting. In Australia people might know who I am but there’s still so many people who haven’t discovered my music. They are still very special songs that I really connect with. They were not part of this record but they still feel fresh and represent who I am as an artist now so I think people deserve to have those songs. People finding me overseas will be able to have those songs and connect to them.
If this is you just starting then people need to watch out! Where do you see this album taking you internationally?
I don’t really know. I put out my good vibes, my good energy and things just keep happening to fall into place. People are finding my music internationally and it’s all really special. I’ve spent a bit of time in the States meeting people and doing little tours over there and I’m looking forward to going over to the UK soon to see where that will take me.
auspOp will be supporting you all the way and I wish you all the best with your upcoming tour!
Thank you so much!
Vera Blue’s album ‘Perennial’ is out now.
Catch her at one of the below dates on her upcoming national tour;
July 28 : Canberra (The Academy)
July 29 : Sydney (Metro Theatre)
August 04 : Adelaide (Governor Hindmarsh)
August 05 : Fremantle (Metropolis)
August 08 : Bendigo (Tap House)
August 09 : Mornington (Grand Hotel)
August 11 : Melbourne (170 Russell)
August 12 : Geelong (Wool Exchange)
August 25 : Brisbane (The Triffid)
August 26 : Toowoomba (The Mills Precinct)
August 27 : Gold Coast (Miami Marketta)
August 31 : Wollongong (Uni Bar)
September 01 : Terrigal (The Beery)
September 02 : Sydney (Metro Theatre)
September 08 : Newcastle (Bar On The Hill)
September 09 : Hobart (Odeon Theatre)
September 10 : Melbourne (170 Russell)