“I want to be as agnostic and malleable as possible so that when the marketplace or technology shifts, I’m prepared.”
Vérité returns this week with her brand-new single, titled “Are We Done Yet?,” which is taken from her forthcoming new album due in 2023. It marks an exciting new era for the New York artist who continues to blaze a trail for independent artists by adopting impactful new ways to create, release, and promote her music.
Over the past 7 years, Vérité has built a flourishing career without the support of a major label. She’s redefining what it means to be independent by keeping music at the center of everything she does while also keeping a laser-sharp focus on innovative new ways to build her career that feels authentic to her. It should come as no surprise that Web3 and Music NFTs have been an exciting new format for Vérité to experiment with. She’s been sharing observations and experiences of her Web3 journey on Twitter and in blog posts to help further build the space and make a positive impact. Why is Vérité so interested in Web3? She has a long-term vision for building her career as an independent artist, and embracing new technology is a way to keep evolving and staying ahead.
Her new single “Are We Done Yet?” is available for streaming and as a one-of-one collectible on Catalog. I first blogged about Vérité in 2014 and was excited to catch up with her and learn more about her new project and music-first approach.
Arjan: Congratulations with the release of “Are We Done Yet?” Tell us a bit more about the new chapter you’re embarking on.
Vérité: Thank you! “Are We Done Yet?” is the first track from my new album project, and sonically it gives you an idea of what you can expect from the album. Also thematically, the artwork for the single is a tastemaker for the bigger project. In the single artwork, you see this figure with a bag over his head and his hands bound. It’s an anonymous figure that captures the sadness and rage of my own emotion that will exist throughout the entire album campaign. I also plan on producing visualizers for each song on the album instead of music videos. The visualizers will make up something like a graphic novel that will convey the full story of the album
It’s a beautiful and moving new track. How did it come about?
The song captures the ups and downs that I was experiencing when I spent a lot of time sitting in my own trauma [of a relationship]. The world was shifting while my life fell apart. There was so much happening. It was like motion sickness, like nausea. This song personifies the concept of constant change in two different ways. On the one hand, I’m talking about a relationship and someone directly, and on the other hand, it’s a rhetorical question, ‘are we done yet?’ ‘Can we just slow down?’ I enjoy writing things taken from different perspectives so people can pull from it what they need.
What’s your songwriting process like? Are you a fast writer?
It really depends. When I’m writing and it’s flowing, yes, it will be quick. The whole first verse and the first chorus of “Are We Done Yet?” were written in an hour. I was just sitting alone at my piano, cycling through, coming up with the piano line, mumbling, just stringing some words together. You’re just kind of pulling it out of thin air. This was when we were still in the COVID lockdown.
Who did you work with on the song?
I was working with Mathias Wang, a Norwegian producer. We were working and shaping the entire sonic world the song fits into. It was great because I never would’ve connected with him [if it wasn’t for Zoom] and we’ve collaborated on so much music now. I like producing on Zoom because we can both produce on the call while taking breaks to work on things individually. We’d then come back with stems and send them back and forth. I find it actually very productive
“As a creative being, I want to figure out how I can take my art and have it resonate with as many people as possible using all the tools I’ve available.”
You’re making “Are We Done Yet?” available on streaming platforms and as a one-of-one collectible on Catalog. Do you like this strategy of having the song available for streaming but also to collectors who want to own it?
The NFT space is so new and everyone’s trying to figure it out. When we talk about Web2 and Web3 it’s so easy to get stuck in terminology. It’s easy to forget that it’s about music. I don’t look at it as a binary thing — Web2 versus Web3. I look at it holistically as an independent artist. I feel I’m a problem-solver and as a creative being, I want to figure out how I can take my art and have it resonate with as many people as possible using all the tools I’ve available. I view every platform, whether that’s on the blockchain, a DSP, or whatever it is, as a constellation around me and my work. I want to be as agnostic and malleable as possible so that when the marketplace or technology shifts, I’m prepared. The more diverse the tools I equip myself with, the more chance I have to continue to have this career for the next 10 years. When it comes to the Web3 stuff the question simply is what value do these new tools add to me as an artist? What value do they add to my fans? Do they expose me to a new audience? The answer is yes. Web3 allows me to reach more people.
Do you find you’ve expanded your fanbase because of Web3 and Music NFTs?
Yes. I want to be where listeners consume music. And if there are people who value that music as fine art, I’m going to meet them where they exist and price my music that fits collectors. As I said, it’s just a tool in my toolbox. And in six months, if something shifts, I’m going to be malleable and figure out what’s the next thing because I have a really long vision for what I want to be doing.
“Thinking of my music as fine art has really opened the door to creating new revenue streams that allow me to create more freely.”
The pandemic has been a huge catalyst for you to explore new ways to promote and release new music. What has it meant for you creatively?
When I started in this world, it was when COVID hit and I felt very boxed in. I recognized the strategies that I had used to build my career up to this point would not take me much further. I really didn’t want to dance on TikTok. I haven’t put all this work into remaining independent and keeping my creative autonomy to shift to doing something that’s so unnatural for me. Thinking of my music as fine art has really opened the door to creating new revenue streams that allow me to create more freely. Take my new music for example. I didn’t create it to make sure it algorithmically resonates. It’s not a traditional pop song, it’s not even a traditional alternative song — it exists in its own world. It’s art. Its existence defies what box the algorithm wants to put it in. I’m here to do exactly what I want to do and then I’ll figure out where it fits.
The new Web3 tools also provide a new artistic dimension and possibilities.
Exactly. It has expanded my definition of artistry. There’s the artistic practice of writing a song. There’s the artistic practice of bringing those songs into a visual landscape, but it’s also an artistic practice to build the mechanisms through which fans experience the music. My brain is really rare in this way, but like I see the whole picture and I participate in the whole picture from the inception of the first melody to the release of the song and the strategy that goes into building a lifelong career as an independent artist.
“The more diverse the tools I equip myself with, the more chance I have to continue to have this career for the next 10 years.”
You’re releasing the first single from your new project in partnership with Venice. How did that collaboration come about?
I just started working with Venice and we’re going to be collaborating on this record together. I had a really long and successful relationship with AWAL since I decided to not sign to a major label back in 2015. That partnership ended and then COVID hit so I essentially had a year and a half of experimentation with other distributors and in Web3. Partnering with Venice makes a lot of sense because they were very in tune with both streaming and Web3. They’re also highly innovative and understand all of my pursuits in this new world. We are able to really build something that works super well for me, and give all of the support and resources that I need with the freedom to continue being bold, continue experimenting, and push the boundaries.
You are an NFT trailblazer and a thought leader that other independent artists look up to. Who are some of the people you look up to in Web3?
There are so many! The people that brought me into this world are RAC and Justin Blau. During the pandemic, I started a podcast during COVID where I set out to have real conversations about artists and their experience creating art, building a business, and trying to live a life somewhere in the middle. I had both of them on as guests, and my conversation with RAC talking about the fundamental value of music and talking to Justin about how all of that could be applied in a highly entrepreneurial fashion was really inspiring. Both of them exist above the noise of it. They’ve just really used these tools in really innovative ways to feed back into the center of what they’re doing, their art. For Andre [Anjos, RAC], it was like really having like this fine art perspective and for Justin utilizing it, you know, to build Royal and to provide really meaningful, like opportunities for fans to own a piece of music.
Thank you so much for chatting, Verite!
I really appreciate you taking the time to listen. It means a lot.