Australia has watched Celia Pavey grow and blossom over the years into the captivating artist we now call Vera Blue. From humble roots comes a superstar in the making who combines soulful lyrics and precision production elements in a neatly tied package that sounds like something beyond her years.
For the past two years Celia has been working her way through heartbreak and hard times tirelessly pouring every piece of emotion into her debut album Perennial which she refers to as an album to heal wounds. Celebrating the release of her album with a performance at Splendour In The Grass (surely it’s got to be one of the best ways to celebrate an album release) it was an honour to have Celia talk us through the album and the process behind it.
I suppose we’ll start with the basics, tell us who you are, where you’re from and how you came to be in music?
My name is Celia Pavey but my artist project name is Vera Blue. I’m from a small town in country NSW called Forbes. I grew up surrounded by music. It was in the family so I couldn’t avoid it. I learnt the violin from a young age, sang with my older sister in church, during school, at eisteddfods and later on taught myself the guitar and began to write my own songs as a folk inspired teen. From then on everything just felt so right, music was something that I fell in love with and my parents believed in me giving me the opportunity to follow my dreams as a singing songwriter.
How would you describe your album Perennial to someone who had lived under a rock and never heard music before?
Perennial is so many things!! I barely know where to start. I suppose if you’ve been living under a rock, hearing this record for the first time would be quite an intense experience. Its lyrically very emotional and the production is incredibly experimental with a variety of different sounds and musical textures all serving a purpose to the meaning and energy of each song. Perennial is truly about feeling, and if that person living under a rock happened to have just experienced heart break, well this may just be the album for them to heal their wounds. To recognise and acknowledge vulnerability and the fact that memories, feelings and emotions of past relationships are always going to come and go throughout your life.
Do you feel a certain catharsis about releasing the album?
I suppose every artist has a fear of what people may think, how they’ll react or how it will be received when delivering their art. For me, there is a touch of fear always but it’s not a negative fear, it’s the kind of fear that reminds me that what I am doing, I am doing it with every inch of passion and love. I’m incredibly excited. I am so proud of what Andy, Thom, Jackson, Gossling, Adam and I have created. It’s real and honest.
As a collective group, this is our first debut body of work that we’ve put our hearts and souls into and we can’t wait for people to be able to make this story theirs as much as it is mine. We love what we have made in the most humble way and look forward to sharing it with the world.
Is there a message that you want to covey with the album?
Perennial was written and inspired by a relationship that had just come to an end. There aren’t any specific messages within the album that I focused on during the writing process, but the songs are a collection of moments, thought processes, ups and downs, emotional challenges I faced over the 2 years creating this record. The progression of the songs structured into three chapters signify the three different phases I went through to overcome heart break, gain acceptance, strength and reminisce on the past acknowledging that vulnerability is a beautiful and powerful thing to find comfort in. So I suppose the message that comes with listening to Perennial top to bottom is that you’re not alone if you’ve fallen out of a relationship or struggling with self love. It all takes time and to recognise that it’s okay to wear your heart on your sleeve is a powerful and special thing that will connect you to the record.
You have a track called ‘Lady Powers’ and I’m instantly drawn to the track title, can you explain the track?
Lady Powers came from a conversation Thom, my close friend and co-writer had about respect, self worth and dignity. I was feeling disrespected and challenged as a female questioning myself and the power that females have with their sexuality, though we shouldn’t have to use it or change to be respected. We thought we were losing our minds when we wrote the recurring “Lady Powers” chant but we couldn’t wait to show Andy and he liked it!
It’s also just a fun up beat song with quite an empowering feel to it. My girlfriends love this song, a few of them visited me in the studio while recording it and Andy my producer suggested they sang the spoken word moments throughout the song. I love that I can hear their voices with mine, it makes me feel so happy and empowered. The production is very powerful too, with a constant beat throughout the entire song and experimental sounds creating a sense of strength and drive. It’s one of my favourite songs on the record.
In a time where the public puts such a pressure on artist to deliver did you feel that pressure writing the album?
I guess there was pressure to make something good and something that everyone liked. I am a perfectionist and very hard on myself but we had so much trust and encouragement together as a team so we were never getting to bogged down on ideas that weren’t working, we’d simply just move on and come back to the challenging songs. We loved what we were making and the minute a song would make us FEEL something, whether it be through production, lyric or melody, we knew were onto something.
A lot of music these days is kind of throwaway, but you seem to create beautiful tracks with a real polarising staying power, why do you think that is?
Everything in the music we make we do for a reason whether it be a melody, a chord progression or a special little sound in production. Especially in lyric, if a lyric doesn’t connect or mean something to me then it won’t resonate with anyone else because it wouldn’t be true. I guess some artists make music for different purposes and that’s totally okay, and music can be received in many different ways. I know that some people won’t connect with Perennial and that’s totally fine. Just the way music is.
We’ve been able to watch you grow and evolve as an artist of the past few years if you could go back and talk to your teen self what advice would you give yourself?
I guess I would tell myself to not fear the unknown, which is a hard thing for me for me to do. Sometimes I will let the negative kind of fear get in the way of an opportunity that I want to reach for but I’m slowly over time learning to acknowledge fear and vulnerability and let it help me on the unknown and exciting path I’m taking as an artist and person. It has gotten me this far already, I’ve got to keep pushing and just have fun!
What role does the Artist have in today’s current society?
I believe an artist has a right to be whoever whatever their heart desires! To create without rules and connect on some level with the people they’re creating their work for as much as they love doing it for themselves. A connection is so important, especially through music. I feel like we can help people through art, and bring people closer through connection and feeling. I know I must sound like a big ol’ hippie, but it’s true. Art is fun, unique and a special way for people to express themselves and connect. Our role as artists is to express and connect.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
I feel as though I still haven’t been in the industry long enough to have a strong opinion on what changes may need to be made. My experiences in the Australian industry have been very positive and real so far. It feels like a community, and what I’ve felt from my musical visits to the states, it feels very much the same. May be a good question to ask me in a couple of years’ time, I’m still learning. It’s all very interesting and exciting for me.