Vera Blue on the making of her debut album

From the rawness of heartbreak, to a place of renewed strength.

Perennial is the debut record from Vera Blue. And behind the moniker, is Celia Pavey.

In her early career, Celia was heavily influenced by her country upbringing and cut her teeth as a folk singer. The new release, however, signals a true coming of age, and one that merges her folk past with an electronic pop future.

We caught up with Celia and chatted heartbreak, gardening, Vera Wang’s Princess fragrance and career highlights.

How long have you been working on Perennial?

I think it’s been two years. As soon as we released the last record, we went straight into writing again. I work with a producer called Andy Mak, and his younger brother Tom co-writes with me. And they have an engineer named Jackson – they’re Vera Blue with me.

Did they help you make the transition from folk music to electronic pop?

I fell in love with electronic music a while ago, but the folky side of things always pulled me back – because that’s what I grew up listening to and playing. I was influenced by stuff like Alt-J, and FKA Twigs… really emotional electronic music. I didn’t know how to approach it myself though, because I don’t have much experience in self-production, I just write.

Since working with Andy, I’ve picked up on a lot of stuff. Now when we work together as a team, we all take turns in adding to the production – we’ll all play on the same pad, or synths, or hit drums altogether… it’s so good.

Tell us about the inspiration behind the album.

When we first started writing Perennial, I just thought in my head; it’s just going to be a bunch of songs, just a bunch of songs that we’re going to write over the next two years. The album was born from the ashes of a relationship that had just come to an end, and we structured it into three different chapters. Tom, my co-writer, actually did that when we finished the whole record – broke it up into the different phases that I went through to overcome heartbreak. From the rawness of heartbreak, to a place of renewed strength.

And I heard your Dad actually came up with the album title?

Yeah, when Dad and I were listening to the album together, we knew what it all felt like, but we couldn’t put it into a word. My Dad’s a horticulturist, and I’m obsessed with flowers and plants. So he suggested Perennial because it refers to plants and flowers that grow back year after year, season after season. It really related to what the album is about, sort of constantly coming back. This record as a whole is a recovery, a repairing album.

Why did you decide to give Vera Blue a project name?

I met Gosling at a writing camp and she actually put the idea in my head. I thought the project deserved its own name, as it was so different to my old music, it wasn’t just ‘folky’. Vera Blue was so fresh, so different… nothing I’d ever heard before.

And how did you settle on a name?

I was laying in my room one day, thinking about titles and the things that mean a lot to me, things that I grew up with. My first perfume was Vera Wang Princess. I remember drenching myself in it before I’d go to bed, like I was Sleeping Beauty or something (laughs). So that’s where Vera comes from. And in terms of Blue, my mum used to get called Blue or Bluey when she was younger, because of her red hair.

You’re about to head on tour, how do you decide what you’re going to wear on stage?

That’s one of the most exciting things for me, I love fashion. For a festival, I’ll wear something a little more accentuated and outrageous, because there are people quite far away that need to see.

With the Perennial tour, I might start wearing more florals. This record has such a growing strength about it and once you get halfway through, there’s a real kind of boldness that I discovered in myself. So there’s a chance on this tour to have a costume change halfway through to symbolise the album’s different stages.

What’s been your career highlight to date?

One career highlight… there’s been a few, but one that always sticks in my head is performing ‘Never Be Like You’ with Flume at Splendour. That is something that’ll stay with me forever, and I can’t believe it’s already been a year since that happened. Also performing with Illy at the ARIAs. I just can’t pick one.

Perennial is out now via Universal Music. 


This interview was originally published in Fashion Journal 171. You can read it here.


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