Vera Blue: Revisiting her powers

Vera Blue’s new single ‘Lady Powers’, pulled from her album Perennial, has recently been re-released with an additional verse from Atlanta rapper/vocalist Kodie Shane. There’s also an upcoming EP showcasing remixes from various female producers.

On the phone to  Maddy Macquine on a rainy day in Sydney, she discussed the new song, the importance of including women during the production process and incidental feminism within her songwriting.

Vera Blue has not even sat down yet when I get her on the phone. She’s in Sydney after a flight from Perth the day earlier, off to Melbourne the next morning for an event and, in all of the rush, is struggling to find somewhere to seat herself. When I point out her busy schedule, however, she seems unphased. “It’s tiring, but it’s good. I’m happy doing lots of promo stuff, doing all the ‘Lady Powers’ talking.”

She is referring to her new single featuring Kodie Shane. We begin by talking about the changes to the single version, including the addition of Kodie. Vera explains, “Well, when we released it on the album it was kind of special already but when we wanted to release it as a single it just felt like it needed a bit of an extra touch to it. Kodie was the perfect fit – her part was amazing. She’s got a great sense of rhythm and her vocal tone’s really cool. [I’m] really excited to have her for the single. It was a really good decision for us. Very fun.”

On the topic of the remixes, she remains egalitarian. “I’m really excited for all of them equally. They’re all really special in their own way.” The remixes are from a variety of local and international female producers – TOKiMONSTA, Alice Ivy, Maya Jane Coles and Maria Marcus – who Vera says have all added their own unique spin to the track. “All of the girls have such a unique sounding production vibe which is what I get really excited about. I’m really inspired by the fact that they can produce in that way. I really love them all. I’ve only met TOKiMONSTA so I’m really excited to meet the rest of the girls. I’m meeting Alice Ivy really soon which I’m really pumped about.” When I ask about the Alice Ivy track, she says, “her version is really unexpected. That’s what I’m really excited about.”

The intention seems clear – everyone she’s brought on for this project is a woman, and Vera is thrilled to have them on board. “My whole team are males which is totally fine, they’re such great people, and they really got me and understood what I was going through and helped bring the song to life. But I think the next chapter of releasing this song was to have other women involved … It makes me super excited to have other women from the industry (and also just my friends) involved so it’s a really exciting time.”

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When I ask if recent discussion regarding the treatment of women in the music and arts industries has influenced her choice to release this single. She reveals that wasn’t the idea of it: “I’m not a very political person and stuff that I’ve been through wasn’t about that kind of stuff. The song was written over a year ago so it wasn’t written for that reason.” Any political connections are secondary to the translation of her own experiences into music. However, she’s not entirely distanced from these issues. “The thing that’s really beautiful,” Vera explains, “is that people are connecting to it in that way… There are some moments in my songs where I subconsciously make political points. I just want to be able to connect to people in whatever way I can and if it is a political way then that’s okay and I’m totally open to that.”

She seems genuinely (and rightly, in my opinion) proud of the effect her music and its message has had on the young women she sees at her shows. When I specifically address the lyric ‘I’m not gonna beg for your respect, I won’t be defined by your eyes’, Vera brings up the universal experience of that line. “It’s something that a lot of young girls go through – you know, I’ve been through it and I’ll probably go through it again – where you feel a little bit vulnerable and you want to do certain things to make someone want you or you want to be accepted, but that’s just something that comes with being vulnerable and finding comfort in being vulnerable.”

Anyone familiar with Vera Blue’s repertoire might have already made a link between Lady Powers and her earlier single ‘Regular Touch’, which deals similarly with the idea of not letting other people take ownership of your sexuality and who you are as a woman. Vera, however, feels a clear distinction in where she was coming from with the two tracks. “’Regular Touch’ was like a vision of myself that I wanted to be and then I eventually became that and that was around the same time [that we wrote] ‘Lady Powers’. When we actually wrote ‘Regular Touch’ I didn’t feel free, I was still heartbroken, I wanted to be this person who was happy in my own skin, free of heartbreak, running around reckless and young but I was stuck. Then when we were writing ‘Lady Powers’, that was when I felt like I had ownership over myself and I knew who I was.”

On the impact of ‘Regular Touch’, she says, “A lot of young girls/people that I’ve met have told me that ‘Regular Touch’ has helped them through heartbreak immediately after the relationship, which is really good. That’s all I want, that it can help people and connect to them.” ‘Lady Powers’, she hopes, will have a similar effect on listeners. “This song is about your self respect, your dignity and your confidence. All of those things can be wavered depending on if you’ve developed feelings for someone, or you want to please them, or you want to make them want you. You can change and people can make you feel like you have to change. This is the whole meaning of the song, you shouldn’t feel like you have to change for someone. You should be comfortable in your own body and shouldn’t have to bare your skin to feel wanted … and even if you do want to bare your skin you’re doing it for you and you’re doing it because you feel confident and comfortable.”

THE LADY POWERS REMIX EP IS OUT APRIL 13TH and a WHOLE STACK OF TOUR DATES FOLLOW.

Fri 25 May – Enmore Theatre – Sydney.
Wed 30 May The Tivoli – Brisbane.
Thurs 31 May The Tivoli – Brisbane. SOLD OUT.
Sat 2 June The Forum – Melbourne. SOLD OUT.
Sun 3 June – The Forum – Melbourne.
Sat 16 June – Curve Ball Festival – Sydney.

Watch: LADY POWERS REVISITED WITH KODIE SHANE.

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