VÉRITÉ (real name: Kelsey Byrne) writes songs about the human condition: what it’s like to be here, to inhabit your own mind, to try to connect with others. If that sounds incredibly broad, that’s because it is. “People can really ascribe their own meaning,” she says, “which I kind of encourage.” But it’s also highly specific to the New York-based singer-songwriter, who’s been immersed in music since childhood.
With her second EP in the span of a year, Sentiment, VÉRITÉ drops four new tracks to satisfy fans of her first EP, Echo, and of the intense live shows she performs internationally. The songs are complex electronic arrangements, layered with Byrne’s rich and ethereal vocals. The runs in the chorus of “Colors” require a vocal control and stamina she calls “a beast” to perform live. “Wasteland” is at once meditative and pulsing, her voice alternately sweet and booming.
Byrne began singing when she was around 8 years old and writing songs at 16. As a child, she performed with her father in venues around her New York state hometown; then “there was a punk cover band at one point that was pretty horrible.” She describes herself as a child of ‘90s alternative rock radio, with Green Day, Nirvana and the Cranberries providing the soundtrack to her youth.
If you can’t quite hear Kurt Cobain between the lines of her songs, you might get a better feel for him during Byrne’s performances. “My goal is to put forward a really energetic live show and those early influences made me see that that’s totally OK,” she says. She may be a singer-songwriter, but, she says, “I’m not afraid to rock out.” If anything, she’s working on when to hold back. “I have to recognize that my voice is attached to my body, which gets tired,” she says.
Mentally, though, “tired” doesn’t seem to compute for the singer, whose goals are ambitious, even if they’re still taking shape. “I’m never satisfied. I’m always, in the back of my mind, [thinking] what can I do better, what’s 2.0 from here,” she says. “I’ll let you know if I ever hit that point.”