Is it your birthday? by Madelaine Empson
Vera Ellen made her Flying Nun debut with It’s Your Birthday in October last year. Now, the Wellington and Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist and songwriter is finally touring it.
“There is something really celebratory about the album that feels right to perform live”, the alt-indie artist of LA band Girl Friday or grungy NZ four-piece Maple Syrup says. “As long ago as the album came out, it always felt right to have specific shows dedicated to this record. I’ve sat with these songs a long time and we’ve had so many postponements, I’m itching to go.”
It’s Your Birthday crafts post-punk and noise elements into something slightly sweeter to chronicle the highs and lows of Vera’s early twenties – a world she navigated with “a very big and open heart”.
“It’s an external record in the sense it’s about places, relationships, events that happened to me.”
Sonically, her experiences distil down into “the sound of potential and hope and devastation which felt so vast and overwhelming at the time”.
“I don’t think I’ll make a record like this ever again, it takes a certain naivety and youth to let the world affect you like that.”
The months that have unfolded between the release of It’s Your Birthday and now have helped Vera connect to the songs in different ways rather than looking at them through such a critical lens.
“For example, it’s good, it’s simple was written for a particular person, now when I sing it I think about singing it to my life partner when I’m in my late sixties.”
Vera hopes the album release tour at San Fran on the 8th of July will feel like a big celebration.
“I want it to feel really fun and a special moment we can have to sing and dance together and where everyone feels part of the show. It will create a metaphorical marker to end this album chapter in a way it deserves. I will certainly be picking on anyone whose birthday it is.”