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Artist Spotlight: VeeAlwaysHere returns with new single; talks genre-hopping and collaborative process

Multi-talented multi-hyphenate artist VeeAlwaysHere is on a roll with his latest releases. Following up last month’s “I Don’t Dance”, he’s back again with “irl”, a more yearning track about wanting in-person companionship and not just a text thread. Atlas spoke with him about the new music, being creatively locked in and never being limited by genre.

Atlas Artist Group: Can you tell me about how “I Don’t Dance” came together?

VeeAlwaysHere: I wanted to make a song that sounds really fun and playful on the surface but if you really pay attention and listen, it’s a sad song. That’s basically what “I Don’t Dance” is. Sonically, I was going for a really fun club, bouncy type of song that if you just don’t pay attention to it, it sounds fun and you can dance to it and have fun. But if you really, really listen, it’s pretty sad. So that’s kind of how I approached it as far as creating the song and I felt like to give the song more of a party feel, I needed someone else on the feature. So I reached out to Ted Park and he did it really fast. I texted him in the early afternoon and he sent me the verse that night.

Atlas: How did you decide it was going to be him for the feature?

VeeAlwaysHere: When I was writing my parts to it, I just kind of heard it in my head. I knew exactly that it should be him and I would be very sad if he said no or if he couldn’t do it for whatever reason. It’s really hard to explain- it just kind of fell into place. I just felt like he could do an amazing job expanding on the story, which he did.

Atlas: I read that you’re self taught when it comes to music, right? After all of this training and learning, how did you come to land on the sound that you have now? 

VeeAlwaysHere: It took a lot of trial and error. And even now, I do have a specific sound but I can’t really describe it aside from it’s just me. I’m very greedy as a music artist so I like to work with many different genres and sounds and I like to just experiment and really have fun with it. That’s the main thing for me at this point of my career- I want to make sure I have fun with every record I put out, or every record I create. That’s the main goal. My sound technically is all over the place, but there’s still my fingerprint because I do everything from start to finish. It’s sort of easy for me to have this sound because I don’t even think about it. I just do what feels right or do what I’m inspired to do but it’s very difficult for me to describe that.

Atlas: Genre is made up anyway!

VeeAlwaysHere: That’s true. I do not believe in genres. I mean, genres are good for the business because it’s easy to put something in a category to sell it, right? But even with my project last year, ego: playlist I, it was eight songs of pretty much all different genres, but I still put it under pop because I feel like pop is such a big umbrella. Everything can exist on there and that’s how I operate.

It’s really fun when there’s no limit, there’s no rules, and you can just do whatever you want. I want to use this sound, I want to make this type of song and I just go and do it and I don’t even think twice about does it fit my image as an artist or is this sonically what I represent- I just want it all.

Atlas: I do want to ask you about your creative process in terms of where you start with music. Do you find yourself focusing on arrangement and melody or do you try to build a world around lyrics first or does it vary?

VeeAlwaysHere: It does vary, it’s always different. Inspiration can come from anywhere and it comes in all shapes and sizes. But there’s one rule that I like to stick to- speaking of having no rules- I do have one very specific rule. I like to reverse engineer my music and go from an emotion or feeling that I want the listener to experience or feel when they listen to the song before I even know what the song is. And I just work my way backwards from there- make sure people feel something. 

Feeling things is very important because music has been- not very original to say- a really big part of my life. The ability to time travel with music is so fascinating to me. Something comes on from your old playlist while you’re driving and you’re instantly back there. That’s what I love about it. I just think it’s so much fun and I really want to have a very strong grounded feeling under everything before the song even comes to life so that people can make memories to it too- bad or good.

Atlas: Hopefully not bad memories!

VeeAlwaysHere: Hopefully not bad. But I mean, we all have those really sad songs in our playlists somewhere that we sometimes go to and it’s okay. It’s therapeutic.

Atlas: Is there a song in your catalog that you really resonate with? On the other side of that, is there a song that you see your listeners really reacting strongly to?

VeeAlwaysHere: I resonate with every single one, otherwise I wouldn’t have put them out. I feel like I’m very blessed and fortunate to be able to say that because I just feel like I set up my creative process in a way that it’s almost impossible for me to not resonate. Even if I’m telling someone else’s stories, I always do it through my own lens and my own understanding of the world. I always try to put myself in their shoes. I have this one song that the concept for the song I completely just overheard in the line at the grocery store and I had to just drive home as fast as I could and create it. Even if it’s not my story, I always try to find something and ground it in something of my own. So it’s difficult for me to not resonate with music that I put out. 

In terms of my catalog that what people react to, I released this song last year called “Other Side” and I didn’t even expect it to do as well as it did because it was a completely new direction for me creatively. I was very nervous to put it out because it was just so new and so scary but people really loved it. It felt really good to take a creative risk in a way and have it pay off like that.

Atlas: Outside of making music, when you’re not feeling super creative or inspired, what do you do that sparks joy and plugs you back into that creativity when you need it?

VeeAlwaysHere: I go live life! Even just going outside to run some errands, you never know what you could overhear or see or think about. It’s just talking to friends or watching TV and getting inspired by some storylines on TV or in movies and stuff like that. Anime is a big thing for me, too, because everything is so dramatic and on another level. Just anything I can do outside of music, anything could bring inspiration. It took me a while to learn how to harness all types of energies into my creative process. 

Even over the pandemic, that was a big learning lesson for me creatively because I went outside and I could feel how tense everyone was and how scary it was for people. It would bring me down a lot but then I  figured out a way to channel that into something else creatively. So I do believe it’s a skill and I’m just very grateful to have it. Anything could inspire me, I could just look out the window and see something and have an idea.

Atlas: Now that you have more music coming out, do you have any live show or tour plans? Who would you love to be on the road with? 

VeeAlwaysHere: That’s a great question. No, I do not have anything planned at the moment. I’m just focusing on expanding on my catalog even more because I feel like there’s so much more that I want to say or so many sounds that I want to make that I haven’t yet. So I’m just creatively locked in. But I would love to do that. I have to bring Ted Park out for our song. I have another feature coming out this year that I’m very excited about. Just all the artists I’ve ever worked with and all the artists that I will potentially work with one day- just a big family community. I’m bringing these artists into my world to see what they can bring from their world into mine and it’s always very exciting to do that. So I would love to do that live on stage as well.

Atlas: Do you have any music spoilers for us that you can share? 

VeeAlwaysHere: Yes! I’m following up my project from last year, ego: playlist I, with a new playlist that’s coming out this year. It’s called broken: playlist II so it’s kind of like a sequel. I’m very excited about it. It’s pretty much the same concept like the last one- different sounds, slightly different genres. I’m taking a lot of risks musically and enjoying every single moment of it so I’m very excited for people to hear it. 

Every time I drop something or tease something, I want people to be like, oh, I wonder what it’s going to be. It’s so unpredictable. That’s what I want for my music career and what I like to have. Before I even started writing this new project, I was in a really weird spot because I felt like I put everything I had in ego: playlist I last year and I just felt so lost. I was like, how can I top that, how can I do even more? I feel like I did everything I could. Then when I started, I was like, oh no, I was tripping. That was wrong. It’s nice to be able to take it even further and further and you make a project and you learn a lot during the process that you don’t even notice and then you start something new. And it’s a slightly different you. It’s a slightly different approach and vision. It’s always very exciting to start something new and I can’t wait for people to hear it.

Atlas: Is there anything else that you want people to know about you or your music or is there anything that you wish you got to talk about more that you might not get asked?

VeeAlwaysHere: When I drop something, I want it to be unexpected and very different. “I Don’t Dance” is pretty different from stuff that I’ve put out before and it was pretty unexpected for people to hear those first teasers that I put out on TikTok and Instagram and stuff like that. I have another single planned that’s just completely different from that. I get excited about that part of it. I really want to, not necessarily show people what I can do, but just do everything I can and even beyond that and keep surprising people.

Stream “I Don’t Dance” and “irl”, out now! 

Story by Olivia Khiel
Photo courtesy of VeeAlwaysHere