Flying Nun Records are absolutely stoked to announce their latest signing, Vera Ellen — a Wellington/Los Angeles based multi-instrumentalist and wildly prolific songwriter, who you may recognise from LA band Girl Friday (Hardly Art), or grungy NZ 4-piece Maple Syrup.
In the first single, YOU!, Vera Ellen’s clear, confident and relaxed vocal presence and hooked-to-the-brim melodies foreshadow what is to come from her Flying Nun debut album, It’s Your Birthday.
Vera has said on today’s single, “YOU! is a tale of unrequited love from a very idealised, youthful perspective, right in the throes of desire. You can love someone all you want, you can be the best of friends, lovers, whatever, and they can not feel the same way back, or they can but maybe they don't want to do anything about it. And it sucks and it hurts, but it's okay and you gotta respect that. OK?”
Vera Ellen is an expert when it comes to clear and concise songwriting; every note and beat is exactly the required dose. While you wait for your next helping of this songwriting genius, wrap your eyes and ears around YOU!
The video for YOU! was shot in a single day in Wellington, New Zealand with Vera’s friends — co-director Samuel Austin and production assistant Bella Guarrera. Helena Anthony (the star of the video) and Vera were best friends in high school, we were real pranksters and spent every waking hour at each other's side.
“We hadn't seen each other in a while and spent the whole time during the shoot laughing uncontrollably, it was like no time had passed. The video explores a kind love and ends in terrible heartbreak when a more attractive suitor steals Helena’s heart with a lip bite and the offer of a matching leather jacket.”
Vera Ellen’s upcoming Flying Nun debut, It’s Your Birthday, was written over the space of a few years. It chronicles the highs and lows of Vera’s early twenties, and is integral to the artist’s growing process. Each song hits some kind of unforgettable, yet relatable, touch stone in the artist’s life:
“I feel pulled back to those moments whenever I play the songs. Some of it was written when I was broke living behind a sheet in a lounge in Hollywood, some inspired by the characters both beautiful and dark (mostly both) I met in Los Angeles, some when I felt rejection in the lowest pits of my stomach and also when I felt so much elation I thought it couldn't be possible to be any higher, some when l was so homesick I wanted to puke, some in the throes of love and other heartbreak. The stuff of life.”
“If you listen through it tells a story of where I was to where I am. Not that anything is ever truly resolved or figured out. It makes me happy having this body of work to give some meaning to some really dark places I have been in the last few years. Places that otherwise felt like a string of random unconnected feelings and events. If all my diaries burn, at least I will have this album.”
Vera had about 12 demos which she sent to her friend’s Dad, Mark Austin. In January of 2020, Vera and Mark recorded it over a couple of days with the help of some friends at Pyramid Club. Vera went back to America in February and that was sort of meant to be the end of it, but fortunately for the rest of us and due to the global pandemic, Vera ended up coming back to New Zealand and was able to add songs and extra instrumentation to the album throughout the year.
“If you can imagine, you're twenty years old and you write about some dreadful personal turmoil, and now you're twenty five and you think, let me just share that with everyone I know and a few strangers while we are at it. If I am honest, I'm a little terrified about having this record out in the world. It feels very exposing. At this point I may as well become a nudist.”
It's Your Birthday is Vera’s gift to the world, but Vera wants to be the kind of uncle that always shows up with a gift on your birthday, so it shan't be the last.