Between the COVID-19 pandemic, a harrowing presidential election, and peak levels of social unrest, 2020 has been a year of strife and chaos. But we forget that amid all this negativity, local artists are still creating great works. Phoenix New Times touched base with musicians from across the musical spectrum to gauge how they're faring personally, the ways in which their work has been influenced, and what all this madness really means. Through these conversations, we might just find the spark to make it through 2020 after all.
At just 18 years old, Veronica Everheart is only getting started in her career. However, what she lacks in a massive canon, she more than makes up for in great songwriting chops. Her unique blend of indie rock and singer-songwriter vibes is packed with ample emotion and awesome hooks. As she works on a brand-new full-length, album, Everheart is plotting just how to continue her sonic expansion with wit and grace.
Phoenix New Times: How do you think you're doing right now, personally, considering we're in the absolute worst timeline?
Veronica Everheart: I've been struggling a little bit, trying to stay creative to continue to do certain things. Especially because playing live shows was a big confidence boost for me as a musician. If I get a physical reaction from people, or people come up to me after a show, it makes me want to continue doing it.
This year was going to be, like, playing live shows maybe four or five times a month or something. You just have to accept that those things can always come back later.
Are you doing anything creative to break things up?
I'm trying out new things that I might not have tried out before. Like, I just bought a new looper synth pedal, so maybe I'm going into more of an ambient direction in the future.
My boyfriend plays guitar, so I have access to a drum set on top of a guitar. So the two of us can play music together, and that's really helpful to boost creativity. I think setting small goals for myself is really helpful, too. It's okay that you don't have this part done yet, but you can still work on something and take a break from it and come back to it later and mess around. Just do other things that might spark your creativity again.
A lot of artists are turning to online more than ever nowadays. Is it hard to try and make sense of building a fandom on the web?
I'm 18, so a lot of people I know are pretty active on social media. But I noticed that sometimes I'll tune out, especially because it's someone just, like, making cookies. I have to actively think that it could be important because that is our main source of watching a live show now.
Are you trying to connect your work to what's going on right now in the world, politically or culturally?
So, I want to find a way to use my voice in other ways, if that makes sense. Instead of writing maybe politically charged songs, I could just be conscious and be aware and support the Black Lives Matter movement and other things in a different way.
If you look back at the '60s, with everything that was happening with the war and the civil rights movement, any song that was written during that time must have had some sort of undertone. I could look back on this in 15 to 20 years and see those lyrics could have meant this thing, because I was feeling really upset at this time about these issues. I definitely am not consciously thinking about it.
Do you think you'll use this time to reevaluate how you operate as a live performer? I'm pretty theatrical onstage, from what I can tell. I feel like that'll translate more so when I can start playing again, if only from sheer excitement. This has given me time to think about the kind of songs that I'm playing and reevaluate certain things in the set.
Some folks are trying to be better about self-editing with their art. Do you think you're taking it easier, or are there some value to these mistakes? I try to give myself time to say, "It's okay if you're not perfect every single second of every single day." I do get discouraged a lot, mostly from if something doesn't go right, but I've been trying to work past that. Being able to work around that and just knowing my limits with myself is pretty helpful.