Photo courtesy of Alyse Vellturo
PRONOUN is the indie-synth-pop solo project of Alyse Vellturo. While she’s based in New York now, Vellturo has local ties having grown up in Concord and graduated from Berklee College of Music. Following the recent release of her EP OMG I MADE IT, she caught up with web services coordinator Nora Onanian. They talked about Vellturo’s latest happenings – from putting out her new EP to managing her own record label – and shared laughs over satirical genre descriptions.
YOU JUST RELEASED YOUR EP OMG I MADE IT ON JUNE 11TH, SO I’D LOVE TO TALK ABOUT THAT PROJECT A BIT FIRST. HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT HAVING IT OUT IN THE WORLD?
Alyse Vellturo: It’s great. I mean, it’s kind of weird because we haven’t really gotten to play it that much yet, but we’re playing our first real show back on Wednesday, so that’ll be cool. Make it feel more real. But it’s exciting. It’s a little weird time to release music rather than before when things were normal I suppose. But it feels really good. It doesn’t feel real, but I’m sure it will someday.
AND WHAT WAS THE TIMELINE OF ITS CREATION LIKE?
AV: I wrote the two singles way before the pandemic honestly. Probably like in late 2019, maybe even earlier, I’m not even sure. And then the other ones kind of came along during the pandemic, but weren’t so much related to what was going on in the pandemic I don’t think. I don’t know, I just had two singles finished and then I made “HALF OF THE TIME.” I made “SOUND THE ALARMS!!!1!” and I was like, this is a great intro. And when I wrote “WASTING TIME,” I was like, ‘this is the last song.’ I didn’t really feel like anything else had to be on it.
A lot of my stuff, I don’t know if it’s going to be an EP or an album or whatever until I write the first or last song and I’m like, ‘oh, this is the end.’ So with my first album I wrote, “Everybody Knows” and I was like, ‘oh yeah, this is a full thing.’ But with both my first EP and this last, I feel like right when I wrote that last song, I was like, ‘we’re done, we’re done here. There’s no need to talk about this any further.’
TALKING ABOUT THAT – LIKE THE BEGINNING AND THE END – I WAS GOING TO ASK IF YOU FELT LIKE YOU THOUGHT A LOT ABOUT THE ORDER. I FEEL LIKE THE EP KIND OF TAKES LISTENERS ON A JOURNEY. IT STARTS REALLY ENERGETIC AND THEN THE ENDING IS MORE MELLOW AND KIND OF A LITTLE BIT CALMER. DID YOU HAVE AN INTENTION WITH THAT IN TERMS OF HOW YOU WANTED THE LISTENER TO FEEL?
AV: Yeah, kind of. I mean, “SOUND THE ALARMS!!!1!,” when I wrote it, when it all came together, I was like, ‘this has to be the first song.’ I was like, ‘this is a perfect introduction to everything’ and it probably helped with the other order of the tracks on the EP. But it seemed like “WASTING TIME” at the end. I was like, ‘this is such a good outro.’ Like it kind of fades out. And it’s kind of unfinished, like it leaves the door open still for like new other music I think.
It’s kind of like this weird ending. I described it as like you just see an old friend that you haven’t seen in a while and I literally just talked for 15 minutes straight. And that’s what the EP is. And it’s like, ‘OK, anyway, like, how are you?’ is kind of like the end of “WASTING TIME”
THAT’S INTERESTING! I FEEL LIKE YOU WERE ABLE TO SEE ME KIND OF TURN A LOT OF HEAVY EMOTIONS IN THE ALBUM INTO SOMETHING REALLY HONEST AND SPECIAL AND COMFORTING. AND THAT’S ESPECIALLY TRUE IN THE TRACK THAT WE PLAY ON ERS LOT, WHICH IS “I WANT TO DIE BUT I CAN’T (CUS I GOTTA KEEP LIVING).” IF YOU DON’T MIND TALKING ABOUT IT A LITTLE MORE, CAN YOU KIND OF EXPAND ON THE FEELINGS THAT WENT INTO THAT TRACK AND THE REST OF OMG I MADE IT?
AV: Thank you! Yeah, I don’t even remember when I wrote that. That I think for the most part is kind of what I was going through at the time, which a lot of my songs are. But I think I was literally just sitting at work and I was like, I was just having a really bad day. And I was like ‘I don’t feel like existing anymore.’ I feel like I find myself thinking that a lot, but in a weird way where I’m like, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ And It’s like, ‘well, you kind of have to.’ Or, like ‘you could not,’ but it’s like ‘I don’t think you’re going to not.’ So it’s like, ‘well, I guess we’re just going to have to figure it out.’
And I’m like, you know what? I bet a lot of people feel this way also. They’re all still kicking it, you know, still doing their day to day hustling and trying to make it work for themselves and trying to make life work for themselves. And I I think that’s what that song was grasping for me. It’s like, ‘OK, like you need to figure out, like you are alive and you have to figure out how to fit into your own life.’ And I think it’s easier for some people, it’s harder for other people. I think that song is kind of the process of realizing that.
And in a lot of the EP, too, I think a lot of it touches on that kind of obsession with dying, but also figuring out how to make your life work for yourself or at least make the next steps to try and figure that out.
YOUR LAST RELEASE WAS YOUR DEBUT ALBUM. I’LL SHOW YOU STRONGER IN 2019. AND I THINK YOU ACTUALLY CAME INTO THE ERS STUDIO AND DID A LITTLE LIVE MIX SESSION AFTER ITS RELEASE.
AV: Yes! I did.
DO YOU THINK YOU’VE GROWN AND CHANGED A LOT FROM THAT ALBUM TO THIS RELEASE? AND ARE THERE SPECIFIC CHANGES THAT YOU’VE NOTICED?
AV: I don’t know, I think vocally I took more risks I guess. I’ll show You Stronger, it was songs from like years and years I think. There were demos from before I even was PRONOUN that turned into songs off that album. So I feel like this EP for the most part was written quicker than normal, I guess, as a collection.
I think just because I made it, it’s hard for me to step outside of it. But like when I was starting to show people the EP, a lot of people were like, ‘wow, this is like way more pop.’ And I was like, ‘oh, really? I thought I was making the same song over and over.’ Like I would sit in my room alone and be like, ‘wow, you’re making the exact same song that you’ve made like a million times that are already out.’ And then once it gets kind of finished, you get to send it to other people. They help you realize, like, ‘oh, no, this is a new step. This is different.’ You just turn it over and over and it’s old to you, which I think a lot of artists can relate to, probably.
But I think vocally, I do more with my voice on this one. Like I put some distortion on some of the vocals, I’ve tried yelling a little bit. I think I just took more experiments I guess, vocally, and maybe not even just like the singing of it, but more even just like the producing and the mixing of it and trying out different effects. Good question – I’m not sure.
I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT HOW IT WOULD BE HARDER TO SEE IT AND RECOGNIZE IT YOURSELF, THAT’S INTERESTING.
AV: Yeah. Because you’re like this song is old news. But it’s like it’s not even out. It’s not even new. It’s literally not even released yet. So yeah, it’s an interesting process.
SOMETHING I NOTICED WITH ITS RELEASE IS THAT YOU CHANGED THE CAPITALIZATION OF PRONOUN FROM ALL LOWERCASE TO ALL CAPS AND THE SONG TITLES TOO. IS THERE A SIGNIFICANCE FOR THAT?
AV: I think when I wrote “SOUND THE ALARMS!!!1!” or when I decided to name it, I was like, we’re going all caps. And I wanted it to have a typo and I was like, ‘this is funny.’ And I’ve also always joked about how basically everyone’s doing all lowercase now. So I was like, ‘oh, I’m going to go all uppercase then.’
But yeah, I think a lot of this EP is kind of like making fun of myself, like in a cheeky way kind of. I like to imagine people are like *eyeroll,* LOL, ‘this is pretty good but also kind of funny’ and also like ‘of course you would.’ And when I changed it to all caps, I just thought that would be a funny thing and a very easy way to rebrand everything. I have a new EP and everything I did as caps lock. And you’re already kind of wondering, like, ‘oh, what’s going on?’ And I just had to press one button. So yeah, I think I just wrote out the track name and I was like, ‘I like this way better in all caps.’
YEAH IT DEFINITELY MAKES A STATEMENT! YOU ALREADY MENTIONED IT, BUT THE EP RELEASE PARTY IS COMING UP REALLY SOON ON JULY 21ST IN NEW YORK. AND I READ THAT IT ALSO HAPPENS TO BE YOUR FIRST HEADLINER SINCE BEFORE THE PANDEMIC. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GET BACK TO LIVE MUSIC?
AV: So weird. We played one show. We played a beer fest in Atlantic City like a month and a half ago and it was a good first show back. But it’s very weird, especially when you’re playing new songs, songs I’ve ever played before. It’s a little nerve racking because also, for me, I’m the one that struggles the most. The band I guess is me, like I write and produce everything and record most of it, but my drummer and my bassist are amazing. And that’s their job is playing those things. They’re very, very good at them. So the hard part for me is putting it all together live.
I can practice as much as I want in my bedroom, but I’m not going to know what it’s going to be like until we’re in a rehearsal or even on stage and stuff. So that part’s challenging. My drummer lives in L.A. now, so he’s flying in on Sunday. So it’s going to be exciting and interesting and nerve wracking. Because it’s like ‘alright, we have three rehearsals to figure this out.’
I think our last headline was my album release show, which was like July 2019. So it’s literally been like two years.
DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO COME TO BOSTON?
AV: I might in April, but it’s not announced. I just have to come! I mean, I’m from there, you know?
I WAS JUST GOING TO SAY, YOU’VE GOT TIES WITH BOSTON!
AV: We were supposed to play there in March 2020, and then all of this happened. Literally like two days after the world shut down, we were supposed to play Great Scott with Future Teens and Proper. But I really want to come back, I rarely have headlined Boston. I’ve done it once and then we were going to do it that time. So hopefully we’ll come back soon.
I just don’t schedule tours that much because I have a day job. So usually I’ll submit to open for people and if we get it I’ll go. But I don’t usually go out of my way to route a tour. And even after this, now there’s nothing open because everyone’s been routing tours for two years trying to figure out when they can play again. So hopefully soon – long answer, sorry!
YEAH I HOPE SO TOO! YOU WENT TO BERKLEE, RIGHT?
DID YOU GROW UP IN BOSTON, TOO?
AV: I grew up in Concord, Massachusetts.
SO LOCAL FOR SURE.
AV: Yes, yeah, yeah, yeah.
AND YOU MENTIONED YOUR DAY JOB. IS THAT THE RECORD LABEL, SLEEP WELL RECORDS?
AV: It is not. I mean, it’s part of it, but no that’s a good question. I work at The Orchard, which is a music distribution company and it’s owned by Sony. And I manage independent record labels and their distribution. So I’m like their go-to for all of our different teams within the company. So it’s like a ten to six, but it’s not like I’m going to work in finance or something, you know, it’s still relevant and fun and interesting. I’m very lucky.
SO YOU DO SLEEP WELL RECORDS TOO, RIGHT?
AV: Yes I do.
COULD YOU SHARE A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT?
AV: Yeah, I started a record label probably like I think it was 2017. So almost a little over four years ago. And by day I work managing record labels in general and then was self-managing myself as an artist. I have a lot of friends that make music and a lot of artists that I found just like through discovery platforms that I really dig. So yeah, when they were starting and we made a connection and they were thinking about releasing more music, I was like, ‘well, what if I could step in here?’
I can’t pay for things, I don’t have money, but I can basically help you organize your release and keep all the teams in order and be that business person for you. Because no one likes to do it both. I don’t even like to do it both and I work a business job by day. So that’s kind of how it started. And I put out releases by Charles Fauna, Cape Francis, Sulene, Wolfjay I have a bunch of artists now. I have one in Germany named Crook, Wolfjay’s out in Australia.
I kind of hibernated – no pun intended – during the pandemic. Because the pandemic sucked. Like I hate working from home and I miss going to shows and I miss seeing people. So for a while I was just like ‘alright, just do what you need to do,’ like keep being alive. Because this is not normal life and just like, go easy on yourself. So I kind of stopped doing that for a bit. And we’re just starting to start back up. And by we I mean me, because no one else works here.
A single came out yesterday from Rén With the Mane, a really good friend of mine. It’s kind of indie pop, like chill but very emotive. This artist named Beauty Queen is going to have some new tracks coming out, very lo-fi bedroom poppy, kind of like jazz influenced vocally, but very chill indie-rock vibes and new Wolfjay tracks as well. So it’s finally starting to kick back up again. I’m happy. I miss doing it.
THAT’S REALLY COOL. ALRIGHT, MY LAST QUESTION IS A LITTLE LESS SERIOUS. I DON’T KNOW IF YOU REMEMBER THAT LIKE SPOTIFY OR ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE THING THAT ROASTED YOUR TASTE IN MUSIC. DO YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT?
AV: Hmm. Oh yes, it was like ‘another Phoebe stan, *eyeroll.*’ Yes, yes, yes.
YEAH! IT GAVE WEIRD LITTLE DESCRIPTIONS. SO I WAS WONDERING, IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR OWN MUSIC A FUNNY DESCRIPTION LIKE THAT, WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE?
AV: Oh, I always do! For the album, like the album album, I had a really good one. It was like ‘bedroom emo-rock that nobody asked for, but people seemed to enjoy.’ I think yeah, I think that’s what it’ll be. Or just like *eyeroll.* ‘Eye roll I accidentally like this like.’ ‘Eyeroll, this is annoying, but doesn’t cross that line, it’s just very close to crossing that line.’ So yeah, final answer!
Check out PRONOUN’s new EP OMG I MADE IT today!