【Hello Asia】Six questions with Lara Veronin: New Year, New Music, New Me
It’s been a year of ups and downs for Taiwanese-American singer-songwriter Lara Veronin. Releasing her latest single “Where Do We Go” in December 2016, the sweet yet playful singer has taken time out of her busy schedule (we hear she replied this interview while on a plane to New Zealand) to do a quickie interview with Hello Asia! While the ‘New Year, New Me’ resolution may be just empty words for some, from Lara’s music and the few words exchanged, it’s clear that she’s grown into a talented singer-songwriter with a renewed sense of self.
01. Your new single “Where Do We Go” is a lot different from your previous works. What has changed to allow you to create such different music?
There’s no denying that electronic music is what this generation will be remembered for. After I finally got off my high horse and really explored the potential of “computer music”, I realized that you can still create incredibly heartfelt and authentic music. In fact, the slide guitar in “Where Do We Go” is a loop. We thought about having someone come in and do a live dubbing, but it actually didn’t “hit the spot” as well as the loop did. There’s still a lot of debate about what “genre” the song falls under, but I did read an article mentioning “air pop” as a mix of 808 beats (hip hop) and melancholy or ethereal like vocals (EDM) which I think is pretty close to what I’m trying to convey. The slide guitar even adds an element of country!
02. We hear you co-wrote this song with producer Jason Lu. Where do you get inspiration for your songwriting?
Everywhere! Sounds cliche, but creativity really can strike anytime. That’s why it’s so important to give yourself space throughout the day to notice it. I’m still working on this. A lot of my songs tend to get written in the shower or (now that I drive) in the car. I’ve just realised that these are moments when I’m not allowed to be on my phone, which gives me a hunch that if I manage to stay off my phone, there will be even more music to come!
03. The music video for “Where Do We Go” is very maze-runner inspired. What do you think is the main message of this video?
I’ve gotten a variety of comparisons ranging from Hunger Games to Sucker Punch to even Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”, which I think has more to do with the “apocalyptic hot girl” styling, but I think overall the message is one of accepting the unknown. When your world comes crashing down (literally or figuratively), all you can really hope for is companions that will be there with you through the darkness. The music video doesn’t really have a “we’re saved” ending, because the truth is, as long as we’re alive, we all have to keep moving forward. I’m finally starting to accept that, which helps me understand the saying “it’s all about the journey” a lot more than I ever pretended to.
04. It’s interesting how you have both an English and Chinese version of the single. What was it that made you want to release both versions?
I often record English demos first and then translate them into Mandarin. Sometimes songs or parts of them are better left in English, so I’ve included a few of them in albums in this fashion over the years. (“Everything”, “John”, “因為你Because of you”, “Crescent City”, and “Goodnight” are some examples.) But “Where Do We Go” was special because it’s one of the first songs I really thought would work for both English and Chinese audiences. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that everyone from my very Americanized cousin (born and bred in LA and based in NYC) to 50-something Mandopop professionals could dig the sound.
05. We hear that the album is actually finished! Can we have a few hints about its theme?
“Where Do We Go” can actually be viewed as the introduction to the album. Sound-wise I’ll definitely be exploring more electronic possibilities and thematically it follows the ups and downs of what happens after you open Pandora’s box with a question like “Where Do We Go”. Aside from being a journal of the last four years of my life, I also delve a little deeper into my own philosophical/spiritual journey. 2016 was probably the roughest year I’ve ever gone through, but I really do feel like I’ve come out on the other side (at least for now!) and want to share my journey with anyone who’s listening.
06. Given your bilingual nature, do you have any plans to release “Where Do We Go” to the international market?
Definitely! I love being a part of the global village and can’t wait to hit up more pockets of the world where fans might be hiding. People always ask me if I can come to their city and the answer is YES! Just get your local Mando-speaking community or university association to invite me and I’m pretty much there.
A far cry from the ‘ice princess’ image that many have previously categorised Lara in, it’s surprising that Veronin hasn’t done more English-language interviews sooner, given her fluent bilingual nature. Sweet and endearing with a sense of humour, the 28 year-old singer-songwriter’s attention to detail is revealed only when she discusses her music. Her new single “Where Do We Go” shows that there’s more to the singer than just associations with Nan Quan Mama and Jay Chou; dig deeper and what you’ll find is a unique, edgy sound waiting to be discovered by the wider world.