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VERONICA SWIFT Confessions at Perth International Jazz Festival

Veronica Swift is one of the USA’s top, young jazz vocalists. Growing up on tour with her parents, renowned jazz pianist Hod O’Brien and celebrated jazz singer and author Stephanie Nakasianthe, the 24 year old is visiting Perth International Jazz Festival for the first time to perform her latest album Confessions. ANYA HARRIS dives a little bit deeper into the making of the record, as well as Swift’s upcoming to her visit. Swift plays the State Theatre Centre Courtyard on Sunday, November 10

Let’s talk about your most recent album, Confessions. Can you tell us a little bit about where the title name came from – any story behind that?

I first fell in love with the song Confession by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz and saw how every song on this album is like an entry in my diary, documenting my experiences after college – moving to New York City and entering the professional world and having to balance that with maintaining a social life that wasn’t meant to exist. Also revealing my feelings about clinging onto what remains of my childhood back in Virginia but realizing that I must leave it behind for now to move forward. These are all feelings everyone goes through when entering into the first real adult stages in life.

Tell us a little bit about the songwriting process for Confessions, were there any different avenues you took working on this record?

There’s only one song I wrote on this album – I arranged all the others. My original composition I Hope She Makes You Happy was written about four years ago. When I write songs and music, the process is taking place in my subconscious and builds up over the span of months – maybe years (for bigger projects). Once it goes from brain to paper, it’s almost as if I’m just transcribing a finished album I’m listening to in my head. I can’t explain how it works, but I hear a product already finished – all I have to do is jot it down.

And what’s your favourite song on the album, and why?

I would have to say it’s really the two songs put together – A Stranger In Town and I Don’t Wanna Cry Anymore. These songs accurately set a scene for my experiences trying to reconnect with my childhood home and friends – unearth old flames that weren’t meant to be unearthed. The bittersweet feeling of having to come to terms with the fact that these are meant to be memories, then getting back on the train in Charlottesville heading to New York City and realising that my future holds so much more for me. It’s an empowering duo of songs that I hope can inspire others to get over their funk and look toward the future with strength; because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Moving away from the album, are there any old tunes that we can expect to hear from you this time around?

Oh we always do that!  But I don’t know what I’m going to play… I always figure that out the day of!

You’ve spoken before about music always being around you in the way that language is always around us. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how that’s shaped your writing?

Just as notes are like words, musical phrases are sentences, and song forms are like paragraphs. Music and language share so many similarities. When I hear a horn line, it translates sonically to words in my head. When I listen to a symphony or an epic piece, I am watching scenes in a movie I’m creating in my head being played out. The music and the stories – they both inform each other.

If you could pick, who was favourite fellow musician that you’ve collaborated with in the past?

Definitely Wynton Marsalis! He’s taught me so much musically, but most importantly, how to access what is already inside. And he inspires me to go beyond the lines – in writing, composing, singing. Whether we are playing bebop in his quintet (like we did in Marciac this July) or doing an original musical theatre production (which is my dream down the road) he always sees the whole artist and believes in me. I’m such a fan!

And lastly, you’ve described yourself in the past as not only a jazz singer but a storyteller, can you tell us a little bit about your storytelling and why it’s important to you?

Yes, I don’t like to box myself in by limiting my title to just a jazz singer. Before I was aware of music, I was writing children’s books and making up universes of my own –  that’s what growing up on a farm as an only child will do for you. I’ve written a rock opera, electronic musical, a play, a film script, and I’m working on an early 30s style musical I plan to release in 2021. I have always been in my happy place when I am free to be whoever and play whatever genre I can to reach the largest audience possible. To unite my audiences – this is my dream.

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