How sibling bonds and pop music brought back The Veronicas
Fourteen years after their debut single 4ever and with a new album on the way, The Veronicas remain as untouchable as ever.
The Veronicas want nothing more than to be authentic, and as an act so deep in the public eye and so heavily covered – often misleadingly – by gossip magazines and tabloids, it’s a difficult thing to achieve.
This drive for authenticity is something that’s come to define The Veronicas and how they operate as people and musicians in the public eye. They’re an authentic band in the truest sense of the phrase: songwriting and musicianship keeps them motivated, inspired and fuelled with passion, and it’s always been about the music, as well as their love for one another as identical sisters (or ‘soulmates’, which they refer to themselves rather than sisters). They’re often flourishing off each other, their shared connection to pop music, and everything this passion of music encompasses – its songwriting; its productions; its trends.
2019 marks fifteen years since Lisa and Jess Origliasso formed The Veronicas and fourteen years since their debut single 4ever propelled them into a spotlight they would never entirely leave, even in off-cycle periods where artists are typically able to recover from relentless touring and promo runs. Speaking over the phone from Sydney between recording sessions (they’re currently putting the finishing touches on their returning album, expected later this year), both Jess and Lisa admit that it’s this passion for music that’s kept them sane in the face of the madness that comes with fame. “I think the most important thing we’ve taken away from the last fifteen years is to constantly find joy in what you do and focus on the music,” says Jess. Lisa yells out a loud “exactly!” before reaffirming. “Re-engaging in that passion throughout our careers have kept us creative and loving what we do despite everything.”
It's obvious that The Veronicas thrive because of their connection together, and it’s obvious that this connection is intense and seemingly unbreakable. Even through the small things – how they interrupt each other mid-answer to say exactly what the other was going to say; how they bounce replies off one another to create one, cohesive response – their relationship and closeness are felt. However, that hasn’t always been the case.
In 2017, the pair were seemingly split, drawn apart due to “something that tried to distort what it’s really about for us.” It was a tabloid’s dream. Gossip magazines were often found misinterpreting and over-exaggerating social media posts and Instagram unfollows, and eventually their fourth album – due for release in November that year – was placed on hold “due to personal circumstances out of our control.”
“How things are framed in a public respect isn’t necessarily reflective of the reality of what’s going on behind closed doors,” Jess says. “It was really a case of having to learn the boundaries, which are very important for people around you in both business and your personal life.”
Eventually, they rekindled, brought together by music (“writing music was my therapy – thank god I had it,” says Jess) and a sibling bond that can never be broken for too long. “We’ve gotten through that and are now getting back to what’s always been there for us,” Jess continues. “We move into this time period – this new era – having an even clearer appreciation over each other, our bond and our love.”
"How things are framed in a public respect isn't necessarily reflective of the reality of what's going on behind closed doors."
- Jess Origliasso, The Veronicas.
And what an era this is going to be. Later this year, The Veronicas will release their first album five years, teased with the arrival of Think Of Me in March. Then, there’s a TV show to be distributed through MTV’s global network later this year, giving a personal, inside look into their growth as sisters both personally and musically. “Being in a band with your family for fifteen years is one of the deepest experiences I’m sure you could probably have,” Jess explains on the show, currently titled ‘Jess & Lisa: The Veronicas’. “To experience this very transformative career with somebody so close to you is a very unique experience, and the show delves into that and the raw, honest relationship we have with one another.”
The Veronicas’ upcoming album is said to be their most honest and reflective yet, built upon a motto Lisa has come to almost live by through her time as a songwriter – ‘if you’ve got something to say, the most powerful way you can say it is through music.’ “I think the most empowering place you can put feelings in is through music, it’s like a form of therapy,” Lisa expands. “Putting my thoughts and feelings – and my experiences too – in a place of music helps me better understand myself. It helps me get through something, and Jess is the same. It’s the beauty of being a songwriter.”
Think Of Me reflects this, lyrically exploring a relationship’s end and the feeling of bittersweetness that can occasionally come with accepting this. As a duo whose personal lives – including their relationships – are so often displayed for the public’s devouring, there’s a hesitancy and vulnerability that comes with being so open in your songwriting, but for Lisa and Jess, they almost have no other choice. “Lisa and I have always kept things very real – we don’t carry a façade on some level and live a double life in our songwriting,” Jess explains. “Lisa and I live in our careers – everything goes into that – and there’s no way we can separate our personal lives from our songwriting. I would find that exhausting.”
Deciding what stays private in songwriting is a blurry concept that’s often hard to define, but for The Veronicas, it comes all back to their drive to be authentic. “I came up with this quote in my journal – ‘perception is the weapon of deception’ – and it’s where the perception of you publicly becomes much more important than the person you are,” Lisa says, asked about where they draw these lines as musicians so often manipulated by the media. “It’s feeding this monster, which is how built on ego and how people want you to be perceived, and it’s very easy to lose sight of who you really are when this happens – which is something that comes with The Veronicas that we have to accept, even though we’re only here for our love of music.”
At one point, Jess cuts in. “We’re not surreal artists; we’re real artists. There’s no apprehension in sharing things because we’re true to who we are, and we need to be true to ourselves to fight this perception,” she says, before explaining. “It’s so easy to be caught in scandals and headlines and whatever else in the media, and it’s a struggle to be who you actually are because that can be an even bigger ordeal – they will run with it and say it’s ‘not a true reflection of who you are,’ as it doesn’t play into what they want you to look like.”
“We’re really glad because we’ve always valued compassion and hard work, we’ve always stayed humble and grateful and been nice people, because that’s what it comes back to. Everything you create can only reflect you, and it’s our way of doing that.”
"It’s so easy to be caught in scandals and headlines and whatever else in the media, and it’s a struggle to be who you actually are because that can be an even bigger ordeal – they will run with it and say it’s ‘not a true reflection of who you are,’ as it doesn’t play into what they want you to look like."
- Jess Origliasso, The Veronicas.
The Veronicas are entering a new stage of their careers. Somehow, despite being fifteen years from their beginning, they’re just as relevant as they were when they started, and although there are signs that they’re moving into more of a legacy act-esque status – Greatest Hits albums, the rebirth of one of their hit singles due to #memes – it’s not because they’re considered old and dated like many other Australian acts in this position, but more because they know what works, and are able to use that to create timeless hits that would probably be as successful – if not more – if they were release in 2019, rather than 2007.
Of course, we’re talking about Untouched in particular, and how 12 years after its release, it’s undergoing a second wind. At this year’s Field Day, Mallrat brought them out to cover the single for a moment that was the festival’s most iconic, and the track has been the subject of countless memes and even thorough analysis.
“It’s an incredible compliment that the song is timeless,” Lisa says on Untouched, talking about its striving popularity in 2019. “That song is a true representation of us at that time and I think it was just ahead of its time; very electro and quirky, with the violins – of course – the guitars, the electronic beats. It was a hybrid song and it wasn’t necessarily trendy or like anything played on radio at the time.”
In fact, it was quite the opposite. Scanning ARIA’s ‘Top 100 Singles of 2007’ list presents tracks more subtle and dare I say, formulaic – no stabbing violin openings, high BPMS and no quick-firing synth breakdowns in sight. “It was hard to get played on radio,” Lisa continues, before Jess explains further. “So many people wouldn’t play that song because it was electronic and they had geared pop radio more ‘traditional’ and guitar-backed. Streaming didn’t exist and social media wasn’t a big thing, so you relied on those radio spins, and it was a struggle for us to get them – so we’re glad it’s feeling almost bigger today than it was 12 years ago.”
“Let’s hope if we give distorted guitar screams, 80s synth and iconic violin openings, people won’t sleep on it for 12 years this time.”
The Veronicas' new single, Think Of Me, is out now via Sony Music Australia.
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