Australian singer-songwriter and producer Felicity Vanderveen is a crafter of lush and dreamy pop-tinged R&B soundscapes. Today, the 21-year old Brisbane based artist, artistically known as FELIVAND, has shared her latest project, the smooth and immersive Nerve. Initially planned for a pre-pandemic release, the six-track EP is a meditative mix of entrancing bedroom pop and hypnotic neo-soul that dwells on the complex emotional facets of modern love and personal growth. While FELIVAND has been releasing music since 2017, Nerve signifies a confident leap into funkier and more full-bodied production. Instrumental nods to trip-hop and contemporary pop provide a multicolored backdrop for her gliding vocals to create a vibrant sound palette that feels both electronic and elemental. From the driving synth melodies of “Gone” to the woozy atmosphere on “L/D,” this set of songs is unquestionably Vanderveen’s most captivating material yet.
Leading up to the release of ‘Nerve,’ we caught up with FELIVAND over email to discuss the making of her dazzling new EP, sonic influences, taking a singles-focused approach to releasing music and more. Check out the full conversation below.
How much of Nerve was done prior to the pandemic? Were the release plans affected in any way?
Felivand: Yeah, actually! It was meant to be out much earlier this year but it had to get pushed back because the “Trajectory” video shoot needed a certain amount of people on set and we couldn’t do it with the restrictions. We ended up having to pull the pin on it three days out from the shoot dates which was so sad, we were all pretty devo. The delays were also a bit challenging because it kind of felt like I was in this creative limbo where I wanted to move onto and start other projects but also had to be ready to jump back into Nerve world at any moment.
You started out writing and recording predominantly on your own and have developed a growing fan base online over the last few years. Has the way you feel about making music changed now that you have an audience? Do you still feel like you’re the same girl tinkering on your laptop and making beats in your bedroom?
Felivand: It still feels very much the same and I still make most of my songs from home. The main difference is probably that I think a bit more about how a song will feel or translate live now, which is a good thing I think! I also definitely second guess things a little bit more, but I think that’s actually really constructive for me because it makes me persist or take my time with a song.
What was the recording process like for this project? Has that evolved over time as you’ve written and recorded more songs?
Felivand: It felt like I was trying a lot of new things on this EP. It was a very stimulating and experimental time for me. I’m pretty sure “Gone,” “The Game” and “L/D” were written between three different houses and then “Midsummer Sun,” “Trajectory” and “Ebb & Flow” were written between Allan and Max’s houses. So they were all written in different places at different times.
Your music has always been rooted in R&B and neo-soul stylings, but there are moments on this project where the material is noticeably more vibrant, funky and percussive. Was there a conscious effort to create that lively element or do you think it was simply a natural progression for your sound?
Felivand: I’ve been listening to a lot more pop and house music lately, so I think that’s just been crossing over into my songwriting a bit – which i’m loving! It’s nice to be able to bop along to something you make. And yeah, totally. I definitely think about how a song might feel when it’s played live now for sure.
To this point in your career, you’ve strictly released singles and EPs. In the age of streaming, this is becoming fairly common for indie musicians who self-release their music. What’s your take on releasing one song at a time vs. putting out whole bodies of work?
Felivand: I think the one song at a time thing is cool because it sort of gives each song its own ‘space’ or ‘moment’ and there’s no pressure for it to tie in with or sound similar to another song. I feel like that gives artists so much freedom, especially if you’re still discovering what kind of music you like making. But you really cannot beat listening to an album or EP start to finish by an artist you adore. It’s so special and I don’t think that will ever get old for anyone. They’re like mini worlds you can step into at any time.
What’s next on your creative agenda? Are there any plans for next year as far as new projects or other music-related endeavors?
Felivand: Since making the “Trajectory” music video, I can’t help thinking about songs visually now, so definitely feeling very visually inspired and can’t wait to make more music videos! It’s hard to say what will happen next year because everything’s still up in the air and very out of our control with the virus, but can’t wait to get back on stage again and maybe look at doing my first tour!