COVER STORY: pronoun Unpacks Layers of Heartbreak Through Songwriting

I’ll show you stronger.

Let those words marinate for a minute. Take in the punch, the weight, the defiance of them. That’s the resonant title of up-and-coming indie rock artist pronoun’s full-length album, set to release on May 24 [pre-save here]. But it’s not just a title; it’s the mantra for the way in which Alyse Vellturo is living her life after a devastating breakup. It doesn’t define her, though. Instead, it illuminated her resilience.

When comparing i’ll show you stronger to her first EP you didn’t even make the bed, Vellturo sees them as firm divisions in her timeline. What came before, and what came after.

“The first EP was the first music I really made, and it wasn’t as aggressive. It was in a moment when I was really sad, and I think the EP affected that. The album I wrote right after EP—I even wrote the EP, so a lot of these songs I wrote around the same time—but they were going through the next phase of whatever I was going through at the time, which turned into anger and realizing self-worth and moving on from whatever had really, really upset me at the time. So, it’s kind of like the next step in a breakup; the first step, you’re just sad and depressed … but this album goes into the next step of ‘Wait a second, I deserve better than this.’ That’s where i’ll show you stronger comes from. It’s a little more upbeat, it’s a little more aggressive, I push myself more vocally,” she explains.

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Not only did she begin to hone her sound on her second record — she started to release self-doubt, take musical risks, and usher in new production elements.

“On the first EP, I was just kind of getting to know how I liked my voice sounding. At the beginning, I just kept recording layers upon layers until I didn’t hate my voice, because I just wasn’t used to it, and with the songs on this one, I stepped further away from that. Instead of singing in a higher range or lower range, I experimented with the progression of a newer sound, a more mature sound, a growing sound. With the old music, a lot of the drums were programmed…and with a lot of songs on this album, I went to the studio and we did live drums on them, which I had been putting off for a really long time because it was very important to me to be playing every instrument on it, like I produce it, I record it myself,” Vellturo states.

Beyond the production elements, songs on i’ll show you stronger harness a power from loneliness, a lesson from the hurt. Vellturo shares that the album saved her life.

“I listen back to it now, and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe I made this.’ It took me three years to make. I procrastinated a lot, and for a while I honestly didn’t think it was going to come out. I thought, ‘Maybe this isn’t meant to be out in the world. Maybe you should move on.’”

But she continued the production process and mixed the songs with a friend, and thus the album came full-circle while also becoming a catalyst for self-reflection. “There are so many phases I went through in my life when I was making this album … It helps you realize a lot about what you’re going through. I’ll wake up the next day and listen to what I made and go oh my god, it doesn’t sound like who I think I am. Things come out, the wording and the phrasing of them, and I don’t know or recognize that person, but in a good way. There’s a lot going on that’s very not on the surface, and this helps me capture that and get to know myself way, way better,” she says with regard to the album, but with the first single, “temporary tantrum,” in particular.

“This is another one of those things where the words almost mean nothing to me, because I don’t remember writing that or saying it or writing it for a real reason. I think it’s the moment, in my case, in a relationship where you’re like, are you just throwing a fit right now so you can have an excuse to leave and go out and find whatever I’m not able to give you?”

And today more than ever, our public lives are intertwined, sometimes inseparable, from what used to be private domain. When we break up with someone, we can still scroll through their Instagram feed. When we have a falling out with a friend, we see what they’re up to on Facebook. This extends into the world of music, as well, where Vellturo states how artists need social media to connect with their communities: “It’s really hard to take a step back and realize the internet is just the internet…I was going through Twitter and I was like, I’m deleting my social accounts. I can’t do this. Then I was like, wait, you have an album coming out. You can’t. You can, but it’s going to be extremely ineffective if you’re not live on social media doing a release campaign. It’s not like it didn’t happen, the release still comes out, and your fans still like it, but there’s much less awareness going on around it, and that’s something I struggle with.”

As we’re more interconnected than ever, Vellturo provides advice on how to maintain inner peace: “It’s been a delicate line and balance to figure out how to keep yourself sane doing it and how to still use it, but also just try to remind yourself what actually matters in your life. What actually matters never changes. That’s human interaction.” And the elements of connection shine through within every personal, vulnerable song she writes.

With her second release, pronoun is set to define her voice and figure it all out, one song at a time.

Follow on Twitter @musicpronoun

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