pronoun–Still Learning, Still Strong

Known professionally as pronoun, Alyse Velturo, a Brooklyn-based artist, is changing the face of music. She’s much more than just a talented musician, truly superb songwriter, and dreamy vocalist—she’s an activist, a clever and honest face for the LGBTQ+ community, and a multi-tasking force to be reckoned with. She isn’t just figuring her own musical career out, but she works for others, too, as head of her own independent record label. 

Pronoun’s artistry is one that is homegrown and pure, overflowing with truth, realism, and passion like you wouldn’t believe. Her unique, dreamy style is perfectly true to herself and the hard work that she puts in. With multiple tours under her belt, a stellar stage presence (whether she knows it or not), and a new full-length LP to her name, it’s clear that Alyse Velturo—pronoun—is on a path that is heading straight for success.

Your album i’ll show you stronger dropped in May, just before the start of summer. What was the writing and recording process for it like? Because I do know that the album was three years in the making.

Most of the songs on it I had actually started and almost finished around the time that I did the first EP, There is no one new around you. Originally I wanted to put out a full-length and not an EP, but when I finished the last song on the first EP, I realized they really all belonged together on its own. All of these new songs were then originally supposed to be on the first album from a while ago, but then after I put the initial EP out and everything started picking up—touring, SXSW, I started a record label, and all these amazing opportunities—I just paused that album for a while… at least, until I was truly ready to finish it. So, really, there ended up being two processes, one where I initially wrote a lot of the songs and the outlines for the album, and then the second process was a period of me trying to finish it lyrically and production-wise. A lot of the songs didn’t have endings…. It was kind of all over the place, but it seems to have come together. I hadn’t even realized that these tracks were all going to be together on one album until I was really weeding through all my demos. It was then when I thought, ‘Wait, these all make sense if I just put them together.’

Now, how would you describe your sound and your style to someone who is just discovering your music now? 

I call it ‘Salty Emo Bedroom Rock That Nobody Asked For, But People Seem To Enjoy’ [laughs]. I don’t know if that is really a genre. I think it’s synthy indie pop that is very heavily influenced by nineties alternative. I also think that there is a lot of nostalgia factors in it. It does it in a different way, though, and I think that is because of the synth pop-meets-emo and alternative influence. 

I’ll show you stronger has a lovely and clear personal aspect to it, one that is felt throughout the entirety of the album. The title of this album in itself seems very personal and I believe hits close to home for many people—not just your fans and listeners. How did you choose the title for this album?

Most of the titles of everything that I have done I have lucked out with because I’ve either said something or read something and then immediately thought, ‘I want to use that.’ Funnily enough, we were submitting for a support spot for a band I really wanted to go on tour with, and I found out [I didn’t get it] through a text from the agent that said, ‘Hey, they’re going to bring another band on tour with them. They need someone stronger for direct support.’ Which is fair, because I was new. I didn’t have that many fans yet, so I jokingly texted back in all caps, ‘I’LL SHOW YOU STRONGER,” and then I read it back and thought that it made perfect sense for this album. So, I named my album that. It was kind of lucky.

I know that you also have your own independent record label, Sleep Well Records. What made you want to start that endeavor, but also keep it separate from your own musical career?

Well, firstly, I started the label after pronoun started. There really wasn’t any reason for me not being on my own record label, it just didn’t exist yet. Also, I don’t have any money [laughs]. I started it originally because I had found a bunch of artists via Spotify on my Discover Weekly playlists and one of them I reached out to—Charles Fauna. He just so happened to live in Brooklyn, and he remixed one of my songs. He then sent me some stuff that he was working on and I was really into it, but I told him that I didn’t have any money, so I couldn’t really help him. He was like ‘Oh, I’m already working with a publicist,’ but then I was like, ‘Wait, what if I just help and sort of project manage this?’ That’s kind of how the label came together. After that, I got referrals from a bunch of people and it just grew very rapidly, which was really awesome. It was just a happy little thing that fell into place, which is sort of just how all of what I do seems to go, including album titles. 

Speaking of living in Brooklyn, do you think living and working in New York City influences who you are as a creative force?

I think so. First of all, in New York in general, you’re constantly seeing so many different people in so many different situations. I always say that I could be sitting in a subway car during rush hour and be around more diversity than most people see in their entire life. You get a little bit of everything from around the world and you’re just in a subway car. I think having that is special. Also, we all kind of live in a bubble in New York, too, because you can forget that there are other things outside of it. In this city as a whole, though, there is always something creative to do—always a show to go to every night, and so many of my friends out here are in bands and make art. I went to Berklee College of Music, so a lot of them moved to Brooklyn and New York after college, including myself, so I’m still close with a lot of those people, but have also met so many more people through them and through this city’s music scene. I think when you’re a musical artist or a band, you really bond with people who are out here doing the same thing. We’re all trying to make it and it’s really helpful to have perspective and have those people experience those same things and feel the same way. It’s a really nice community. It definitely affects a lot of the stuff I do.

I know that you are actually outside of the bubble that can be New York City and are on tour right now, so what do you enjoy most about being on stage and performing your own music live?

The more I perform live and the more we return to cities, the more people actually know me and the band, which is really cool. In the beginning, you’re brand new, and you’re playing a city for the first time and you’re just an opening act’s opener, hoping that people get there early to see your band. As we tour more and more, we see more and more people coming back. Or even singing the lyrics! That has started happening and it’s really special and quite awesome to see. It’s crazy.

With all these tours that you have done before, what have you learned about being on the road and being on stage from other bands that you have worked with? How have you implemented what you learned into this new era of your career?

It depends. Even last night, it’s still early in this tour and I was just getting into the flow again, but I had to remember that it’s just a show and not to freak out. We haven’t been on the road since February and then, before that, November, so I think that at our very first show I was so worried. I didn’t feel comfortable, I thought my guitar was too loud, and all this dumb stuff that doesn’t matter. I have to remember that it is not about you, not about me. It’s about people hearing you and your music, your art. Getting into the mindset that it is just another show and that we’re going to be doing this for another couple of weeks and having a really good time while we’re doing it is something I really have learned, and I am putting to use now. Also, learning boring things like how to set up your merch. When we went on our first tour a while ago, one that was five weeks long, all the other bands unloaded and they had these racks to put t-shirts on, and I was like ‘Oh, what are those?’ and they were just like wire shelves that you would put in a closet, but that is what everyone uses. It was so weird, but I just remember going to Home Depot a few days later and buying three of them. I was like ‘Oh god, I have to remember this. I have to catch up to these guys.’ And, actually, buying a lockbox. I didn’t have a lockbox for merch sales [laughs]. I learned—and am still learning—many, many things.

Be sure to catch pronoun at Brooklyn Bazaar on Sept. 3, House of Independents in Asbury Park on Sept. 4, Amityville Music Hall in Amityville, NY on Sept. 5, and The Foundry in Philadelphia on Sept. 6!