The Veronicas Are Here 4ever
The Veronicas instantly conjure a certain energy—one that’s bright, punchy, and has a whole lot of attitude. It’s easy to see why: after all, since their 2004 debut on the music scene, Jessica and Lisa Origliasso have captured fans with their punk pop sound.
From early albums like The Secret Life Of… and Complete to their 2021 pair of records, GODZILLA and Human, the twin sisters have been constantly reinventing themselves while staying authentic to their own values. Case in point: their loyalty to the LGBTQIA+ community, which Jessica says has “carried us on their backs for 16 years.”
While touring in their native Australia, Jessica dialed in (Lisa, who was on vocal rest, was there in spirit) to discuss The Veronicas’ legacy and finding strength in vulnerability, as well as the duo’s newest pursuits in both fashion and music—and the importance of family above everything.
What was quarantine like for you when the world shut down earlier last year?
I guess, for Lisa and I, we really went quite introspective. I think we really took the opportunity to really assess what was important to us at that time. We were able to finish a lot of our creative projects, which was really nice. Usually, we’re sort of pressured to have to be in the room to finish things with people, especially album stuff. But it gave everyone the permission to do things at a long distance, which expedited being able to f tie up all the loose ends quite quickly. That was really nice. And then, on a personal level, we just really took the time to do a lot of cooking—really focus on our health, because obviously it was such a huge emphasis in the world on health. We really just thought about what we wanted to do. So, we started growing our own vegetables, and really just connecting to the earth and our family, and just being grateful for that time to have that reflective process, because when you’re in music and entertainment, it’s such a fast-paced world. You don’t usually get permission to stop. So, having the permission to just be able to put that aside for a minute and just focus on yourself is, without your career involved in this fast-paced life, it was actually really nice. And we spent a lot of time with our mummy as well, which was an absolute blessing, and it has been a beautiful time for us. So, yeah, I think that we tried to make the most of it. Any challenging situation that arises, especially one that has so much fear and uncertainty around it, Lisa and I really tried to go introspective and look at the spiritual essences that come with that, and just try to make the best of it.
The Veronicas who are currently on tour across Australia will be streaming the full GODZILLA V HUMAN tour set Globally this July 2021. For more details visit: www.emusiclive.com
You guys are back on tour right now! What has it been like being back onstage after 2020, which was such an isolating moment for the world?
It’s been incredible! Just being in this room with a couple hundred people or a couple thousand people…not that we ever took it for granted, because we never did, but you just don’t realize how powerful that connection is until you haven’t had it for a year and a half, and then all of a sudden you’re all able to be back in a room together, and close, and singing and dancing and just celebrating. Because so much of, I think, the media and the reality of social distancing is so tough. You feel so disconnected from other people, and music’s such a wonderful connector of the heart. We’ve just been loving it, and I was crying onstage last night. Unfortunately, in Adelaide, everybody had to have masks on in the audience, which is quite unheard of here in Australia, because it’s quite free. But there was a regulation because of some recent cases, where everybody had to wear masks and they weren’t allowed to stand up in the venue. But they all sang under their masks, were screaming, and their arms were up, and they were giving the most energy. And even though in all the other cities people could go wild, Adelaide—despite the obvious challenges that they were presented in this particular show—they were the loudest, most passionate crowd. There was just something so beautiful about that. It’s sort of reflective, I think, of humanity, and how we all just try to do our best and continue to rise and come together, and there’s so much power in unity. It’s been pretty mind-blowing, if I’m honest. It’s definitely given us an even deeper appreciation of what we get to do, and how much we just love it.
You guys took a bit of a break from music, and now you’re back on the scene with your new album GODZILLA, and Human—which is coming out soon. How does it feel to have new music come out in the universe, and how do you hope people will receive it?
It’s been the best feeling! It’s been six years since we had an album out last, and six years since we toured properly. We’ve done a lot of festival touring, but not our own headlining tour. And I just feel like The Veronicas is our baby. It’s been our baby for 16 years. I said to Lisa the other day, “If you and I had had a baby when we started The Veronicas, it would now be 16 years old. It would be a 16-year-old teenager!” Which is just so wild, because to have a new album out and to have people just loving it still. You know, as women in pop music, it’s such a difficult thing to achieve—that kind of happens in the present, when people love your music from after such a long career, that we’ve always just admired. When you see Madonna reinvent herself, and you see Shania Twain reinvent herself, and you see people are out loving Michael Jackson, and all these really theatrical, incredible artists that are constantly taking risks and reinventing themselves. For us, it’s just been exciting to delve back into a world, to create and take everything that we have learned before and grown through, and just be able to reconnect with our fans with new stories and new perspectives. And, for us, as far as how we want people to receive it, I think that the stories and the fun of GODZILLA is what we really wanted people to spark your imagination, and then Human is more about vulnerable stories, and a little bit more stripped back. The way that we concepted both those albums out separately was, GODZILLA was meant to be the larger-than-life Veronicas, and then Human is more of Lisa and Jess behind the scenes, and the stories. We really just wanted people to have fun.
Yeah, because you have a very loyal fanbase. Ever since The Secret Life Of… and Hook Me Up, you’ve amassed this massive global following that’s really ride-or-die. How does it feel to still have that fan support after all this time?
It’s so beautiful. We’ve been saying at our shows, I think we started out very much in the pub scene, and as we’ve grown and as our personal stories and relationships with our fans have grown, we truly feel like we’ve grown with them. And I think that’s one of the biggest things, is we have fans at these shows and listening to these albums that are like, “I started listening to your album when I was 5, my mum would play it for me,” and now they’ve grown up with this their whole lives, and it’s pretty mind-blowing. And then at the same time, the world has changed so much in the last 16 years, and such a huge part of our fanbase is LGBT-focused, and they’ve grown with us, and we all…like I keep saying, we all came out together, in a way. We all came into our own, and we’ve all embraced ourselves and journeyed through this change in music, and these incredible different artists that have come up, like Lady Gaga, and different sorts of icons that have come through music and helped to shape us all. The fact that we’ve been able to be a part of that and grow with our fans in that way…it’s more valuable than I could ever describe with words, because it’s not an experience that I think you can quantify with words, because it’s just so feeling-based, it’s such a big, beautiful feeling. It feels like a family. It feels like you know through your own personal experiences what so many of those people have been through. And the fact that they connect with our stories like that…I think that’s been the biggest part of it, is just, we could never have imagined that our music would take us to the places it has, or that it could have the impact that it has, even in our wildest dreams. It’s surpassed—far surpassed—all of that.
Over time, The Veronicas have become known for very powerful, immersive music videos, like “The Life of the Party.” What’s the process like of combining these very imaginative visuals with the music that you’ve already created?
It’s become very important to us. The identity of The Veronicas has transmuted and changed over the years, and we definitely…we always feel like we’re this larger-than-life versions of what we’ve done before. The Veronicas is a character that we created to step into, and it’s what we wanted to see represented in music when we were young women. We were 19 when we first released The Secret Life Of…, and women that we admired, and men that we admired, that we took little bits from, and Lisa and I are actually…we can be quite shy in our personal time, but we created these strong, powerful women that people can’t fuck with as The Veronicas, because that’s what we needed in our lives at the time. We needed role models like that, and so we became them. It’s funny to see now where our imagination goes when we’re writing music. GODZILLA is a perfect example. We just want to go balls to the wall. We’ve had a lot of experiences in this industry, especially where we’ve had to work through challenging times, just as young women and trying to be taken seriously, and all that stuff. We get to just have the best time. I always say it’s like a Quentin Tarantino movie in my head all the time when I’m thinking about The Veronicas, and how we can just make it, the most representative of how we feel when we get to be up onstage with all of our fans. It feels like just the most powerful, empowered version of ourselves. So, the visual component to that is incredibly important, and I think that our fanbase know us to that now, and so we definitely feel like we’ve got a lot to live up to each time [Laughs].
You’re on tour right now—you were just in Townsville, and also Brisbane. When can Americans expect you to bring your tour to the U.S.?
Oh my god, we would love to come over. And as soon as we can, as soon as they start opening up enough venues over there for people to tour, we would love to come over there and do that. We’ve got these two albums we would love to promote, we’ve got a documentary that we’re starting on the history of The Veronicas—it’s coming up to 20 years in four years’ time. So, for us there’s a lot of legacy there to honor, and we’re really focused on that. But then, also, we’re looking at coming back to the States soon for some more songwriting and stuff like that anyway, because we have so many friends and co-writers over there that we love creating with. It’s such an electric energy over there, in the songwriting world and scene. So, yeah, we can’t wait.
Having two albums that are coming out so closely to each other, and the process of creating them at the same time, is so ambitious! Like you mentioned, with both GODZILLA and Human, even though they’re together in a way, they’re also very different. What does each album represent to you, and how do you see their differences or similarities?
I think it’s the theme of duality that has been prevalent in mine and Lisa’s life, and The Veronicas’ lives, and I think it’s that duality between our power and empowerment in our strength, and being incredibly outspoken, and quite…you know, we’re not wallflowers. But then also the vulnerability, and finding the vulnerability and strength in that, can also be empowering. I think that maybe on our first two records, we were finding our really strong voices and expressing vulnerable moments. But being able to have finally found the balance between both vulnerability and strength being strengths, if that makes sense—that’s what these two albums represent. GODZILLA was more alter ego of The Veronicas, and public media relationship and our feelings around that, and how, after 16 years, I think your band becomes a brand, as well. It becomes touched by so many different narratives, it’s not just your narrative anymore. There’s public narrative, there’s media narrative, there’s tabloid narrative, there’s so much that happens there that changed what The Veronicas means. And I think, in a way, this was just us taking our power back from a difficult couple of years, within a media space for us, and being able to say, “Yeah, we’re really strong women, and we’re so proud to be, but we’re also vulnerable, and we’re also human.” That’s where the Human part of it came from, where we’re not just these characters that you can play with. We’re human beings with real hearts and real challenges that happen behind the scenes and offstage, like everybody else. We’re incredibly privileged to do what we love to do, and we feel so blessed in this life and grateful that we get to do that. But we have other things to relate to, and it happened that we just felt like we were ready to sort of share on the human side of the album. We can all be monsters, we can all be heroes. It’s like you have the whole range, and we’re multi-dimensional beings, and we have all these facets, and that’s what makes us beautiful.
You recently launched a fashion collection with Jagger & Stone that’s very heavily ‘90s-inspired. What were some of your main inspirations for the collection, and what was the process of this brand new venture?
We’ve always wanted to do something like that, and Jagger & Stone is a brand that we’ve worn predominantly onstage for the last couple years for all of our festival shows. They’re two young women who are amazing, powerhouse bosses. We met the girls at a festival–they surprised us, they came to a bunch of the festivals that we were playing and introduced themselves to us, and we’ve been wearing their stuff for ages. And they’re just the most spirited, gorgeous angels. We’re so inspired by them, and the fact that they’re young women making it happen in Australia. When they asked us about doing a range with them, we wanted to pay an ode to all the women that have made us feel inspired. So for us, the ‘90s sort of grunge era’s a big part of that, which was Courtney Love in Hole, huge inspiration, Garbage, huge inspiration, and then ‘90s cult-classic films. So all Christina Ricci’s characters, and, Winona Ryder’s characters in a bunch of films. They’re just these icons that…fashion icons, but also just, I don’t know, something about their spirit. It’s almost like punk spirits within the world of pop, or indie, or mainstream. But they all had this punk spirit. And I think that’s what inspired us as women the most, is that right girl punk spirit. So, we really took a lot of that on, but we took quite a femme perspective on that. So, the dresses, the pantsuits, some of that was a homage to Dolly Parton, with, the Nudie Suit, but in an ultra-femme way. We just really had fun creating all these different little collection of looks that we would want to wear onstage or out, and would make us feel empowered in our femininity and in ourselves. So, that’s what we ended up doing, and it sold out after the first couple days. We just couldn’t believe it, and…yeah! It’s been such a fun world, and again, it’s another form of expression, you know? Fashion’s such a…it’s a whole other world, but we’ve always been heavily involved because of the marriage between the fashion world and the music world. We felt very proud to be able to step into our designer selves for that, and make something really special.
What are some of your favorite pieces from the collection you made, and how do you like to style them?
My favorite was the black pantsuit with the little bustier. We had a tattoo artist do up the artwork for it, actually. Custom design, so it was a lot of rock n’ roll iconography. It was the Sacred Heart on the bustier, and it was based loosely off how a Nudie Suit would look, which is the iconic Nashville suits that you always see Dolly Parton in, and more recently see Post Malone in. We wanted to do a femme take on that, because we haven’t seen that done before. So that’s been my favorite design, just because it was so customized specifically for something, and an era of time that I just think is iconic in fashion. For most of it, we tend to pair things that are ultra femme with something that’s a little bit stronger. So, if we’re doing the ‘90s silk minidress, we’ll do some boots with it, some rock n’ roll boots, or more cowboy-style boots in that regard. Or, if it’s more of the pantsuit, then we’ll try to make it super femme in some other way. We really like that contrast where, if you go super femme, you pair it with something a little bit stronger and harder, and then if you’re going more of the androgynous. So, we also have these checkered pants, that we said we wanted specifically designed to look similar to a feel, like, what you’d want to wear…Lisa and I spend a lot of time in our pajamas, so we were like, “Pajama pants, but make it fashion.” [Laughs] And then we did this little matching top that was a completely different check, and it had a very, very, very femme sort of tie around, so that we had the androgynous bottoms with the super femme top. But then, obviously we have such a wide range of fans, and we wanted this to be able to be worn by anybody, even though it’s quite a femme perspective. We really like contrasting prints, so everything was made that you could pretty much buy a lot of different things from the collection and mix and match them. That was really important for us, because we tend to do that. I don’t like to wear things that are totally uniform, I like to be able to mix and match patterns. People sometimes think we’re a bit weird for it, but I like that. It’s my personal thing that I like to do, so yeah, we just made it so that it was easy for people to be able to creatively express themselves in whatever way they wanted. And that’s what’s really important, is that people can have these items and either combine them with things that they already love, or make their own individual style with it. Whenever I buy stuff, or even designer stuff, I tend to customize everything I wear. So I’ll cut into things, I will tailor things, all of that. So, we just really encourage people to do and wear things however they feel inspired to.
Family, of course, is so important. Over the last few years, you and Lisa have both opened up a lot about your mother’s Lewy Body Dementia, and how you have been caring for her and sharing more information to the public about this disease—which it didn’t seem like a lot of people were very aware of before you said more about it. What has that experience been like for you? How has your journey with your mother changed your outlook on life and your career?
Beautiful question. Our mum was such a huge part of our career, you know, from the very beginning. She’s within everything we do. The only reason we are here today, making our dreams come true and living this beautiful life of expression, is because she sacrificed so that we could live our dreams. She worked really hard to be able to support us, and help us to just, pretty much nurture our natural desires to want to do music. And she created a beautiful safe space for us to be able to fall in love with music and take on as much different inspiration [as possible]. She would take us to shows, and she, as The Veronicas took off, would come and personally helped to manage us. So, for us, when she was diagnosed with this quite rare neurological condition, none of us saw it coming. It was a complete shock to her and to us. I think that the hardest thing has been that, because it is such a rare condition—or, well, it’s not as rare as what they’re thinking, but it’s incredibly hard to diagnose, so most people don’t actually get diagnosed, unfortunately, until after death. But there’s so little research done on this condition. We’re constantly living in reflection of the disease. And that’s just been incredibly difficult, because there’s been no warning as to what to expect or prepare for the decline that happens, and it is an incredibly rapid decline, it’s called progressive supranuclear palsy. I think that Lisa and I…it’s hard to articulate just how difficult grieving somebody that is still alive is, because you’re losing parts of the person that you have loved and known every week, sometimes day by day. And it changes, and it can be very drastic. For us, we had to be able to turn that into something—I don’t want to say positive, because there’s nothing positive that can come out of this—but it had to be something that was in honor of her, that to see someone that is such a strong, vibrant woman being taken by something that is so far from anything that is comprehendible as a human being, that happens to be someone you love and who has cared for you your whole life be suffering like that, is…it’s incomprehensible, and it doesn’t feel fair. I think that, if anything, we’ve had to dig really deep and find an even greater spiritual connection to ourselves and each other, and being grateful for every day. We just show up for her, and we live our lives in honor of her and how proud we want to make her. I think that’s what…that’s all we can do, really, is that. We always say we just have to live, we have to be the strong women she raised us to be, and we have to be that for other people, and raise as much awareness as possible, because I wish that someone had told us what to expect while going through this, but unfortunately that information is just…it’s been very difficult to access. And we always just remind people, the most important thing in life is love. The most important thing, when it comes down to being anything at the end of the day, is…everything else other than love is just a distraction. It becomes very prevalent when you’re going through the grief, grieving a loved one in any circumstance. I think that, again, it just reminds you that you’re human, and it reminds you of what’s important, and we celebrate her every day. Every day that we get to spend with her here is the greatest honor. We feel so lucky that she’s our mummy. We just can’t even believe how lucky we got. We’re just, like, “Wow, we have the best mummy.” And she loves our music, and loves our music and our touring and everything, and so, we did take a break from The Veronicas for awhile while we were dealing with all of those feelings and the reality of what was happening. But we got back into it this year, and we knew that that’s what she would want from us, and how proud she would be of everything that we’ve created in the last few years where she hasn’t been able to be present.
Thank you, it is. We feel so lucky, truly. It’s like, humanity’s a funny thing, and you can get so caught up, especially in the world of fame, and celebrity, and the rest of it. You can get caught up in so many things. Our mummy was always our grounding force, she was always the one, she was there to remind us of what was important. She always was the person who connected us to all the charities that we’re involved with, would always be so proud of us when we would attend rallies, when we would do the marriage equality rallies in Australia here. She was just…she was always the person to remind us of what was important, and she will always be that for us, forevermore. And anything that we have in this life that is beautiful is because of her. We just feel really blessed and lucky.
Related to what you said earlier, The Veronicas has a very large LGBTQIA+ fanbase, and you’ve always made it very clear that you were in support of that community for a very long time. As Pride Month is coming up, what does Pride and that support from the community mean to you? Will you be celebrating this June?
Oh my gosh, babe. Well, we’ve been just celebrating with the music, mostly. Over here, the shows and stuff has just been so vibrant and just the best. I say actually in the show, on the tour, that the LGBT community has carried us on their backs for 16 years. The reason The Veronicas is still here today is because of them. And that’s no lie—like, I’m not exaggerating, it is. Because they’re our family, we feel so blessed to have been so embraced and loved and grown with the community. I was saying to Lisa the other day, “Unless it’s queer-focused, we honestly aren’t interested in really being involved in things anymore that aren’t run or headed by people in the queer community.” Because there’s an integrity there that you just cannot find outside of it, and no disrespect to everybody else, but it’s a safe space to be able to be yourself. You’re celebrated. You’re not cut down, you’re not compared, and you’re not made to feel like you’re meant to be something else. It’s just such an honor, and it’s beautiful. We just feel so blessed, and we feel blessed to have been able to grow up with everybody the last 16 years, and be involved in creating music that is celebrated by queer people. That’s the ultimate dream. It’s like, what is better than that? There’s literally nothing better than that, because they’re the most beautiful spirits in the world. I’m like, “What would this world be without the queer community?” Imagine! It would be so drab! There would be no spirit. The queer community is the most spirited angels, and the safest space. I think that’s the biggest thing. Early on for us, the most important thing about The Veronicas was, we needed our shows to be a safe space for people to come out. We grew up in theater; from the age of 5, we were very much brought into a celebratory space of gender diversity and self-expression and playing in different ways. There was no shame. This was back in the ‘90s, and there was no shame surrounding that in the world we grew up in. Our mum very much exposed us to film, theater that really embraced all of the different forms of self-expression and identity and sexuality. She would take us to k.d. lang concerts when we were 9 years old! So, for us, we had our minds very open from a young age, and our best friends were all within…you know, they were our age, but they were all within a safe space of being able to learn about themselves and express themselves. We always said The Veronicas needs to be that, from the very beginning. And so, when it came time for me to come out…I didn’t even have to come out, to be honest. I just lived my truth from the very beginning, and energetically, when you do that, you attract people who are the same. So much of our fanbase, I think, just naturally, you create a safe space for people to come and be, and they’re going to be there. It was just the most natural thing in the world for us. It wasn’t a decision we had to make, or anything like that. That was just our family. We just feel so proud to see how much over the past 16 years the narrative and media has changed, and how artists now are feeling, you know, a lot more safe and comfortable to be able to express themselves honestly and authentically. Everyone deserves that. Every person on this planet deserves that. They deserve to feel safe and secure in who they are, and not ever live in fear of that. We’re obviously still a long way away from that, but I can say that, you know, being able to make music that has at least been a soundtrack for young queer people is one of the greatest honors in our lives. Truly.