VVEREVVOLF, by Robert Alleyne

As soon as vverevvolf arrive for our interview, they were brimming with positive energy. Kelsey LeRae and Dylan Gallagher have an aura to them. Whether it was discussing Katy Perry’s fifth album or Mitski’s performance at the Fillmore, the pair are open with their opinions. The more we talk, the more the surface exterior of a band just having fun fades away to reveal two musicians intensely focused on making the best music they possibly can. Their goal: to match the slickly-produced pop music of the top producers in the world.

“I am strongly influenced by the pop music that I enjoy listening to,” shares Gallagher. “When I hear my own music…if it doesn’t sound at least close to these influences I’m affected by, then it’s not good enough,” he says. He has a sincere and profound belief in both his and LaRae’s talents. “I’m just always measuring everything that we do up against mainstream pop music, because that’s ideally what we want.”

Their first single sets a high benchmark for their future music. Cruel Games can be filed next to the electro-influenced mainstream pop records that are filling the Billboard charts. It is an immediately catchy record, with LaRae’s vocals offering a warm and smoky antidote to the rich, bouncy beat.

VVEREVVOLF, by Robert Alleyne

“I freak out anytime I hear myself sing,” confesses LaRae as we speak about their musical process. “We were 22 when we recorded Cruel Games,

[and] hearing my voice — [it was] super untrained.” She shares how her evolution into a lead vocalist has been one fraught with trepidation and self-doubt. In the early days, she would have to sit with a record, listening to it over and over for “like two weeks” before she would text Gallagher to let him know “I think I like it now.”

LaRae expresses how the pressure of singing someone else’s music is something she is still learning to cope with. “This EP is something Dylan’s been saving away for years now,” she explains. “He spent so much time crafting these songs, and he, for whatever reason, picked me to be the one to convey these lyrics, and that was something that was really stressful for me in the beginning,”

“I get super, super in my own head, to the point where I don’t care what anyone else says,” she recalls of her struggle with the desire to find the perfect representation of the song. “[It’s] something that I’m working on…it’s gotten easier; it doesn’t take two weeks to like a song [anymore] — maybe two days!”

For Gallagher, though, choosing LaRae to express his vision was a no-brainer. “The first time I heard her sing…I was like, ‘I got to work with this. I need it!'”

VVEREVVOLF, by Robert Alleyne
LaRae and Gallagher met in a community college music class run by the late Steve Sage. Everyone in the class had to play a traditional rock musician: a drummer, or a bassist, or a guitar player. If you couldn’t play one of those instruments, you were a singer. “Even if somebody couldn’t sing, and they could only do something like percussion fills, or something like that…he’d be like, ‘Too bad, you’re singing.’”

“I joined this class because I knew that I wanted to meet somebody to make music with because I’d already been writing by that point,” reveals Gallagher. “I think that was actually the first time I had to sing in front of people [and] it was absolutely terrifying! But Kelsey liked it!”

The feeling was mutual. Gallagher and LaRae instantly fell in love with each other’s voices. Straightaway, they knew they had to work together. “It was almost immediate that we met up outside of the class and talked about pursuing a pop project,” recalls Gallagher. “I had some very, very rough demos…and after meeting up for years, in my car, singing these songs, we just eventually decided to dive in and actually do it for real!”

VVEREVVOLF, by Robert Alleyne

vverevvolf sold out their first-ever live show. And while this was an exciting achievement, it was bittersweet. “I was dealing with some personal things, maybe. Maybe it wasn’t as cool as it could’ve been,” explains LaRae before Gallagher interrupts.

“Her fucking pet bird had flown into a tree earlier that day,” he informs.

“I was getting ready to go to the show, and I walked outside with my pet bird on my shoulder, and she flew away. She was stuck in a tree and then she died on my birthday,” she says. “So while I wanted to enjoy the moment, all I could think about was Kukuí.” Both look to the sky to share a brief moment that mixes heartache and humor. “In some ways, I feel like Kukuí’s still with us,” says LaRae.

When I see them perform at Elbo Room, these traumatic events seem behind them. It is May the 4th, and lightsabers are handed out in celebration of the Star Wars-themed holiday. LaRae, when she performs “Murder,” launches herself into the crowd for the show’s finale. A few moments later she is surprised by Gallagher doing the same in a spontaneous moment of abandonment. “Oh, I’m doing that for the rest of them. It was so much fun,” expresses Gallagher with glee.

With only Cruel Games released so far, the majority of the songs can only be heard live which adds an enigmatic dynamic to their shows. “It was cool playing the songs before we actually recorded them…because we got to live with them for a while and see how they exist in a live setting,” says LaRae. Being able to live with them allowed the band to figure out the type of energy would best for each when it came time to record.

As the band prepares to release their debut EP, vverevvolf are ready for whatever comes their way next. “It’s crazy because we don’t realize how hard we’re working until you take a step back,” says LaRae. “Dylan put it best, he told me…think of ourselves as two sitting ducks on the river. To everybody else, we look like we’re not doing anything, but our little feet are paddling so hard!”

Vverevvolf look like they will be paddling as fast as they can until they reach their goals. That LaRae and Gallagher found each other is one of those serendipitous moments — the fact they both decided to sing that day in class. “I’m just glad that we were a couple [of] goofballs that fangirled over each other because we wouldn’t have this if we didn’t,” she says, and the two share one of those secret moments of mutual appreciation only best friends can.

vverevvolf, Yumi Zouma, Chad Valley
Rickshaw Stop
October 19, 2017
8pm, $15