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Niklas Adrian Vindelev 2023 03 30 Veronica D Souza 14 2

Veronica D’Souza’s “Just Because A Crush” squeezes your hand

17 May 2024, 14:30 | Written by Steve Forstneger

Former fashion pioneer Veronica D'Souza presents a moody, alt-pop debut about trembling on the brink

Prison is not an abstract concept for Veronica D’Souza. Cafeteria brawls, shower-room shivs, the howls that accompany a new inmate’s perp walk... “I had no images of what prisons would be like,” she told Forbes in 2019. “The first thing that struck me when I entered was the fact that it felt like a village. These were ordinary women who had to provide for their families and ended up committing crimes such as drug trafficking or theft.”

The visit inspired her and a business partner to start the CARCEL label, which empowered the incarcerated to assemble clothing in exchange for wages and learning a trade. COVID-enforced lockdown restrictions killed the enterprise and D’Souza rekindled latent musical dreams. What she witnessed of those women - the interminable waiting and uncertainty, particularly - stayed with her and indirectly shadows her first-ever single.

“Just Because A Crush” narrates a tense 'will they/won’t they' crossroads. Jailed by fear, the lyrics preach patience while tightening their grip of your palm. “If you’re anxious it’s better to be cautious,” she advises, “hold me / hold me / hold me.” The vocal harmonies are simultaneously smooth and sudden, voices all trying to jump in the same direction for worry of being left behind.

“I wrote this song to comfort myself and everyone who is battling with anxiety or fragile mental health,” D’Souza explains. “When life and the world is taking you through its turns, you can become scared and scarred. Embracing adulthood is to me about standing in your vulnerability and having the courage to take time, breathe and create connection through vulnerable meetings. And doing it with care and slow-paced.”

Her comments on embracing adulthood are striking given her vast, international experience as she approaches her forties. It indicates that those things that shackle the mind can rust with idleness.

The song was produced by D’Souza and mixed by Jorge Elbrecht (Sky Ferreira, Caroline Polachek, Weyes Blood) and masterfully melds sensations of impatience, passion, dread, and hope. The beat moves to the cadence of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop,” but surprises with its timed turns into major chords.

“It is also a fighter song, to remind us, that despite challenges and bruises, we need to choose life and not let love pass us by,” she says. “With climate change and wars being our global reality, it can be rough to be sensitive, and maybe, we need to allow for a new pace of careful connection where we can be with all we feel, and yet, still dare to lean into feeling loved.”

The key is to not feel locked down while you’re locked up, whether the prison is real or imagined.

“Just Because A Crush” is available now. Find Veronica D’Souza on Instagram.

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