Hitting Walls and Bouncing Back: Cal Veatch’s Millennial Pop

For Loudoun singer/songwriter Cal Veatch, coming of age during the weirdest of times is painful–but also artistically inspiring.

For the past two years, the 26-year-old Veatch has been cranking out original material and developing his moody, pop-infused sound. He recently recorded a version of acclaimed songwriter Amy Allen’s environmental cri de coeur “One,” which he released this week as a fundraiser for World Central Kitchen. For Veatch, the song is an expression of the uncertainty and helplessness of the pandemic era– but also a reminder that people can take small steps to help. 

“When I heard the original, it immediately resonated with me,” Veatch said. “Feeling helpless on an individual level and saying I wish there was something I could do when I’m seeing what’s going on out there.”

When Allen, a celebrated songwriter who has penned hits for Harry Styles, Shawn Mendes and other stars, released her single “One” in 2021, Veatch fell in love with the song’s mix of anger and empowerment. He knew he could make it his own, infusing Allen’s moving lyrics with his “baroque pop” style.

Veatch timed his release with Earth Day on April 22 this year. All proceeds from downloads of the cover go to World Central Kitchen, the nonprofit launched by celebrity chef José Andrés after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti to provide meals in communities impacted by climate and humanitarian crises. World Central Kitchen is on the ground in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. 

“I thought maybe we can start using our art to benefit what’s going on in the world,” Veatch said. “I think what [World Central Kitchen is] doing is beautiful–providing meals for people who are constantly under attack—fuel the body, fuel the soul.”

Veatch has been writing and producing songs for the past five years, and experiencing young adulthood in unprecedented times is a running theme in his work. As a child of the late ’90s, Veatch sits at the cusp of the Millennial and Gen Z generations (he considers himself a young millennial). There’s a sense of fear, anger and frustration running through his work but also expressions of hope and an intense desire for growth. 

“Our earliest memories were 9/11, and you can figure out the rest from there,” he said with a laugh.

The pandemic has been especially challenging for teens and young adults as they struggle to make connections in a time of isolation. But the past two years have also been particularly fruitful for Veatch as an artist. He released his dark EP “Midnight In Quarantine” early in the pandemic and followed up with his angsty five-song EP “Love Me Like I’m Dying” last year. 

“Somebody my age shouldn’t have this many flaws/Shouldn’t be this far behind, shouldn’t hit this many walls,” Veatch wrote in the single “Army” from the 2021 EP.

Relationships, both positive and negative, are an ongoing source of material for Veatch, and he captures the disaffected but hopeful vibe of his generation.

“One of my favorite pieces of advice when it comes to songwriting is, go out and observe and write what you know. Writer’s block is more of a myth than we think it is,” he said.

For Veatch, turning 26 was a milestone, a passage into adulthood and a time for reflection that inspired his latest release, “Blame It On The Timing (26).” That single has Veatch reflecting on a painful relationship in his early 20s and the idea that being an adult is a mindset–not just a number. 

“I think with age, people expect maturity, but that’s something you have to work on,” he said.

Loneliness and breaking down barriers during a time of social isolation are themes in his single “I Don’t Want To Die Alone,” which features a music video shot at Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve near Leesburg. Veatch said the song was inspired by seeing older adults in his life who hadn’t found a partner or were ending long-term relationships.

“There’s always that fear creeping into your mind: is that going to be me?” he said. But the song underscores the idea that it’s OK to crave connection.

“People make your life happier whether you want to admit it or not,” Veatch said.

Veatch grew up in Ashburn, graduated from Briar Woods High School and attended Northern Virginia Community College. For the past year and a half, he’s been a well-known barista at King Street Coffee in downtown Leesburg and is thriving in the downtown Leesburg community. Several colleagues and customers are also musicians, and the job offers a chance to make connections while working on his craft. Veatch says many high school classmates wanted to leave suburban Loudoun right away. But he felt a pull to stay and feels that Leesburg, with its burgeoning arts scene, is the place for him.

“I love the diversity,” he said. “I’m always finding something new about this place to explore.”

These days Veatch is spending most of his spare time in the studio developing his sound, which he describes as “a hybrid between synth-driven pop and mainstream pop with an edgy, rocky side.” As a kid of the 2000s, Veatch is a diehard fan of ’80s pop, from Rick Springfield to Whitney Houston.

“I love the ones that people consider cheesy,” he said. 

Veatch has plans for a new EP this summer, with a return to his lighter pre-pandemic sound, and hopes to start hitting Loudoun’s live music venues soon. 

“Right now, I’m very much in a creative phase, and I’m trying to milk it,” he said. “Performing live is great but I find that it can be distracting from what’s at hand. … I want to take some time to think about what I really bring to the table.”

To check out Cal Veatch’s latest work and download his new cover of Amy Allen’s “One” to benefit World Central Kitchen, go to fanlink.to/calveatch. Fans can also catch the new video for “I Don’t Want To Die Alone” on Veatch’s YouTube channel.

One thought on “Hitting Walls and Bouncing Back: Cal Veatch’s Millennial Pop

  • 2022-04-22 at 9:01 am

    It was interesting to read about the accomplishments of this young man. Cal Veatch is a talented musician who’s worthy of our admiration. And as a graduate of Briar Woods High School, he’s another exemplar of Loudoun’s great school division. I wish him every success in his future endeavors. Happy Ramadan Loudoun!

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