For some, true passion takes hold from birth, for others it’s an “oh fuck” moment of realisation. “The priority for me was never to perform, but to write,” EYVA muses between flashes of the camera, “My music is very personal to me, it took some time to learn to be confident but then, when I started to feel this burning energy while performing, it all just clicked”.
Today, on a quiet residential street in Brixton, styled in a look that can only be described as 80’s industrial mod, EYVA looks right at home. Dressed in pieces by McQ by Alexander McQueen and Christopher Raeburn, the Swiss-born London-based artist presents a personal aesthetic that perfectly mirrors the juxtaposition evident in her unique sound.
Inspired by the likes of James Blake and Ibeyi, her dreamy downtempo soundscapes echo the slow burning passion from which they emerged. For EYVA music is a holistic experience, designed to “carry people and allow them an escape for a few minutes.I want people to lose themselves in the sound.” That sound, established in her debut single ‘Mother’, encompasses a collision of delicately layered vocals and an upsurge of intensifying drumbeats that envelop the listener.
Drawing inspiration from East African drum sounds and harmonies found in classical choirs, EYVA pays tribute to both her mother’s Ugandan heritage and her Swiss upbringing. “When we’d visit Uganda my ears always loved hearing these powerful drum sounds,” EYVA reflects, “so I like to incorporate it into my music, without making my songs sound like world music”.
For EYVA, the feeling and atmospheric experience of her work is the priority. One in which the unification of sound and visual plays a huge role. “My music doesn’t tell a specific story, so with the visuals it is just as if I was explaining my universe in another language,” EYVA muses, “one is auditive and the other visual.” Two languages that work hand in hand; the music controlling the visual and the visual adding depth to the music.
Throughout ‘Mother’, EYVA sets a dreamy scene through folky vocals accompanied by a backing that can only be described as softly tribal electronica. She creates an abstract sensory experience that is reflective of both her writing process and visual aesthetic. “I want the feeling to transcend the sound, that’s why my lyrics are so abstract”.
When I ask EYVA what she stands for she smiles and simply replies “music”. She’s not pushing a cause, but rather hoping to stir a feeling in her listener. “I never think of my production as ‘logical’. If my heart doesn’t feel it’s special, it won’t count.” There’s an innate focus on empowering individual feeling and unique thought that purveys both EYVA’s musical and personal paradigms. She’s not about ‘telling’ you how you should feel, her interest lies in connecting you to those feelings.
The result is almost a purist approach to the connection of feeling and of art itself. Of course, personal reflection and individualised meaning are evident throughout EYVA’s work, but there is an overall absence of agenda to her sound. It’s an almost romantic approach with a strong emphasis on what is left unsaid.
EYVA challenges her listener; not in the logical sense but emotionally. She provides an art with the absence of explanation, or atleast a need thereof. She compels her listener to fill in the blanks themselves.
However contradictory it may seem, the true ‘agenda’ of EYVA’s work lies within her ability to disconnect her listener from all their “logical bullshit” and reconnect them with their innermost instinctual feeling. “I don’t want them to feel my feelings, they should be connecting with their own. So to make lyrics and music that follows a logical clear structure, to control what they feel, misses the point.”
And if that isn’t an“oh fuck” moment of epic proportions, I don’t know what is.