eves karydas is a popstar who thinks that being an outsider is best
Come dance around an abandoned Hollywood mansion with Eves and the Rihanna approved music video maker Clare Gillen.
Moving to the other side of the world is hard. You know no one, people don’t know what Vegemite is, everyone looks at you weird because you say iggs instead of eggs.
“It's pretty brutal,” laments Eves Karydas, who moved here two years ago from Australia to follow her musical dreams. The introspective pop peddler had already scored a few points under her former moniker Eves the Behaviour, supporting Sky Ferreira and doing the Laneway Festival circuit that skips across Oz and NZ.
Then came an offer to relocate, record and relaunch herself in London. So she packed her suitcase, spent a very long time on a plane, and touched down in her new home. It’s these past two years of unsettled settling in that have informed her new material. “There's nothing quite like being an outsider to figure out who you are,” she explains. “You're suddenly not around anyone else that you know, so you can only focus on how you function as a person and as a creative person.”
Take some of the lyrics from her lead single There For You, in which she swoons with a sultry, yung-Lana-del-Rey-esque yearning: “You’ve got your friends and you built your whole life here / I’m from a small town and we’re unfamiliar.” It’s coupled with a dreamy video of her dancing around a big empty mansion in bedsheets and sneakers, and, together with those lyrics, is quite the metaphor for the anxious isolation of being new somewhere, and feeling a little bit (or a lot bit) alone.
Not that being an outsider is all loneliness and longing -- you can reinvent your life and career and untag all those old, embarrassing photos of you pulling weird hand gestures, and everyone thinks it’s hilarious when you call M&Ms ‘iminims’. Or, as the video’s director Clare Gillen says of the video, “it’s about wanting to show [Eves] in a space that [she’s] maybe never been before, which I think is tied to the narrative of this fish out of water, someone who's on this journey to evolve and find out parts of them selves.” Clare’s all too familiar with this feeling, with the polymathic director/artist/photographer/mood bringer relocating from Philadelphia to Los Angeles a few years back.
Both captivating people in their own right, we were going to grill them separately, but then we thought it’d be much more interesting if we eavesdropped on a nice big chat between them. So here they are, discussing aliens, Rihanna and being a weirdo.
Clare: Hi Hannah, AKA Eves
Hannah: Hi Clare!
So why did you move to London?
To challenge myself, figure out my shit, figure out what I want to be. I moved and spent the last two years in the studio making songs. It’s all been very much about my real life and what's important to me, which is why I decided to change my music name to my actual name. That's it in a nutshell.
It’s interesting to me that you had to move away from the place you’re from to find your voice. I feel really similarly, because I worked for a couple of years for this artist Alex Da Corte, then came to Los Angeles, which really allowed me to see my strengths from a different perspective, instead of being this weirdo girl from Philadelphia.
Yeah, I feel like you can only really do that when you're thrown out of where you're from. Who you are back there starts making sense when you're not there. Was there anything that you wanted to do before you moved to LA, other than what you do now?
When I was younger I had a much more narrow view of what I could be, there were certain things that I wouldn't allow myself to entertain being, which is kind of a sad thought in retrospect. I studied photography, but I wasn’t a tech nerd. What was inspiring to me was the personal, emotional component of capturing a photo. When I moved to LA I realised I didn't have to be one thing. I think the biggest motivation and inspiration is about openness -- that freedom of courageousness of experimentation.
When we were shooting the video I was so guided by how uninhibited you were when you were directing. You were just walking around that place like you owned it, it was very infectious and it definitely helped me with my performance in the video. I've never seen someone work like that before. You were just shouting at me! It was exactly what I needed. Do you ever battle with the whole ‘am I good enough, am I an imposter’ feeling? Because I get that every day.
Regularly. But there's enough positive reinforcement and enough of a history that it's a little bit easier for me to recall what I have done, to sort of flip the script and be like no -- you're worthy of this. But that shit is real. It's so normal to have some cognitive dissonance, two voices, one being like 'you suck!' and one being like 'you're the shit!’ I think that’s part of being an artist. There's a great meme about having complete narcissism and crippling self doubt in tandem. I think another factor is that there's only so much time. That's a huge inspiration, and an existentially rich component of art making.
I feel like when I have there’s some pressure from time is when I do my best work. When it's crunch time it's like oh shit, I no longer have time to have crippling doubts -- I have to bring it or go home.
You gotta get that shit done. If you have too much time you wallow. I see that with my some of my friends who make music or even paintings, where it's this never ending internal dialogue. So yeah -- it's cool that we have deadlines. We're just going to freak out in the hour we have left and trust we'll get something good.
Exactly. So, with me renaming myself -- I just wanted this fresh start to feel as real as possible, without a front being put up. And I wanted my visual reintroduction to the world to be equally unguarded, no frills, nothing unnecessarily choreographed.You describe it as this girl who's run away and she's trapped in that house.
Well, if we're to magnify your identity and apply it to your musical one, to me it's a very clear narrative already built into your person. Someone who's very curious, who wants to explore, a little bit naive, still young -- there's innocence and courage.
I kind of wanted to explore being uprooted, not being defined by where you're from. Obviously where you're from is integral to every fibre of your being, but to leave that place and become someone new is something I wanted to explore. What's different about the birth of ideas working with big artists like Dev Hynes? Was is as much face to face as it was with you and I?
Dev’s a friend, so in that regard, it’s face to face. However, the more established artists have more walls around to protect them. I think there's so much more magic when you have a bit of a personal connection. Like working with Rihanna -- I think it was like nine months before we even met.
What's tougher, working in a predetermined aesthetic or building one from scratch?
I think honestly it can be easier working with a preexisting structure. Because it's like -- this is this person's thing, and this is what they've done already and these are their contemporaries. So there's already a language there to make new things from. With you it's more exciting, it's more of a personal journey and I’m emotionally involved.
I don’t think it would be very satisfying to work with someone I couldn't sit down with -- it's just how I work I guess, and how I want to move forwards. It's never been this intimate before with me, but I'm suddenly seeing all the benefits and all the magic of it and I'm like oh my god, never going back!