On Staying Authentic and Prawn Tacos: A Conversation with Eves Karydas

Eves Karydas © Claire Gillen
Eves Karydas © Claire Gillen
Meeting up with Atwood at Intelligentsia Coffee in LA, Eves Karydas discusses her new single, reworking her sound, and what’s on the horizon.
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Prawn tacos are the subject of conversation when I meet Eves Karydas. The pescetarian is enthusiastically describing some of the best tacos she’s had here in LA, and prawn tacos have easily clawed their way to the top of the list.

Not that Eves is a stranger to the many culinary delights the City of Angels has to offer. Over the course of her life, she’s been here a lot: at least six times, she notes, as we sip our coffee outside Intelligentsia Coffee, Silver Lake’s bastion of all things hip. The smell of flowers drifts over from the artisan florist next door, and locals and Australian pop artists alike are taking advantage of the summerlike weather in early February. It’s a comfortable 78 in the shade.

Of the weather, Eves laughs. “I’m so confused,” she says “especially because I’ve just come from London as well and I packed a puffer coat. Not a big puffer coat, but padded, because the last time I was here in January, it was cold!”

The hike in temperature is a significant departure from London, her now-home. The Australian artist had always dreamed of moving to London after spending time there as a child, and now gets her fair share of chilly winters.  “It was always a childhood dream of mine to move,” she explains. “I had this idea I would finish school and go. I didn’t quite do that: I stayed in Australia for a few years. And I had the choice to move to LA or London, and I decided to go to London, just to honor my childhood dream. I’m one of these people, I set goals, and…if I don’t follow them through I feel a big sense of failure.” She laughs and glances around, taking in Silver Lake in all its glory before adding, “I mean, I might possibly end up in LA in the future. I love being here and it’s close to home for me. The climate is much more similar to where I’m from and I think I know more people in LA than I do in London.”

Eves Karydas © Claire Gillen
Eves Karydas © Claire Gillen

Not that Eves is unhappy with London: far from it, actually. When I ask her what excites her about London, her eyes light up. “The city feels infinite. I have this thing where if I have a weekend off, I’ll just go to a new area I’ve never been to, and I’m constantly blown away by how much there is that’s undiscovered and really cool still, that I just knew nothing about.” She smiles. “Also, that you can walk a lot of places. You can walk all the way across London if you want. It’d take you a couple hours, but, it’s amazing.” She talks through one of her favorite things to do: ride the bus to the bottom of Covent Garden, walk up through Seven Dials and the bottom of Soho and continue up to Oxford Circus. “Soho is like my favorite place in the world. I walk around Soho, and I’m like, I get to live here! It’s the best. It feels so vibrant, and there’s so much history there.” She pauses. “And it’s green.”

The weather, family, and friends are the main things she misses about Australia when she’s living in London. And another big thing is people’s’ attitudes. “Australians are very friendly,” Eves explains. “So are Americans, actually: I’ve noticed since being here, if I’m out walking in the morning, people will say good morning to you. And that happens in Australia as well, but not in London….Which is a bit sad.” She pauses and amends. In London, “There’s definitely a sense of community, but it’s a different sense of community” than in Brisbane or Los Angeles.

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However, Eves isn’t just soaking up California’s relative friendliness: She’s here filming a new video. She tells us that “the song is quite upbeat, positive, and playful, so the video’s going to reflect that.” And aesthetically, it’s certain to be rather fitting: Eves is pairing with creative director Claire Gillen, whom she trusts completely to make “something beautiful and interesting and weird.” Her first video for “There For You” was filmed in a abandoned mansion, quite reminiscent of Rebel Without A Cause.

“It’s funny because everyone thought the “There For You” video…was filmed in the countryside in England.” Eves pauses and then bursts. “But it was filmed in Koreatown. It’s just like a big, old mansion there. It was falling apart, there were big holes in the floor and,” she laughs, “cobwebs!” Equally picturesque is the acoustic video for “There For You,” featuring Eves and a stunning old ballroom in a London suburb, “quite south of the river…I felt like I was in Russia in the 20’s or something. Absolutely stunning. You just kind of walk in and the air just goes sort of dense. Not really dusty, but you feel like the time is compressed into the cushions and stuff. And it feels like you’re in a parallel universe. Or a David Lynch film.” Which is nearly the same thing, when you get right down to it.

Watch: “There For You” – Eves Karydas

For Eves’ latest single, “Further Than the Planes Fly,” there’s not a video: at least, not yet. However, the song stands out as one of Eves’ personal favorites, and she’s eager to discuss how she wrote it.“When I wrote this song,” she begins, “I was going through a particularly experimental phase when it came to my songwriting process. And [I]was going through this obsession of writing things backwards.I would write a melody and I would reverse it…and just see if anything interesting became of it. I like the kind of surprise element involved with that process, and that’s what I was obsessed with at the time, just stumbling on things I didn’t expect to. So with that song in particular,” she continues, “the chorus, I wrote half of it backwards.”

Backwards? “It was something else and I flipped it,” Eves clarifies, “and there was just this little bit in it , the–.” She breaks off and hums the notes corresponding with the you-know-what-I-need of the chorus. “I don’t actually have many other songs that I’ve written that way. But that one just worked. And I think it’s a kind of songwriting process that will not work, and then work.” She smiles. “I’m honestly so thrilled that I got that song out of it… And it’s also very, very specific to that specific time in my life as well.” She explains how “Further Than The Planes Fly came about after moving to London: “I felt like I was thriving, shedding all of my old baggage that I brought over from Brisbane and feeling very fresh. And that’s kind of what that song is about.”

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Further Than the Planes Fly - Eves Karydas
Further Than the Planes Fly – Eves Karydas

Writing songs backwards isn’t exactly the approach you’d anticipate from the average pop artist. However, though the music Eves makes may fall more into a pop category, it’s anything but average or pigeonholed. When I ask her about what she thinks it takes to make successful pop music, she hesitates, noting that since she’s “so much at the start” of her career, her answer will be a bit hypothetical. But one thing she’s firm on is sonic trends.

“What I see as an ingredient to me hopefully becoming successful,” Eves begins, “is following my intuition, not jumping on trends. I think a lot of pop revolves around trends: it always has. But…it’s just the same sounds recycled over and over.” She acknowledges that playlisting and streaming is changing the way music is produced, and that has a lot to do with the sameness of the sounds we’re hearing. “I just think it’s a very short-term solution to finding success, jumping on those sort of bandwagons,” she notes.

I think pop is embracing empowerment in a really big way.

“Finding your own group of collaborators is important, too, instead of being put through the hamster wheel of [working with] a different person every day…Then your vision gets blurred. I think the worst thing you can do is let your personal vision and intuition get filtered out by other people.” Eves tells us how, when she gets to London, she learned “how to produce” herself because it made her feel so much more “in control.” “And then the ideas were my own and they were my experiments and my little messes. I would go and work with friends and we would turn it into something and I think that was really important.”

Watch: “There For You” (Acoustic) – Eves Karydas

Sonic elements aside, Eves is impressed with the range of subjects pop artists are tackling today. Excitedly, she explains that “one of the really good things I see happening in pop is pop addressing lyrical content that’s never done before. I think I’m generalizing a bit,” she notes, “but it seems like pop music now is dealing with a lot more difficult conversations. There’s a lot about mental health at the moment, obviously, gender conversations are happening too. I think pop is embracing empowerment in a really big way that I never used to get that from pop music. And I’ve been listening to pop music my whole life. I’ve always loved it, but now it seems like it’s at a tipping point. It’s in a good place in that regard, I’d say. People are putting more focus on creating lyrical content than creating fresh sounds at the moment which is interesting.” She goes on. “But when a song comes along that’s really interesting lyrically and a really fresh sound, that’s when it just blows up. So you just have to wait for those golden moments.”

While we’re on the subject of genre, Eves notes that she doesn’t “really consider it when I write,” and nor do many artists she knows. The reason? People are connecting with other factors of songs like lyrical content or vocal delivery, that aren’t necessarily strictly genre-related. She continues, “I think listeners are getting much more eclectic with what category they put themselves in. They don’t really put themselves in categories anymore…Now, I’ll have a playlist with like, Talking Heads and also Miley Cyrus… And that never, never would have happened before. But I think it’s amazing.”

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Before I ask The Name Question, I preface it by telling Eves I’m going to ask The Name Question. Many artists are tired of getting questions about their name and how they came up with it, so if she doesn’t want to answer it, we can move on. Eves notes that she doesn’t mind: people are naturally curious about names. After all, they are the first thing you want to know when you hear a song you like: who sang it?

Regarding her stage name, Eves is very open. She released music several years ago using another name, but “now, I’m using my real name.” She explains the name change transparently and without hesitating. “I used to use a different name, a made-up, almost like a character name. I just think at that point in my life I wanted a front. And I wanted to create a vibe that wasn’t necessarily me in real life. And that’s just what was important to me then.” She pauses, and continues: “I’ve grown a lot since those years of my life and now, to me, the only way I feel like I can be authentic as an artist is if I’m being as sort of unfiltered as possible and as real as possible. And I don’t want to be hiding behind a different name. That’s why.” She laughs. “I mean, it’s not my first name…But still, it’s a nickname from my middle name.”

…To me, the only way I feel like I can be authentic as an artist is if I’m being as sort of unfiltered as possible and as real as possible. And I don’t want to be hiding behind a different name.

In addition to her name, Eves has also been refining her songwriting process as of late.  Obviously, you can’t write every song backward, but still, she loves her “experimental days of the week….But typically, I can’t write unless I have a lyrical concept. I have to know what I’m going for, what I’m trying to say…what the song’s about needs to be memorable as much as the melody needs to be memorable.”

Working on the way she writes isn’t the only thing keeping Eves busy: there’s an album in the works. She reveals: “I can’t say when it’s coming out, but I am working on a record.” She grins. “And I’m so excited about it! It’s just very much about my life…the fact that I live abroad now, and everything that’s come with that. I’m really pumped.”

Listen: “Further Than The Planes Fly” – Eves Karydas

Though she’s been busy, Eves has still managed to make time to keep up with new releases. When I ask her what she’s been listening to, she laughs and grabs her phone. “Spotify!” She pulls up an eclectic mix of her latest favorites. Camila Cabello, Parcels, and Daniel Cesar are a few of the artists she’s been excited about lately.

It’s amazing she has time to listen to music at all with her schedule, though she doesn’t seem to mind how music she is lately. In the next week, she’ll fly back to London for five days, then fly back to Australia for three weeks, return to LA, go on to New York, and then back to London in late March. Luckily, she doesn’t “have an issue being away for an extended period of time because it’s fun being away and I look forward to coming home. But I don’t feel like I live anywhere at the moment, so I’m in such a state of flux….I”m just flying by the seat of my pants. I’m excited just to be busy.”

I’m constantly growing. It’s about being happy at the point you’re at now and knowing that you’re going to progress from that again. It might not be in a way that you like, but it’s always up and down.

Though she doesn’t have much time off this go-round in LA, Eves is doing a lot of catching up with friends in between shoots, business, and hunting down as many Art Deco buildings as she can find. But “there’s one thing I need to achieve while I’m here,” she announces, leaning in. “And that is get a gluten-free donut, from Donut Friend in Highland Park.” Having been gluten-free, dairy-free, and even vegan for a while, the current pescatarian is thrilled to be exploring all of LA’s ridiculously healthy options. “London’s not so good for that stuff…So when I’m here, I’m just like cruising about, like, ooh I can go to any cafe and eat something. It’s fun doing that, and just feeling healthy. I’ve been hiking, and drinking lots of water and smoothies. You know, just being peak LA.” She laughs. “I’m not apologetic about it, it’s so fun.”

Ending with food, the same subject we started with, seems to be a good move: Eves is meeting a friend for lunch and has to narrow down which restaurant. A daunting task in the gastronomically-saturated neighborhood, to be sure. She thanks me again before dashing off into the sunshine.

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What sticks throughout the time I spent talking with Eves is her openness with everything: where to find great food, the story behind changing the name she performs with, and about the fact that she’s constantly refining and reworking her processes. Many artists, established and emerging, often strive to keep that part of themselves secret. Eves embraces it as the next stage of metamorphosis. As she explained to me, when you’re creating for a living, it’s not as if you settle down into one area and stay there forever:

“I’m constantly growing. It’s about being happy at the point you’re at now and knowing that you’re going to progress from that again. It might not be in a way that you like, but it’s always up and down.”

Change is just the name of the game. Learning to be open to it and explore it is an act of discipline. And, as Eves noted, “It’s about being open to the fluidity of it, because that’s what living a creative life is about.”

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Further Than the Planes Fly - Eves Karydas

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? © Claire Gillen

:: Eves Karydas Tour Dates ::

*all dates supporting Cub Sport.
02.22-23.18  — Jack Rabbit Slim’s, Perth, AUS
02.24.18 — Fat Controller, Adelaide, AUS
03.03-05.18 — The Corner, Melbourne, AUS
03.10-11.18 — The Triffld, Brisbane, AUS
03.17.18 — The Metro, Sydney, AUS
tickets & info @ cubsport.com/live

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:: Stream Eves Karydas ::

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