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11/06/2013 : EVI VINE - I think we're actually going back to where we started from. For me, it's moved in full circle, it's like I'm coming home again now... 11/06/2013 : EVI VINE - I think we're actually going back to where we started from. For me, it's moved in full circle, it's like I'm coming home again now... 11/06/2013 : EVI VINE - I think we're actually going back to where we started from. For me, it's moved in full circle, it's like I'm coming home again now... 11/06/2013 : EVI VINE - I think we're actually going back to where we started from. For me, it's moved in full circle, it's like I'm coming home again now...


I think we're actually going back to where we started from. For me, it's moved in full circle, it's like I'm coming home again now...

11/06/2013, Philippe BLACKMARQUIS

Evi Vine is a unique artist. She has one of the most beautiful voices I ever heard. It reminds me of Kate Bush, Chelsea Wolfe, Lisa Gerrard and Moya Brennan (from Clannad). And her compositions are haunting, as if a female Leonard Cohen was whispering stories of loneliness and loss right into your ear. Following a remarkable work on the first album of The Eden House and an amazing first album ("And So The Morning Comes"), she came back to Belgium to play at the Rock Classic in Brussels, a concert organized by Les Soirées Cerises and Jeremy Thomas, from Perverted By Language, the excellent postpunk band which supported Evi on that night. We took the opportunity to talk to Evi Vine and to her partner in crime, Steven Hill.. You can read the interview or watch the video on Youtube below.

Evi and Steven, thank you for this interview! You've just played here at the Rock Classic in Brussels. How did you like the concert?
S: It was good, it was the first show with some of the new stuff, so it was a l bit like the first live rehearsal of that. A bit scary but great!
E: It was amazing, great sound, great lineup, and it was the first gig with our 2 new band members, Ben McLees on bass, drums and guitars, Sam Astley on guitars and drums, who were they joining Ben Roberts, who's been playing with us for many years and obviously Steven and myself. It's really exciting to go in road with the new guys!

You're doing a small tour with 2 days in Belgium..
E: and 3 in Germany... hem..

In Leipzig, Hamburg and Siegen...
E: Yes, I'm glad you said it. We have to ask for directions on tour (laughs). Yes, it's nice. We see friends and it's a nice opportunity to try some new material.

You played new songs, among which 'Starlight', which I like very much! Anything to do with 'Lucky Star' (Note: the song from Madonna that Evi covered for Arte)? Even unconsciously?
E: It's nothing to do with 'Lucky Star'. (laughs) Maybe, because we were working on it for so long, for live shows and for remixes, maybe it was the first word that came out when we started working on this new song. In fact, 'Starlight' is sort of an old song, we had been working on the track for a while and then we had the opportunity to work with Peter Yates again, from The Fields of The Nephilim...

And from The Eden House as well..
E: Yes, a little bit: he played some slide guitar for The Eden House, yeah.. He was staying with us for a long time and started work on the synths and the relationship between the synths, the vocals etc..

So, you will be mixing the new album in June?
E: Yes, with Phil Brown, the producer who worked with Talk Talk, Portishead, etc.

Oh yeah, how did you get in touch with him?
S: Well, the short story is that we wrote to him on the Internet...
E:...and he wrote back! (laughs) Which was amazing. We had a list of the people we would like to work with and he happened to be on top. We wrote to different people but they were super busy, they were already signed, so we thought 'OK, we're on our own, but it's cool because we've already done it before. But Phil's message came and pulled us out of this obscurity in a way...
S: And we had been fans for two years of the Talk Talk album that he worked on. He's got a particular style..

For the drums?
S: Precisely. Also on the Mark Hollis album. He was kind of around us but we didn't quite know it. Then, we met him and he's just the nicest guy... he's the answer..
E: He's like the Oracle...

Have you already worked with him?
E: We will be working. We recorded everything at home and we're going to mix in June in the studio in Kentish Town that he uses regularly, it's kind of a home for him. It's a beautiful desk that we will be mixing on, so the sound will be very specific. We chose that for many many reasons. And through Phil, we were introduced to Martyn Barker, who was the percussionist and founding member of Shriekback. So, he's been working with us and it's just astounding because I was a huge fan.

So it's a whole new direction for the new album..
S: Yeah and it's more than just Phil mixing the record: he's been on the phone, online... He's been the guiding light whenever we needed help.
E: That's the difference that it makes when you're being unsigned: we are like a floating entity. We're musicians, usually you're alone to make a record and it can be isolating if you don't have any other support. We have no label, no manager and it's cool, for now. But having someone so vastly experienced, calm and reflective to talk you through times when you're not sure of where you are, it's great! He'd say 'Everything's ok'. And Martyn has been exactly the same. It's really exciting. The way that it changes is that the music is more percussive. We're us a lot more drums, rhythms.

So there will be an evolution: it will be a little bit less ambient, a little bit more rhythmic?
E: Maybe, but the ambient will be on the top of this. I hope we're not compromising it. We're sort of crossing over right now. So, we're kind of wondering: are we gonna play at world music festivals? (laughs) Obviously,we don't want to lose ourself...

From what I heard it's a good evolution. It brings several elements of trip-hop..
S: Precisely. There's the albums that we love, like the first Tricky, Portishead and Massive Attack. If you listen, there are percussions, layers of drums that you don't notice...
E:... until you really notice. The song can feel naked and unfinished but it's not: there's lot of great things happening, textures,.. The other thing is that writing the first album was an isolation, but it was personal...

Very intimate...
E: Yeah and the stories were painful but this time, we started from scratch, everything is brand new and we keep an open door. If you want to play and you have some time, just send us stuff. People in Australia and from all kinds of places sent us stuff...

So I can send material if I want?
E: Please do! (laughs)

Now you have settled on a shortlist of 14 songs for the new album?
E: It's close. There's a few more in the writing. The last one we played tonight, we just wrote it last weekend as a band. It's a great difference to have all these great musicians...

It's a great song. Your voice is different on this song.
E: Yes, I like it. It was the first time we ever played it live. The sound is different because it's rich with all these other talents and people.
S: On the first album, we had limitations and we wanted to do as much as we could on our own. For this album, it's like : 'if you have a good idea, go for it'.
E: We didin't know a lot of people before...
S: Now we have a really good circle of musicians and engineers and people that can help, so it feels like a much more productive space than for the first one. It's just easier when it's not just us at home going mental. (laughs)

So it wil be more the work of a band this time...
E: Yes and we're trying to think of a name for the band like "Evi Vine and..."

Evi Vine and the Bottle of Wine?
E: Yeah... (laughs) We've got the 'Squirrel people', like the 'Bad Seeds' for Nick Cave. Stéphane in Liège tried to teach us how to say "squirrel" in French. How do you say?

Oups.. I don't know... It's "écureuil"...
E: Ah ok... "Ecureuil"... (laughs)

Do you already have a title for the album?
E: We have a couple of idea's.

And the cover?
E: Hopefully we will be working with Alexander Brown, who worked with James Blake, but we'll see.
And for distribution and marketing, are you going to cooperate with labels?
E: I like the word "cooperate". We'd love to have a relationship with somebody that can be mutually productive and respectful. When that comes along we will be happy to be 'cooperative'. We've met a couple of people, someone in Germany, someone in the UK, we'll see how it goes. But first of all, we need to know what kind of record we want to make. If we end up being alone, we have good friends supporting us like yourself, Frédéric or the guys that had us here...

Yes, because it's not your first time in Belgium! You came first in 2009 with The Eden House...
E: That was amazing.

And in 2011, you opened for Rome...
E: A Fantastique night! (laughs).
S: We've met lot's of people on that night that have been supportive since then.. Like a community. Which is cool.

Which other new songs did you play tonight?
E: 'If it's Love', 'Hands Are Tied' and a sort of new version of 'For You'... The end was sort of an experiment (laughs)... And the last song, which doesn't have a name yet.

An amazing song. On the Internet I also saw video's of 'I'm Not Here' and '80s Epic'...
E: Yes, '80s Epic' has changed incredibly. Martyn Barker has just finished the drums so..

There was also a song with 'Sonic' as working title...
E: Yes, but it is kind of shelved for the moment. We played it at WGT, at the Fantastique Night as well.
S: We overworked it. But it will come...

I also saw an evolution in the direction of a crossover between trip-hop, dark folk, ambient, electronic, a bit like Chelsea Wolfe. Would you agree with this comparison?
E: I know her very very well. She's very cool, I really like her. She's a new discovery. If we are heading in this direction, then it's good... In fact, years ago, I used to have a lot of synths and then I became more folky, more guitar when I was on my own, so I think we're actually going back to where we started from. For me, it's moved in full circle, it's like I'm coming home again now...

Can we talk about the origins, about the beginning? Evi, your family was very musical with your mother, your uncles, the McManus brothers...
E: Oh my God, you know more than me... (laughs) I remember the family gatherings, there was always guitars, music. It was always really warm and rich. I remember being with my uncles on tour. There's pictures of me playing drums.... Maybe because my mum's brothers had a hard life on the road, it took a long time for her to understand that it was where I was gonna go. For her, I needed to be a lawyer, a surgeon, etc. Now she knows that, without it, there's nothing for me..

The family aspect made me think of Clannad... and your voice, of Moya Brennan, which is a great reference in my opinion. Especially in "For The Dreamers..."
E: Thank you! Yeah, a lot of people who are not in the alternative scene say: Oh you remind me of Clannad. People also mention Dead Can Dance...

And Kate Bush...
E: Maybe, if we're lucky, yes..

I also noticed a slight arabic aspect on "Sonic"..
E: If it's cool, it's great but it must have been an accident... (laughs)..

And what about you, Steven, how did you start making music?
E: My parents weren't into music at all. They had cassettes in the car, so. It wasn't until I was a teenager when I saw Nirvana and Dave Grohl playing drums, I thought: 'That's what I want to do'. I played in crappy bands, got into hip-hop, rapped a bit, I mixed and then I sort of quit the music in London because it was difficult. Then I met Evi and...

... Your life changed..
E: (smiling) I heard an early version of "Inside Her" on the Internet and I was like 'yeah, that's it'. My reference at the time was Mazzie Star, so I thought 'I'm in'.

How do you work together, how do you compose?
S: It can vary: it can be that Evi comes up with a song, like the whole thing, or a melody, or a riff...
E: Everything has changed now. The evolution is cool. For many years, we were working on material that I had written. For the first album, this was the first time we were recording a record, at home, so it was a case of All Hands On Deck.

You were working on existing material...
E: Yes, building frames around a song. We had been working with musicians who ended up leaving the band and eventually, Steven got frustrated. While I was on tour with The Eden House, Steven bought every guitar pedal that anybody had ever had in the band, plugged them in and got kinda wasted for a weekend and found the sound... I remember him calling me, coz it was the profound step forward musically for us. He had composed all of the sonics of 'For The Dreamers'... So, it took him being really brave to take a step forward. Now, he has found his place in the band with his incredible sonics, he's getting more and more involved in technology and becoming a great guitarist, actually, so that's exciting. On the new album, Steven has a piece he started on piano, then I wrote things with the computer, then we added guitars,...
S: It's quite experimental. It's like you trip over something and it makes a good sound, then you loop it. It can be absolutely anything. It's not limited to instruments. It's like hit anything, play anything, record anything, play things upside down, it's really free, it's a creative process.
E: We record a lot of our drums by just having a mike and not having a mike stand that works, so we put it on the side and see what happens and when we wrote to Phil Brown, he said: 'It's one of the best sounds I've ever heard'.. (laughs)... The other difference is that the guys in the band now write and read music... They're all very talented.

And what about the future, then. The next album...
E: We'll be mixing half of it in June and then finishing the rest of the songs to mix in July...

And the release in September?
E: Hopefully, if we can...
S: We'll say in autumn...
E: Some friends were saying that we should hold out until February... (Update: it will be "early 2014")

I remember waiting for a long time for the first album... I had even put it in my list of the 10 best albums of the year and it wasn't released yet...
E: Thank you, such a good man! (laughs) I've waited 10 years! (laughs) This one has taken like a year, really and we are already moving forward for the next, album 3; Because we have so many songs, and it feels so exciting with the new guys, it means we can make it happen quickly and keep it really good.
S: The first album was a labor of love, it took a long time and it was pretty hardcore. We probably needed a break from it. Now we're just writing songs and come with new material and new sounds all the time. So, it's not as if we're gonna make the 2nd album and then go... to the Bahamas for 2 years, we're just gonna carry on.
E: By the way, we didn't go to the Bahamas for 2 years, if we do, we will call you. (laughs)

Well, thank you very much! All the best for you and looking forward to the new album!
Thank you so much, Phil.



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