Behind the Music: Interview with Eve Simpson

‘The musicians I work with bring talent, friendship, and a love for my tracks that can’t be manufactured by hiring someone else.’

Following the release of her new single ‘His Euphoria’, I chatted with Eve Simpson to discuss her musical inspirations, discover why the people she works with are so special to her, and how she feels the accompanying Tik-Tok centric video will impact the wider appeal of the track itself.

Hi Eve, thanks for chatting to us. Please introduce yourself to your future fans.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me! I’m Eve, a singer/songwriter and community musician from South Shields, but I live in Edinburgh. I work throughout Edinburgh, East Lothian, and the North East of England, and I’m really passionate about music as a medium for communication and social change. I’m releasing my Youth Music funded EP, ‘All Her Strange’ this spring, supported by my first UK Headline Tour.

Describe your music in 5 words.
Folklore. Storytelling. Vulnerable. Community. Free.

What would you cite as your biggest musical/non musical inspirations?
Musically I would say Joni Mitchell, Courtney Marie Andrews and Laura Marling. They are great female singer-songwriters, rooted in some kind of folk/country/pop/indie tradition. I was also inspired by many musicians I grew up around and with on the Newcastle and Sunderland music scenes such as Kathryn Tickell, Marty Longstaff (The Lake Poets), Jake Houslby, Callum Pitt, IMOGEN. They were integral to shaping my sound and confidence as a musician, and full of encouragement and mentorship as I first started writing and navigating the scene.

Non-musically it would be my family, especially my Mam, Dad, and Holly. They have been encouraging and given honest support from the get-go. They’ve always believed in me to make ambitions a reality, whilst never letting me think things were bigger than what they were. Places have been so important in inspiring my writing, music, and overall growth too. South Shields, and now Edinburgh/Leith are pillars of my music and folk-like influences.

Who else is involved in your music and what do they bring to the sound?
The community of artists I grew up around within the North East of England inevitably helped shape my writing, performance style, and gave me confidence to continue to pursue my own music. The session musicians who play on alongside me on the EP ‘All Her Strange’ are all friends. Luke Elgie (Callum Pitt, Lyras, Shields), produced the EP, as well as playing bass and guitar, and my band member from the age of 16 Will Hammond played drums. Up in Scotland, my good friends Eryn Rae played fiddle and Nick Haquin put some keys down and engineered the strings for the tracks. They bring their incredible talents, time, and effort to the EP, but also bring friendship and a love for the tracks that I can’t manufacture by hiring someone. I appreciate them all so much, and it’s so heartwarming to have a community of musicians that root for me, and I root for them. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day, playing together.

‘In the home demos for ‘All Her Strange’ you can hear birds chirping in the trees and my Mam and Dad dancing in the kitchen. They’re really special recordings.’

Turning to your gorgeous new single, ‘His Euphoria’, what made now the perfect time to release it?
I returned to releasing in 2022, after a long 4-year break, and released three singles. This really helped to build up my confidence and reminded me that I could do this. The EP is definitely me wearing my heart on my sleeve and sharing a body of writing that was written when I was quite vulnerable and extremely honest. I think I needed those singles to build momentum not in an industry sense, but for myself. I needed to run up to the release of this EP to put the best version of myself out there.

I understand the topic of the track is about a man abusing his power, yet there is an undoubtedly upbeat feel to the atmosphere. What led to these musical contrasts?
I think for me the sarcastic and upbeat instrumental elements are to highlight irony. This song was definitely about me having space to articulate everything that has happened or I’ve felt, but in a way that was not defeated – more ‘bring it on’. It’s about taking control of situations where you have none because control can come with reflection, and working through things that happen to you. A lot of the misogyny I’ve encountered throughout my early 20s have been in spaces where I love to dance. Keeping the song upbeat, and especially the music video, was to claim that space as my own, and somewhere where I can be safe and others can share in that safety with me.

There are many beautiful moments in the track, such as selective use of harmonic vocals. How did you approach the composition of these?
Thank you :-). Harmonies are always something that have come naturally to me and the less I think about them, the easier it is to layer them up in the studio. My producer, Luke Elgie, was brilliant and I had so much space to layer loads. No idea was too ambitious. I’m also most comfortable vocally, so harmonies are always the most natural form of production to add for me. If I could do more work as a backing vocalist or with vocal production, I would be very very happy. It’s definitely what I love the most.

There’s a real balance of more directive sound to the ones we hear in ‘His Euphoria’ compared to the softness of previous releases. Did this exploration of tones bring you any surprises?
I think the directive sound is definitely more me – the day-to-day me, a wee bit louder and sarcastic. It’s nice to release something this uncensored about myself, as it really is sung how I would speak it to someone – and have often had conversations mimicking the song in pubs with my pals! It also makes me appreciate that songwriting and music very much allows me to access the parts of myself that are quieter, more reserved, and less direct. Thank you for asking this as I’ve just figured all of this out just now. It’s cool to think about.

Reflecting on the process for the video for the track, other than the orientation of the video, did the fact it would be used on TikTok influence any other artistic decisions?
Not musically, but definitely visually. I think TikTok has helped to demonstrate how multi-media approaches to music can lend itself to greater accessibility and a greater variety of communication forms. Having the track represented in dance really appeals to me. I see these things in my head all the time when writing and can help to deliver the overall message across two different art forms. It influenced some aspects of the choreography, in literal terms – space, as well as a repeated sequence that lends itself to the repetitive dance trends on TikTok.

So what impact do you think releasing in this format will have on the appeal of the track itself?
It allows folk into my head, my world, and what I saw when I first wrote the track. I have no idea if folk will like it or will respond differently to it due to the video, but I suppose it gives people more mediums to connect with the song. I’m really grateful I get to show the full version of it, and I wish I could do that for every track, but it’s really special I get to share it with choreographer Amrit Gill and videographer India Hunkin. It shows the power of collaboration and it’s both India and Amrit’s first video. They are both wonderful talents, so I hope it helps to show how ideas can materialise given the right team and the right opportunities.

Turning to recording, how do you prepare for sessions?
The tracks themselves were written three years ago and I recorded them all as home demos alongside 5 other unreleased tracks. In the home demos, you can hear our neighbour answering the door during the depths of the first lockdown, birds chirping in the trees, and my Mam and Dad dancing in the kitchen. They are really special recordings and I hope to release them as part of a Patreon service later this year. I recorded them on a £30 mic and did all the production myself. They are part of what I submitted as part of my Youth Music NextGen Fund application.

I returned to the recordings and lyrics when the funding was successful, planned out the session’s musicians, and made wee studio sheets for myself and the producer. The first studio day consisted of making an EP board and tracking each track, instrument by instrument. I had worked with Luke twice before, once on another project and once on one of the singles, ‘The Strangest Company’, so we were already comfortable with each other and the sessions had a good vibe. We got the bones of all of the tracks down at Blank Studios in Newcastle, and then we added the extra sparks in Luke’s home studio and Nick Haquin’s studio in Leith, which added a really nice cross-cultural element to the EP.

The organisation of the recording is what takes the prep for me, just to make sure we get everything done in time and on budget, the actual playing/recording is a joy and a breather from the organisation of it all. It helps I am surrounded by amazing pals who can help to fix or cover my musical mistakes as well!

‘I’m really passionate about music as a medium for communication and social change.’

So what led to recording the EP ‘All Her Strange’ taking place across two different studios and did this influence the sonic direction of the release in any way?
While the EP was written in South Shields, it was very much about my time and experiences in Edinburgh. It was both a conscious and logistically-smart choice to record in both places, rooting the EP in Blank Studios, Newcastle, and polishing and embellishing it in Edinburgh/Leith. That is essentially what I have done to myself – rooted in the North East of England, but growing my own life here in Edinburgh. I was in between working full-time when I recorded the EP, so I had to split it between the two places physically, but it is no coincidence the fiddle was recorded in Leith, and the body of the EP was recorded in Newcastle. It adds to the folklore of the piece and gives it truth and honesty to a piece about the coming-of-age between the two cities. I’ve definitely overly romanticised that, but it makes me feel very content.

On the topic of live performance, how have your experiences of touring with other artists impacted how you present yourself on stage? For example, will any of the choreography elements carry over from the video?
Alongside some of my best pals, I was mentored by Kathryn Tickell from the age of 16 and part of that mentorship was playing live shows throughout the UK. That undoubtedly had an impact on my professionalism: preparation, logistics, how to look after yourself before and after a gig, and how to deal with the pressures that come with playing live. I was really fortunate that a large part of this was an encouragement to be myself, a space to speak in between songs, to hold nothing back, and to just bring my whole self to a stage. This was encouraged by the local scene too.

One of the best pieces of advice came when I supported Martha Reeves on tour when I was 17. I was sat in York with my Mam, and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, and she told my Mam: ‘Your baby should never wear odd socks’. Every day of my life I wear odd socks, but whenever I’m about to go on stage I do consciously check.

I would love to live my best dramatic life and do the whole ‘His Euphoria’ choreography on stage, but I’m most comfortable playing guitar or keys when I play, and I’m not sure how that would fit onto the wee stages we’ll be playing in April. One day though, definitely.

And finally, what do you hope 2023 will musically bring you?
I really hope to have the best time playing the live shows, enjoying playing shows with my friends, and appreciating that it’s taken me a while to get these tracks out, but I’ve done it in a way I’m really happy with. In the latter half of the year, I want to give myself genuine time to reflect on the EP and tour and be really proud of it. Take some time to write some fresh tracks, and give that full period in my life some rest and appreciation.

Thanks Eve Simpson for chatting with Listen to Discover
Photography by India Hunkin
Eve Simpson’s new single ‘His Euphoria’ is available in all the usual places now.


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