We had the absolute pleasure of catching up with the highly articulate and visually attuned Hannah Karydas, who you may know as the utterly outrageous singer-songwriter behind Eves The Behavior, following the release of her stellar debut EP (also titled Eves The Behavior), an amazing set at this year’s Splendour In The Grass and ahead of a few headlining shows in both Sydney and Melbourne to celebrate the release of that EP.
Hey Hannah! Where do we find you this morning?
I’m in Sydney at the moment!
Excellent! Hope the sun is shining there too. Congratulations on the absolute ripper of a 2015 you’re having, it’s only September! Your debut EP is utterly fantastic (the number of times I’ve listened to Electrical is beginning to border on serial killer) and you’ve just played your first ever Splendour In The Grass. Tell us what you learned from that experience?
What did I learn… First thing is actually very positive, I learned that there are people who actually care about what I’m doing! It’s a very nice feeling because I was actually really nervous about that. It’s really the only thing I get nervous about, whether or not anyone will actually show up.
And you filled the tent out!
Yeah, I wasn’t sure how it would go at such an early hour but it was more than I had hoped for. Doing that in turn gave me the confidence to put on some headline shows which I probably wouldn’t have done without playing Splendour so that was really great.
What else did I learn… well I played a lot of new songs in that set and they went down well which was really great and these shows that I’m playing in the next two weeks I’ve got even more new songs.
That is some welcome news for your fans I’m sure. I saw you’ve been preparing some live visuals for those same shows, would you care to elaborate on what we can expect there?
I’ve tried to tackle Adobe After Effects, which is a massive task so I’ve had to get a friend to help me because after one weekend I was banging my head on a desk. I mean, people study After Effects so I don’t know why I thought I could do the whole thing two weeks before a show. Anyway, it was really great because I have a friend who is really well-versed in After Effects and he helped me put together all of these… I started scanning all these Oblique Strategies, do you know what they are?
I unfortunately do not.
So Brian Eno made this box set of strategy cards in either the 70s or the 80s with an artist named Peter Schmidt. They’re the same shape as playing cards but they don’t have anything like that on them, you pick out a random one and it’ll say something like ‘You are an engineer’ or something like ‘Think about where the frame ends and go outside of it’. They’re pretty much as advertised, they’re oblique strategies, roundabout ways of giving you tips. They were made for people in the artistic field, you should look them up!
I will! (and I did!).
Yeah, my manager found me a box set of them which was really great because they don’t actually make them anymore and since I got them I’ve just been obsessed with them. I was sitting by my computer one day about two weeks ago and I just picked one up and thought it would be really cool to just scan some of these and incorporate them into my live visuals, sort of incorporating the Oblique Strategies with things like particle breakdowns in After Effects and make it all weird and swirling.
A lot of my visuals have kind of been, in a roundabout way inspired by Jesse Cander who does live visuals for Arca. They work together and Jesse does all those kind of morbid melting dolls and babies. He does that all on After Effects and the actual effect I think is called ‘turbulent displace’ or something and it basically malforms anything you put in there and so I’ve done a lot of stuff with that effect, obviously not melting dolls or anything but I’ve done a lot of scanning of stuff like faces and animations of people’s faces and I drew myself and put it in there.
You drew yourself? How did that turn out?
I drew myself with a gargoyle on my head.
Haha! That sounds absolutely wild and something to definitely catch. I know you probably get asked this in every interview but I have to get into the whole synaesthesia thing, which you are lucky enough to experience, because it absolutely fascinates me. Can you maybe put into words and explain to our readers what the experience actually feels like?
Well it doesn’t really feel like anything. I guess every colour has an emotional value. So picture say, fluoro green and picture dark red. You agree that both encompass something completely different. So now imagine a staccato string sound against sub-bass sound, you’d probably attribute the staccato string more to the fluoro colour rather than a deep colour and then the sub-bass is probably more like a deep red. Does that make sense?
It kinda does!
I think it just kind of happens in my head, I get it with numbers and letters as well. I don’t really know how to describe that, but when it comes to music the only way I really know how to describe it is as an emotional thing.
I can’t even imagine what a live show must be like to you with all that musical energy surrounding you, what’s that like for you?
Every song is a different shade. It’s actually not something that I consciously really experience, like it’s not tapping me on the shoulder or anything but if I sit down and actually think about it I can understand it. I tend to try and write in one colour and I don’t use fluoro colours so it’s sort of like existing in this one colour palette which is nice because it makes it cohesive and I think definitely, as I replace a lot of of my old songs in my set, that gets more defined and it’s a really nice feeling.
You’re definitely a hugely visual person and I get the impression that you’re also influenced by film and television in your work, is there anything you watch to get you in a creative state of mind?
Yeah definitely, I have a list of my favourite films of all time and I tend to watch them over and over. I also watch a lot of old documentaries. I’m fascinated by watching documentaries that were made 40 years ago on science. It’s really interesting to see how ideas have changed, it makes for really good lyrical content actually.
Speaking of your lyrical content, I thought it was fantastic that you had Patrick Bateman in your music video for TV. I read that he’s one of your favourite characters and he’s one of mine too (I half expected him to get up out of that chair and murder somebody but it didn’t happen). It was then a kind of ‘holy hell’ moment for me to then hear a song like Electrical where the chorus is you saying you’re nothing more than skin, bones and wires because that’s so eerily echoic of a couple of his inner monologues on his own existence. Was that intentional?
Ha, that’s interesting. No it wasn’t anything intentional on my part, it may have been something on a subconscious kind of level but I didn’t sit down and write those lyrics with that in mind, no.
Still cool. I love the music videos for TV and for Electrical and I understand that they might be parts one and two of a trilogy. Is Digging your Return Of The King?
I haven’t actually made a decision on that yet and honestly I might even have to change my mind on the whole trilogy thing. It might not end at three and I may just keep the whole thing going. It might or it might not, I just like the idea of continuing with the characters and it’s all meant to be pretty ambiguous and vague. There’s no apparent storyline, they’re more just signposts of feelings. That’s really what I want to do so why not just keep doing it?
Damn! I really want to know whether the dancing guy in the black turtleneck is really dead or not!
He might be dead but that doesn’t mean he can’t come back…
Ah, the old Jon Snow treatment?
Well, it’s maybe not apparent yet but I kind of like the clips to jump around in a non-linear sense. So it could go back in time yet…
I love prequels! You’ve just turned the ripe old age of 21, is there still any pressure on you at all to maybe follow a more normal path like uni or a full-time job or have people accepted that music is exactly what you want to do?
No there’s not really any pressure at all. I’m probably going to have to get a part-time job in a bookstore sometime soon though.
I feel like that would really suit you. And I hear you’re off to London sometime soon to work on your debut album?
It’s literally the day after my Sydney show that I’ll be flying back to London which is really exciting. It’s such a great place and I’m so excited to go back, I have a lot of friends there and it’s nice.
I’ll be working on the album in a non-structured sense. I’m taking the approach that it’s my record and I’ll be making 80% of it in my bedroom or just on my computer wherever I am and that kind of lets me just write pretty randomly, more whenever I feel like it as opposed to going in and making a record in three weeks in a studio, I actually hate the idea of doing that, so I’ll be able to do this in basically solitary confinement and then collaborating with people, I’ll probably get some people to play drums on it and to play a few other things.
Digging on the EP was a song I was waiting for. It’s the perfect counterpoint to TV and Electrical and that was made on my laptop in an airport and hotel rooms. It was a turning point for me as a music maker. I don’t want to go into studios anymore and do that. I guess I was lacking in a lot of confidence before that song, I was lacking in confidence in my own ideas but it was really nice when I had Stella from Warpaint tell me ‘I don’t know why you’re not wanting to put this out. This is your work, why not?’ and she kind of had to pep me up but ever since then I’ve had confidence in my own abilities in production that I never had before so that’s how I’m approaching everything and it’s so exciting!
That’s amazing to hear. I am so glad she told you that because your music is just fantastic. I’ll leave you to it and I wish you all the best for your upcoming shows and for your trip to London!
The Eves The Behavior EP is out now via Dew Process/UMA. Tickets to catch Eves The Behavior live are selling like hotcakes at her website for the following dates:
Sun, Sep 13th: Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
Mon, Sep 14th: Shebeen, Melbourne (SOLD OUT)
Tue, Sep 15th: Newtown Social Club, Sydney