Sunday, April 21 2024

I’m a bit excited today as we get the chance to delve into the musical realm of Stephen EvEns, a gifted songwriter originating from the suburbs of southwest London. Renowned for his ability to create charming and characterful albums, Stephen draws inspiration from a varied cross-section of artists, including the enigmatic spirit of Syd Barrett, the timeless allure of the Kinks, the whimsical musings of Kevin Ayers, and the avant-garde creativity of the Cardiacs. His latest album, ‘Here Comes The Lights‘ (which, by the way, I absolutely adore!), stands as a cosmic cornucopia that blends electronic dissonance, sweet melodies, and glamorous pastiche into a captivating experience.


Thanks for speaking with us Stephen and congratulations on the epic new album. ‘Here Comes The Lights’ is your highly anticipated new album. What aspects of it do you feel set it apart from your previous works, both musically and thematically?

Thank you. It definitely is a bit of a progression of sorts. Thematically it is a little more positive and reflects on the joys of life. Still stories and vignettes about life in general instead of sad and angry little stories as in the previous efforts. Most of these are cheerful / joyous / silly. 

Whereas before I may have thought a little more about song length, structure and perhaps what I thought my approach musically should be, everything just came out the way it came out with little editing or over thinking of things. That’s probably why the first song is 10 minutes long. Somebody said “yeah, you should put that one at the end,” so, I put it at the start. HA, IN YOUR FACE, IAN!!!

StephenEvEns03

The album includes tracks like ‘Lazy Eyes’ and ‘Firefly,’ which delve into more personal and emotional themes. Could you share the stories or inspirations behind these songs and how they fit into the broader narrative of the album?

‘Lazy Eyes’ is a total work of fiction, but based on previous experience, shall we say. I was looking out the window when I wrote that. There were lots of green parakeets squawking and playing in the trees. That was a good evening. ‘Firefly’ is actually quite a difficult one to discuss, it’s very personal and I don’t feel I can reveal it without betraying a confidence. But, it is about love being stronger than pain, so – hooray!

‘Here Comes The Lights’ features a wide array of collaborators, including former members of bands like Echobelly/Curve and Cardiacs. How did these collaborations come about, and how did they influence the overall sound of the album?

They are just pals who happen to be or have been in an amazing pop group. Bob Leith from Cardiacs was our drummer for a long while and was in the band when we recorded ‘Hello Salty, Salty.’ I love his playing on it, the part, everything, perfect. 

I can’t remember why William D. Drake ended up on the record. I think he was just over and ended up sticking something on. He just plonked around on the Casio and the song came to life. He’s a clever boy is that, Bill. 

Debbie Smith I’ve known for many years on the local scene as it were. They are a legend and for want of a better word a total rock icon. Before I knew them, they were one of my favourite musicians and now I’m lucky enough to play with them in a band. 

14-year-old me would be in awe. Everyone brings something great to the table. Some bits are all me but the magic each person brings to this cannot be understated.

Stephen_EvEns_photo01

‘A Song For Europe’ has been highlighted as a standout track on the album, celebrating the continent amidst contemporary political turmoil. Could you share more about the inspiration behind this song and its significance to you personally?

Thank you, that’s a lovely thing to say. It’s not political at all. It’s a reflective song about traveling around Europe. I used to do that a lot as an alleged professional musician, waking up in a new town or a new country of a morning. It’s about going on an adventure which starts with grabbing your bag and stepping outside your front door. I say it’s not political but there is a melancholy to it I think. The opportunity to go out and play in Europe is now not as straight forward as it once was.

The album artwork often plays a significant role in shaping listeners’ perceptions of an album. Can you tell us more about the artistic direction behind the cover and how it complements the themes and music within?

The picture was literally one my friends Cassie Fox (iDoris & Loud Women) and Chris Fox (The Charlamganes) Facebook. It’s of their son Griff after his appearance in his youth drama group panto. As soon as I saw it, I thought it captured the joy and positiveness I wanted to project in his handsome little face. So, I asked them to ask Griff and he very graciously agreed. 

As the founder of Brixton Hill Studios, you’ve been involved in a fight to save the space. How has your experience with the studio influenced your approach to creating and sharing music, especially with this new album?

It’s certainly magnified my appreciation in what it means to have such an amazing creative space at my disposal and a thriving music community to be a part of. It also highlights how much we are all at the ransom of ridiculous rents. People paying ridiculous amounts to live, small local projects and businesses having their rents hiked up due to alleged market forces. I could go on about it all day, but I shan’t because I don’t want to bore you but, it’s heart breaking the number of creative spaces and venues we have seen disappear the past few years.

I really don’t know what to tell you but suffice to say, we are now looking to effect a change, perhaps get a space that we can use, and offer to other music related projects that we can protect and keep at a sensible rent. It is very much at the embryonic stage right now, but we will be shouting about it soon enough, so watch this space. 

What’s next for you after the release of ‘Here Comes The Lights’? Any specific plans or projects on the horizon that you’re excited about? And, will there be any touring plans in support of the release?

We are playing at The Lexington in London on 31st March and The Albert in Brighton on 11th May. You never know what is coming-up around the corner, in the meantime I guess I will get on writing album no. 4. 

And, finally, a fun question: ‘Here Comes The Lights’ incorporates elements of glam rock, psych pop, and post-punk. If you could create a dream collaboration with any artist, living or dead, to further explore these musical influences, who would it be and why?

I never really thought about it. In terms of creation I pretty much know what I want and have a fair idea of how to achieve it. It would be cool to see what it was like to create with Capt. Beefheart, Mark E. Smith or Patti Smith, somebody groundbreaking, but what if they were crazy? What if they trashed the place? Who’s going to clear up and fix all the stuff? Even worse, what if we got two bars in and they went “errr…well, I gotta go now. Best of luck with all of THAT”. No, I think I’ll keep it with me and my long-suffering pals and I’ll just enjoy the output of those wonderful people. What is it they say, never meet your heroes? 

That said if Craig Fortnam (NSRO/Arch Garrison) ever wants to do a massive orchestral arrangement for me I won’t stand in his way.


As we wrap up our journey through the musical landscape of Stephen EvEns and his latest album, ‘Here Comes The Lights,’ it’s unmistakably apparent that it embodies precisely the artistic vision Stephen intended to convey. Stephen’s ability to blend diverse influences into a cohesive and engaging sound is massively impressive. So, if you’re looking for music that’s both thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable, be sure to give ‘Here Comes The Lights’ a spin… I guarantee you will not regret it!

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Spotify / Bandcamp / YouTube / Instagram

Previous

Wotts' 'there': Vintage Inspiration with Modern Indie Pop Ingenuity

Next

Emerald Bluffs Unveil Enchanting 'Autumn's Eve': A Prelude to Their Debut Album

About Author

Matt Warren

Matt Warren is a Cheshire based musician who studied contemporary music and composition. When not writing for The Indie Grid he enjoys watching 'Breaking Bad' on continuous loop and going to gigs. Since a youngster his fave band have been 'The Beatles' (with 'Cardiacs' in at a close second)... and this still applies to this day.

Check Also