With Evann Mcintosh, the concept of ‘funk’ takes on a whole new meaning as a source of passion, and expression.
Their latest EP, Character Development, pays homage to their earlier work, while leaving space to breathe in the air of unbridled enjoyment. Like a lounge-singer returning to the mic, ready to bring the audience on their own journey.
Coming off the back of their ear-wormy single, COCO PEBBLES, Happy got the chance to sit down with Evann to chat about the intricacies of queer artistry, the impact of legends before us, and the driving forces behind their Character Development.
HAPPY: Ok, so firstly I’m obsessed with COCO PEBBLES, I know it’s meant to sound like Irresistible Bitch, and it doesn’t, but I’m just wondering how that dissonance began?
EVANN: Well, the first time I heard that song, I was obsessed with the fact that he spoke the whole time, and it was just over this funky beat. I saw in some interview, he went and saw… what’s his name? Something Clinton! Not George Clinton, but the other one! But, he heard Knee Deep for the first time live, and after that he thought it was so funky, so he made Irresistible Bitch, and it was crazy to me because after I heard Prince’s Irresistible Bitch for the first time, I went back and made COCO PEBBLES!
BUT, just the way that he spoke over a beat, I’m sure people have done that before and they do it all the time, but I’d never heard anything funkier in my life, I was like ‘I have to do something that feels like this song’ so I went home, and I did these chords – it was when I was still using GarageBand – and like, later on I just… I don’t know what I got different, but I was trying to capture the feeling of Irresistible Bitch.
HAPPY: It’s funny that you mention ‘different’ because I feel like COCO PEBBLES is so different from something like MOJO or ELECTRICITY, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. I’m just wondering what you might’ve done differently this time around, because there’s something that’s just SO enjoyable about it.
EVANN: Thank you! That’s great! That’s what I really wanted to do, because I’m progressing even more in music, because as I progress and I grow as a person, it pours into my music. I think that you can definitely hear my influences in my music, but that one was purely Prince. I feel like naturally, since he’s like an idol to me, naturally that’s gonna pour into my stuff because he’s like the foundation of all my music, because it was a very influential time in my life when I found him. But, that one, I was just purely leaning into all the funk that I’d been listening to growing up, fully leaning into that part of myself – and it felt so natural compared to other stuff that I make. That song will influence how I continue to make music, knowing how natural that felt, because it’s all just a process of experimenting.
I’ve found that as a queer person – I’m bringing queerness into it (laughs) – the closer I get to my identity, the closer my music gets to me. So it’s just looking for that.
HAPPY: I’m glad you touched on the queerness, because I just feel like straight people can’t do poeticism. They just can’t, and maybe I’m just generalising. Not to be like ‘as a queer person, do you reckon you have an advantage’, but more like, as a queer person, you can draw from better, weirder sources to create something that’s both poetic and enjoyable?
EVANN: (laughs) Yes! I feel like, in a way, the only people I’ve ever been able to relate to musically were people that were really fucking weird, or people who had something going on to them that just caught my attention, because I saw a spark of myself in that person. People like Prince, obviously, or like Kate Bush even – just people who are strange. You see Mick Jagger from The Rolling Stones, or David Bowie, were just feminine – they were androgynous people. But, I feel like because you look to those people, and as influences in your life that’s important – and they’re like THE GREATS – it’s always the greatest musicians ever. I don’t know if it’s because they can’t relate to other people in society, so they know that they have to be their own person. Something like that, I don’t know, but the cycle continues, there’s weird artists, we look up to weird artists, and then more weird artists come – but it’s always great stuff!
HAPPY: (laughs) I also wanted to ask, and this is a brass tax question, but I’m curious about your evolution as an artist and how you got to be here?
EVANN: Well, I was born in Monterey, California, my dad was like, in the military, so we moved around a bunch, and I moved from California, to Florida, to Alabama, and then we were in Germany for five years, and now we live in Kansas… so it’s like weird everywhere. But, I think a huge portion of my life, and some of my most formative years were spent in Germany, and now Kansas. That’s the hugest switch up in the world. I feel like that had a lot of make or break on my character, I feel like I would either have to adapt, or resist. I feel like musically, you can kinda hear me begin to break the mould, but not know I was doing it – especially in Character Development which is this next project that is coming out in a week – which is crazy!
But, queerness pours so much into my music, just because I pour so much of myself into my music. It’s completely just as I was discovering myself, and discovering how I fit into a place like Derby, Kansas – this small town in the middle of the mid-west. Thinking I was SO special and unique until I went to somewhere like Brooklyn, it’s just self-discovery man!
HAPPY: (laughs) Sorry, that was very funny. Alrighty, speaking of Character Development, I haven’t had the chance to listen in full, but I’m just wondering how you’re feeling about this EP? Not to be a wanker, but do you feel that this is sort of your Magnum Opus right now?
EVANN: Oh god no! It’s definitely an older sibling to MOJO ya know? There’s so much MOJO influence that’s still in there. But, it’s necessary for context on my next projects! But, I hope it isn’t my best work – but it’s a great project (laughs). I didn’t address any of my issues that I was going through, any of my obstacles, I never addressed them because I didn’t see them. But, with Character Development, it’s kinda just about beginning to feel like I was struggling, if that makes any sense. And, in projects to come, it’s about like conquering those struggles.
HAPPY: What kind of struggles, if you don’t mind me asking?
EVANN: I think I had a lot of false influences, and a lot of people that I looked to for guidance, that were not meant for me to find guidance in at all. I think that, as well as not feeling like I fit right where I’m at, and wondering why and if I’m the problem, and it’s just recognising that I’m very fluid, in a very stable environment, not stable… but you get what I mean.
HAPPY: Yeah, I think that’s beautiful. I guess I also wanted to ask, I think it’s so weird how so many artists are breaking through on platforms such as TikTok, and it’s breaking the mould of how you become an artist – it’s outside of traditional means and you maybe aren’t’ crawling up people’s arses. You’re here on your own merit. I just want to pick your brain on it?
EVANN: Yeah! I have nothing to compare it to, and I’m really glad that I’m able to be where I’m at and how I got to where I’m at right now, without having to do what other people have to do! Good for them for doing what they had to do, I completely get it – chase your bag! With me, I’m just trying to do a good job, and make good music! That’s just what it is, I’ve probably sold myself out in a couple of TikTok’s like ‘stream my music!’ – but that’s the worst I’ve ever had to do, and that’s cool!
HAPPY: But it’s in a fun Gen-Z way, ‘get that bread’.
EVANN: (laughs) Yes!
HAPPY: Well that wraps up all my questions, and thank you so much for talking to me!
EVANN: It was really nice meeting you, you’re so fun!
HAPPY: thank you so much, I can’t wait for Character Development to come out! Otherwise, be safe, and hopefully we’ll see you soon!
EVANN: You too man!
Character Development is out now on all streaming services, chuck it a listen!
Interview by Mike Hitch!