A soul torn between Melbourne’s thrumming city life and the allure of Tasmania’s countryside, EWAH considers herself a citizen of two worlds. With her band The Vision of Paradise, she let this prismatic duality feed into their newest LP Everything Fades to Blue, which dropped back in February.
After giving the album some time to sit, EWAH & The Vision of Paradise are ready to take it live for a special, full tracklist performance at Melbourne’s Ding Dong Lounge. As the gig creeps up from just beyond the horizon, we sat down with EWAH to talk shop.
Phase between two landscapes with EWAH & The Vision of Paradise, the Melbourne/Hobart project with two faces and infinite layers.
HAPPY: How are you doing? What are you up to at the moment?
EWAH: Hi, I’m doing alright. Thanks for asking. At the moment I’ve being playing catch up after a busy summer, doing some autumn cleaning, reacquainting and trying to prepare spaces so I can work on ideas, do some writing, grow some of that Tassie purple garlic. Hatch plans to stop the possums eating the veggies.
HAPPY: Your newest record Everything Fades To Blue came out in February. Given that you worked on it for so long and across so many locations, were you apprehensive at all about the release?
EWAH: A lot of work goes into making an album as an indie artist. You’re forced to think about all the crummy things you don’t want to like time and money. I’d always done things very DIY, because of obstacles like time and money. Mostly money. And a general sense of awkwardness in involving other people. To make an album you need to keep the faith for a really long time to make it all happen. You don’t really even necessarily know what’s driving you, other than the concept of creating an album.
But at the end of the day you have this thing in your hands that is the result of a bunch of decisions you’ve made and the hard work of a bunch of people and I didn’t feel terrible about it. In fact, I actually felt kind of good about it so it was a relief, after being on the learning curve all the way, collaborating with professionals who really know what they are doing, to send it out into the world and see what happens.
HAPPY: How do you feel about the reception from fans and friends?
EWAH: It’s really interesting to hear how the ideas and the concepts that we fed into the making of it are resonating with people. The decisions we made, and the direction for example in the treatment of the mix and the mood of the mastering, the atmosphere and world that you can create with that, people are really getting. I think this album takes its time with you.[bandcamp width=700 height=406 album=2408525212 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=333333 artwork=small]
HAPPY: How did staying in Melbourne and Hobart individually influence the aesthetic of the album? Did your process undergo a large change moving between the two?
EWAH: I lived in Melbourne almost all of my so-called adult life. They were really formative years for me. Integrated in that experience I was travelling through life with memories of the little country town in north east Tasmania where I grew up, and the friends that remained behind. I always felt like a dual citizen when I lived in Melbourne, split between two possible lives and the ideals of what the city represented and having an ache I couldn’t explain, nostalgia, melancholy, something like that, for the place I grew up.
I wrote most of the songs for the album in Melbourne and then they continued to develop in Tasmania. So, like me, they combine imagery from country Tasmania and city Melbourne. They went through quite an evolution I guess, starting out on guitar with glossolalia vocals, then lyrics started to form and they moved to electro demos. Then came the move interstate. In Hobart the band kind of fell into place fairly easily with some mates, Chucky on the Juno synth, PB on drums and Stu on bass. And, even though those electro demos got abandoned along the way they have informed the band’s sound and in having four minds in the band, each musician has a strong input developing the music.
Hmm, so I think that answers the question to an extent… the album is kind of like me, a dual citizen living between two worlds; country and city, light and dark, day and night, life and death.
HAPPY: I think Tasmania doesn’t get enough time in the spotlight, there’s some amazing stuff happening down there. Who are some local acts you discovered while living there?
EWAH: Yeah, the scene is small yet prolific, pretty friendly and up for anything. The ratbag energy of bands like Bu$ Money and A. Swayze and the Ghosts is heaps of fun. Mum & Dad are a dirty talking, sassy feminist/humourist hip hop duo and they ARE actually a mum and dad, so even better. They have to get babysitters so it matters when they play! The thing about being small is that people get restless and start looking outward dreaming of other places and so we do lose amazing musicians offshore seeking more.
Native Cats, Foxy Morons, Sunday League, Aon Stalp and the Out of Towners and Heart Beach are just some recent notable examples. But then All Fires the Fire have been going for years and they are still around and still magnificent, and I’ve left off heaps too… oh, darn yes The Pits. Pete, their frontman, documents all the bands in town with cameras of increasing calibre, but that’s another story…
HAPPY: I really dig the album’s cover art. Where did you first come across Joel’s work and how closely did you two work together in creating the art?
EWAH: Joel and I met through work. He is super funny, thoughtful and dynamic. He saw EWAH & The Vision of Paradise play and approached me about creating artwork for the cover of our album. I’d seen an exhibition and loved the energy of his work, so it was a definite yes. At this stage he was line drawing mythological creatures in this loose, yet intricate way.
I gave him a preview of the album and he brought forward the idea of the mountain. He created a dark sculptural piece and after photographing it, something wasn’t quite working. We tried a bunch of things, but it didn’t quite click. At the eleventh hour he got in contact, saying he was trying out something new in his artistic practice and thought it would work really well. I went to his studio and he painted a study right in front of me. It was really nice to see him working up close, moving around the studio doing his thing. Then he created the mountain with clouds and trees and it was dreamy and textural.
We talked about how well it matched the lyrics, in particular As the Sun Goes Down. This conversation seemed to keep working away in his subconscious and the next morning he texted a picture of a sketch about a dream he’d had of a ghostly girl floating in trees in the bush. Then we had the inner sleeve for the album. Just like that, it suddenly all worked.
HAPPY: You worked with some great names on the record, namely Rob Long and William Bowden. How did their touch contribute to the final stages of the record?
EWAH: Their input has been key to the sound of the album and their involvement all flowed on very naturally from the recording process. One recommendation led to another. Rob is one of those marvelous people who traverses the spectrum between tech head know how and abstract conceptual talk. He was keen to create a mix that would allow people in for repeat listens. Some productions can dazzle you on a first listen and then fatigue you. And right from the start, the conversations we had contained very cinematic visualisations of the sound.
We also went for tape for a nostalgic and textural quality. This created a challenge for mastering for King Willy, as I wanted it to be continuous and the tape to keep rolling throughout the album between tracks and he needed to treat them individually yet interweave them together to create this feeling. Again, we provided a directive on the aesthetic with very cinematic descriptives and trusted he’d convert that abstract talk into audio sense and knew he would do incredible things.
HAPPY: You’ll be launching Everything Fades To Blue at Ding Dong Lounge in Melbourne, playing the album in its entirety. Do you have any special surprises planned for the gig
EWAH: Ooh, I don’t want to jinx anything, but we will make reference to a former band in Melbourne, The Open Road. For the band, playing the album from track one through to eight is a rarity and it feels kind of special when we do it, especially as a live performance. We will all go on a journey together.
HAPPY: What’s on the cards for EWAH going forward?
EWAH: I have written a bunch of new material that we as a band are delving into and wrapping our heads around. It’s still got that noir-psych-rock thing going on but the themes are different and I’d say there is a shift in the sound as well. I have a few solo shows lined up and it’d be great to do some sort of recording before long, maybe even a solo EP with EWAH and make a move on the next album with The Vision of Paradise. I’ll try to get it down to 2-3 years this time around.
Catch EWAH & The Vision of Paradise launching Everything Fades To Blue this Saturday at Ding Dong Lounge in Melbourne. Grab your tickets and any extra info you need on the Facebook event.