Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

TLOBF Introducing // Evan Voytas

23 November 2010, 15:29
Words by Phil Gwyn

Evan Voytas is the sort of enigma that would have brains at Bletchley Park popping just at the consideration of his situation. Somehow, he’s navigated himself into a position where we know all of the usual semi-cute details about him. He has a jazz background. He toured with some teen-pop acts. He’s even given pretty much all of his tracks away for free. Ironically, despite the complete lack of any secrecy around his persona and his liberal mp3 policy, he still stands in a musical landscape that is just almost impossible to describe. More specifically, instead of being stood at the cross-roads wondering where to go, he’s taken all the available routes (and an extra couple) and left everyone wondering where exactly he’s gone. ‘Getting Higher’, for example, is a bouncing and euphoric pop track that feels like a (more) carefree Passion Pit, whereas ‘Sad, Like Hearts Can Be’, predictably, is moodily melancholic, resembling a clinically depressed 80s pop group. ‘I Run With You, Spirit Animal’ sounds like Toro Y Moi hip thrusting his way around the dancefloor, and is the track that makes the most sense of his recent signing to Cascine (the same label that has taken on Chad Valley).

And it’s quite, quite brilliant. All of it. Every direction change is as perfectly realised as the last, and it’s clear that his versatility, far from being his downfall, is his defining charactertistic, and an enduring proof of his genius in so many different fields. Impressed and intrigued, we set out some questions to try and elucidate the whole musical situation, and spectacularly failed. We did, however, find out some fantastic trivia should he ever pop up in a particularly cutting-edge pub quiz.

Inevitably journalists are going to try to pigeon-hole your sound, so here’s your opportunity to do it youself; how would you define your sound?

I’d just rather have journalists do it, no matter how embarrassing it may be for me. They’re more into that kind of thing, and I imagine my opinion is 100% biased.

Speaking of which, your sound is enormously versatile – are there 10 different artists within Evan Voytas all trying to get out?

I don’t feel like my different influences are fighting against each other. Different songs lean in different directions. Hopefully whatever I’ve listened to in the past informs whatever I’m working on now and doesn’t detract.

Going back to the start – was there a particular moment or period of your life in which you realised that you could make a love of music into a career?

There was a very special Spin Doctors concert I went to when I was 11 or 12.

The question we’ve been dying to ask – who are these “pop acts” that we hear you played guitar for and how did you land those jobs?

I played with Teddy Geiger for 3 years. He was 16, signed to Columbia, and I had a week or two left of college. A friend of a friend asked me to come down and audition and I got it. I was working at the Museum of Natural History at the time, and I thought playing for a teen pop star might be more dope. In a couple weeks we were opening for Hilary Duff on an arena tour, and I just kept doing that for 3 years.

What would you say is the biggest motivation for you to keep making music as opposed to settling down and following a more reliable career path?

There are a few motivations I guess. I’ve been inspired by a lot of people, mostly authors… So when I really think about why I’m making music, I start to think about dudes who inspired me; Henry Miller, Ram Dass, Hermann Hesse, mostly writers. Then usually I decide that it’s not fair to take the inspiration they’ve given me and not put additional inspirational material into the world.

Also, I’m on some devotional shit.

You’ve said yourself that you’ve become aligned with artists such as Flying Lotus in LA – do you think that your shared background in jazz has anything to do with this?

Yeah I think so. Or at least a deep regard for old shit. I didn’t really listen to indie rock ever, so it doesn’t always make a whole lot of sense to me. But I had a jazz period, a Balkan folk music period, a Greek psychedelic period, so I know where these dudes are coming from.

You’ve chosen to give your tracks away for free, do you think that this is the way to do things in the long-term these days?

I don’t really know enough about the music industry to comment on that. If that’s what everyone does, then I’ll do it I guess too.

There’s a lot of (positive) music criticism of you out there, do you ever feel compelled to read it? Does it effect you or your music?

Yeah I read all of it. It usually makes me feel good about myself or it hurts my feelings. I don’t think it affects the music though.

What’s the ultimate goal for Evan Voytas and his music?

I just want to be able to keep making music, and let it define itself as I go.

Evan Voytas: ‘Tomorrow Night We’ll Go Anywhere

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