Interview: Eve Maret
I thought “I’m an artist, I’m a musician, I have to create things and share them with people”. Before then, I was more shy and I wasn’t ready to accept this scary reality about becoming a musician. I felt too insecure. After my dad passed away though, I realized that I don’t have much time and this is what I care about, so I’m going to do it.
Nashville-based electronic artist Eve Maret, though largely unknown as of yet, has been making waves within her local scene as a new force to be reckoned with. Drawing from the synthetic soundscapes of Krautrock and Synth-pop, Eve has crafted a deeply introspective musical journey with her debut No More Running, sharing her experience through grief and pain with the help of her beloved synthesizers. Digging deeper into her work, we also uncovered her dedicated work as a part of the Hyasynth House, a collective that facilitates workshops, conferences and live performances for Female, Trans and Non-Binary people in Nashville, prompting us to reach out to her to find out a little more about her work and insights on the matter.
(((o))): Can you tell us about how you got into music and how you came across the world of Synthesizers?
I grew up Catholic and as a young kid I had to go to mass three times a week. I was very shy, very much a loner, but I looked forward to being in church because I really enjoyed the music and it was a time and place where I felt like I could sing and I could be part of something. I wasn’t so focused on not belonging, everyone, there was joining in and making this effort. There was this feeling of transcendence, even though I had no idea what was going on at the time. I started playing the clarinet, the moved on to guitar, bass and drums.
When I moved to Nashville for college I continued drum lessons with Chester Thompson (Genesis, Frank Zappa) and learned a lot from him. What was frustrating for me was that I had a super active imagination and there’s only so many sounds that you can create with a drum kit, guitar or bass. I was feeling a little bit trapped. I had ideas for these elaborate, multi-dimensional soundscapes but I just had these acoustic instruments. I felt like I was ready for the next thing, for the next step. When I was exploring drums I met another student of my drum teacher who was really into Krautrock and he introduced me to Neu! And that was when it clicked for me. That introduction is what led me to discover Kraftwerk, Harmonia, Brian Eno, Cluster, Kosmischer Läufer… all of these celestial German avant-garde artists. That’s the subgenre of electronic music that I was first introduced to and what really got me really excited about synthesizers. The summer after my Freshman year of college I was back at home and I was surfing on craigslist looking at music gear, and I saw this Micron Synthesizer for 100$ so I just went for it. That purchase was definitely one of the best I have ever made. That was how I got into it. I felt like my whole world opened up. It was pretty amazing.
(((o))): Do you still use this particular synth?
Yes! More than half of the record was written on that synthesizer. My setup has kind of expanded but it’s been the backbone of the music I make. It’s still a very important synthesizer to me.
(((o))): How has your setup evolved?
The first 5 songs were done with Garageband before I had Ableton or an interface. It was just a synthesizer and a TC Helicon Voicelive vocal pedal that I had. My friends told me I should get into modular synthesizers. It’s a more expansive sound where you’re shaping it from the very beginning and taking it to farther places. I bought a few modules and I was feeling very intimidated [laugh]. I wanted to know how things work before I started but I also wanted to make sounds. I love modular synthesizers because of the rawness of the sound that they produce. It really cuts through, and I really like combining it with Digital Synthesizers. I want to allow the music to unfold just as it does and that often involves mixing together different elements that seem like they shouldn’t be mixed. It’s kind of strange, but I like the strangeness. I got into modular and then I started making music with a Saxophone player. There was a saxophone, my modular synth and MidiSprout (an instrument that translates biodata from plants into music).
(((o))): MidiSprout and Modular Synths are very particular instruments in that they create an ephemeral shaping of sounds that cannot be saved into a database. Would it be fair to consider this way of working as an integral part of your music?
I would say it’s part of it. I love the ephemeral nature of making something and I love the recording process too because you’re capturing this moment and you can’t recreate it exactly in the way it was made. It’s like preserving this moment in time. I make more experimental, ambient music and then I have music that’s more lyrical and dance-y, groovy and so I’m constantly looking at the boundaries between the two, how to incorporate my experimental improvisational interest into the more song-based nature of my work. It’s interesting because I tend to look at them as two separate things but I’m always thinking about how to mix the two. The whole reason I make music is because of the unexpected nature of music itself, for the surprises and the mystery. Most of the time I feel the most creative when I don’t know what’s going to happen or if I don’t have expectations. It allows me to be open to any ideas that come through or to just be available and listening.
(((o))): Can you tell us a little more about the album title No More Running? What does the music evoke to you, thematically speaking? Most of the tracks are instrumental, yet the music seems to be tied by certain ideas and themes running through them.
It’s a very personal album and it’s something that I had to create, as my way of moving through life and surviving, really. Before I started working on the album, my dad passed away unexpectedly, I was finishing school, I was quite sick at the time, struggling with mental illness, going through treatment… It was probably the most pain and suffering that I had experienced and it was through that experience that it became so real to me. I thought “I’m an artist, I’m a musician, I have to create things and share them with people”. Before then, I was more shy and I wasn’t ready to accept this scary reality about becoming a musician. I felt too insecure. After my dad passed away though, I realized that I don’t have much time and this is what I care about, so I’m going to do it. Once I became healthier I had the energy to do it and I was able to access those places, emotionally. To me, listening to this album is like looking at snapshots of this whole journey through grief into myself, investigating who I am and processing these feelings. The title No More Running is a statement that I’m not running from myself anymore. It’s also a play on words, referring to a Brian Eno song called ‘I’ll come Running’. I wrote No More Running after getting out of a relationship that ended, and ‘our song’ was ‘I’ll come Running’ [laugh]. It’s just about processing my feelings, connecting with myself, exploring who I am and embracing who I am.
(((o))): Back in May of 2018, you co-founded an electronic music collective and education centre for Female, Trans and Non-binary artists called Hyasynth House along with Jess Chambers and Deli Neblett. Can you tell us how this project was born?
I had gotten in Mills College and I was trying to figure out if I really wanted to go, and I went to Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, where I met Jess and Deli. I hadn’t really met a lot of women who were interested in making electronic music, so that’s why I was motivated to go to Mills. I felt like I wanted to be surrounded by people who were really interested in and making electronic music, pushing boundaries. Jess approached me and told me about her idea of starting a collective for female, non-binary and trans people who are creative. I had five days to decide whether I was moving to California and it was a really tough decision for me but this was too good of an opportunity for me to make an impact on the community. It felt important to me and I figured I can always go to school later. So I decided to stay in Nashville. So that’s how we started working on Hyasynth house. Our efforts are focused on connecting people. As electronic artists, it’s a bit of an isolating experience. We’re solo artists for the most part and I think it’s really important for people within a music scene to be connected and to collaborate, get feedback, troubleshoot setups… We would meet with people and introduce people to synthesizers on a one on one bassis. We’ve also hosted meetups where we have artists demonstrate their craft, explain their gear and allow people to try it out. We’ve done a lot of different kinds of events for local and touring artists who aren’t cis-gendered men. It’s been an amazing process. Fortunately, we’ve received a lot of support, but at the same time it’s kind of an uphill battle, just because the music industry is male-dominated. We have received some pushback from people saying we hate men. That’s not at all the case, some men are our biggest supporters and that’s great! We were really motivated by a desire to create a space where we can connect as non-men and be creative and free and comfortable. It’s really important work. Meeting all of these new people also deepens my creativity as well. I keep learning from these new people about different approaches and techniques. It’s like going to college, so I didn’t need to go to Mills after all [laugh]. I’m getting the education that I needed right here, with these people!
(((o))): Interacting with these people, did you get to learn more about the reasons why people female, trans and non-binary artists happen to be so underrepresented in electronic music?
Definitely. With electronic music especially, there are so many different approaches to making it that people get a little bit intimidated. It looks like magic a lot of the time, which is what I love about electronic music. I think that it doesn’t feel very acceptable because of that. It’s not quite as direct as strumming a guitar and also there’s also the cost of synthesizers that tends to be high, generally reserved for a certain “class” of people. It’s been that way in the past, anyway. Societal factors have kept people at a difference from electronic music, but it’s interesting because a lot of the most important and influential artists are from those subcultures. Pauline Anna Strom is one of my favorite electronic music artists, for instance. You’ve also got Suzanne Ciani, who is absolutely amazing.
(((o))): As you’ve said, women like Pauline Anna Strom, Suzanne Ciani, Delia Derbyshire and Eliane Radigue have played an important role in the early days of electronic music yet somehow we’d be hard-pressed to find as many non-male artists at the forefront of the scene. Why do you think it’s evolved that way?
I was also thinking that there are barriers for women, non-binary and trans people. There’s that really old belief that women can’t learn technical things as quickly as men. Synthesizers require a very technical learning process. I love it. It’s like working on a motorcycle engine [laugh]. As far as the representation of women in the electronic music scene goes, I want to believe that it’s changing. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, for instance, is a pretty well known name at this point, as is Marie Davidson. I have been seeing more women being lumped into the ‘performance art-pop’ category rather than ‘electronic’. Performance is really hot right now. People love certain aesthetics and to have a show, which I totally appreciate and understand as well, but there are the traditionalists like Suzanne Ciani and Delia Derbyshire, who are the purists for the sake of the music. People have a lot of opinions about that, but I want the music to speak for itself. I do believe that there is change occurring in the music industry. I think that we’re right in the middle of it, so we can’t necessarily see it that well. So long as we’re continuing to make efforts to allow women, trans and non-binary people of all ages to have access to this technology, we’ll begin to see that they’re more involved than we believe. We’re playing a larger role than what’s represented in the media.
(((o))): What’s next for you after the release of this record?
I’m going to be doing quite a bit of touring over the summer. I’m going on tour with an artist called Precious Child out of Los Angeles and I’ll also be going on tour with Jess in July. I’m working on two different albums right now too. I’m doing a more upbeat record with vocals and also an experimental album which I’m really excited about. The working title is Music from Movies, because I really want to be making soundtracks for films. I got some new equipment recently, which has opened doors for me, creatively. I’m hoping to finish up these albums in the next six months for sure. There’s an independent movie theatre in Nashville called the Belcourt and we’ve collected a bunch of female, trans and non-binary musicians to score some silent films live. That will be happening in about a month. We might be doing festivals and workshops too. I’m playing this experimental music festival called Memphis Concrète and we’ll each be doing solo sets with Jess as well as presenting a workshop. It’s hard for me to pass on an opportunity to make music, because this is what I’m here to do! This is what gives me joy. Some unexpected things will probably pop up soon as well, so I guess we’ll find out!
(((o))): Finishing off: can you name one of your favorite albums, movies and books?
Okay. Movie-wise, I’ll go with Wings of Desire. It’s a German movie, mostly in black and white. It’s one of my favorites.
Lord of the Flies is one of my favorite books. I love it. Lord of the Rings, too! I’m obsessed with Lord of the Rings. It’s really inspiring and influential for me.Album-wise, I’ll say Neu!’s self-titled album, for sure, and Pauline Anna Strom’s Trans-Millenia Music. There’s also an album by Fripp and Eno called Evening Star that’s really influential too. Terry Riley’s Persian Surgery Dervishes. Manuel Göttsching of Ash Ra Tempel has an album called New Age of Earth, which is totally incredible. The song ‘Ocean of Tenderness’ is the most fantastic song I’ve ever heard.