Berlin, Evvol & Eternalism

28 May 2015 by

If you’re on the prowl for a slice of synth-doused noir electronica, then the hunt is over. Evvol, formerly known as Kool Thing, are a Berlin-based collective with Parisian roots, comprised of Irishwoman Julie Chance, Australian Jon Dark, and their French tour drummer Valentin Plessy. Under the guise of Kool Thing, the trio honed a deeply layered sound, the ilk of electronic music that oscillates tantalisingly between precision keys, atmospheric chords and mesmeric lyricism. However, after putting out an album two years back, and checking off an extensive tour roster that saw them play out alongside acts such as Austra, Grimes and Peaches, the three decided to take a creative breather.

The result of that time-out is a new name, fresh direction, and a much anticipated debut record – Eternalism. With each band member pursuing their own solo projects, it’s obvious that dipping into an exploratory stopgap has added extra complexity and nuance to the group’s productions. Bordering on the cinematic, Evvol have spliced their earlier indie machinations with a newfound vitality that’s instilled a more underground texture into their style, an aspect gleaned from forays into Berlin’s swirling DJ scene.

In terms of tunes, everything’s on point; crisp percussion and surreal synths glide above magnetic basslines that tilt towards the city’s penchant for techno. The sonic reinvigoration Evvol has undergone is stamped all over Eternalism, which is set for release this July on Berlin’s eminent electro imprint !K7 Records. Haunting, euphoric, moody and standalone, the album is a must listen that will undoubtedly appeal to ears from across the electronic-spectrum and beyond. So, with bated breath, FMS Berlin caught up with Julie and Jon to get the low down on Evvol’s story so far, check this out and enjoy!

Can you tell us a little bit about how you guys met in Paris? What attracted you to the city and how did you link up?

Julie: I was living in Berlin and Jon was in Paris. I had a DJ gig in Paris and she was at the party, so that’s where we met. We kind of just got talking and realised we had a similar interests in music, as well as both being in bands at the time. It kicked off from there really, we began swapping records and e-mailing, then eventually she moved to Berlin a couple of months later and that’s when we started making music together as Kool Thing.

You we’re pretty well known as Kool Thing, what was the impetus behind transitioning into Evvol?

Jon: Basically we took an unofficial break after releasing an album in 2013 (the self titled Kool Thing) to pursue other side projects. It ended up being a long time since we’d played any shows as Kool Thing or released fresh material. When we got back into the studio to start playing again, everything was different, the way we worked together, the music that came out, everything about it felt different.

Julie: We often thought about changing the name anyway because we were never entirely happy with it, so this was an opportunity to say fuck it, go for it and start new.

Jon: It felt like the best thing to do, it was the right time. Definitely a good call and we’re happy with it.

Eternalism is coming out on !K7 Records this July, what’s it like to get a debut release on a label that’s big in the game and how do you feel about the record itself.

Julie: It feels great. We love !K7, they’ve had some real legendary releases like the DJ Kicks series. You know we grew up on dance music when the whole rave scene was erupting, it’s close to our hearts so it’s really good. We thought that we’d self release this album, then hope that we could get someone who would put out our second one, so it’s awesome that this album actually got picked up and that they’re into it too.

Jon: It’s amazing, obviously having the support of a big label like that helps in getting the music out to way more people. Having that backing can take it further than we could just by ourselves.

How has being in Berlin impacted upon your style?

Jon: On this album, I think that you can hear more of Berlin’s influence, sonically and aesthetically. For example, we started DJing quite a lot here, something everyone says happens when you move to Berlin! We also occasionally put out house remixes too, so you can hear the influence of that in our music.

Julie: There’s also that Bowie Berlin Trilogy synth flavour too.

Jon: Yeah, the Bowie aspect is there. Also, the landscape and architecture have an impact, and the night life. All of those things do have a character in the music that we make.

The tunes that you’re putting out now have a much more haunting texture than the feel of your earlier productions, what brought about this spectral shake-up?

Julie: With the previous album (Kool Thing) we had guidelines for the sound that we wanted, and we were always working within those boundaries. For this album, after we got back together, there was a lightness attached to our relationship, musically and personally. So we just started writing stuff. We originally set out to make an EP and there were no constraints, we felt the whole thing was much more laid back and free.

Jon: Ultimately, we’ve written how we like to and we’re attracted to those kinds of sounds. Creating atmosphere and a mood is something we both enjoy, so I guess the haunting textures and soundscapes help produce a very strong feeling on our tunes.

There’s a lot of introspection on your tunes, is that something you put a lot of thought into or does it just come naturally?

Jon: It works both ways. On one level, it does come naturally to us. On the other hand, when we sit down to write, we’ll play around with stuff until we get something that we like. We’ll also talk about how the sound feels and discuss ideas for lyrics. So we’re kind of always going back and forth, partially just because we like it and also because we’ve crafted it.

Julie: There’s definitely introspection. We often question what is it that we’re trying to say or ask where the feeling’s coming from. It plays a big part in it for us.

Trying to pin down your sound has brought a whole host of comparisons, ranging from synth-pop, an ‘ethereal Clannad’ to Propaganda-esque electronica. It’s clear to see the early electronic influence in you music, however who do you most readily identify with?

Julie: I feel like we stick to our own agenda, there are a lot of bands that jump on buzz sounds or what’s trending, and we definitely don’t do that. So I don’t know if we’d identify with anyone actually. We’re influenced by a lot.

Jon: I think that we could probably name ten artists that have influenced this album specifically, and then twenty that influence us in general as musicians, the music we were listening to when we met and the tunes that we vibe off.

Julie: But individually we wouldn’t sound like them.

Jon: No, exactly, if we were to list these influences they wouldn’t be sonically evident in our tunes.

Can you drop a few?

Julie & Jon: Frank Ocean, David Bowie, Bjork, the Blade Runner original soundtrack (Vangelis) big time, The Knife, a lot of the local Berlin artists like Planningtorock, lyrically the Smiths have influenced us, Arthur Russell… We could be here all day!

You’ve received some solid reviews from portals such as i-D, Dazed & Confused and The Fader. What’s it been like to get such a warm reception?

Julie: Great. We did the record in such a carefree way and to get such amazing feedback was really nice, especially because the process was fun and we were so pleased with the end result. It was only supposed to be an EP but then it turned into album, so to get a good reception from publications and magazines that we respect makes us happy for sure.

What’s the tour schedule looking like over the next few months, busy summer ahead?

Jon: We’re actually taking it slowly at first. We’re doing album launches and parties in key cities like London and Berlin. We’ve got a few festival slots, some in Berlin and a couple more may be coming up in Ireland. We’re also in the throes of organising a tour in September, which is potentially going to cover Spain and France, but we haven’t arranged that too much just yet. We’re mainly focusing on getting the album out and then the tour will follow in the autumn.

Julie: Getting the album out and rehearsing, so that the live show is ready to go out the gap, we don’t want to be working on our performances from gig to gig.

Jon: It’s not something we need to rush into either. We don’t like to over saturate and play all the time, everywhere. We’ve got three shows in Berlin over the next four months, that’s the perfect amount for us. Although we don’t play a lot, the gigs that we do play are good and we try and make them unique and special.

Finally, what are your plans for the future? Given the trajectory of the band so far, do you see yourselves evolving even more?

Julie: Yeah, we’re starting on our second album and we can’t wait to be back in the studio to get cracking again.

Jon: We want to have a second album ready to go off the back of Eternalism, so we can keep the momentum going. Our live show is something that is definitely going to be evolving in the next year. We used to be a very electronic band, and only a two piece. Now we’re almost a four piece band, so trying to figure out how to do all this electronic stuff in front of an audience is a new and exciting area. Having hit on something really natural with our writing that works really well, we’re excited to see what we can do and how we can push the creative process in the studio further, and basically write better songs!

Eternalism is out on July 24th and available for pre-order here.

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Words: Alex Rennie
Photo: Wilkosz & Way

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