Birmingham born, Midlands raised Eva Lazarus is a musical force to be reckoned with. From singing to songwriting to MCing, fusing Hip Hop to jungle breaks, Eva's got it all.
She’s collaborated with the likes of Stanton Warriors, Etherwood, Dub FX, Mr Woodnote, Danny Byrd, Jus now, Gotsome and Serocee, and with an international tour pencilled in for later this year, Eva is now ready to take her sound global in 2017.
Ahead of what is sure to be an electric performance on 5 August at 51st State Festival, we caught up with Eva to talk about her recent projects and what else the future holds.
Birmingham has had a pretty big influence on UK music over the last few decades. How has your birth town influenced your music?
Mum used to listen to UB40 when I was kid and I was a big fan of The Streets, but I wouldn't say they directly influence my sound – great music though, and the city has an ever evolving and healthy music scene! Personally, I was more influenced by the sounds coming out of Bristol's DnB, Jungle and trip hop scenes, which is in part why I moved there.
When did you first realise you wanted to sing?
Singing has been a part of my life from a really young age. I always wanted to sing, but being a performer is different. Singing for enjoyment is something you can do alone, performing is something that involves sharing and I used to have a crippling shyness. I think experience and practice has brought me comfort, but I definitely had some hurdles to get over!
What drew you to reggae, soul and DnB?
You may sense a theme here but I share my mum's music taste. Luckily, she's always been into amazing music, so I was listening to Dennis Brown, Lauryn Hill and Roni Size from a young age, and formed a really solid base of inspirations. Now, I like the way my voice sounds on these styles, and I feel at home there.
Back in December you crowdfunded your first solo EP, and completely smashed your initial target! Then came the release of Bad News in March. What’s the next step here?
First of all big up anyone who backed my crowdfunder! I was overwhelmed by the support – it hit me straight in the feels! It's a blessing to know that people are up for supporting what I'm doing!
Bad News was the first release on my label, Konichi-wah-gwarn Records. Now, my plan is to release more music through this medium. My crowdfunded EP is well underway and will be making its home there!
What role do you think crowdfunding plays in independent music today?
I think it can serve as a pre-ordering system for your fanbase. If fans or supporters put money in, they can get something physical out of it!
I also think that from an artist's point of view, funding is key in being able to push you over the last unavoidable industry hurdles. There are a lot of things that you can do for yourself, but some things take investment and crowd funding is so, so helpful for this!
I'm currently working my butt off to be able to give something back to the people who have put their money where their mouths are, backed me and facilitated me being able to give them some music. It's a humbling experience and I want to give back so much!
One of the reasons you say you decided to go it alone was so you could focus on one sound. How would you define this sound?
Hip hop/soul! That's two... haha! I want to be able to write a whole record in a style that people haven't really heard me on before. I have done a few collabs in it before, and I really enjoy writing within it, but it's never been a whole track until now.
The stand out element for me in this record is to have live players: I love hearing a killin' brass section, real drums and a ninja on the keys coupled with straight production.
What are the challenges of going it alone?
Remembering to do EVERYTHING! Haha! Planning a release is hard work! Being my own manager as well as doing the creative stuff is hard; tour managing, rehearsing, writing, planning shoots, booking shows, and travel logistics. I’ve had to say no to work occasionally because I'm too swamped and need to finish what's on my plate. You also have to learn to say yes to the right things at the right time.
Basically, there is more admin and juggling involved in this whole going alone music thing than I realised BUT there is a big sense of achievement in getting things right and I'm up for a challenge!
Now we’re really looking forward to having you perform for us in August, what one song are you most excited to perform at 51st State?
'Amsterdam' – it's a track off of my upcoming collaborative EP release with Mungos Hifi!
What artist or act are you most excited to watch at 51st State?
Really tough to choose so I'm going to give my top 5 in no particular order! Benny Page, Omar, Evelyn Champagne King, Macka B and Wookie!
And, finally, what can we look forward to from you in the coming months?
I have a really busy summer! There are live shows, my EP on the way with Mungos Hifi, some music with Zed Bias, some with Chris Munky and Chali 2na, my crowdfunder is still in the works but it's happening, and finally, I am touring Australia in October. Beyond that, who knows? Hopefully something exciting!