In Berlin, the artist’s dream is thriving, this effortlessly cool and still relatively cheap city is littered with creatives of all kinds. Clichés aside, it is here that you can do or be whoever you want, especially for those who come from other places. It has become home to some of your favorite bands, one of which is Evvol, the uncompromising electronic project of real life partners Julie Chance and Jon Dark aka Jane Arnison.
After forming in 2015, they quickly gained success with their debut album ‘Eternalism’ and was even dubbed as New Band of the Week by The Guardian. Their music borders on the cinematic, mixing trance pop with guitars and drum beats producing a sound that is both haunting and atmospheric.
In episode two, we got into a car with the duo, driving around their neighbourhood in Kreuzberg, and got chatting about queer representations, their Irish / Australian roots and their story so far.
How has your roots inspired your music?
Jane: I don’t know if I draw from my Australian roots, I definitely draw from femininity, but I don’t think that’s a root. I mean, in terms of you with your Irishness, I think that’s pretty dominant.
Julie: I grew up listening to traditional Irish music, with traditional Irish music and songwriting, it’s the storytelling that I’m influenced by.
Jane: And I also think that the beauty and the melancholy that comes from that ode that you sent me a couple weeks ago? There’s an emotion in the melody. The melodies of Irish odes I think are beautiful.
Julie: That’s because Ireland has gone through a lot of pain and oppression, so a lot of songs are about separation and sadness, and lost loved ones, and loved ones who have emigrated and gone to America,stuff like that. So you’re right, a lot of it is quite sad.
Jane: And I think that’s something that we’re both really drawn to. The melody as an expressive tool.
Julie: Yeah, but you’re Irish too, you have an Irish passport.
Jane: That’s true.
Julie: All of Australia is practically Irish. Nick is Irish for God’s sake.
Nick: I sure am.
Julie: What do you mean by femininity though? That was interesting.
Jane: Well, I think that in terms of the roots of femininity and how that influences what we do, I think that we’re consciously led by emotions and honoring that, and that’s something we see as a strength. For example, let’s say today we’re in the studio working and it wasn’t feeling right, so we honor that rather than pushing through and being like “no, we have to work”, we’re just like “no, it’s not the time for doing a great vocal, we need to just do something else and then we’ll know when it’s right.” I’ve come from a past of not honoring those kinds of things and I think that I’m a better musician now because I do that, you know? I think that there’s a lot of power in those feminine forces and I think that’s something we do collectively. You’ve brought that out in me and I think that’s a big part of what we do as musicians and as artists.
Julie: I agree.
How has being in Berlin impacted you?
Jane: I think the obvious thing is that Berlin has enabled us back in the day to just do music. Not work, just do our thing, hang out, and write music and not think about anything else.
Julie: That’s definitely true. There’s a big artistic community here which we’ve always loved and we’ve always been apart of, very encouraging. Even like early gigs, people come, people show up and support, and stuff like that.
Jane: You really get the feeling like you can try stuff out.
Julie: But I think like with Berlin, because of the big history that it has, and the history of Germany, there always has been, and there still is, this kind of heaviness to the city. The heavy, heavy history that it carries, I think that influences our music for sure.
Jane: It impacts the aesthetic.
Julie: And the mood. It’s an incredible city but there can also be a darkness to it.
Jane: There’s pain and sadness for sure.
Julie: And I think that definitely comes through in our music as well.
Jane: But I also think that that’s something that really impacted us when we first started out. I think now we’ve woven ourselves to the fabric of that. So we still create music which is melancholic, but I think that we also have, I don’t know. Not a hopefulness, but there’s a beautiful sad or happy, melancholy, or some kind of thing that is not just dark. And I think that that’s a result of us both living here for a while, and the city changes. The city has definitely changed. What else? Techno?
Julie: I was going to say that the electronic music scene is obviously thriving, there’s a lot of influences there.
Jane: You can’t escape electronic music.
Julie: Yeah, but even the Janus crew are doing something really different as well. And there’s just a lot of exciting, new sounds coming out here.
Jane: It’s true, isn’t it? The kind of post-club stuff. Obviously techno and house and everything.
You’re working on a new album, what’s it like working together?
Jane: How does it feel for you?
Julie: I don’t know, I think we’ve learned a lot of stuff from the last couple of tracks and the last album, and it seems like a lot freer. I like that we can just do whatever we want. This album to me, I feel like I only want to write sad songs.
Jane: I don’t think you always feel that way, depending on your mood. But I get it. In terms of understanding that flippant songs is not the vibe. And I’m on board with that.
Julie: What do you think is different?
Jane: I think we’ve just let ourselves off the hook in a way. I wanna say we, but I’ll just talk about myself. I think that I’ve let myself off the hook a lot, and just to play and to remember to have fun with it. If I’m not enjoying it, then it kind of feels like a job or something and then I stop working. Where I think I used to be like “ugh, I’ve got to keep on working.” Maybe we’re a bit slower but I think that we’re having more fun so I think that the music is better. And also, I think that we’re more open with each other and more respectful of each other.
Julie: I would agree. We’ve learned a lot over the last couple of years and had a wealth of experience in the studio now and I think that really comes across in our productions. I love your productions at the moment.
Jane: I also think it’s one of those things that when you know what you’re doing, you calm down. And I think that’s kind of where we’re at.
Julie: Yeah, you’re right.
Jane: I have a question that I don’t actually know the answer to. When you’re writing lyrics, how does it come to you? Does it flow out of you or do you pour over every single word?
Julie: I really like to write lyrics when we have the basics of the music down. Lyrically what comes from me is when I feel something from the music. And it comes back to why I think I’m more moved by sadder melodies or more intense melodies. And then it feels like what I have to say is more worthwhile. I think that the experiences that I feel are more worthwhile are when I pull from sadder experiences.
Jane: Why do you think that is?
Julie: I don’t know, I think I’m just a sad person.
Jane: But do you think that sad experiences are more worthwhile than happy experiences?
Julie: Not necessarily, but they’re the ones that last longer, the ones that you remember.
Jane: Happy ones you live and sad ones you mark, somehow.
Julie: We tend to hold onto sadder things longer and we shouldn’t, we should actually let them go. We don’t hang on to happy things as long. “Oh that was great, what a lovely sunset, next!”
What about this song? Does it have a name yet?
Julie: It’s called “The Well.”
Jane: So as we’re talking about lyrics…
Julie: That’s kind of a happy/sad song.
Jane: So I think that’s really interesting because with your lyrics somehow, and the way that we work together, when we sit down and we have a session, and we create something that is quite heavy emotively from the music side, you don’t go as deep or as dark with the lyrics, and this is an example of it. There’s a darkness to it, but in terms of the message, if there is one..
Julie: But that’s what I get from it. It is pretty grim, it’s like about a hole that’s left inside someone. Like you know when you break up with a person? It’s like a hole so deep, sort of like a well. The happy part is that this person was affected so much by this person. Yeah, it’s like a vacuum really, when you lose someone that you love.
Lets roll back a bit, how did you two meet?
Jane: Well, almost 10 years ago, we met in Paris. It was a fateful meeting, it really set the course of both of our lives in a beautiful way. Don’t laugh at it, it’s true!
Julie: (laughing) Yeah, no it’s true.
Jane: I moved to Berlin for fuck’s sake!
Julie: Yeah, I was DJing. You know what Paris is like - not very friendly. I was DJing at this queer party and it was full of French people, no one spoke English. I was the only English speaking person.
Jane: I was reluctant to be there.
Julie: Well, you were reluctant, but I was really happy to see you because you and your friends were the only other English speakers. So I was like “hey, what’s up, what are you guys up to?” And you were a bit moody but your friends were quite eager.
Jane: And little did I know how much you love moodiness!
Julie: And that’s how we met. We did some music together and some other stuff in between and then I came back to Paris - when did I come back?
Jane: You came back and forth a few times. Remember when you tried to -
Julie: Don’t say anything you don’t want the world to know!
Jane: You came back, we did some music, and the rest is history.
Describe this song in a few words
Jane: Cinematic, mood-scape, vivid, epic, dark
Julie: Groove-based, tribal, contemplative, introspective, melodic, harmonic
How would you characterize the Berlin queer scene?
Julie: I think that the queer scene in Berlin is second to none in the world, frankly. I feel like we don’t consciously interact with it as much because we don’t party as much anymore. However, when we leave, we really feel its absence. It’s something we take for granted.
Jane: I would agree with that wholeheartedly. I also think the queer scene here is one of the best in the world. It’s not really separate, there are separate pockets, for instance, you have some parties that are all guys. But the party that you were at yesterday, you always feel secure and safe. You don’t feel like “oh, I’m not in it.” You don’t feel in danger. Everywhere feels a bit queer. And of course, if you just want to go to a dive bar or you just want to go to a gay bar, or that’s not enough, you can do queer yoga, or bondage class. And yeah, we do take it for granted. I definitely feel it when I leave.
Julie: I think that’s also a beautiful thing. This is our community, this is our life, and why should we feel that we’re lucky for just living our lives? This is how it should be everywhere. We should just be able to live, we should just be able to putter around our house, we don’t need to be in the scene partying all the time to feel embraced by a community.
I think that that’s what we have here and I think it’s amazing. I’ve just really felt it more recently because obviously we’ve been active in the scene for many years, and when you’re not going out as much, you kind of feel like, are we not in the scene? But we always are because we’re here.