Eves Karydas on the unabashed purity of pop music

Written by Joseph Earp on 14th June, 2018
Eves Karydas on the unabashed purity of pop music

Over two years ago Hannah Evyenia Karydas – the woman formerly known to Australian audiences as Eves The Behaviour, now simply Eves Karydas – decided to drop everything to move to London on her lonesome. While most artists might rather ride out a wave of consistent triple j play and continue to support crowd-drawing names, Karydas wanted change. “It wasn’t really a career decision. It was a dream I had to fulfil,” she explains.

When she’s not in the studio with collaborators Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint), Sam Dixon (Adele, Kylie Minogue) and Chris Zane (Passion Pit), Eves Karydas can often be found in her London apartment with her head in a book or cooking Greek dishes from her Yaya’s secret recipes. “The sweets are really tricky to make. I mean when you think of baklava, it’s very intricate,” she explains.

Growing up in a big Greek family in Cairns meant being surrounded by seemingly endless cousins, going to church, and having their house blessed. “I think we’re not really a normal family,” she says; she claims the sheer degree of support her parents showered her in was somewhat irregular. “I guess also growing up in a Greek family, it’s not particularly like middle of the road white Australian either. Yeah. We’ve always just been our own little crew,” she says, her quiet admiration clear.

When something has come from a real experience, it’s hard not to be moved by that.

Excitement grows in Karydas’s voice when her love of reading is brought to the table: “I could talk about this all day.” From Joan Didion’s eloquent and cutting personal essays to Gloria Steinem’s restlessness in My Life On The Road, it seems endless texts have left a mark on the now 23-year-old.

A particular favourite of Karydas’s is Didion’s essay on self-respect. Originally published in Vogue in 1961, the piece was considered unusual for the magazine’s voice at the time, tucked in between hair, beauty and fashion styling tips. In it, Didion quips, “The dismal fact is that self-respect has nothing to do with the approval of others … [This approval] is something that people with courage can do without.”

“It just blew my mind. I mean I really needed to read that at that time I think,” Karydas explains. “I read it when I was 18 or something. I swear, once a year I go back and read that and I learn something new from it.” It’s fitting, really. From what I’ve heard so far of Karydas’s Hush, the work thematically circles self-respect, independence and her growing understanding of what it means to be a sexually empowered woman.

Her new track ‘Couch’ stands out as a nod to Karydas’s growing confidence and ambition. “It’s just about embracing feeling good about yourself and knowing that you’re going in for the kill,” she breaks to laugh, “and that you can do and you can own it. And that’s kind of a feeling that I’m trying to explore more and more with this record.”

When Karydas claims Pride And Prejudice as her favourite book of all time, I let out a giggle, and she gives an – admittedly welcomed – reprimand. “People always laugh at that. I think there’s a big misconception about that book because they think it’s just a love story. But it’s so much more than that. It’s about independence; it’s about being a woman and not being intimidated. I read that once a year as well.” The pages of her own copy are carefully folded down; whenever she’s feeling blue, she returns to the moments that remind her of her strength.

Hush is a significant move away from the darker, Chvrches-like electro-pop of 2014 single ‘Electrical’ to a lighter sound that manages to maintain its moodiness. There’s a delicacy of tone and minimalism in ‘Wildest Ones’, something you might hear in a Hans Zimmer composition; a complex, reversed melody that stemmed from a writing experiment in ‘Further Than The Planes Fly’ and a swelling desire in ‘There For You’. The songs reflect Karydas’ transition to a more positive, authentic version of herself, which grew out of her time away from home.

Karydas describes her favoured ‘miss-ur-crush’ artists: these include everyone from Lana Del Rey to Joni Mitchell to the biggest pop artists of the minute. “It’s kind of like genre doesn’t matter anymore; it’s more about a feeling, and they all signify and stand for the same things, like a thread that runs through them. A lot of it is music made by women … When something has come from a real experience, it’s hard not to be moved by that.”

Pop has no aura of trying to be too cool, it just is what it is and I love that. It’s unabashed and pure.

‘Miss-ur-crush’ music has grown to sustain Karydas. “It kind of gets me through everything. I mean, that’s such a basic thing to say, but it’s my life,” she says half jokingly, half not, “as it is for pretty much every other person as well.”

When it comes to her love of pop – she often returns to artists like Cardi B and Selena Gomez – she says, “it’s the ‘no fucks given’ attitude surrounding it” that appeals to her most. “It’s just like, ‘This is how I feel. I’m putting it all out on the table’. [There’s] no aura of trying to be too cool. It just is what it is and I love that. It’s unabashed and pure. I don’t like when people act like they don’t care and hide behind those masks.”

After suggesting that there’s a certain meanness behind ‘too cool for you’ vibes, which perhaps stems from insecurities, she says, “Yeah, I definitely think that … It’s just like, let those people do what they want to do, and I’ll do what I want to do.”

Eves Karydas plays Splendour In The Grass 2018 at North Byron Parklands, Friday July 20 – Sunday July 22 with Angie McMahon, Chvrches, Henry Rollins, Middle Kids, Superorganism and many more.

The article was originally published on Brag Magazine