Sounds x Interview: Evelyn Frances // Treehouse Palace

New York City-based indie-folk musician Evelyn Frances creates the type of music you want to listen to first thing in the morning, while watching the sunrise and sipping fresh hot coffee. Smooth, relaxing and ethereal, her voice is reminiscent of jazz singers like Billie Holiday placed atop a mountain of reverb and acoustic orchestration. Her latest single, “Treehouse Palace,” was released this week via Spirit House and Source Material Records. In the midst of finishing up her full-length album to be released this spring, Evelyn took the time to sit down with us and chat about her life and music.

Can you tell us a bit about where you grew up?

I grew up mostly in upstate New York, right on Lake Ontario, in Oswego. However, my parents moved a lot growing up (and still do).  I was born in Belgium, lived in South Korea, and Wisconsin before that.

Wow, that’s a lot of varying places. What types of music inspired you while growing up?

Jazz music was always floating around the house, as my mother is a jazz vocalist and my parents are both jazz lovers, so that was a huge influence of mine. I was also playing classical piano and flute from a young age and all throughout school and college, which definitely had a big impact on the music I make now. As a teenager, my tastes in music were much more mainstream, and I’m honestly more proud of what I was listening to as a child. I went from loving Queen and Harry Belafonte as a little kid to being obsessed with this Brit-Pop band, McFly, Lady Gaga, and Ed Sheeran as a teenager.

My obsessions were serious and devotional, if not a bit worrisome and definitely tiresome to my friends and parents. I would spend all night watching interviews, live performances, behind the scenes recording sessions, and tour videos, just to feel a little closer to them. I would learn to play their songs and sing them on my front porch late into the night in the summers, until the neighbors yelled at me. I would make weird music videos in honor of my love for Lady Gaga (one of which is still on Youtube). Though I’m not the proudest of those names (no disrespect at all to their talents and success), I definitely owe them a lot for being where I am today. I don’t think I would have stuck with playing guitar if it weren’t for McFly and Ed Sheeran.

What types of music inspires you today?

I’m currently inspired by Radiohead (as well as in my late teens), Nick Cave, Francis Bebey, Junun, JFDR, Courtney Barnett, Grouper, Múm, Zoë Keating, Andy Shauf, Alice Boman, Nini Julia Bang, Keenan O’Meara, my friends Matthew Politoski (of Animal Flag) and Tristan Allen (who plays bass in my band, but is an incredible pianist and composer as well.)

What would be your dream venue to perform at?

National Sawdust! Making that happen soon. And BAM Harvey Theater.

National Sawdust is an amazing New York City venue. What are your current favorite NYC venues to play?

I really enjoy Rockwood, Stage 3 and Stage 1 (haven’t gotten to play stage 2 yet) and am looking forward to playing at C’mon Everybody for my album release show in April.

Where did you record your recent release? Did you work with a producer? 

I had the incredibly lucky pleasure of recording the single at Electric Lady Studios with Phil Joly. I used to intern at Electric Lady when Phil was the head engineer there. One day, I emailed him to ask if he’d be interested in working on an album with me, despite my small budget, and he said yes! We got to record there whenever the studio was free.  It was a dream of an experience that I am forever grateful for. Phil was my mixing and recording engineer, and also my co-producer on this record. I have never worked with someone who understood the sounds and textures I was going for so well. I am very lucky to have Phil as a friend and colleague on this journey.

That’s great! Can you tell us a bit about what your latest single “Treehouse Palace” is about? What inspired you to write it? 

“Treehouse Palace” is a song about a longing to be loved in nature’s expansive embrace.  At the time, I was feeling very alone and sapped of the deep, meaningful connections I longed for. I was also feeling very drained from the lack of access to nature in a big city.  When I picture my dream life, nature and people that I can connect with without holding back always surround it. This was a kind of prayer for those things.

I like the idea that your song sung like a prayer.  What else do you do aside from writing and performing music?

I am also a yoga teacher, focusing primarily on restorative yoga with sound. I teach a restorative sound class at Sky Ting Tribeca on Thursday nights at 8pm where I sing and play my own, improvised, meditative sounds. I am an active environmentalist. I love to knit, take care of my houseplants, and will soon be a greyhound owner!

Congrats on the greyhound and perhaps we’ll come check out your class sometime!  Thanks again for chatting with us Evelyn!  

You can hear her latest single “Treehouse Palace” below, and make sure to keep an eye out for her upcoming music video and album release via Spirit House and Source Material Records due this spring.

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