Friday, May 09, 2008

Band of the Week

Evan Voytas

There are many names for it, escape, retreat, getaway, splitting the seam of reality and sliding in between. Whatever you prefer the principle is the same, to move away from the craziness of life to focus on what you love the most. That is what 24 year old Pennsylvania musician Evan Voytas did. Somehow finding himself on tour playing lead guitar and singing back-up for teen-pop phenom Teddy Geiger, he felt burned and needed the solitude of a rural farmhouse to figure out what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it.

The result is a debut ep, Introducing Evan Voytas, filled with lush indie pop. What is unique about this ep is the gritty electronics sets him a part from traditional pop music. It really is a pleasing mixture of both '60's pop sensibilities and modern electro bubbles and glitches. Evan plans to return to tour with Teddy Geiger, but for now he is reveling in and talking about what he has created.

Recently, Evan was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): Well traveled at 24, how have the various locations you have lived in affected your music? Do you pick up a new sound in each state?
Evan Voytas (EV): New Mexico has probably had the most influence on my music. I didn't work on music at all when I lived there, but the music sounded different after I left. That place feels so big.

I think maybe the spirit that has kept me moving around affects the music. I like exploring and adventures.

OA: You have a strong background in Jazz composition, do you apply this knowledge when composing pop songs?
EV: It does come through, but maybe not in the most obvious ways. I used to be pretty absorbed in atonal harmony. In New York I would hang out in my apartment, drinking tea and singing atonal melodies from books written by Scandinavian dudes. I think the fact that I got so involved in dissonance made me eventually have a reaction against it. Now the music I write has very simple melodies. I really fell in love with simplicity.

I learned a lot from spending so much time improvising. It made me comfortable with the idea of letting my mind go to a place where it can stream new ideas, and I just get out of the way and let that happen. I think of my music as documents of that specific experience.

OA: Teddy Geiger... How did you come to play with a teen pop star? What was that experience like?
EV: It's been wonderful. Pretty confusing, but great. I had about a week left in college, and a friend of a friend said, "Want to go on the road with a teen pop star?" and I said, "OK." I thought it would be an interesting summer job, but we ended up being on the road for almost 3 years! Teddy and I became best friends, bonding over all the bizarre things that were happening around us. Musically we somehow had a lot in common, despite our very different backgrounds. Playing those shows has been so much fun. Teddy's fans have been awesome and really supportive.

OA: What was it that attracted you to the farmhouse in Pennsylvania? Do you feel it play a role the actual recorded sound of the ep?
EV: I was tired of the city. I needed something that would feel a little more like "real life" to counteract the world of teen pop.

It probably did play a role in the sound of the ep. I recorded the song "Everything is Fine," when the sun was coming up one morning, and you can actually hear birds singing in the background.

OA: You have said you plan to tour this summer. What is the hardest part of putting together an independent tour? What cities do you plan to hit?
EV: This is the first time I've really dealt with booking shows, so that's been an early challenge. I guess I'll discover all the pitfalls as I go along.

I'm playing 2 solo electric shows, May 16th at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn, and May 20th at the Fire in Philadelphia. After that, I'll be touring with Teddy's band in June and July, then hopefully more solo shows in late July and August.

OA: What's next for Evan Voytas?
EV: I have a lot of new music that I'm excited about. I can't wait to put together a full-length album.

Listen to: The Yellow World of '83 (mp3) and We'd Be Good Together (mp3)

Bonus Questions:
: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
EV: When I'm at home, I drink coffee all day. I like strong black coffee. When I'm in New York I like to go to Oslo in Williamsburg, friendly folks over there.

OA: What was the last great book you have read?
EV: "Concerning the Spiritual in Art" by Wassily Kandinsky

For more information on Evan Voytas please visit his website, and to order a copy of the album go here.

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