Evija Vēbere sings and handles electronics like no one else. Growing up in Latvia, Vēbere attended a music school, received a bachelor’s degree in jazz singing. With her 2018 album, ‘Sirdsbūt‘ she won a ‘Golden Microphone’ as the best Latvian alternative/indie album of the year.
Hello! First of all, how did you start making music? Tell us a bit more about yourself!
Hi! I think I wrote my first song while I was studying music in the Netherlands. I was searching for where I belong and how to express myself. At that time improvisation was a big deal for me.
I was really proud of my first song, mostly because no one could tell me what it should sound like and it gave me a sense of liberation from all the rules that surround one in an academic environment. This quickly led to the creation of my first band. We rehearsed weekly. I felt motivated and kept coming up with a new song every week. It was challenging and inspiring at the same time. In later school years, me and my good friend Lav Kovac, a drummer from Serbia formed an avant-pop duo Howling Owl, I played my first synth MicroKorg in the duo. We were in our early twenties excited and confused trying to figure out how one would make it in the big world.
When I moved back to Latvia, I started to assemble my little synth orchestra. I wrote songs in my native language and when I had about six songs ready I started to perform. I released a solo recording in 2018 named “Sirdsbūt”, this spring my second solo album will come out. Now my little synth orchestra has overgrown with modular synths and besides producing songs and performing, I compose music for theatre and other art performances also I’m getting more involved in sound design and the creation of sonic identities.
Take me through your sound design process. Is this a quick process, or something you might obsess over and re-visit?
Both. The thing I love the most about modular synths is the interaction and ability to find self-involving and breathing soundscapes. Sometimes I find one and it’s playing for the whole day on my speakers and the moment I choose to turn some buttons or patch another cable, it’s gone. I create my performances without breaks between songs, trying to find new worlds while I’m traveling from one song to another. Before every concert, I’m in a fragile spot because I’m not confident of how it will go. Usually, the feeling fades away the moment I start playing because all the focus goes there but when I’m producing a song I spend a lot of time searching and designing sounds.
Where did you get the initial idea to use these sci-fi editings, adding, in your music and visual manifestation?
I think the SCI-FI sound is inevitable to come by when using modular synths. They do kind of look like a spaceship and the sound sometimes becomes cosmic but I never had the intention of going in this direction, I also wouldn’t identify myself with it. Three years ago I couldn’t imagine I would create intimate solo performances on multiple hardware instruments, maybe three years from now I will be playing sounds on a flute and a triangle. Who knows?
When you are not busy creating, which other artists do you follow or listen to?
Oh, I love John Coltrane and Arvo Part as much as I love Joni Mitchell and Billie Eilish. One of the recordings I love the most and I keep coming back to is by a trio called Equilibrium (Mikkel Ploug, Sissel Vera Pettersen, Joachim Badenhorst)
I have a personal relationship with the song while I’m taking care of it.
Does the conception come first or does the song evolve naturally – do you have a clear idea of what it will be before you start to make it?
Every time I’m making a new song, I’m wondering in disbelief if I can do it again and how was I able to come up with the other ones before. It’s a delicate process. When I have a melody stuck in my head or perhaps a nice harmony to go with I spend a lot of time usually at the piano and try to create a whole song with lyrics. Then I move to my little synth orchestra and I produce the song with beats and baselines. I record a lot of sounds while I’m practicing and save the ones I like in my sound library. I might have baselines, beats, or sometimes the atmosphere prerecorded from when I practice. Then I start puzzling the parts around and come up with a combination of sounds depending on what the song needs. I remember discovering a cool drum beat on my little pocket synth. This inspired me and I just started singing over it and played a simple baseline. A few moments later a song was born. I haven’t changed it since and it became very fun to perform. It’s called ”Mīlniekiem un Visādiem Citiem.”
When listeners make their way through this song, what do you want to feel?
I have a personal relationship with the song while I’m working on it but once it is ready and I let it go the place where I kept the song becomes an empty space and I am ready to plant the next seed. So emptiness at the moment and yeah, for the first week I’ll be checking closely how it resonates with the listeners.
What do you know to be true of the world and how is this truth expressed through your art?
Pure intention. It’s the most powerful thing for creative people and in one way everyone is creative. So, it takes a lot of trust, honesty, strength, vulnerability, and acceptance of one’s imperfection to be truly dedicated to creating improvised sonic performance with the audience.
In how much, do you feel, are creative decisions shaped by cultural differences – and in how much, vice versa, is the perception of sound influenced by cultural differences?
I feel like both creative decisions and cultural differences have been driving each other forward for better or worse and it is more like something that just happens and less something we can influence or direct.
We are currently living through a very trying and charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period?
I tell stories of how I feel and what I see when I look at the people around me. There have been a lot of discoveries both pleasant and painful and through these discoveries, I have to search for my own truth. Because everyone has their own truth and as my favorite Latvian writer Imants Ziedonis says: ‘There are so many truths. It’s easy to get lost if you don’t have a truth of your own.’ I reflect on what I feel in the sound and design that I search for.
What do you hope to do with your art in the future? I mean, do you have any crazy goals?
For almost a month now I’m diving into VR experiences, I would love to create a binaural audio piece for the VR experience. I have always found the idea of making sound for video games alluring.
Cover photo: (c) Kaspars Balamovsky