“She came up to visit the studio for one day a few years ago when she was 16,” The National‘s Aaron Dessner tells NME about working with singer-songwriter Eve Owen at the band’s Long Pong studio on her upcoming record. “I thought we would record one song, but we ended up working on several in just one day. By the next morning she had written a few more songs based on her experience the previous day. Every morning there would be new songs, written sometimes overnight.
“I’ve been lucky to work with some incredibly talented artists, and it was clear to me immediately that Eve was deeply gifted: expressing herself with such force and sincerity on essentially her first proper recording day. I was spellbound.”
- Read more – The National’s Matt Berninger on 10 years of ‘High Violet’: “We wanted to reach everybody”
You may already be familiar with Owen’s beguiling presence from her guest vocals on The National’s ‘I Am Easy To Find’, and performing with them on the tour that followed. You can get to know her a whole lot more through the rich, emotive and soulful storytelling on debut album ‘Don’t Let The Ink Dry’, released on Friday May 8. The latest taster comes with new single ‘Mother’, which Owen says “captures the energy and essence of the album like a courageous free-for-all”.
“‘Mother’s is about internal mother,” she tells NME. “A big energy that is there to hold you and heal you when needed – whether that feeling is in your dreams, in music, in your family, in ideas, in who you are, in what you want to be. It says that if you fall, there will always be someone or something to pick you back up again, so you can jump and live and explore without hesitation and fear.
Speaking of the inspiration behind the video, Owen said: “The idea was to document all the artwork from my childhood and life that in some way or another lead to making this album. I wanted to show that everything connects to everything in terms of art.”
Get the first look of the video on NME below, as well as Owen telling us about overcoming dark times, touring with legends, and what it means to be releasing an album during such a strange moment in history.
Your debut album ‘Don’t Let The Ink Dry’ – what’s that all about then?
“The songs are like a kept record of a lot of different phases I went through during my teenage years. As the album had no particular deadline, it meant that Aaron and I had the time and space to sieve through ideas and get to the core of what we wanted to create. The album is made up of the markings of my and Aaron’s friendship. I can hear my voice finding comfort and opening up more each time in the studio. So perhaps over the span of three years, themes came and went because each time we recorded we were both in different places in our lives. The record deals with longing, loneliness, celebration, acceptance, freedom and chance.”
What would you say that working with Aaron brought out of you and the songs?
“I think a sense of fearlessness. Not in a way of confidence and lack of fear, but more in the sense of feeling fear and not letting it control you, feeling fear and not letting it own you. I have never been comfortable singing in front of other people and that hasn’t changed, but I feel more comfortable about letting my fear show. Working with Aaron I discovered the amount of joy that is created through overcoming fear. He taught me that collaboration is such an important part of making art. If I’m being truly honest he brought out the songs true meanings. The production work he put in to each song, only made the song feel more like itself.”
How was the experience of touring with The National?
“I’ve always admired the band’s controlled chaotic way of performing. They master the sound and yet each show feels and is different. You walk into the gig with the surety that something unimaginably beautiful is going to take place, all the while carrying the unknown and the unexpected. The first time I sang with them was the first time I sang with any band and I got an overwhelming feeling of one collective heart on a sleeve. I not only got to tour with the band but also with Mina Tindle, Kate Stables, Gail Ann Dorsey and Lisa Hannigan who are all unbelievable musicians. Going on that tour was like the universe waving a flag at me and showing me what live music can entail. It felt like that experience was saying Look over here, this is what will make you happy.”
It must feel strange to be preparing to drop an album in to the middle of a global crisis?
“I had live shows planned, which have changed, but if I’m honest now seems like a really important time for art and its healing powers. I didn’t make this record not to say ‘I get it’ or ‘I know what you’re going through’, but to say ‘I will listen and try to understand’. Each and everyone’s pain and hurt occur and heal in different ways. I was in a quiet, dark place writing these songs and they helped me – so hopefully they will continue to do this for others during these quiet dark times.”
Would you say that the album has taken on new meaning or offers any newfound comfort during these trying times?
“Hopefully this album will help people feel whatever it is they need to feel. Going through intense waves of worry is scary. I hope this record brings some good company to all the isolated people.”
Eve Owen releases ‘Don’t Let The Ink Dry’ on Friday May 8.