We met up with Evan Voytas at the W Hotel before he loaded in for his Brooklyn Vegan Showcase. Stealing a few moments to take in some poolside relaxation before a busy slate of SXSW performances, we chatted about LA, Brooklyn and why the electropop singer has a penchant for hip hop. Since gracing the stage at A44’s One Night Stand CMJ-week event at Bowery Hotel, Evan has had an incredible rise. One need only take a peek at the recent Nick Knight and Jamie Harley clip for Vogue Italia starring none other than Kate Moss to see that he’s captured the imagination of those in the know. As always, Evan was a blast to talk to, and we can’t wait to catch the Los Angeles singer next time he is in New York!
From PA, to NYC, touring with Teddy Geiger, and now in LA; how have these experiences shaped you and your music in its own right?
Well, I got into jazz at age 13 or 14, and I did that exclusively until I was 21. I basically stopped because I got that gig with Teddy Geiger. At that point I thought I’d be doing jazz for my whole life, and I was on the right track. And then all of a sudden I took this bizarre teen pop tour and did that for three years. It was really strange; I went from playing all of these small jazz clubs to opening for Hilary Duff and our first show was at the Greek Theater. After that, I moved to a farmhouse in Pennsylvania and just started making my own music. I moved to LA to start releasing things and put a band together.
Do you find that LA has a big influence on the music that you make?
Well, I don’t know. I had written a bunch of the music for my early singles in Pennsylvania, and I could have gone back to New York but chose move to LA. I wanted to try something else, and the music I was making kind of made sense in LA. I had a few friends out there too, like Teddy. I guess LA doesn’t define my music, but it aligns with it.
Do you find yourself drawing from any particular style of music for inspiration?
Yeah, I have been listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks stuff… and then a lot of rap. I don’t listen to a lot of rock music. I actually just really like pop music and pop songs.
You have worked with a lot of other artists, like Teddy Geiger, Ganja Sufi and Flying Lotus; Do you think that getting this perspective from other artists is important to you?
I don’t know if it is important or necessary, but it is something that I like to do. As I have been getting busier with my solo stuff, it is getting more difficult to do, and there will probably be a time where I stop doing it—or there could be a time when I just do that. I guess it’s not a necessity but it’s a passion.
Tell us about the video for “Tomorrow Night We’ll Go Anywhere.” How did you come to work with filmmaker Jamie Harley? And of course, how did you get Kate Moss?!
Well… Jamie Harley wanted to make a video for that song and Nick Knight, who is a fashion photographer from London, contacted Jamie and said he wanted to do something with the footage he just shot for the photo shoot with Kate for Italian Vogue, and he wanted to put it into some kind of music video. Jamie thought the song went well with it, and I thought so too. I had kind of envisioned a video like that, but obviously didn’t envision it being Kate Moss, you know looking hot, but it was definitely a good idea. It worked out really well. I knew the song was sexy, but no, I did not think it was going to be that sexy. I didn’t think anything could be that sexy.
We have seen you perform with a lot of hip hop artists, do you find that you have a certain niche in that genre?
You know, it’s strange. I have always loved hip hop, and when I moved to LA I wasn’t really into that much of the indie rock that was out there, so I started falling in with these dudes—like Mainframe, Danny Brown, Ganja Sufi and Flying Lotus. I think there is something that appeals to the hip hop world about my music. Although I’m not really sure what that is, I am so happy to be affiliated with it.—Annick Mayer
Arcade Players, you have two more chances to catch Evan Voytas in Austin for SXSW:3.18 – Yelp’s Skinny Pants Dance @ Betsy’s Bar, 2pm 3.19 – Karibu Showcase @ Karibu, 3pm