Eva Lawitts (Shredderella Regretowitz)
Steve: How do you try to factor in others or an audience into your own work? When making art you do have to commit to this selfish thing, but then there are some people that take it to the next level and say, ‘my art is only for me’.
Eva: Well its two separate concepts. With my new Stimmerman album that’s coming out, I didn’t think that those songs were particularly good or that they weren’t a piece of me that I really wanted to show to people. I think in a lot of ways they not what I assume what an audience would like. But if I don’t put these out, I’m going to be constantly thinking about putting them out and constantly wondering if this is good or not or if people would like it or not. It’s never going to leave me. None of us have a good metric for what the ‘meaningful’ thing is. You can’t be the judge of the value of your own work. The other thing I do believe is that there is definitely a place for considering the audience. There’s a nice little pocket for people making rock music that has one foot in considering the audience and being a product and another foot in being experimental and harmonically interesting and rhythmically complex.
S: What would you call your group Stimmerman or Fuck Squad? Would you call that jazz?
E: I definitely wouldn’t call Stimmerman jazz. Its rock music. It’s definitely influenced by jazz because I am influenced by jazz and I wrote the music. There are parts of it that are open with improvising and that maybe is a nod to that genre, but it has all of the trappings of rock music. With Fuck Squad it was the same vibe too. Even though we would do some shows that were more jazz oriented I think it we got a lot of influence from Prince or Steely Dan but filtered it through these techniques we picked up at jazz school. Then again, this was an argument we had constantly with Fuck Squad: could it be jazz? I think jazz does exist even though it’s hard to pin down exactly what it is, and I think we were able to hash out what our true passions were. There are many things that are truly jazz that I love, but what wanted to make honestly was not jazz even though we were influenced by other people. The great thing about our generation: people will try to gate keep but they can’t anymore, really. The things that gatekeepers hold power to don’t really have any meaning anymore.
S: Can you talk to our idea of ‘feeling the room’? Audiences at different venues have different expectations and there is an incentive to please them in a certain way and its never a fixed thing. You’ve toured with a lot of different groups, so how does it across your experience?
E: I think that in the context of a performance the audience is very important. There are some types of music that I feel self-contained and I do try to reach this place of transcendence and lose myself, but there is still an entertainment element that is very important. You can’t do that without reading the room. A straightforward way to do that is to speak and see how it’s received. Speaking to the audience was my main way of getting them to want to come to the merch table to talk to me more. I developed that a lot, and it’s about being entertaining and adapting to the crowd in addition to the music being good. Touring helped me come to terms with the reality of what an appropriate set length is. It can be almost disrespectful at this point for someone to just watch me wank for 90 minutes. If everyone can play 35 amazing minutes and all four bands have a similar vibe everyone can have a good time and then go home and get up for their day jobs. The show is not about you. It’s an experience for the audience. It’s your job to give them your best condensed version. Essentially your pitch. Hopefully you can get those people on board with you.
S: How do you deal with the contradiction that the show is not for you, but your creation was an inherently selfish thing?
E: I kind of compartmentalize it all. I do conceptualize a show as not for me, but I also do love playing live and performing more than any other part of this. In that way, the show is for me, even though when I’m constructing the show, set list, or banter I’m trying to make the best possible experience for the audience. To me the inherently selfish thing is all of the stuff around that. There are plenty of people who aren’t realistic about what goes into doing “good shows” or getting write ups or having a strong social media presence. And all of that is deeply, deeply selfish. I say that literally too. You have to be constantly examining what the best part of yourself to show people is. Just the act of getting people to a show is very selfish. Its’ really kind of hard to be the people we are. Artists with artists as friends. I’m sure you’ve heard of the ‘moveable $20’. In your group of friends there is just this moveable $20 because you are all just on the edge of not being to get by.
S: What does it mean for you to be authentic to yourself and can someone perceive it?
E: I’m more at odds with that more and more every day. There is an advantage with instrumental music in that its often non-explicit and not literal. There are different metrics for how it can be good, complexity or emotional maybe. I want it to be interesting and engaging, but there are also lyrics and those can be taken more literally. The two best things I think you can be are vulnerable slash honest and relatable. It’s difficult to do at the same time. Sometimes it’s easy for me to be honest and vulnerable, but it’s hard to synthesize that into something relatable. Sometimes I come up with this riff and I think it’s really cool, but making the song fit a riff ill lose something. Maybe sometimes I only need 2-3 lines of text but something in me screams ‘NO, songs need a lot of text’ and then I end up writing horseshit. That’s the thing about music, there is no escape from showing yourself. If you’re playing at a high level, you can’t hide who you really are and that’s horrifying. To me with songwriting, I think the part that’s difficult to show is that I’m fucking corny and vulnerable. I always want to obscure that with coolness.
Listen To Eva:
Who does want to listen to two bass players play together? Totally improvised.
Eva/Steve- Electric Bass