- Words Laviea Thomas
- Photography Dora Paphides
Waving goodbye to her teenage years, rising artist and producer Eaves Wilder is taking the leap with her liberating debut EP ‘Hookey’.
Styling fluorescent bubblegum-pink hair with a retro aesthetic of vintage thrills and laced garments, Eaves Wilder is a charismatic artist embarking on a journey of reclaiming her girlhood. A talented singer-songwriter and producer on the rise, throughout the past year, the artist has quickly made a name for herself for her genre-bending soundscape of grunge meets indie-pop. Fascinated by the work of female musicians such as Courtney Love, Patti Smith and Viv Albertine to list a few, Eaves is on a mission to claim a spot in the music industry for her unique voice and her femininity, all through an angsty punk-rock lens.
Fascinated by the art of creating at a young age, the artist has been writing and recording her own material since age 16. Officially signing to her first record deal with Secretly Canadian in 2021, she recently shared her debut EP ‘Hookey’. Co-produced with Andy Savours (Arctic Monkeys / Black Country, New Road / Rina Sawayama), Eaves changed her usual solo bedroom producer environment, into a shared experience with Andy to create this very special and introspective project.
‘Hookey’ is an earnest product of four intimate tracks reflective of the artist’s journey with UK mental health services. Channelling her frustrations into a mix of alternative-pop releases, throughout this EP, Eaves effortlessly wears her heart on her sleeve. In celebration of her latest single “Are You Diagnosed?” and her brand-new EP, Eaves talks to us about her creative vision, learning to tap into her true, authentic voice, loving Little Simz, and more. Dive in.
You recently shared your melodic track “Are You Diagnosed?” which is an introspective release about your experience with British mental health services. How did you find the process of transferring your emotions towards those sessions into this song?
I wanted to write a song from all angles of the conversation. I’m so angry at how romanticised yet stigmatised mental illness is at the moment. As soon as I realised it needed to be silly, writing was really fun for me. I tried making it into a sad, political think-piece song where I explained in detail how underfunded the NHS is, but how much of a massive downer is that? Everyone already knows that. When I’m talking to my friends about CAMHS, we usually end up in hysterics, because the way a lot of us were treated is insane (no pun intended).
I was worried this song would sound too ‘sad girl’. I didn’t want to sound defeated, and I also vowed to myself to never write a song without trying to be useful. Once I realised that no one had the power to make me better except for me, it was freeing. I stopped waiting for someone to swoop down and fix it. Music for me does that same thing, a song is me creating a space for myself, and stepping into it to talk about whatever I want. I realised that no one was ever going to put a mic up to my mouth and ask me what was on my mind, I have to do that. Recovery is the same.
And visually, what sparked the idea for the music video? How did you go about its creation?
I worked with an amazing director called Tom Clover. Because of the subject matter, the video was just as important as the lyrics, if not more. Visually is where mental illness is romanticised the most I think. Tom definitely took that and ran with it. I didn’t want to do that wispy, beautiful-yet-broken girl thing. I wanted to show frustration, anger, energy, and catharsis because I don’t want people watching it who are still in CAMHS to feel defeated too.
Tom and the amazing team recreated the CAMHS waiting room perfectly, to the point where it was a little weird to be inside. The song is meant to represent everything I couldn’t say to the doctors, with the video showing how I couldn’t act but wanted to; stomping around the waiting rooms, shoving people, screaming, smashing it all up. I’m aware that many people who will find this song will be struggling, so I wanted to show an example of a girl taking up all the space she wants.
Talk to me about the musicality of Eaves Wilder. From the sound, to your visual aesthetic, how would you describe your work to a new listener?
I write music like a scrapbook; it’s a process of cutting and clipping all the things I love the most; shoegaze, dream pop, classic rock, 60s classic songwriting, and Riot Grrrl – whatever I’m into. The biggest turning point was when I stopped trying to be like a boy, in the way I sing, my lyrics and my clothes. I stopped trying to write depressing pretentious lyrics and be serious all the time like all the bands I loved, and I found artists such as Kathleen Hanna, Harriet Wheeler, Courtney Love, Patti Smith and Alanis Morissette. Reading Viv Albertine’s book ‘Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys’, really changed my life, as she writes about realising how she’d been trying to mimic male rock stars in how she was playing the guitar.
Visually, for me, it’s about reclaiming girlhood in my voice and style. Pink, toys, lace, pearls, barbies, ballet, ribbons, sweets, stickers, ruffles. I love Gorillaz because I love the idea of a cartoon band – all the best rock stars seem like cartoons anyway, so why not lean into every extreme visually?
You’re a multi-talented artist, who’s spent the last few years recording, producing and releasing your own music. Where does your story begin? Is there a significant album, or live performance that inspired you to start your own music career?
I learnt music from classic songwriters such as Carole King, The Beatles, Al Green, Amy Winehouse, and Nick Drake, but as a teenager, you need more energy. I discovered the song “Violet” by Hole on a road trip, and it changed my life hearing a woman scream, not in pain but in anger. It was still a period of my life where I was trying to take up less space in the world, so Courtney Love was the north star to move away from that mentality.
This March you’re scheduled to share your debut EP ‘Hookey’, that’s exciting! I read that this project is about bunking off – can you explore this further? What themes and emotions can fans expect to hear across this four-track EP?
I took the word from that phrase ‘playing hooky’ and I spelt it wrong. I first saw the phrase when I would make my kids bunk off school on Sims 4. I spent most of my school years absent, and each song is a different reason why. What I was doing and why I wasn’t there. Avoiding shitty boys (“I Stole Your Jumper”), or in the hospital (“Are You Diagnosed?”) or just wanting to skive and make music in my room (“Connect the Rooms”). “Morning Rain” is the most on-the-nose example of walking towards somewhere you feel is postponing your life from the start.
What was it like to work with Andy?
Up until working with Andy, I’d done all of my production on my own in my room. I was quite nervous, but we had the most fun. I had never had someone in the room with me while I sing or record anything before, he was the best person to do all that scary stuff with for the first time, because he was so enthusiastic. We spent most of our time ranking and gossiping about our favourite bands, and when we weren’t doing that or recording, I spent most of my time trying to grill him for all the shoegaze secrets. He showed me how My Bloody Valentine got their guitar tones and every time I got drunk at a party I’d take it upon myself to excitedly tell a bunch of people who weren’t as excited. He wears his geniusness very lightly, but his back catalogue speaks for itself, and I feel very lucky to have worked with him.
You’ve just finished a residency at The Social, how was it? Any exciting, memorable moments?
These shows were the first time I’d ever played live. It’s weird seeing people react to your songs in real-time. I read that Kristin Hersh from Throwing Muses gets over her stage fright by blurring her eyes, but it just made me fall over so I need to figure something else out.
And lastly, you were recently added to the Boardmasters line-up, which is great. Are you excited? Is there a track on the EP that you cannot wait to debut at the festival? Or any artists you’d love to watch whilst you’re there?
I used to go on holiday to that beach every year, and I’d always wonder what all the tents on that cliff were about, but now I know. The band and I are so excited. I’m a massive Little Simz fan, and she’ll be playing on my 20th birthday, so nice of her. I can’t wait!