story / Angelina Dreem
I first met Evangelia on the Internet. Sometimes the internet works similarly as real life; the laws of attraction in play and when someone has vibe you are drawn to, fate steps in and paths cross. We met at the Yayoi Kusama’s Give Me Love exhibit at David Zwirner the day after she had flown in from Greece. I was immediately impressed by the fact that I felt comfortable around her, maybe it’s the innate warmth of the Mediterranean, or both of us growing up in subculture utopias, but she felt familiar.
Accessorized perfectly with 2 tightly woven braids atop her head, we meandered from the polka dot filled living room gesticulating on art, travel and her plans for her new music project Abyss X, a rebrand and a re-emergence from her old sound that was more associated with a past lover.
Abyss X is a culmination of her own creative genius, self taught and extremely motivated, Evangelia has created a visually stunning and aurally dynamic representation of female empowerment. The abyss is where our subconscious wanders and the X is the punctuation mark at the end of the journey. While she was visiting New York she was working fanatically on her newest video, editing meticulous layers to create a futuristic Vishnu inspired silhouette. The music behind it sounds like a more exuberant and intuitive FKA Twigs with rhythms reminiscent of 80’s Janet Jackson. The essence is very hyper focused and tight, she is someone that has a vision and will execute it flawlessly, with a freedom that any multinational and otherworldly networker demands.
She’s in Los Angeles now for a summer course in music at UCLA. I was curious to dig deeper into her creative process, so we triggered 0’s and 1’s to create a synthesis of ideas and feelings.
Angelina Dreem: where did you grow up, where are you from, where are you now?
Abyss X: I was born in Germany but my family moved to NYC right after and that is where I grew up till I was 7. We then moved to the island of Crete in Greece where my father is from. Both of my parents are from Greece so that makes me greek. I just moved back to LA after a short break I took where passed through NYC, Berlin and Crete.
what pop culture were you exposed to when you were younger that influenced you?
I was a huge Michael Jackson fan. My dad introduced me to a lot of underground and diverse sounding music from like 60s music to whatever was hot and new at the time. As a teenager i listened to a lot of industrial, drum n bass snd UK electronic music from the 90s and early 00s and of course the techno and electro that was thriving at that time. There is no age limit for clubbing in Greece so as youngsters we had access to all these parties and events. Those sounds and the European raver lifestyle definitely shaped our taste.
you’ve told me before that you were involved in a club/rave scene, what did that look like, what was the energy like, what elements have you left behind and what elements do you take with you now?
I’ve lived in a few different cities since I left home when I was 17 and I’ve always felt the urge to explore various scenes. athens and london are the cities I’ve spent most time at and it was always super squatty DIY rave scenes. I feel very lucky to have experienced the techno and french electro wave as a teenager. The end of the 90s and early 00s era was the echo of a very intense and game changing time for the music, rave, fashion, film and art scene, with the first signs of the internet dominance and it was just a very fresh and cutting edge time to experience as a young kid. Cyberpunk and other colourful styles were very popular and of course it was a very druggy scene like any rave scene is. When the french electro-clash music wave exploded it was so sensual, dirty and harsh at the same time that the raves felt like sonic orgies where everyone was just going hard. Techno was also blended in with a range of djs like Marco Carola, Marco Bailey, Jeff Mills etc and it was just an extatic time for everyone. I think when that era died with the dominance of minimal techno in the mid 00s everything shifted towards a darker and more cerebral vibe. Thats when i stopped following it. The rave scene I experienced in London in 2008-2009 was open to multiple genres and mixed styles with a strong queer identity which I found very inspiring and playful. Regardless of the time, rave eras will continue to come and go and its just a matter of preserving that initial open, liberal and frisky spirit of “anything goes”.
AD: You’re a Pisces, how does passion and strong work ethic intermingle in your creative process?
Passion is definitely a good word to describe a Pisces’ creative drive. I’m very independent when it comes to my workflow, just open to learn how to do everything as I want specific results very fast. Sometimes I get too sucked into my own ideas and the obsession of realizing them for long periods of time and then I will take a little break and just observe other people doing their thing. Producing work is a way to deal with my restlessness which I think is a 100% Pisces thing.
What do you think about cyborgs and how they relate to feminism?
I am not entirely enchanted by the cyborg as an “image” or as a representation of a next level female but I’m entirely pro tech when it comes to female empowerment. I honestly have a love and hate relationship with technology. At times I feel blessed for all the knowledge I’ve accumulated since my teenage years, and later as a computer science graduate and just from constantly keeping myself in the loop with digital interfaces in video and audio. But then I also give a lot of credit to the actual human body, the voice and movement. These are tools perfectly designed for personal expression and they hold a rare rawness that radiates magic and power. I thrive in states of body exhaustion. The body speaks louder than anything. I just feel that the entity of the cyborg takes away a lot from the human body’s credibility.
AD: Are there any specific points of reference for your new music?
I literally just randomly started experimenting with slower tempo and more “urban” sounding rhythms and beats in the past year. I was surprised by how natural and easier the workflow became and how it allowed me to build a more challenging sound and grow as a producer. I also tried to keep the vocals very lo key and the production as minimal as possible. It takes time to find your sound. I’m currently working on new material sounding quite different from this EP, more dance oriented. I think I constantly like to experiment with new aesthetics.
What do you use to produce, how did you learn and where are you going to take it? What does Abyss X look like live?
I use Ableton to produce and record. I actually don’t even own a condenser mic I use my sm58 to record my vocals. I also use Ableton and a bunch of a controllers and a korg electribe for my live sets and its all sample based, no backing tracks. It’s kind of hard to deliver the performance as I would ideally want to as my hands are always occupied turning knobs and pressing pads. I am trying to come up with ways to allow me to be more in front of the audience.
How does the internet shape your social structure today? Is it a tool or a curse, and how does it influence your work.
My online and offline lives are directly connected but I wish it didn’t have to be that way. I think it is both a tool and a curse for all of us especially people who value personal interaction. Work wise it is a brilliant tool for self management but it can also be very faceless and misleading. Social media practice is a one way trip that we all got dragged into and we just gotta make it as a pleasant and meaningful as possible.
Which do you prefer, LA OR NYC and why?
LA is a very interesting place to be. Its slow pace lets you breath and engage with the moment. There is a lack of abundance of events which allows you to focus on your work. I like being close to the water and staying warm all year. That said, I will probably move to NYC in March. For some bizarre reason I seem to have a bigger network of friends in NYC even though I have spent very little time there. I think it might be a case of the community vibe that describes the art scene there as opposed to the more isolated lifestyle people follow in LA.
Music production is an activity i engaged with just recently. I’ve been involved with theatre and dance for more years directing and performing. I feel that with performance and theatre one expresses their ideas and concerns at a particular time. The magic of music is that you can revisit a track and see it on a whole different light every time.