Interview / Olivia Inkster
Photos / Alex Katz
Photos / Alex Katz
Hair / Michael Moreno
Feel like getting out? Feel like hanging out? Feel like sharing a bottle of champagne? I do. If you’re super pumped about it being the weekend – and not just, “Friday, Friday, gotta get down on…” (What about Saturday or Sunday?!) – and if you’re not afraid to shake it around like you give zero fucks, Eden XO should be your go-to-girlfriend. You definitely want to have a round with this lady… or maybe four. She dances, she writes, she sings, and she actually makes music fun again. When’s the last time you had a good time?
Ironically, Eden is no stranger to the world of ups and downs, but this is a woman who chooses to remain up when not everything is a glass of rosé . I chatted with the emerging queen of dance, who proves that when the music stops, you have to keep moving. With her hit single “Too Cool to Dance” reaching over 800,000 views on Youtube, and a new EP, Dirty Blonde, due out any day now, it’s safe to say that you just might find your groove again. It’s about time.
You’re in Beverly Hills, right now, yes?
Yes, I am. It’s beautiful.
Um, it’s another gloomy and rainy day in New York. I’d give anything for a sunny California day right now!
You’re in New York? I want to live in Manhattan at some point in my life in the near future. I spent a week at the Chelsea hotel a long time ago when it hadn’t been renovated. It was kind of a shithole… a very artistic shithole. But I was really inspired there. I just wrote. The ones I wrote…they’re some of my favorite songs to this day. It’s amazing there; I’d like to return. It’s a place that changes your perspective, and the city is just so alive.
I agree. There’s a comradery here. Come on up! Okay, but back to the beginning: How long have you been performing? Since you came out of the womb, or did it take you awhile to discover that music or performing was your passion and talent?
I’ve always loved to act, loved to dance. When I was a little kid, I performed in plays in elementary school. When I was 11 or 12, I’d ride my bike by a dance studio. I’d stop and sit and watch through the glass doors. I wanted to be a part of it all so badly. I was eventually given a dance scholarship there, and as a trade off, I helped out around the studio. As in, janitorial-type of duties… taking out the trash, clean, you know. It was great. I did everything. So, I’d say, though, that dance was my first love. At 16, when I got my license, I took off for LA. I knew that’s where I needed to be.
You signed with Epic records in 2006 when you were only 17 with the band Shut Up Stella. Was that overwhelming at such a young age?
I didn’t think anything like that would ever happen. Music was sort of a side thing at the time. I thought I’d be a dancer. I was running to dance and film auditions. On the side, I had this all girls pop punk band. It was fun. I mean, we were playing house parties. Finally, we got a few shows on Sunset Strip, and we thought that was HUGE. I mean, it was Sunset Strip! We were approached by Epic, and next, we were signed. Just like that.
And music wasn’t even your primary focus at the time?
I’m a performer, so I loved it all, but I was not expecting the music to be the first thing that took off. It was nuts; it was a whirlwind. All of a sudden, it became serious, the band, and I was like, “Oh, have a record deal.” I took a lot of it for granted, now that I look back. I didn’t realize how big or important that was or what it meant. It’s been a journey…the whole process. We had some success but were eventually dropped. I’ve been signed and dropped a few times. They were never quite the right opportunities, though. It was difficult. I went through a hard time after that, just trying to figure out my place and what I should be doing.
Those experiences shape us. So, how have those ups and downs influenced what kind of artist you’ve become and what kind of music you make?
For me personally and artistically, I truly, truly think it’s the right time now for me because of those experiences. It is kind of one of those things when you don’t realize how passionate you are about something, until it is taken away from you. It made me hungrier. It made me more determined. I thought, “I’m not going to let this stop me. If I can do it once, I can do it again.” I’ve had to rebuild from the ground up a couple of times. I started to work on dance and pop music here, and everyone kept telling me, “No one cares about about that kind of music here in the States.” So, I moved to London, because they were making dance music over there. I signed a publishing deal, writing and working with the incredible Fred Falke during that period. It was an amazing experience and taught me a lot.
If you weren’t a performer, you’d be…
Honestly, I’ve been asked that before. I can’t even fathom what I’d do. I don’t know how to do anything else. I’ve never had a real job. I’ve never wanted to put that into the universe. I can’t. If I started thinking about that, I feel like none of this would be happening. Your thoughts shape so much. I feel like that would be giving up mentally and telling myself that I had a backup plan. I don’t have a backup plan. This is it.
I read that you emancipated yourself from your parents at 16. Tell me a little bit about their support or lack thereof?
I think it was a combination of feeling like my whole life, that I was sort of oppressed, and some of the turmoil was going on in my home life. My father is from Iran, and they have very different views on how women should behave, act. You know, they want you to grow up, be a lawyer, pop out kids. They wanted me to follow this blueprint that they’d mapped out from me. And, that wasn’t me. I didn’t want those things. I knew I had to get out and chase my dreams.
Well, you definitely have that confident, sassy, “go girl” sound. Is that a result from everything you’ve been through to get to this point? The labels, family?
It is a two-way street, you know. I am, but I’m not or haven’t always been. I think that sound is in a lot of my music, but my softer side definitely shows through. Because, sometimes, I’m vulnerable, despite upbeat dance songs like, “Too Cool to Dance.” It really does reflect in my music–that battle between the two sides. Everyone will really hear more of that vulnerability in the full EP, Dirty Blonde.
Will you be touring to promote Dirty Blonde?
I hope so. I’m looking at a couple of tours. I’ve been rehearsing every day and getting everything tight and smoothed out. We’re definitely ready. That’s the next step. That’s my favorite part. So, yes, I definitely plan on doing that. That’s what I love to do–perform live. That’s where I really feel at home. Oh, and we’re also preparing to film the official video for “The Weekend.” That should be out very soon too. So, both of those things are next.
I mean, come on. You’ve been on the road with Britney Spears. Was that surreal?
That was an incredible experience. That was insane. It doesn’t get bigger than that. It gave me that taste, what that addiction is to be constantly performing on stage. That’s how I felt… just “WOW.” Playing those arenas made me feel like I want to do this forever. It gave me a taste and passion for performing live. I want my own arena tour. I do, I want that, and that’s what I’m working hard toward. That tour, along with Nicki Minaj, just set the bar and showed me what I want to strive for.
Alright, beverage of choice?
Well, for alcohol, like I mention in “The Weekend,” I love rosé. I looove my rosé . A good glass of wine, you know? Oh, but other than that, I love coconut water. I need that also, because I’m so active. Whether yoga or dancing or whatever.
So, you’re coming out solo after having been involved in previous bands and other groups. You’re reinventing yourself alone this time and have had some clear success already. Greatest fear right now? Any at all?
My whole thing and my whole message is for people to let go of fear. Fear is the ultimate enemy. I was fearful in the past. I used to be. That’s why I hadn’t reached my full potential. I think that’s why none of the other situations worked out or were the right ones. Now, I feel more fearless than ever. It’s the best time in my life, seriously. If I had any fear at all, it’s that I’m not doing enough. And, I don’t think that will ever change. That’s me–I’m wired this way… to constantly work, to write more. Maybe I’m just a neurotic workaholic. I always want to do more and push myself.
“Too Cool to Dance” came out last June. It was huge. Tell me about that. Expected? Did you know it was going to be a smash single?
I felt like people really connected with the message, you know? We’re sick of the VIP and all of that. How boring it is to follow ridiculous rules. I’m really rebelling against those things. I’m the one on the dance floor, having a good time and being an idiot. You can’t care about what others think of you. I feel like people connect to that message a lot. That single was on the forefront of this live music… we did it with live horns, the rhythm, and all. We wanted less electronic and more soulful. That’s what you’ll hear all throughout the EP. No joke, we had Earth, Wind and Fire’s horns section play on the track “The Weekend.” That’s insane. Earth, Wind and Fire. I can’t believe it. What legends. Anyway, we wanted to literally ingrain rhythm and pure soul. That brings it, no doubt. It doesn’t get any more soulful than having them play on that track.
Actually, I was in a Neiman Marcus today for about ten minutes, and as luck would have it, “Too Cool to Dance” came on. It’s a sign. Life is weird, right?
No way! Oh, my god. That’s crazy. Totally a sign. That makes me so happy! I would have freaked out.
Do you ever feel stunned when you’re out and see a photo of yourself or hear your songs? Does it ever become “normal,” you think?
It is always an amazing and always fresh. It never gets old. It’s so cool. I heard it in Trader Joe’s the other day. Here I am in sweatpants, my hair up, I had just come from yoga. Of course, I wanted to be like, “Oh, my God! This is MY song! This is MY song!” to everyone. Instead, I just, like, got in line and paid for my groceries.
You just released “The Weekend” in February and then, a remix with Lil Jon in March. That must have been… interesting. You’ve worked together before, right?
Oh, yes. We’re friends from back in the day. We did a song awhile ago, and we have stayed in touch. I thought he’d be perfect for that track, so I reached out to him and sent him “The Weekend.” He loved the song. He has such an amazing energy. He’s an incredible artist and producer, and I couldn’t be happier. He brought so much to this song and just killed it. There’s nobody that brings exactly what he does to a song.
While we’re on the subject, what is a normal weekend for you?
(Laughing) Like all white girls, I love brunch. I love the white bitch brunch. That’s what I like to refer to it as. You know, I like to hang with my friends. I like to be active. I like to be outside. That’s my main thing – anything outside. Oh, and I want to learn how to paddle board. That’s a goal of mine.
Mantra or life motto you like to live and create by?
My mantra is that you can’t hold back a dreamer. That’s what I want to convey to the world. It’s what I try to tell myself everyday. I have always kept that in the back of my head. It was in a song I’d performed years ago, and I keep saying it and reusing it. I just think it’s so powerful. But, that’s what I want my fans, everyone to remember
CONNECT WITH EDEN XO: