text by Ryoko Kuwahara

Our Body Issue : Interview with Eva Hedricks from Charly Bliss “秘密は人を締め付ける力がある。全てを公開することによって解放されて、自分が好きな人生を歩めるようになった”

―For this month’s issue we would like to tackle on the topic of ‘our bodies’. This was heavily influenced by the recent bill that was passed in Alabama which banned the rights on abortion. Taking into consideration these circumstances, we would like to provide a platform for everyone to talk about what it really means to love as well as take care ourselves and the importance of knowing more in depth about our body.How is the tour going and what do you fans think about the new album for charly bliss?

Eva : The tour is going so well. It’s been my favorite touring experience we’ve had so far. I think it’s because in part our fans feel really connected to the material and so much of that is because of the subject matter lyrically, for the songs. We were very open and direct about what our songs were about and I think that, even though that was nerve wracking at first it’s something that created a really strong connection between us, our fans and the people who come to our shows and it feels like this positive energy exchange that has been really rewarding. It’s been a great couple of weeks so far.

–Do you have any memorable moments during your tour that had really took you by surprise or shook you in any way?

Eva : I think that, we’ve been a band for eight years and we’ve been doing this together for a long time so truly the fact that people know the lyrics to these songs, getting to play them every night on tour and feeling really fulfilled doing this has been really special. And of course meeting people after shows and hearing that these songs have been helpful to them or healing for them is something that I don’t take lightly and something that means a lot to me, it’s just been really wonderful to have that exist simultaneously with the fact that our show feels like a celebration every night, a dance party and something really cathartic and positive, ultimately is a really wonderful and powerful balance for all of us. We are super excited.

— Your new album, ‘Young Enough’. Can you tell us a little about the process on how you created this album and how it differs compared to the last album ‘guppy’ that you guys made and released two years ago.

Eva : Our first album ‘Guppy’ was released in 2017 but we started writing it maybe five year before it was released. We were working on it for so long, and recorded it twice because the first time we recorded it, we felt like we didn’t really get it exactly right so we scrapped it and started over. So all in all, that experience felt very frustrating and it felt like a learning experience. Sometimes you just have to do it ten times to get it right on the eleventh try. By the time it came out we were very proud of the album. But there was kind of a feeling of disconnect when it came out because we were playing the songs for so long whereas, for ‘Young Enough’ it was a much shorter writing process for us. We wrote that album in about a year or so and one of the biggest differences was that we didn’t have day jobs and we weren’t college students when we were writing it so we could really just write as our day job which I’ve never experienced before. I think that allowed us to write more songs so we had more songs to choose from when it came down to recording and also more time to rewrite songs and wonder if we had gotten it exactly right or whether we wanted to go back in and change something, or adjust a lyric. I think that allowed us to make an album that we are so proud of and worked so hard on and it still feels very fresh. We just recorded it in April 2018 and parts of it we didn’t record until July 2018 so it still feels new to us in a lot of ways and we didn’t play a lot of the songs until they came out so it’s just really different. I think another major difference about this album is that we really wanted to experiment with moving further into pop music which is our favorite genre of music. I think our first album ‘guppy’ was also a pop album but it was more guitar centric and kind of grungy, more like weezer and stuff like that. I think on this album we were inspired by Lorde, Taylor Swift, Kesha, Superorganism and Bleachers and it felt like we were able to move more into the direction of the bands that were really inspiring us in that moment.

— It was a pretty big shift I guess, it was still pop music but I guess the inspiration was kind of different ?

Eva : It was still pop music but I guess the big shift was that we felt like we didn’t want to make the same album twice because after ‘Guppy’ we were ready to start experimenting on different sounds and new instruments and a new style of playing our shows and it felt really natural and an extension of what we already started on ‘Guppy’. But it also felt like we were in a position where we wanted to move more towards this genre that we really loved. In some ways it was a shift and in some ways it was a continuation of what we had.

–I heard that your producer Joe spent eight hours not eating or sleeping, working hard to create this album with you guys. Are there any memorable moments with him and what kind of part did he play in this new album?

Eva : He was dedicated to the project and that was a memorable experience. We had written the majority of the songs that would eventually go on the album but when me and my other four band mates work closely together , I think that sometimes when you’ve been looking at the same material for a long time, you start to lose perspective. You can see that there are some problems and it’s not quite working or fitting. You feel like it’s almost there but not quite and you’ve been looking at it for so long that you can’t quite see it anymore. So we brought Joe in a month before we went to record. All we could really afford was to have him there and he was very busy as well so we could only have him for two days in the studio with us in our tiny practice space and he just had us run and play the songs for him over and over again. He would have us swap out different melodies for other notes, rearrange the songs. When you’ve been working that hard for something it always feels very precious to you and first when someone tells you to change it, you feel like “No!, it’s my baby!”, but every suggestion that he had for us was really helpful and even being able to see the songs in a new light was a really memorable moment. My brother and I are the main major songwriters in the band and we usually write separately from each other and bring it to the practice space when it’s pretty close to done but on this album I felt like we really learned to write songs together and be in the same room with each other, bounce off ideas with each other. It’s way more nerve wracking than you would think and he’s my older brother so I will always think of him as ‘he’s the best!’ but our respect for one another really deepened and working on these songs together was memorable for me.

— Is it hard working together with your brother? Can you guys make new material when you guys work together compared to when you guys work separately ?

Eva : It’s a little bit of both. It’s something that we had to learn together. Not only just to learn but how to be helpful to each other and how to create an environment where we both feel comfortable. Not just presenting ideas but also disagreeing with ideas which is totally helpful healthy and normal. It’s something that I feel very grateful for. I feel really grateful for my relationship with everyone in the band but as for my brother, to get to do this with him and to really have our relationship challenged in a way by doing this together and grow is really special. There are several songs that we worked really closely on together but a song like ‘ Young Enough’ which is the centerpiece of the album and obviously the title of the album, I feel like we couldn’t have done it without each other. It kind of started from an idea that Sam had and then we slowly started working on melodies together. I think it’s important to realize that we work well together and that we both can lift each other up. It’s really wonderful.

――We feel like your music video ‘Chatroom’ kind of feels like a suspense movie. But how did you and Maegan Houang start working together ? How did that collaboration come about ?

— My brother’s close friend who directed the music video for ‘ Young Enough’ and for ‘Hard to believe’ was Megan Wong’s boyfriend. So we ended up meeting her through him and when the time came to make the music video for ‘chat room’, because that song was such a personal song, I really felt like it was important to not only work with another woman but with a person who I really trusted and whom I felt comfortable being honest with and comfortable shooting out ideas together until we found something that was exactly right. ‘Chat room’ is about someone who I dated very briefly with which I experienced sexual assault, manipulation and abuse and I discovered through talking to her about it that she had been through the same thing with her partners and right from there it felt like we were working with the right person. It felt like we had a very strong mutual understanding of what was appropriate for the video.

— As you mentioned, the song is based on sexual abuse, assault and traumas that you had from personal experiences but also the movie is about sisterhood. We thought that was a great idea. Can you tell us more about that element?

Eva : Yes. I think that it is very important to mention that. The ‘chatroom’ video is about women and women helping each other out from abusive situations. For so long , what was so difficult about what I experienced with sexual abuse is, even when someone is very open and normally the way I get through my problems is by talking to people around me and seeking help from people I trust. But there was something about it that I didn’t want to talk to anyone about. I just instinctually kept it to myself for a very long time. I think the problem with keeping things to yourself for a long time inside is that they just grow and fester and become more and more toxic. It was very therapeutic for me to write this album and write about it and get it out. But the most therapeutic aspect about this experience was being open about it and talking about it and confronting it head on. Because the more people I talk to about it and the more open I become, I realized that a lot of people have gone through this too. Of course I know that this has been occuring on a global level and sadly it is something that affects women everywhere. But there is something about learning about women in my life, women in my family who I would have never known that they had been through something similar and friends and people I meet at shows, having that face to face interaction, and ‘ No, I know how that feels like’ has really lifted me out of feeling shame and dragged down by this experience. Of course it will be something that I will always struggle with and there is no magical solution to it but in terms of strength, other women give me strength and the more I talk about it and the more we do press about it, the more I feel like that about it. Even working with megan on this video, that is another example of talking with another women about it and anyone who has experienced abuse has pulled me out of the darkest aspects of working through this.

— Your band members played a huge role in trying to boost your mood and they were very therapeutic to you. How did they support you when you were going through those experiences?

Eva : They experienced it with me in a way. No one knew the extent of what had actually happened when it did but just opening up to someone and having them say ‘Hey I believe you’. This should always be the response that someone gives you but it’s not always the case. Even on that basic level, when I opened up to all of them about what had happened, knowing that they believed me and that they wanted to help, and that they understood was even at a very basic level very healing for me. I think that there are parts of someone who has experienced abuse that make them almost not want to believe it themsleves so you try to convince yourself that maybe you’re making it up or overreacting and misinterpreting it but just having someone say ‘No, that is very wrong and you are exactly right and your interpretation of what happened is right’ is really helpful and I think that is logical, sweet and kind. When it came time to talk about this album, they had my back in a sense that they were behind me ten thousand percent on the decisions that I made, whether or not I wanted to confront it head on or if I wanted to be more vague about the song. As much as it is positive and therapeutic to play these songs every night to people, sometimes it is a little nerve wracking because it’s very personal and it is a really vulnerable experience. But when I see them on stage standing next to me and they’ve been my friends since I was twelve or so, having them on stage just makes me feel invincible.

–You said that you were very reluctant to open up about this experience because you didn’t want to believe it yourself. What made you want to open up to people and write them down as lyrics to sing to people.

Eva : When I’m writing, I’m always writing for myself and I feel really grateful about never having to think about someone else hearing it at that point. I just try to write what feels honest to me and what feels good for me to get it out of my system. So there really wasn’t a decision made about whether I would write about this, it kind of just happened clearly because I needed to talk about it any sort of way. One way or the other it was kind of exploding out of me. But whether to talk about it in the press and directly say what the songs are actually about was difficult for me because as a music lover myself I love listening to music and feeling that the singer or the writer somehow knows my deepest darkest secret and the song is written about my life. Even if it might not be what I think it’s about I can plug into it and feel like it’s a song about my life and I was worried that if I was too direct and too honest about what I wrote the songs about, it would prevent people from plugging into it themselves. Also I was just scared. I was scared to have my aunts and uncles hear it and know that I had been through that. I was scared that on the internet people would know that I had experienced this and I was scared to have to talk about it all the time and what that would do to my mental health. But the actual experience of putting it out has been so wonderful. It really feels like it has been one of the most positive experiences of my life because I feel like it has allowed me to connect with so many people and it has made me feel really strong knowing that I am not alone and there is a possibility in something that I wrote and felt therapeutic to me and I’m just writing to get it out of me and help myself, can be helpful to other people. That is beyond anything I thought I would be able to achieve through music. So it has been a great experience. On talking about it, it makes me feel bigger than what had actually happened and bigger than the person who had actually done that to me because when you keep something a secret it has power over you and when you are honest with everyone and honest with yourself you can face it head on and get help however you need to get help. Then no one has power over you. You’re in control of the narrative and it’s your decision. All of that has really felt like a magical experience for me.

— When you first started off some people thought that your voice was too female-like and you got a lot of comments on that. But now you turned it over and it’s a weapon that you can use, a personality, a style that you have. Can you tell us how you managed to flip that over and how you were able to do so?

Eva : I grew up doing musical theatre and I think in musical theatre, you voice is your currency so I felt devastated when I saw people commenting on my voice saying that I sounded screechy or shrill but I think that as I have done this longer I don’t feel hurt whenever someone just doesn’t like my voice. They can think whatever they want about it but when they use really gendered words to describe my voice and write it down, it makes me angry. The reason why it makes me angry isn’t anything self involved. I think it’s because I feel like men have an infinite palette to choose from. Axel Rose can scream, be crazy and try on crazy personas and sing really weird. As a woman, I really reject the idea of all we can sound like is soft and pretty and really calming. If I am angry and communicating something that I feel passionate about I’m going to sing like that and I want to hear about that from other women too. I feel like that’s what upsetting for me. The longer I’ve done this, it’s kind of been a powerful experience for me to learn to grow out of being a people pleaser. I have a lot of songs about this but I think that it is healthy to be ok with people not unanimously like the things that you do and to learn to take that on stride and say alright ‘I love what I do and I’m not going to change it just because you don’t’. I know the people who get it, get it and I’m proud of it. When I think about it, my favorite vocalists are Kate Bush, Kaitlyn Hana, I love them because they don’t sound like everyone else and so that’s also important.

— About the bill that was passed to ban abortion in Alabama. What is your stance on this and what are your thoughts on being deprived of your rights to abort?

Eva : I think it’s absolutely shameful. I feel ashamed to come from a country that could make this happen and it’s horrible and horrifying. I think what’s most horrifying about it is that it is designed to mostly affect marginalized women and women of color and women who have a lower income because white rich people will always be able to have abortions if they still need them. Even these politicians, republicans who are actively lobbying for anti abortion laws, they will always have access to safe abortions, no matter what law is passed and it is absolutely horrible and terrible that this is even being considered and I think that something to take into consideration is that we have serious gun violation problems and gun violance affecting young people in schools and young people of color. I just really believe that until we can really pass laws that can provide safety to the people who are alive in our country, I think that it is so hypocritical to oppose a law on what a women can and can’t decide to do with her body and that she is is able to provide for her child. We’ve done tours where one dollar for every ticket is raised for charities that is something we are going to continue to do on our upcoming tours as well. We personally all donated to the yellow hammer fund and anything we can think of. I think especially it has changed the way we feel when we tour, it’s important to talk about it. Even if that means some people will be conservatives I think we are in a position where we can speak up about it and it is so important to use our voice to do that.

text&edit Ryoko Kuwahara
editorial assistant Ayana Waki

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