From Evie ArcherNo Albums Currently Available
From Evie ArcherNo Albums Currently Available
Looking back, it might seem like a forgone conclusion that Evie Archer would find herself chasing a career in music: by the age of two, she was asking her parents if she could take piano lessons, and not long after that she began to write original songs. But although she describes songwriting as a “compulsion,” and used to compose songs instead of essays for English-class assignments, her path has had some obstacles. It was an indirect journey, a series of stops and starts, periods of productivity and encouragement broken up by bouts with self-doubt. But once her goal was clear, everything seemed to fall into place: the music came out stronger than ever, key creative connections were made, and the results are evident in her songs, which combine expert pop craft with raw emotional candor. There’s a striking openness to her work, and she doesn’t back away from revealing her own flaws: “I’m just a sucker for self-destruction,” she admits in one song, and in another, she finds herself in a situation where she’s hoping God will turn a blind eye to her bad behavior: “Is this what you wanted from yourself, empty cages beneath your eyes, empty bottles on the shelf?” Of course, some of her songs, like parts of her life, are filled with joy. “Close to You”, for example, is an upbeat song about what it feels like to be in love and is bound to lift your spirits.
Evie’s candor harkens back to classic singer-songwriters like Carly Simon and Carole King (Evie says that “I Feel The Earth Move” and “Natural Woman” are two songs she wishes she had written), as well as more recent artists such as Alanis Morrisette, Rachel Yamagata, and Fiona Apple. “It’s pretty confessional stuff,” she admits. “It just feels a little safer to express it if you rhyme it. When I’m in the midst of tumult, I can’t really write about it, but then I take a bit of a step back and have more perspective, and that’s when ‘Evie’ comes through. I can reinterpret what I experience as ‘Melissa,’ and give myself some distance and creative license.”
Growing up in New Jersey, Evie (born Melissa Rosenberg) found that music came to her instinctively, not that she was that devoted a fan of what was going on in the pop world. She didn’t listen to the radio or buy records, and what music she did hear was on road trips with her family, where her mother would play songs by Carly Simon. “Then when I got older,” she says, “I loved The Beatles. I admire the tight songwriting, and that’s what I was inspired to go for in a pop song.” As a student at Princeton Day School, she performed in numerous plays and musicals, and took a class with a composer-in-residence who “told my parents that I had real potential to do this as a career, and I laughed and thought, ‘That’s really sweet of him,’ but I didn’t take it too seriously. Then in college, it just became more a part of who I was.”
In her freshman year at Princeton University, she heard what she calls “an intuitive voice.” “I was thinking about what I wanted to major in, and what I was going to do with my life, and this voice said ‘singer-songwriter.’ I kind of scoffed at that. I was skeptical of my inner impulses because they seemed to come out of nowhere. I was continually writing, but it was never with a plan to pursue it professionally. I ran away from it for a long time.” She considered other options. For a while, she wanted to be an economist, and then she thought she might want to become a lawyer, like her father, but she kept circling back to music, and her performance of an original song won her a music competition at Princeton.
After graduating, she stopped writing for a couple of years. “It was kind of a blocked period for me,” she admits. “I tried a couple of times, and nothing really happened with it.” Then, in 2011, her parents talked with a family friend whose daughter wanted to get into music promotion, and Evie’s mother gave her a tape of songs from Evie’s freshman year at college (one of the songs on the tape, “Sweet Destruction,” was written even earlier, in high school) “This girl told my mother, ‘This is really good. She should do something with it.’ So my parents talked to me, and at that point I was just floundering, wondering what to do with my life, and struggling and was just kind of a mess. My parents asked me if there was anything else I could think of, since I was a little kid, that I’ve stuck with besides songwriting. They were the impetus. They said that if I wanted to pursue this, they would support me.”
But although Evie had the freedom to concentrate on music, she felt she needed more structure in her life, and she took a day job, which still left her time in the evenings and weekends to write. She also began to make music industry contacts: looking for someone to give her vocal training, she was steered to Dana Calitri, who has an impressive track record as a performer, writer, lecturer and teacher, and whose husband Martin Briley is a renowned British singer/songwriter who has penned songs for everyone from Celine Dion, *NSYNC and Pat Benatar to Gregg Allman and Kenny Loggins, and has also enjoyed major success as an artist (including the hit single “The Salt In My Tears”). Evie began taking private songwriting lessons with Briley. “I’d bring him a song and he would critique it, tell me what parts didn’t work, what to rewrite, that sort of thing. Then I played him ‘Beggar For Your Love,’ and he said we should record it, so we did that, and it evolved into ‘we should do an album’.”
Evie calls Briley “a glass slipper fit for me.” She sent him rough demos of the songs, just her on piano and with scratch vocals, which he would arrange and produce during the day while Evie was at her job. Briley also pushed her creatively. “He encouraged me to try on different personas, to create characters, and I had a difficult time with that. I realized that for me, songwriting is personal and confessional. That’s the imagery I know the best. It feels more real.” Evie found her writing “zone,” which is most vividly apparent on the song “Bad Behavior,” the most recently-written song on Life In Sand. “Martin had been asking me for something up-tempo to round out the album, and I tried to come up with something. I had the verses and pre-chorus for ‘Bad Behavior,’ and I couldn’t come up with a chorus. It drove me crazy. Then I wrote one, and Martin told me I half-assed it, and I should dig deeper. When I re-wrote it, he said, ‘Let’s do it,’ even though it’s not particularly up-tempo or uplifting.”
Then famed producer Gary Katz, who has been nominated for numerous Grammy Awards and produced the first eight Steely Dan albums, as well as albums by other legends like Diana Ross, Laura Nyro, and Joe Cocker, entered the scene. Katz couldn’t be more impressed by Evie’s talent. “Every once in a while an artist comes along whose music separates them from the crowd. Evie Archer is one of these artists”, he says. Katz added some bells and whistles to Evie’s song “Bad Behavior” and produced her original Christmas tune “On Christmas Day”. The Christmas song, which Evie wrote as a gift to her parents, was a big hit this Christmas season, playing regularly on Sirius XM’s Holly Channel, other radio stations across the country, and all Macy’s stores throughout the United States. Her music video of the song was nominated for the L.A. Music Critics Award for Best Holiday Video of 2013. You can buy On Chrismas Day through ITunes or Amazon.com.
Evie has been endorsed by Sennheiser, whose name has stood for more than 65 years for top quality music sound, and been interviewed by such stations as Voice of America, WHUD, and Lionheart Radio in the United Kingdom. When you hear her songs, you’re hearing an artist who is able to blend melodic invention with an unusual degree of lyrical intimacy, someone who has grappled with challenges and periods of uncertainty and darkness. “Don’t you know I’d change the past if I could?,” she asks in one song, but she knows that’s impossible: all she can do is face it, and move forward.