Working out of her bedroom studio, Eden Iris recorded and co-produced all of the tracks on her Demons EP with New Zealand artist Jess Harlen, (except for “22”, which was produced by Bruce Lynch.) Her work combines confessional-style lyrics with pop sensibility, sometimes exploring darker themes of depression and homelessness. Three of the songs were loosely inspired by characters from HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series.
Eden began songwriting and performing at age 14, receiving sponsorship from the internationally acclaimed ‘Laurie Williams’ guitar company, and marks Stevie Nicks and Tori Amos as her largest influences. She gained success at a national level in her late teens, receiving the SmokefreeRockquest National Women’s Musicianship Award (2011), and the Play it Strange Peace Song Award (2011). Since moving to Los Angeles, Eden has collaborated with grammy-award winning songwriters such as Maia Sharp (Dixie Chicks), Jamie Candiloro (Ryan Adams, R.E.M) and Bruce Lynch (Kate Bush).
Listen to “Dark Sunday Dream” here:
Read Girl Gang Music’s exclusive interview with Eden Iris, in full, below:
1) How did you get here? Did you always know you’d be a musician? What was it like moving to LA from New Zealand?
“I was 12 years old when I knew I wanted to be a musician – that was when I first started playing the guitar. My journey in the States began 4 years ago when I came here for a gig at SXSW music festival. I couch-surfed around Austin, Texas for a few months before coming out to LA (which was was a bit crazy, looking back!). Moving out to LA from Auckland, New Zealand, yeah I experienced a bit of culture shock at first. Even just adjusting to being in a bigger city where daily life is much more of a hustle, and there were some slight cultural differences which I had to adapt to. But I love it here, and LA is such a vibrant and inspiring city to live in. I also drink way more coffee and eat more peanut butter sandwiches than I used to.”
2) What has been your proudest moment so far in life? Music or otherwise?
“Haha. I would have to say moving out here, probably! I’m also pretty proud of this new EP.”
3) What was the songwriting + production process behind this record? If you have any pictures, we’d love to see them.
“The song which started the concept for the EP was “Dangerous Mind”, which I wrote with Australian artist Jess Harlen. When we wrote it, for some reason it reminded us of the character Daenerys Targaryen (Khaleesi, Breaker of Chains) from HBO’s Game of Thrones series. She’s a warrior and such a badass – the song is literally about running with your fear, facing your demons, and doing what terrifies you, because you know you are born to do it. That got the ball rolling for a lot of the other tracks and the soundscape for the EP was inspired mostly by the lyrics of each song. I recorded and produced the EP at home, except for 22, produced by Bruce Lynch (who produced Kate Bush’s first album, one of my all time favorites!). In some ways that was challenging, because it can be easy to get inside of your head when you’re working by yourself. I was lucky to have several mentors who were there for me during the process of making the record. That was incredibly helpful.”
4) Do you have any tips for any women in the industry?
“I think knowing your worth and trusting your instincts are both very important to thrive in this industry.”
“There are far less female engineers and producers, so if you are an artist, you are most likely going to be working with a lot of male musicians. I think that women aren’t expected to know as much about the technical side of music, so that can lead to situations where our opinion can be undervalued. There have been situations where I let the guys in the room dominate how my songs were recorded or produced, because I was worried about coming across as overbearing or controlling – but in retrospect there was no reason for that because I knew what I wanted for my music! So you really have to trust that gut feeling. Does that sample really suit the song? Do you like how your vocals are mixed, or is there something about them that doesn’t feel right?
“Speaking up is important and it’s also important to empower yourself by learning as much as possible about the recording process. That way, you can communicate clearly about what you want and you will be able to organically bring out the uniqueness and authenticity of your art.”
5) How did you decide to build a home studio? Is that where you prefer to work?
“I like working in a home studio because there no restrictions on time! Of course, that can also be dangerous, as you have the option of recording hundreds of takes. That’s why sometimes I like collaborating with other people when producing, because when someone else is in the room, I feel pressure to make faster decisions which can help to keep the project moving forward.
It’s lovely to have my own space to create and I’m lucky to have one. For the first part of this year I interned at a local studio and learnt a lot about engineering from from those folks. Of course when you are working from home you are wearing many different hats, (writing, engineering, producing, and mixing) and they all require a different mindset, so I’ve found that constantly checking in with what zone I’m in can help me stay focussed and makes sure I’m giving time to what each track actually needs. It’s all about what is best for the song, after all!”
6) What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
“I like playing a bit of Playstation at the end of the night. It relaxes me! Also, I am married to a wonderful woman from Seattle.”
7) Do you think being a woman in music has affected your career? If so, how?
“Looking back I think that playing live shows can be challenging aspect of being a woman in the industry. There are situations that will come up when you are on tour, or just performing at bar, that can be really uncomfortable, or unsafe. If you’re a woman performing in front of everyone, and then you walk to your car alone, you can naturally find yourself in a vulnerable position. When I was younger I found myself in some unsafe situations so now I try to use my common sense and trust my instincts about what I feel is safe. I find staying sober definitely helps and can usually bring out a more connected performance anyway.”
Eden Iris’ Girl Gang Picks
“I love Ane Brune, Christine and the Queens, (or now Chris), Joy Autumn, Anohni, Mina Caputo… Also this is not so obscure but I’m also obsessed with Brandi Carlile at the moment.”