Andrea Noce makes music under many guises, but as Eva Geist it is pushed into a particularly adventurous and mesmeric electronic realm. A DJ, producer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, the discography of the Calabrian-born and Berlin-residing alter ego nomadically roams across outsider synth galaxies and deep electronic enchantment. We spoke with her via email ahead of her performance at The Tower festival to find out more about her singular sound.
Tell us a bit about your musical background – what did you grow up listening to, and how did you begin to learn music?
I started to learn music when I was a little girl. But before that I remember that music was very related to car traveling. My father loved to drive us and had a selection of his favorite Italian songwriter, De Andre’, De Gregori, Guccini, Renato Zero, Amedeo Minghi, Lucio Battisti. From time to time my sister and I had the privilege to play some of the playlists that we recorded at home with our cassette player and included Madonna, Micheal Jackson and lots of 90s club classics. Our parents hated it. I always ended up falling asleep listening to those tracks. I still get a deep feeling of relaxation when I listen to them.
What was behind the decision to buy your first synthesiser? Were there any particular synth artists who were a big inspiration for you?
In the early 2000s I started to play with my friend Manuel Cascone (Steve Pepe) in a band called Laser Tag. My instrument was a Gem organ plugged into a Lesley Farfisa. It was fun for a while but then I started to feel very limited in the selection of sounds and had some ideas in mind. My first synth was a Virtual Analog of the Virus series. Noise music, synth pop and new wave were some of the electronic genres that influenced me the most. A very impressive experience that I recall was Pan Sonic’s live set at Rome Auditorio della Musica. That concert opened to me a window to experimentation and analog sound.
You’ve made music under your real name and groups like As Longitude and le ROSE – why did you decide to start producing as Eva Geist? Is there a difference in your approach to musical production as Eva Geist compared to your other projects?
Eva Geist comes after le Rose and before As Longitude. It was actually after a live set that I met Laura (Ondula) again and that we basically started to speak about a collaboration. When le Rose was over I had in me an incredible anxiety, the need to channel a music that has always been in my mind. Making music with other artists will always be an important part of my production; I always give my best in those circumstances because I am good at organizing and finalizing the creative energy of a jam session. But at the same time, I needed a place for myself, a place for meditation and inner view. A place where music works almost as therapy and refuge.
Your music has a particular transcendental, dreamlike quality to it, and in a previous interview you described your music as a “door to the spiritual world.” In what ways does your outlook on life and existence, or perhaps spirituality, shape the way you approach and make music – if at all?
Many told me that I am a storyteller. The story is maybe the one of the spiritual journey. I don’t know exactly, but what I hope is to create soul to soul connections with the people that I meet through my music.
Can you tell us about your approach to making your recent LP Desfãn, with its impressive list of synthesisers, drum machines etc.?
Desfãn is a 2 years work. I had the possibility to use lots of gear and decided to work with a more studio production approach. I did almost all by myself, layering track after track, processing and mixing. It was a workshop with myself. Also on the emotional level.
The ocean is quite an immediate theme when you pick up the physical record: it’s in the underwater cover designed by Maria Torres, and in the accompanying statement of “To the Ionian Sea” in the album descriptor. Can you tell us a bit about this?
It took me long to see and accept my nature. I’m a Mediterranean girl threw up in the nordic continental reality (haha). But seriously, you appreciate your origin only after taking the right distance from it. I never knew before how much I miss the sea, the sky and the smells of my native landscape. And I never knew that my music has a strong Italian touch. I wanted to pay tribute to this rediscovery.
Can you tell us about your set-up for live performances? What kind of journey do you like to take crowds on?
My live set is quite atmospheric and brings people slowly into a collage of different soundscapes. Made to move and to dream :)
What’s the future looking like for Eva Geist? Are there any exciting projects which you’re currently working on?
I am about to release a new EP for the Spanish label Hivern Discs. A track I recorded with my friend Isabel aka Epsilove is going to be on Invisible-inc next compilation, and Laura and I are finalizing As Longitude’s new EP for Neubau. These days I am also planning to mix some home recordings I made a few months ago with my friend and muse Jonida Prifti. Lots of things, and as always I don’t know where to start from!
“Creativity often comes from a vacuum,” Red Bull Music Academy’s Lauren Martin posed to a panel of four young promotors before a small audience in London’s The Pickle Factory, “you are driven to create that which you cannot already access.” Such was the ethos behind the screening of Generation DIY – a series of five documentaries, produced with event technology platform Eventbrite, which profile creatives across five UK hubs all under the age of 25. London, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and Glasgow: these are cities which, though culturally and historically distinct, are strung together by young individuals and communities who are transforming nightlife from its grassy roots up. From theatre to club-nights, radio to musicians, poetry to comedy, conferences, campaigning and cooking, the near-thirty different groups and individuals featured across the documentaries illuminate the exciting variety of art in Britain.
Behind each film was the relationship between art and the infrastructure of the city, both physically and politically. For musicians and DJ collectives in Manchester – B.L.O.O.M, Funraising and David Burch of Ad Hoc – there was a frustration towards the council who, favouring high-rises over hedonism, are putting increasing pressure on the city’s clubs and venues. So, promotors adapt to this lack of traditional space in dynamic ways. Where Mancunians are turning to dive bars over pricier clubs, in Glasgow Forij take over the city’s abandoned enclaves for their gritty warehouse parties, and Where People Sleep host exhibitions in their own living rooms.
Beyond physical space, accessibility to culture and self expression – particularly those from marginalised communities – was also a driving force of Generation DIY's creativity. Promotors like London’s UNITI, Femme Culture and Bristol’s Concrete Jungyals are carving out safe clubbing spaces for LGBTQI+, non-binary and female-identifying partygoers, often without financial backing: “we’re young people first and foremost trying to survive in this city,” says UNITI’s Alice Bettinger. Intertwined with the rise of 'conscious clubbing’ propelled by abortion rights campaigners Room for Rebellion and Love for the Streets (who raise funds and awareness for Manchester’s homeless community), nightlife across the films is emphatically inclusive and community-driven.
In the following discussion, panelists Kaiya Milan (Off Balance), Isis O'Regan (Room for Rebellion) and David Gilbert (S+K Project) reflected on the struggles and rewards of starting out as independent promotors and artists. Also amongst them was Harjeet Sahota, Grime Activist, Trustee of Kado Projects and the previous Night Time Coordinator in the Mayor of London's office. She illuminated how the political and legislative cogs of government, though working in many areas for the betterment of nightlife (e.g. the recent scrapping of form 696), are often slow and met with resistance.
Nightlife in the UK is shaped by the meshing together of legislation, culture and the people who drive it forward. Where companies like Eventbrite can provide the support for event creators, connecting grassroots causes to both the right people and the right platforms, the dynamic and diverse future of UK culture is firmly rooted in the likes of Generation DIY. As Seshie from London's IAmNext sums: “it’s D.I.Y. or D.I.E.”
The London film is out now, and keep up with the remaining films are they are released over the next month: Bristol - 13th June, Glasgow - 20th June, Birmingham - 27th June, Manchester - 4th July. Find them on the Eventbrite website: http://bit.ly/GenerationDIY .
Words: Josie Roberts
Producer, DJ, composer and radio selector, Afrodeutsche, aka Henrietta Smith-Rolla, is a rising star in Manchester's creative circles. Having already played in staple venues such as Soup Kitchen and The White Hotel, her Drexciyan-flavoured techno and electro cuts can be heard both on some of the city's most renowned dance floors and in her monthly Black Forest NTS show. Her newest project is the all-female electronic music collaboration GRRRL, brought together by international organisation 'In Place of War' which fosters artistic creativity in areas of conflict. Also featuring the likes of Speech Debelle, Lei Di Dai and Sohini Alam, the group has played at festivals such as Greenbelt and Shambala and has an EP set to release later this year. Ahead of GRRRL's performance at east London's Archspace on 10th April, we caught up with Henrietta to glimpse an insight into the workings of both her collaborative and solo output.
When did you first start producing music? Have you always had an interest in electronic music?
I’ve always had a huge interest in music and sound. I’d performed in bands sung and played for years, but never had the confidence to produce my own work. So I had a word with myself. I began to teach myself. I’m very lucky, in that I have a wealth of support from friends who also produce.
Are there any artists who you listened to growing up that particularly inspired you to start making music?
So many! I remember the first time I realised I was into music, I was watching The Sound of Music. There’s a scene where all the children are singing, they’re in a horse drawn cart and one of them begins to sing, then another, then another… I realised they were singing the same melody and the same words but at different times - it was a round! The same melody was overlapping with another parts of the melody. I was hooked. Confused, but hooked.
I’m all about melody, so I listened to allot of artists growing up, classical stuff, the standards. I’d say all of it was inspiring, Tina Turner, Roy Orbison, Sade, Duran Duran, David Bowie, Soul 2 Soul, Chaka Khan. Basically I was listening to my mum’s records…
How did you first get involved with NTS? Is radio always something that you wanted to do?
I was at The White Hotel in Manchester and got talking to a guy wearing the most spectacular Red Dungarees. We started talking about music and he asked if I DJ’d and if I’d be up for doing a one off show for the station. I’d never thought about doing radio, but thought why not, I’ll have a go.
Your NTS show spans many different styles of music. How do you curate your tracklists?
Good question…. It tends to be about my mood. I’m not sure I have any rules, and I think that’s why I enjoy it so much. There’s usually a theme steering towards futurist thinking, usually referencing film. I try not to get to serious about it all though - you’ve gotta be able to dance to it right?
How does living in Manchester impact the music you make and listen to? Do you pay close attention to the music scene in the city?
Manchester has completely influenced the music that I make, there’s a track on the new album a friend said reminded them of Manchester. I hadn’t set out to create that specifically, but realised there is something about this city that becomes part of you…
It’s hard to describe, but I think having lived here of 13 years you can’t help but have it influence your writing. It’s an inspiring city.
I wouldn’t say I pay close attention to the music scene in Manchester, it’s so vast and diverse, it’s impossible to keep up, but I love the fact that no matter what scene exists, each scene sits comfortably beside each other, they cross over each other and are constantly moving, meaning you can dip in and out of all of them all. Manchester is a nurturing city for creatives, you have the freedom to do what you need, whatever way suits you.
What do you think of the club circuit in Manchester? Do you have any favourite parties which you’ve been to or played at?
Favorite parties in Manchester… So many! Kiss Me Again at (The Soup Kitchen) is top of the list for me. P13 (The White Hotel) another pretty special party. On Rotation (Eastern Bloc) another party with an ace vibe. And finally The Other (The Peer Hat) Really good example of how to throw a top party.
GRRRL features a line-up of very talented women with a wide-reaching array of sounds and styles. What is it like working together as a group?
It’s something I never thought I would have had the opportunity to be part of. It’s a very special collaboration and something I miss when I’m not with them. Everyone is so supremely talented. I’m learning from everyone involved, inspired by and enjoy being able to nurture and support everyone.
What music are you listening to at the moment? Are there any artists or genres who you feel particularly influence your sound today?
I tend not to listen to other artists when I’m writing, I’m a bit of a sound sponge, so find I can be heavily influenced by others work. I tend to listen to allot of film sound tracks/scores and listen to film sound design. My work has allot to do with stories and scores are there to tell the story through sound. Bernard Herman has always had a massive influence on my sound, but lately I’ve not focused on any genre, more collecting audio around me, and manipulating that to tell the story.
What else have you got planned for 2018?
I have my debut album Break Before Make out on SKAM May this year. More AFRODEUTSCHE live shows. Most importantly, more writing! Black Forest NTS monthly show. Oh and a 3 hour DJ set at the Berghain Berlin 14th June! WHAT?!!
Words: Georgia Tobin
Photography: Fe Pegani