There is an organic feeling to Evelyn Cools’ music -- it’s dreamy, infused with her lilting vocals and illustrations of her surroundings. “Drove outside the cityscape / Feathers blowing wild / Little towns in winter’s ruse / Breathing in the light,” she sings on “Yosemite,” a cut from her upcoming Misfit Paradise EP. That same energy weaves throughout the collection, pulling listeners into a vivid world of color and imagination, accompanied by a Laurel Canyon-inspired sound. Misfit Paradise is about life’s greatest joys — love, acceptance, nature, adventure — but also its greatest sorrows.
“While not all the songs on the EP were written on the West Coast, the inspiration behind this record was definitely my move across the country even though I didn’t realize it at first,” Evelyn says. “The move also represented the start of my own journey, both as an individual and as an artist. The songs are inspired by my love for adventure, self-discovery, passion, following my intuition, and the creation of a purpose-full life.”
Evelyn attended college in upstate New York, purchasing a $200 guitar at the insistence of friends. She moved to London, where she spent time discovering her artistic voice and released her first EP. She then moved to New York City for an intensive, year-long course in recording and production at the Institute of Audio Research, where she honed her skills and observed the city’s bustling music scene. “These people we meet / Are we just the lucky ones? / Seeing what’s beneath,” she sings on “Misfit Paradise,” written while living in New York. It’s about finding a community free of judgment, that is welcoming to all ages, all races, all bodies. For the misfits, searching for a paradise to call their own.
Upon graduation, Evelyn could return to Europe where she was born and raised, or put her energy into applying for an artist visa, which she received in December 2018. She took the opportunity to move across the country, and the creation of Misfit Paradise was quickly on the horizon. Along with producer Enrique Lara, Evelyn took a DIY approach to recording the EP, covering walls and doors of living rooms and bedrooms to record with better acoustics. Though recorded in a tiny bedroom in Silver Lake, CA, with just one cellist and one violinist, the players on the title track, “Misfit Paradise,” moved after each take to create the effect of a string ensemble, to the point where they were using the bed and all corners of the room.
“I'm not sure whether it was my early childhood or the west coast culture that suits my personality so well,” she says. “All I know is that the moment I arrived in Los Angeles, it felt like coming home. While it was not my intention initially, the Misfit Paradise EP has become an ode to this time in my life.”
Evelyn’s childhood included time in many different countries with varied cultures. She was born in Belgium, and her family later moved to New York, Los Angeles and Germany. They spent time in Hong Kong, traveling to Thailand, Malaysia, Mainland China and Australia while there, and eventually moved to Hungary, as well.
“I am not scared of living in a place where I don't know the language, or where the culture is so different from anything I've experienced,” she says “My background has made me more empathetic, open-minded, critical, and loving. The world is my oyster. I will forever be grateful for the way this has shaped my life, my relationships and my music.”
Throughout her early travels, Evelyn observed the deep connection indigenous communities have with the Earth, noticing the importance these communities place on the intrinsic value of nature, and how modern culture often lacks the same respect and connectivity.
“Yosemite,” from Misfit Paradise, offers her ode to nature and the solace it can provide. “It’s one of the oldest songs on this EP and continues to be one of my favorites to perform live, play on my guitar at home, listen to, and think about,” Evelyn says.
“Yosemite National Park has played an important role in my life showing me the overwhelming power of nature, taught me about our role as humans in protecting it, and given me courage to move across the country to California on my own,” she continues. “It still serves as an infinite source of inspiration, and a place to reset and self-reflect. It is the place I consistently yearn for, one that is always in the back of my mind.”
“Another Night” asks, "What if we never met?" The song contemplates how small pieces affect the whole of our lives.
“It’s about surrendering to the opportunities in front of you, embracing them with everything you are, and realizing that we have no control over the outcome of love,” she says. “And yet, it is the thing that drives our soul, our passions, and ultimately our life.”
“Gold Woman” infuses the collection with a bit of edge, fantasizing about a perception of perfection. “Every time I perform this song live, I preface it with ‘this one's about cheating,’” she says with a chuckle.
“In truth, it’s a bit more nuanced. It is about fantasizing and yearning for the things we don't have, a reality that doesn't even exist in the first place,” she says.
The EP ends with “Soaring,” an anthem for letting go of the pressures you no longer need.
“I’m soaring / Over the clouds / Never looking back,” she sings on the track. It’s pretty clear that’s Evelyn Cools’ outlook on life, and music. Misfit Paradise is just the beginning.
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