One of the year’s biggest sleeper hits in the making is Worst Enemy, the phenomenal power-ballad by seventeen-year-old superstar Evie Irie.
In 2019, Evie introduced herself through the EP ‘5 Weeks in L.A’ – as the name suggests – written over a whirlwind five week trip to Los Angeles. It’s now copped over 15 million a streams globally, and showcased an artist straddling pop, soul and – generally – bangers with absolute ease.
This year’s new single is quite phenomenal. Written with Greg Kurstin, the notoriously quiet master of production and songwriting who’s won seven Grammy Awards for his game-changing work with Adele, Sia & Lily Allen, Worst Enemy is Evie at her most optimal. The song is a huge vocal moment with piano, a surprise trap introduction that isn’t so trap it turns the pop off, and has one of the year’s great song resolutions.
Currently at her family home an hour and a bit north of Sydney, it’s time to dive deep with Evie on routine, family, the energies she needs around her and the music to come. Nic Kelly in bold, Evie Irie in not-bold.
Where the hell are you?
I’m on the Central Coast, at my house I grew up in, so…
I’m in Gosford right now.
OH?! Go off!
The Central Coast is just a pool of talent and finding out you were from the Central Coast made my life, because it just made so much sense, there’s so many incredible people that have come from this part of the world.
Yeah, it’s such an artist hub. A community of music and talent. I love it so much. It’s something that got me started into all of it, is that there’s so much opportunity to be able to go out and play and it’s very Inspired by that artsy sort of vibe and feeling.
How are you dealing with being back on the Cenny, though? You’d gotten accustomed to the LA-to-Sydney-back-to-LA kind of lifestyle of being in awesome rooms and collaborating with really cool people. So how have you found the last little while?
It’s been a challenge. Mentally it’s been very hard, because it’s just been all over the place, some days I’m fine and striving and other days I’m like… I cannot do this for another day. I actually like, go so insane. Today I’m doing okay. Not one of my best days, but I’m trying to put a routine in. At the beginning of this all I was just so unstructured and it was fucking up my whole, like, everything. I would go to bed at 4am, wake up at like, nine, do a meeting and then go back to sleep, it was just a mess. It was so messy but now I’m like, going to bed earlier, doing all the things that I usually do like play guitar, sing, work out, go for a hike, do vocals and warm-ups, work on my live performance, all this stuff. So it’s better now – it’s still it’s still terrible – but also blessing in disguise.
I feel like that’s a very common experience. At the start of the pandemic, everyone really just did the things they had to and made their commitments and then the rest was just this like weird combination of sleeping, doing nothing and laying on the floor. It’s good that you’ve got some routine back. Do you find you’re better if you get up earlier in the day? Do you feel like you’re more creative and more able to conquer the world?
Um, no, not really. I just need to be in the right mindset. I can wake up at anytime. But sometimes it does help with getting motivated, knowing that you can wake up early and actually have the ability to have a normal day and not just sleep in and let your temptations take over.
I was going to talk about 5 Weeks In LA but I actually just want to talk about Worst Enemy, because it’s easily one of the best songs of the year. It’s freakishly good. Around a year ago you played a version of it when I was working at a radio station – it’s still stuck with me. Tell me about how a song like Worst Enemy – and working with someone like Greg Kurstin happens – to a gal from the Central Coast.
Well I started writing when I was around twelve years old, then everything happened very fast. When I was fifteen, I made a deal with my parents to go to America and do, like, an exchange – but instead of following any program – it was just going to be based around music and following the journey and trying to meet people, make connections to the industry and a ‘whatever goes, goes’ sort of situation. I’d been writing songs for a couple years and I had a few songs… only on the acoustic guitar though, so it was very… amateur. Somehow that journey took me to Nashville, took me to LA, where I wrote my first EP, 5 Weeks In LA which introduced me to all these different producers, and Greg Kurstin was one of them. I went through a lot of different emotion and it was very hard because there was a lot of change and as a young teenager – I’m 17 now, but I was 15-16 and i was growing and changing and you know, feeling all the different emotions and missing out on a lot of things but getting opportunities that not a lot of people get it and I think that I was able to channel all that energy and create a song and Worst Enemy came out of it.
That’s a big journey. Being fifteen, making a deal with your parents to go on exchange, how do you negotiate such a situation? What’s your mindset when you’re talking to your parents about making this big leap?
My parents are very encouraging of everything I do. And they just thought, “she’s good enough?” They also let, like, all my sisters do whatever they needed to do. My sister was seventeen and she opened a Pilates studio up on the Central Coast and my other sister did all these different things. Our parents are very supportive in whatever area we’re in and they just want to see us strive. It just sort of fell into place. I didn’t like school and I didn’t want to go on an actual exchange and I didn’t really fit in and I loved music and I still wanted to have an experience like exchange, where you go into the semi-real world, not school world. My parents were like, “do you want to do this?” And I was like, “not really,” and they asked what I wanted to do and I was like, “I want to do something with music,” and it just came together, really.
I love this for you.
I love this for me too.
What happens from here then? What music is coming, who have you been working with, what are you excited about?
Oh my god, I’m so excited about everything. If COVID-19 wasn’t a thing I would say live performing, because I worked with Joe “Flip” Wilson (MD for Lady Gaga, Beyonce & Nicki Minaj) and Laurieann Gibson (choreographer for Michael Jackson, Alicia Keys & Gaga) to create a live set and that’s just so crazy. Live performing is my heart and soul. So I would say that if Corona wasn’t making that all come to a halt.
What do you think about the whole live streaming situation? Because it’s not for everyone is it.
No, no, no. Not at all. You need to feel the bass under your feet, you need to be around people, you need to like, see it in real life. I think that’s something that I’m so connected to is like, person to person. That’s something that makes this whole situation so hard because I don’t want to talk to someone over text. I don’t want to talk to someone through a screen. I want to make a real personal connection with someone in real life. I want to know about them. I want them to feel comfortable. Energy can’t properly be translated through a text, because tone is so important. Feeling is so important and social media just can’t do that. Live-streaming can’t necessarily do that the way that in-person things can.
Are you an energy kind of person? Do you kind of like thrive off everyone’s energies? I’ve found myself doing that a lot more this year.
Definitely, definitely. That’s one way that I can connect to people, is based off their energy. I think that’s just the intuition of getting a good vibe, everyone has that… Someone can be like, “Oh, I don’t really like this person,” and you’re like, “why don’t you like this person,” and they’re like, “I just don’t get a good feeling.” Well, that’s their energy. You’re not connecting to that energy. That’s something that I go off of a lot. That’s trusting my intuition a lot. And that’s sort of what helped me throughout this whole process and journey of the last few years of my life is just trusting my intuition and trying to take every opportunity that I can to experience different energies and push myself into different realms.
What do you think the personality types and the energies that you seem to find yourself connecting with the most are?
A lot of different creatives. All creatives, usually. A lot of people who are a bit crazy, a little bit strange, is my usual go-to. And people even stranger than me. I just love it. I just love the oddness of it. Like, UGH. I just love interesting people. I just love brains that are different to the typical, square, boxed-in, classical “this is how life is, da-da-da-da-da,” I’m like “NO!” I don’t like that. That’s just not for me. I want people who question things that society wouldn’t accept as like, proper. You know what I mean? Just different people, who have different passions, they’re willing to put themselves out there and they don’t feel fear and they don’t necessarily, like, stick to any social structures or believe in anything in society. You know?