Sitting backstage before the gig supporting The Black Seeds in London, Eva Be’s musical journey seemed ready to take off!
At the time we met, the album called Moving Without Traveling was being rushed to the shops. So for the uninitiated, the Berlin-based producer, musicians and DJ says with a soft German accent, “My style is a mixture of dub, electro, reggae and a little bit house.”
Luckily, trombone player, vocalist and translator David Ben-Porat was on hand to facilitate the interview as my German is not as good as I make out.
The lead track and latest 12″ release, ‘Trippin’ with Eva Be’ is like a theme tune and the travelling idea is taken up in the artwork on the album cover. “The art is from my Grandfathers’ (Otto Reich) portfolio that we’ve adapted for the cover,” she tells me enthusiastically. It’s in a 1950′s style and on the inside there’s a picture of a bionic half man/half jet engine, “he imagined people could fly and we’re using more of his work on the EP releases.”
So what other inspirations helped form the album? Inevitable as a Best Seven artist, she tells me she was big into the whole Rockers Hi-Fi, BiggaBush, Ligtning Head. “I really love his style and like him, I try to have some humour in my reggae. Like one of the guests on the album, RQM who provides some sharp lines on ‘Speakeasy’. When I asked Boris Meinhold later about the twangy guitar on that track he told me, “we wanted to do something different in the style of a spaghetti western tune.”
And of course, the big tune on the album features the vocals of Joe Dukie so I needed to know how that link up happened with New Zealand’s finest (now Fat Freddy’s Drop joint finest with The Black Seeds who were headlining the show; still hot after their Bournemouth gig!).
She explains, “I heard ‘Midnight Marauders’ (a 12″ on Best Seven from 2002 by Dukie/DJ Fitchie) and said to Boris, “we need to get his voice on ‘No Memory Of Time’ so I wrote a “real letter” (she imitates writing a letter with her finger as an imaginary pen), “Dear Mr. Dukie, My name is Eva Be and I really love your record.. Etc,” much like a fan might do. “And then Fat Freddy’s Drop came for a week to Berlin”. Not only did Joe sing on ‘No Memory Of Time‘ but FFD also recorded a live version of ‘Ernie’ at the Cafe Moskau (this was back in July 2003).
On the night, Kristiin Tuomi was the singer standing in for Joe Dukie and it was interesting to hear her interpretation of the track. Before that though, there was the soundcheck where, Eva, David, Boris are joined by the final member of the group, saxophonist and sometime keyboard player, Sebastian Borkowski. Time to find a bar in Soho for a quick happy hour pre-gig drink.
I asked Eva about getting Sugar B on ‘Unite Tonite’. “It was seven months ago, I went to DJ at the Dub Club in Vienna“. And how many months pregnant are you? “Vienna is a special place for me as it’s 7 months later.” She hastens to add that the pregnancy has nothing to do with meeting Sugar B but she lets on that she’s got a rather different prenatal experiment going on. “Every night I play ‘The Answer‘ very loud next to the baby in my tummy. I love ‘The Answer’ and I want to see if the baby will recognise it when it’s born.” Have we got a name for the baby? “I was thinking Adam”, she says with a smile before laughing.
What music are you likely to hear Eva DJ? “Difficult to say as a DJ, I’m intp Berlin electronic ‘kick in the ass’ freestyle hip hop dub with big bass.” What like Shir Khan? “Oh, he’s great” she says. Well that sounds pretty irresistible to me.
And a bit of background on the rest of the band, Kritiina Tuomi is part German and part Finnish who, in addition to her ‘stand in’ role for Dukie, was a backing singer for Fat Freddy’s Drop when they were in Berlin recently. Boris Meinhold is the main writer with Eva and he’s also in another band, Micatone. Ben is from Connecticut and been in Germany for the past 5 years somewhat by accident as his trombone tutor recommended Berlin to him as a place to go. In addition to the Micatone collaborations, he’d been to Cargo a few weeks previously as a late sub for Ms Platnum’s gig where he made a bit impact.
Needless to say when they did get on stage, it was a great performance even if it was a short set. I hope her impending motherhood will not interfere too much with her musical career and she’ll be back with her crew soon.