“Now we can all breathe.” It’s a Wednesday morning and a large chunk of people in the UK are feeling sleep-deprived but satisfied. Ivana Carrescia is one of them. America’s just re-elected its President. Ivana flew over from New York a few days previous to perform in a beautiful London church. Hurricane Sandy is still fresh in the memory. Many of her friends still don’t have power. “A lot of places where I used to live are totally destroyed. It’s very sad.” Ivana’s experiencing the strange, helpless feeling of seeing a city so tall and mighty crumble.
There’s plenty for us to talk about, from politics to the storm. And yet the conversation always seems to run right back to music. Ivana performs under the stage name Eddi Front. In spring of this year she uploaded two songs to separate Bandcamp accounts online. One was under her current guise, the other as Eddi Lines - “I wasn’t sure which name I liked best. It was more for my benefit, so I could look at both at the same time from a new perspective”, says Ivana - and within days she was being hailed in some parts, quite oddly, as the new Lana Del Rey. Thankfully Eddi Front’s resulting rise has been more gradual than the cruel fame and notoriety that’s met Lizzy Grant. The two share respective backgrounds in music that go way back, beyond their current success, but in terms of comparisons the buck stops there.
On her debut, self-titled EP Eddi Front performs stark takes of beautiful, heart-wrenching songs. In conversation Ivana’s shy but friendly. She finishes every other sentence with an awkward giggle. But on record, all the grizzly details are laid out bare. She is alarmingly honest. Every so often you’ll stop in your tracks, rewind and listen back to a specific lyric in case you heard it wrong. Words such as “I’ve always been slow to get off of some drugs / To let go of some loves” (‘Gigantic’) and “while you’re fucking some dusty old chair, I’ll be eating bananas and riding a big black stallion” (‘Texas’) expose a songwriter with plenty to say, in an often jaw-droppingly candid manner. “The songs are definitely all autobiographical, with some extra gross stuff in there,” she says. “But it comes from real life.” For a while this was an anonymous project. Rumours were abound as to Eddi Front’s identity. Most artists who keep details to a minimum are keeping in tow with music of a largely conventional mould. Vocals are shrouded in reverb. The whole thing screams “mystery” from the very beginning. But Eddi Front was different. These songs had personality, they had stories to tell. People were hungry for answers. Did Ivana feel at all intruded upon when bloggers on the other side of the world expressed such interest? “Not at all. It’s kind of like a first date, like ‘where are you from? Where did you grow up?’ It’s normal, I think.”
Eddi Front remains a source of intrigue, however. Ivana was playing the violin at the age of five. At 13, she’d learnt the guitar. She even has a background working with Ryan Adams, of all people. “When I first moved to Brooklyn I was 21 and I was in this really horrible apartment with this girl and... It was my first job. I was working in a shoe store, I was a cashier, and it was a very weird chain of people that eventually got to Ryan Adams,” she explains. “For three months we worked on songs of his. And he was trying to produce my first EP at the same time.” How did it all fall apart? “I was not ready for it! I wasn’t ready for that kind of life... It was too much for me I guess; too overwhelming. I just wanted to record songs in my apartment with my 4-track.” You sense she might be detailing one of many chapters in the times preceding this whirlwind year.
She mentions the 4-track several times. Ivana’s an old-school songwriter, a fan of doing things in one take, admiring all the little imperfections of original recordings. “I don’t ever sit down to write a song. Whenever it’s coming you just have to be ready for it to write it all down.” Although she’s now getting more used to the studio environment, where slight missteps are patched over, she harks back to the time spent in her Brooklyn apartment. “Whatever came out was always honest. If someone was out of tune or wrong, I would keep it. The idea was for things to be raw and ugly.” She describes herself as private both in person, and as a songwriter: “I always write on my own. It’s kinda hard for me to write with other people.” All of this points towards someone confident in her own space, which explains why the songs themselves sound like the product of years of rough drafts and tough experiences.
If she wasn’t ready to release music under Ryan Adams’ wing, Eddi Front is certainly ready now. It’s seemingly the result of a long, hard journey, but in her debut EP we see signs of a songwriter here for the long haul, with plenty more to share. Expect future material to document all kinds of harrowing experiences we don’t yet know about, from the day Sandy struck her beloved city, to everything in between.Taken from the December 2012 / January 2013 issue of DIY, available now. For more details click here.
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