“Vibes over genre.” These three words – spoken by Eva Lazarus midway through her set – vibrate through the sold-out venue, Cowgate’s very own Sneaky Pete’s. These three words, Lazarus explains, are her main focus. As she says this, her hands are pressed together, as though praying, and her eyes are closed. Gentle, electric guitar lulls float forward from the back of the stage. It really does feel strangely and excitingly momentous. She stops speaking, and the chords get louder almost instantaneously, harsher, and the keyboard joins in with a thumping pulse, and we’re thrown into the electric dance tune We Never Slow Down by DC Breaks, featuring Lazarus. This is what Eva Lazarus is all about: the vibes. She’s right, it is the vibe – for lack of a better word – that makes this set so memorable.
One of the main reasons she’s so compelling as an artist, though, is because she’s distinctly unafraid. In many ways, she transcends the boundaries of genre in a way that not many artists can, or even try to do. She addresses the audience again: “I don’t listen to one type of music, so I don’t make one type of music.” It is for this reason that her gig has a sort of magnetism to it, pulling the audience in, and thrusting us out, weaving us through her very own maze of R&B, reggae, jungle and hip hop. On Sneaky’s website, Lazarus is even compared to icons like Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. Standing before her now, it is blatantly obvious that these comparisons are not unwarranted.
Throughout her career, Lazarus has worked with various artists such as Swindle and Gardna, but some of the best songs in this set are her collaborations with Mungo’s Hi Fi – ‘Amsterdam’ and ‘Babylon Raid’ in particular. There is something so understated, so cool, about the way she and her band perform. A certain casualness about them that seems so effortless. It’s almost hypnotic, and everyone in the room is completely present in this moment, feeling every beat and hanging onto every lyric.
Since this tour is a celebration of her new, solo music, she finishes her set with The Party is Over, the last song on her sophomore solo album, Brandy Kisses (2022). Just like her decision, dripping in irony, to play ‘We Never Slow Down’ immediately after slowing down to address the audience, Lazarus’ placement of ‘The Party is Over’ at the end of the gig is just further proof of how expertly and precisely she has crafted this set. Self-proclaimed “rude gyal”, and yet a true, true professional.
Afterwards, she thanks everyone for coming, and then gathers all her things from the stage behind the drum kit – her leather jacket, bright yellow neon handbag, and her sunglasses – and tells us she will be by the door if anyone wants a chat or a hug from her before they leave. She then steps off the stage and takes the hand of someone in the audience and walks right through the crowd, who part immediately to let her through. Everyone is still clapping.
We stay behind to talk to her once everyone has gone. The venue is empty besides us, Lazarus, and a couple of people on the stage who are dismantling her set. I ask her if she’d be happy for us to ask her a few questions for The Student Newspaper, and she says she’d love to:
Eliza: Who are your current musical inspirations?
Eva: “I love Aminé, and vocals…singing…Bree Runway, I think is sick and Grove, Bristol artist, I think is amazing…I think, I love Snoh Aalegra, so much. There’s somebody who was supporting SnohAalegra on tour, called Ogi,’ O-G-I’, and they put out an EP…fuck, I can’t remember the name of the EP, but they put out an EP recently, which is…I can’t turn it off, which is rare. I usually listen to something and I’m like oh that was really cool, next! But that’s a record that I’m listening to a lot.”
Eliza: What do you think about the Edinburgh crowd?
Eva: “Oh well this was un-fucking-believable. It was unreal. I had not played here before under my own name, I’ve played as a featured artist, but never my own thing, so I didn’t really know what to expect. This has exceeded any expectations.”
We tell her we’ve had the best time, and thank her for letting us chat with her in this strikingly intimate setting. Her humility, and down-to-earth nature astounds me. She says:
Eva: “I fucking love a chat though, I do, to the detriment of anything. I love talking, and I love people. I love meeting people. It’s one of the best things about this job. Especially at the beginning, where it doesn’t really pay you that much, so you’re doing it for music and vibes.”
She starts explaining what, for her, being successful in the music industry ultimately comes down to:
Eva: “So, it’s kind of like…if you stay in it, it’s because of music and vibes, and anything else on top of that…if you’re not blessed to come from a pot of money that can support you through the hard times, you got music and you got vibes. So, you can chat, and meet new people, and that’s what I fucking love about this job.”
Image courtesy of Eliza Light.