Eden Iris’s crisp, soothing voice sounds like it belongs in the soundtrack to a Disney movie, and her latest song “Blue Home” is appropriately vivid and mystical. Her words paint a picture against electronic beats and string instruments: “There’s a storm coming in, grab your coat / I’ve found my shelter and I won’t let go / There’s a girl in the sky / And she calls your name / You hear the thunder but you don’t feel the rain.”
“Blue Home” will appear on the New Zealand-born, LA-based artist’s debut album, coming out later this year. She’s also been hard at work releasing several singles over the past year, including the meditative “The Love That Still Lives Here,” following her 2018 EP Demons. We talked to Iris about her songwriting process, what inspires her, and her upcoming music.
AF: How did you get started making music?
EI: I started learning classical piano when I was six years old. My mum told me, “you’re going to take lessons!” and I was resistant, which, looking back, I find amusing. I picked up the guitar when I was 12 years old, and from there, I starting busking on the streets of Auckland, New Zealand. One day, someone told me I would make more money if I sang, and that’s really what gave me a push to get started. I got into songwriting during my teenage years because it was fun to play and write in bands. I’ve kept writing ever since. I find it such a rewarding experience. And I love stories.
AF: What is the song “Blue Home” about?
EI: Like most songs, I wrote “Blue Home” to process what was happening for me at the time. The events are personal, but the song is about feeling shut out, rejected, and wanting to be loved. It’s also about holding onto hope, which is what the bridge lyrics “dreams will leave the room” are about. I wanted the song to feel melancholic but also uplifting to the listener.
AF: Musically, how does this differ from your past work?
EI: “Blue Home” has a little more of an electronic/indie vibe than some of my past work. Sophie Stern, who produced the song, recorded live drums in her studio, which created a bigger, more cinematic sound. I love the mesh of organic and sampled sounds that she brought to the table. There’s also a live string quartet playing that I have had a recording of for many years, which she worked in there.
AF: What else do you sing about on your forthcoming album?
EI: This will be my first album release. I talk about impermanence and letting go. There are a few love songs. The last few singles I have released will be on it. I was able to play the songs live at shows before I recorded them, so I think that helped me get to a place where the studio performances felt natural.
AF: What themes tend to come up most frequently in your music?
EI: I have written my fair share of love songs, but I have just as many songs that are about dealing with loss, change, and holding on to hope. I’m also kind of spiritual, so I tend to write about that a lot, too. Sometimes, when I’m playing music, it feels as though I’m channeling a higher power. When it happens, it’s instinctive, an unstoppable force, and when I reach that place, I know I don’t have to do anything but just be present and take it as a gift. Music has helped carry me through some of the toughest moments of my life, and after that, it was hard to not feel it spiritually.
Being in nature also helps me keep in touch with my spirituality. When I’m immersed in it, I feel as though I can reach an inner state of calm that is hard to find in the day-to-day grind. I guess I’m a bit of a hippie at heart, which is why I have so many lyrical references to nature!
AF: Who are your musical influences?
EI: I listened obsessively to Kate Bush and Tori Amos when I was a teenager. To name a few more… Joni Mitchell, Brandi Carlile, Maggie Rogers, and Matt Corby. Lyrically, I have been very inspired by Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, and New Zealand poet Sam Hunt.
AF: I know you moved from New Zealand to LA a few years ago — how do the music scenes in those two places compare?
EI: They are very different! LA is much more saturated with artists, which is cool because there are a lot of great opportunities for collaboration. New Zealand doesn’t have the same number of artists, but that can also work to your advantage because there is less competition for gigs. I think no matter where you are, it’s important to find a supportive community that you feel a part of. I’ve been lucky enough to find that in both places.
AF: What are you working on now, and what are your next plans?
EI: Right now, I’m finishing up mixing my album! So I am preparing for the release in the summer. There are no gigs at the moment, so I’m live-streaming from my Facebook Page every Friday night. My next plan: I’m going to keep writing, and see what songs I can catch!
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