Long Island, NY-based folk singer-songwriter EVVAN always felt like the oddball out – a lone wolf breaking away from the pack. This used to affect her self-esteem when she was younger, but on her latest single “Wolf,” she celebrates the independence that comes from not fitting in.
“You are in a world so loud/Affected by the crowd/who don’t see you right/only want to fight,” she sings in a deep, rich voice over haunting guitars. The chorus is full of long notes containing drawn-out “oohs,” escalating into a wolf howl at the end, and poses the question: “What will you do/when the wolf comes out in you?” — EVVAN’s way of asking, “are you gonna follow the pack or be who you truly are?”
“Wolf” began as a “moody kind of soundscape song,” she says. When her drummer Jorge Balbi added a drum part, her vision for the song completely changed, and she had her engineer and guitarist Sean O’Brien laid down a lap steel guitar to help “give it that haunting spooky vibe with that flare of folk.”
The inspiration for the song began when EVVAN was watching a National Geographic documentary about wolves. “I was so fascinated by the howls and how, when you have a group of wolves, like a pack that just starts howling, it’s so musical and it’s haunting, and the song kind of builds off that,” she says. “I wanted to see what it would sound like if I put those howls to a melody, and I started crafting around that idea.”
The song also stems from EVVAN’s experience as a non-binary, pansexual person. “Ever since I was a kid, I was never one to kind of follow the norm, even down to the way that I dressed,” she says. “There were so many times I would get bullied because girls my age wore skirts and colorful clothes where I wanted to wear jeans or shorts and black.”
EVVAN’s debut EP Home, out April 30, deals in different ways with these themes of self-acceptance and belonging over the course of five tracks. In the warm, soothing “I’m Not Done Yet,” she sings about coming to understand her own gender and sexuality and open up about it even as the people around her warned her to “stay in the dark” or that “it’s not the right time” to come out.
“It’s never the right time to come out and say ‘I’m pansexual,'” she says. “We are either afraid of it or we want you to hide it. We don’t like that you’re different from the norm. And through this song, I was able to use what people told me to create this anthem [that says] keep throwing whatever you have at me, but I’m not done yet. I still carry who I am with me, and it’s gonna stay with me forever.”
Perhaps the catchiest song on the EP is bluesy single “Hurricane,” where EVVAN sings about a relationship that starts off fairly calm and then surprisingly blows up like said natural disaster. “You have that honeymoon phase and you think nothing could ever go wrong, but the doors were blown off, the windows were blown off, it was just a house in the middle of a hurricane,” she explains. “It was really just a song that allows me to express the kind of pain that I felt, but also the cathartic revelation where I’m actually okay with this — I have my moment of hate but I’m fine now, I’m refreshed, I’m over you.”
The influence of Fleetwood Mac is evident in EVVAN’s voice, while her love of Milo Greene is more audible in her folky instrumentals. Milo Greene, in fact, ended up co-producing the album after EVVAN emailed them and asked to work with them.
EVVAN got her first guitar when she was 12 and has been writing, playing, and singing nonstop ever since. She began her musical career performing under her given name Evan Petruzzi, releasing several singles, videos, and covers before changing her act’s name to EVVAN, a name that felt in line with her goal of promoting individuality.
“Evan for a female is kind of a rare name,” she says, “so I liked the idea of going with that, and I wanted it to be a little more unique, and EVVAN with two Vs is quite unique. So I decided on that, and once I did, it felt right and it felt like my full music persona was whole in a sense.”
As she channeled the resolve that went into this decision into her music, it began to sound more mature and confident to her. “I was going back and forth and there was that anxiety – should I even do it? Maybe this is just a silly idea,” she says. “And then I kind of just said, no, this is who I am. This is what I want. I should be able to do that.”