Interview: EUPHEMIA RISE
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
When I was 14 I had to give up football because of a knee injury. In the hospital my parents offered a consolation gift and that's how I got my first guitar. I quickly started writing my own songs. I was in a few bands but working with others limited my creativity. Around 2008 I discovered Garageband and this made it possible for me to be a one-man band. Without music I think I would have become a graphic novelist. As a child I created comic strips and I still draw from time to time.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
In my free time I like to chill with movies and series, and I love to work out. Watching movies inspires me for both music and visuals. I have always been fond of cinematic music, and the use of strings and orchestral arrangements in my music are no doubt influenced by this. I’m also always curious to see creative opening titles, because my videos are strongly inspired by these. And working out is very important to me for mental strength and discipline.
How long has your band been around?
This project, Euphemia Rise, was founded in 2020. Before I had another project, Magdalena Solis, between 2009 and 2013. Then for a few years I was torn between rock/songwriting and cinematic/experimental music. I released some ambient piano tracks under the name Syrenomelia, but then felt a strong need to go back to songwriting and rock music, and started Euphemia Rise.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I'm based in Brussels. I like the city and its vibe, it's like an island in Belgium. It does not feel 'Belgian', but more cosmopolitan. I suppose that's why I like it and why it has been inspiring to live and work here.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Euphemia Rise was named after a freed slave girl who rose from street prostitute to concubine of increasingly powerful men, and finally the emperor Justin himself, whom she married, thus becoming empress of Rome. I found it a surprising story, I had never heard of it. The phrase 'how Euphemia rose to power' led to 'Euphemia Rise', I instantly loved the sound of that. It's a beautiful story, and it felt like a good match for my lyrics.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
I haven’t played live yet with Euphemia Rise, and I don’t really intend to do so in the future. With Magdalena Solis I played a few shows and the highlight was the Roadburn Festival.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I liked the first time the best, but simply because it was the first time, a new experience. After a few gigs it became too much of a routine, and I didn’t really enjoy it anymore. These last two years I sometimes did spontaneous acoustic sets via livestream on Instagram, I think that’s my favourite venue :))
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
J. S. Bach. He would blow me away of course :)
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Accept that it will be hard, a long road, but be like Lawrence of Arabia before he entered the desert and say: “This is going to be fun”.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
There are lots of quotes, or books, we wish we would have read earlier. Because we feel “if only I had known this…” But does it really work like that? Would we have listened? I like David Bowie’s “Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.” And that’s the result of all the roads you travel, also the mistakes you make. So I would answer “no message” - because whatever the current me would say to the younger me, the younger me would probably not listen :)
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
So far I'm most attached to my song 'Surviving the Dreams'. I love the bare honesty of the lyrics. It's about a dream lover and it's autobiographical. I'm very fond of the emotional vibe in the song, it's beautiful, there's something glorious about it.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Via the acoustic livestreams I play mostly covers. It’s just for fun. I adore playing ‘The Days of Pearly Spencer’. I don’t do requests. I just play the
2-3 songs I wanted to play and then get back to work.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I compose every day and record a lot. So I need to get organised. What I do is systematically export my demos as mp3 to my phone, so I can easily listen and evaluate. Then follows an elimination process, leaving only the demos I feel the most excited about. And when I’m ready I allow myself one week of “studio time” to record the final version of the song.
What inspires me mainly to write lyrics is contact with other people. For my music.. of course I’m inspired by other artists, but it's random and eclectic. Anything with brilliant songwriting.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
My lyrics are about the roads I have travelled becoming a more happy, positive and better person. They are a mix of dark and light but they are full of positive messages. When people notice this and tell me, it really makes my day. Occasionally writers called my lyrics depressing. This I found unfair and stupid. Depressing people is really the last thing I want to do. I love it when my words comfort people and make them feel happy and good about themselves.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Euphemia Rise is a one-man band so I can do what I like. Of course I have disagreements with myself, dilemmas, tough decisions I need to make. I cannot ask a band member's advice. So it takes reflection, and time.. Time is a good counsel.. When I'm not sure about something I wait, give it time. And that usually solves the problem.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I’m already busy recording new songs, and I hope to have a second album ready later this year. The new songs are more psychedelic, more spacey, I would even say cosmic. I'm really excited about them and I'm sure they will be a thrill for both myself and the people who love my music.