Evita Manji is a master of introspection

100%: Ahead of their set at Draaimolen festival, we caught up with the Greek musician about grief, doom-scrolling and staying hopeful.

Evita Manji isn’t afraid to explore their own sadness.

Nowhere is this more apparent than on the Greek musician’s debut album, Spandrel?, which blends celestial vocals with occasional pop sounds and throbbing basslines. Released in January, Athens-raised Manji wrote the 10-track LP in a period of intense grieving for their late partner, the legendary producer SOPHIE, and their home city of Athens, which has experienced some of the worst wildfires in its history over the last few years.

The album is essentially a sonic documentation of my personal journey with grief, and an attempt to make sense of the world [in the face of that],” Manji says from the comfort of their grandma’s home, where they’ve spent the day cuddling the family cat.

It’s about the loss of a soulmate, the unexplainable nature of life and death, and it’s also about unfairness. You know, how humans can cause so much destruction and pain on earth.”

With the release of their EP Neptune in 2020, Manji quickly established themselves as a part of Greece’s flourishing underground music scene. The following year, they launched myxoxym, a label-slash-fundraising effort for the Greek wildlife fund ANIMA.

Although Spandrel? is undeniably steeped in melancholy, hope bristles at the edges of each track. On the ethereal, industrial-influenced Body/​Prison, Manji wrestles with trying to break free from the confines of their own mind, and they fantasise about reuniting with a lost love the on poignant track Black Hole.

Even in sadness, there’s hope,” Manji says. We know that feeling of being in a dark place, but also that we’ll sooner or later get out of it. I hope whoever relates to the album feels warmly hugged by it.”

Since Spandrel?s release, it’s been all systems go for Manji, who’s been playing the album live across Europe. This weekend, they’ll bring their introspective existentialism to Draaimolen, an electronic music festival in Tilburg, The Netherlands. I think the audience will go through an emotional rollercoaster!” Manji says. We have no doubt about it.

10% Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you now based?

I was born and raised in Thessaloniki and then moved to Athens when I was 15. I’m based nowhere right now. I’m just visiting places trying to decide where I want to settle down.

20% What kind of emotions and experience influence your work?

I find it almost impossible to make happy and uplifting music. I try every now and then, but it doesn’t work. My work is melancholic and euphoric at its core and inspired by the low moments of my life. It’s almost like music lights my way out of them. Even when I’m happy, I can still tap into those feelings and express them. They’re always there, sometimes loud and demanding, others quiet and polite.

30% If you were cooking to impress someone, what would you make?

I’d cook the yummiest vegan meal for a carnivore. Probably my grandma’s version of gemista [a traditional Greek dish made up of stuffed peppers and tomatoes].

40% If you ruled the world for a day, what would go down?

All caged animals would be freed. No animal would be seen as stock anymore, but as an equal individual. My main focus would be to reverse the damage humans have caused on Earth, and all production of new things would stop until we find a way to deal with all the trash we’ve created. Included what’s been left on the moon!

50% What’s a bad habit you wish you could kick?

Definitely doom-scrolling.

60% Dream holiday destination?

1980 RE1, the asteroid that was renamed Sophiexeon after SOPHIE.

70% Weirdest DM you’ve ever received?

Someone claimed to have received a message from the sky for me. It was very cute but kind of weird, because they sent it with a picture of a fountain near my old house, which was a place I’d walk to sometimes during lockdown.

80% If there’s any advice you could give to your 18-year-old self, what would it be?

The best piece of advice I’d give to myself anytime, and in fact to any human being, is to stop stressing about the woulds and coulds. The past cannot be changed.

90% If an alien fell down from the sky, how would you describe your music to them?

I would just play them my music. We’d need a common language to communicate in anyway, so music might be the right one.

100% If you could travel back in time to watch an iconic music act perform, who would it be?

There are so many to choose from… But probably Wendy Carlos.

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