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Interview: Eva – Singer and Songwriter

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While enrolled at the University of Arizona, Eva’s passion for music lured her across the state line to the city of Los Angeles, where she began to lay down tunes for her debut album. Along the way, she secured guest features from Lupe Fiasco (“Slow Down”), Krayzie Bone (“One Night Stand”) and Snoop Dogg (“Popular”) – no small feat for a virtual unknown! Such dynamic collaborations will make Eva stand out from the current crop of female singers. And with a little bit of luck, she may find her music rotating alongside her pop idol: Britney Spears!

Upon the release of In the Beginning, Eva’s pre-album EP, the pop starlet managed to squeeze some time out of her busy schedule and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on her college experience, “Slow Down,” and Britney Spears.

As a child, you developed a strong interest in musical theater production. At what point did you start taking entertainment seriously?

Well, I had my first musical when I was in middle school. The theater community in my city would always do a play or a musical every year, so I started off doing a bunch of those. Then when I got into high school, I started cheerleading, so I sort of steered away from musical theater for a while. About halfway through high school, I realized that I wanted to sing, so I joined the choir and started doing high school musicals again.

Who do you consider to be the biggest influence on your musical aspirations?

My dad has been really supportive and he’s been helping me out a lot throughout this whole process. As far as like musical inspiration, I grew up listening to Britney Spears’ music, and she is definitely my idol. I love her and I love her music.

What do you most admire about her? And what elements of her career do you wish to translate to your own?

I’ve gone to a few of her concerts and the shows that she puts on are absolutely amazing. She’s a great performer and entertainer. On top of all that, she’s had an amazing career and she has tons of fans that love her. I’m one of those people. I love that type of pop music, which is also reflective of my music. My music is up tempo and fun and dance-ful.

To date, you have had several rap stars featured on your singles. Looking at the current musical landscape, is there a certain audience that you’re trying to tap into?

I’m mostly going for the pop-urban genre. That’s my main focus. I do have features like Lupe Fiasco, Snoop Dogg, and Krayzie Bone. They’re all hip-hop. My sound is influenced by hip-hop, but for the most part it’s pop with a little bit of R&B. I definitely want to keep it that way. I don’t want to transition too much in the hip-hop genre. Pop is more who I am and the type of music that I like to do. I feel like there are so many hip-hop and R&B artists out there right now, so I’m trying to be more unique and different.

When you look at the other artists that are out right now, what do you think makes you stand out the most?

I think I’m probably one of the youngest singers out there right now. There’s great singers like Beyonce, Rihanna, and Keri Hilson. But I’m young, I’m fresh, and I have something new to offer to people. I just turned 20! [laughing]

Now that your life is in the spotlight, a lot of female fans will be looking up to you. Do you ever feel uneasy about being a role model?

Not really. I’m not too worried about it. I feel like I’m pretty well-grounded. I’m very confident that I could be a good role model to young girls and other people just because I’ve experienced a lot and I’m really well-grounded. I don’t do drugs or drink a lot. I just love hanging out with my friends and I never really get into too much trouble [laughing]. Whenever I have time, I do volunteer charity work and stuff like that, so I definitely think that I can be a good role model.

What do you think young women struggle with the most?

The one thing that’s going on right now in the industry is that a lot of women are talking about being super-skinny and stuff like that. There are so many girls that are thinking they need to be a certain size. That’s something that I even struggle with myself. That’s also a good thing because I’m not the skinniest girl. I’m full-figured and I guess I can be one of those role models. I’m definitely not a size four or size two. I think that’s a good thing.

As you set out on your music career, what do you feel has kept you grounded?

I’m really close with my family. My parents raised me and my sisters. They raised us to be good people, straight head on our shoulders. I’m really focused on my family and my friends. My family’s been the rock of my life, and I stay away from people that are doing questionable things. I also have a boyfriend! [laughing] I guess having a boyfriend is a good barrier to doing other stuff. You spend a lot of time with them.

When I was listening to your EP, there was a line in “Slow Down” that really caught my attention. It says, “You’re so innocent that they’re going to try and run their game on you.” What lessons have you learned the hard way?

Definitely in this whole industry there are a lot of fake people. A lot of people are just going to try and play games and just screw you over for money and stuff like that. There are a lot of fake people who play nice and have a front, like they’re nice, cool people. I haven’t met like too many real, nice people, I guess.

A great deal of your material comes from journals that you write. Out of the songs that you’ve written, which do you think is your most personal?

I wrote a song called “My Everything.” It’s not going to be on my EP, but it will be released on the next one. It’s a ballad that I wrote. I actually wrote it right before I left college. It talks about my home life and how my family is “my everything” in the world, but I had to move on to the next chapter in my life.

Before diving into the music world, you spent some time at the University of Arizona, correct?

Yeah. I was there almost one full year, but I ended up taking a leave of absence. It was kind of a struggle having to juggle school and my singing career. I ended up flying around a lot to LA and home and a bunch of places – recording and doing photo shoots and all that stuff. It just felt really difficult, so I took a leave of absence, in case I ever wanted to go back.

Was it hard for you to walk away, or did you have it set in your mind that music was the right thing for you?

It was definitely set in my mind. I’ve known for quite awhile that music is all I really wanted to do. But it was sad leaving school on the social level, because I was living in a dorm, which was so much fun. It was such a great experience. I loved everybody and all my friends. I even pledged to a sorority. That was a lot of fun and it was sad to walk away from that.

While in college, what was your academic focus?

When I was a freshman, I was still undecided on my major. That’s what really made me realize how much I want to sing and how much singing is my passion because I really didn’t want to do anything else. Nothing else really interested me. If anything, I wanted to do musical theater or something like that.

You are currently being marketed by your first name only. Was that a conscious decision?

It just sort of happened that way. Eva is my real name. It’s not a stage name or anything. I think the label just started having me go by just Eva. I’d never really thought about it before. At one point, I thought it would be cool to go by Eva Devora, which is my middle name. We didn’t really discuss it or anything. It’s what happened – Eva, just Eva.

For more information on Eva, visit her official MySpace page.

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About Clayton Perry