Variety Playhouse

Saturday April 14, 2018


Doors 7pm / Show 8pm / All Ages

$20 General Admission

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Any tickets purchased for The Loft show will be honored at the door

VERTIGO WORLD TOUR with special guest Vérité

In the early stages of finding his voice as an artist, singer/songwriter/producer EDEN made only one rule for himself: “I could do whatever I wanted, as long as it didn’t sound like anything I’d ever heard,” says the Dublin-based 21-year-old otherwise known as Jonathon Ng. With his upcoming EP ‘i think you think too much of me,’ EDEN channels that passion for innovation into a guitar-heavy take on electronic pop and proves himself an artist of uncompromising originality.

On ‘i think you think too much of me,’ EDEN presents a four-song series that perfectly embodies his confessional yet nervy sensibilities: “sex,” “drugs,” “and,” “rock & roll.” “The EP’s really about expectations, and how things only mean as much as you want them to,” says Ng. “There’s also this idea of how, underneath something superficial, there can be something real — it all just depends on your outlook.” Along with leading the listener through a journey-like experience, complete with interlacing emotional arcs, that concept-driven artistry serves a deeper purpose for EDEN.

Hailed by Consequence of Sound as a “vulnerable synth-tinted pop track that’s about so much more than what’s happening between the sheets,” ‘i think you think too much of me’ lead single “sex” earned more than 2.5 million listens across platforms within just a few weeks of its release. The hooky and hypnotic track also won the adoration of Lorde, who posted on EDEN’s Facebook wall a few days after its premiere. “i love ‘sex’ a lot. it does something very simple and intense to my brain,” she wrote, then praised the song as aptly “messy and emotional and twitchy.”

Made alone in his bedroom, ‘i think you think too much of me’ shows a poetic candidness inspired by such artists as Frank Ocean. “I tend to sing about a lot of stuff that I’d never actually talk about with anyone. That’s just my way of dealing with everything.” On ‘i think you think too much of me,’ that raw emotionality imbues the heartsick urgency of “sex,” the woozy desperation of “drugs,” and the stark fragility of “and.” And on the epic “rock & roll,” EDEN brilliantly merges jagged guitar riffs, heady beats, and feverish meditations on ambition or lack thereof (“I got ten weeks of talking bullshit on repeat ’til I’m burnt out and disappear”), before the song sweetly dissolves into distorted movie dialogue.

Throughout ‘i think you think too much of me,’ EDEN achieves a sonic expansiveness sourced partly from what he describes as “this ridiculous to-and- fro of musical tastes I’ve gone through in my life,” pointing out that past phases have included everything from boy bands to Guns N’ Roses to screamo to Eminem. Growing up in Dublin, Ng learned to play violin at age seven at the urging of his parents and — through that classical training — discovered his natural musicality. “After that I started playing the piano at our house, and then later I borrowed my auntie and uncle’s guitar and taught myself to play that too,” he says. “I still can’t read piano or guitar sheet music, but I just had this knack for picking up instruments and figuring out chords.” By his early teens, music had become Ng’s main obsession. “My two goals in life were to be an astronaut or a musician, and somehow being a musician seemed like less of a longshot.”

Ng later joined in several bands with friends, but felt frustrated by his lack of creative control. Then, after witnessing the success of such artists such as Skrillex and Deadmau5, he realized he could make music without a band, by himself on the computer. At age 16 he began creating electronic music, experimenting with production and eventually releasing songs as The Eden Project. The solo approach suited his prolific nature, and in three years he turned out nearly 100 tracks. “Once I get an initial idea, I know exactly what the completed song is going to sound like,” he notes. “Basically everything I do is out of instinct. I get a feeling and I run with it.”

As his music evolved and took on a more melodic and vocal-centric aesthetic, Ng rechristened himself as EDEN and newly embraced his pop inclinations. In August 2015 EDEN made his debut with ‘End Credits’ and — despite making zero effort to promote it — soon found the EP gaining major attention and ultimately amassing more than 95 million streams as well as selling out his first US tour. That momentum continued to build as EDEN released a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” in November 2015, a soulfully cinematic track that hit #1 on HypeM’s popular chart and racked up a million cumulative streams in one week.

With a second sold out tour across North America and Europe under his belt, EDEN remains guided by a restless creativity. “I’m not one of those people who could create ‘sex v2’ and be happy with that — it’s progress or nothing,” he says. “I very much write from how I’m thinking or feeling right now, so if I do the same thing twice that’s kind of worrying. You need to constantly progress as a human, let alone as a musician.” And for EDEN, that evolution is closely linked to personal catharsis. “I’m just trying to make something that feels very real and honest to me,” he says. “And if it helps people that’s great, but I’m not really thinking about that when I’m writing. Making something that I can stand by forever, without caring about what anyone else thinks of it — for me that’s always the goal.”

On her full-length debut Somewhere in Between, VÉRITÉ shows a self-possessed intensity shaped by years of working as a decidedly independent artist. In creating the album, Byrne collaborated with producers in New York and London and L.A. and immersed herself in a more experimental process than she’d ever attempted before. “I threw myself into all these different and uncomfortable situations with people I’d never worked with, and said yes to new sounds and collaborations without worrying about how it would all come together,” she says. As executive producer of the album, VÉRITÉ blended organic and electronic elements into a rhythm-driven sound that’s ornately arranged but charged with raw feeling.

At the heart of Somewhere in Between is a selection of songs that “dissect fragments of my experience as a human and twist them in unusual ways,” according to Byrne. “I like playing with the sentiment of human relationships” she adds, “but the lyrics are more about my relationship with the world, and dealing with things like apathy and boredom.” On lead single “Phase Me Out,” she delivers a beautifully moody slow-burner that shows the full force of her delivery, her vocals gracefully shifting from delicate to devastating. Embodying the beat-heavy dynamic of Somewhere in Between, “When You’re Gone” builds a powerful backdrop for her piercing lyrics (“I don’t mind you leaving when the damage is done/I don’t mind how I feel the same when you’re gone”). And on “Saint,” VÉRITÉ offsets her brutal self-awareness (“Maybe you’re too innocent/And I’m a crack in your glass”) with a growling bassline and hugely anthemic chorus.

Byrne starting singing at age 8 and soon took up piano. At 13 she joined an all-girl punk band that covered the Breeders, and — several years later — co-founded a seven-piece alt-rock act complete with a full horn section. Soon after moving to New York City at age 20, she began creating as VÉRITÉ and balanced her musical pursuits with working up to 70 hours a week at Applebee’s in Times Square, sometimes starting her shift at 6 a.m. and then heading straight from work to sound check.

Her debut as VÉRITÉ, the independently released and entirely self-promoted 2014 single “Heartbeat” quickly drew major buzz online. Though record labels were soon courting VÉRITÉ, she chose to continue waitressing and fund the release of her debut EP Echo with her Applebee’s tips. “I decided that I didn’t want to answer to anybody or change anything to appease someone else,” says Byrne. In 2015, the same year she released her sophomore EP Sentiment, Byrne quit her waitressing job to pursue music full-time just before heading out on her first-ever tour. Since then she has completed two North American headline tours and released her highly acclaimed third EP, 2016’s Living. She’s also opened for such artists as Tove Lo and BØRNS and appeared at major festivals like Lollapalooza and Firefly, plus made her television debut on the TODAY Show. To date, her total streams on Spotify alone have reached over 100 million.

Now gearing up for a spring tour, Byrne brings a certain questioning spirit to the making of Somewhere in Between, whose title is taken from the album’s most ballad-like moment. “The first lyric is ‘Somewhere in between living and dying,’ which is a perfect summary of where I was at during the making of the album,” says Byrne. “It was really born from this place of asking myself, ‘What the fuck are we doing here?,’ and facing all the ups and downs that come with that.” In that questioning, Byrne discovered a greater sense of purpose for VÉRITÉ. “I don’t necessarily care how people interpret what I write — the most important thing is that the songs make them feel something,” she says. “Especially at this moment in time when there’s so many distractions and it’s so easy to get hyper-focused on what’s happening in your own head, sharing music with people feels more important than ever.”