Riveting Riffs Logo One Evie Sands - Get Out of Your Own Way
Evie Sands Photo One

 Evie Sands started her music career (writer puts hand over mouth and mumbles, as it is never polite to discuss a woman’s age) that many years ago, but you would never know it from her new album, her vocals are crisp, the music more imaginative than many of today’s artists, and that is not a slam on today’s musicians and songwriters, but rather a nod to Sands. If you were not aware of all that Evie Sands has already accomplished during her career, you might think she was just starting out, because of her unbridled enthusiasm.  We wondered how she has managed to stay on top of her game and with such a contagious, positive and fun attitude.

“I trust in the music and then I let it go. I think it is probably a combination of things. It is my ongoing and will be forever, my insane passion for music, about making it, listening to it and breaking it down. I enjoy it, but I like to figure out what is that stuff sonically, what is going on and it is the enjoyment part of it. It is just ongoing. It is just like I was born, and I started listening. I just get excited. Then there is the striving to continually get better and all the skills that are involved, whether it is continuing to be a better singer, a better songwriter, better composer, a better musician, a better producer and engineer. It drives who I am.

Evie Sands Photo ThreeI never look to chase the trends. I have learned that is a losing game. By the time we see and hear things, it already took a while for those things to be created and released, so by the time we say that must be the kind of stuff people want to hear and by the time I could get it out there it would be a day late and a dollar short. It would be old news. Also, it wouldn’t be honest, because for me making music is all about being connected to the heart. It is a combination of my heart and honesty. There is also the little bit of the artistic muse that visits us. Sometimes stuff comes and I don’t know where it comes from. It is like a channel.

Sometimes I have something I really want to say. It might turn out to be more R&B or Rock with elements of something else. It could be rootsy, Jazz and whatever happens, I just go with it. When it feels right, and it feels good… (she changes direction) …the first person I have to please is myself. Once it meets the bar where I go yeah, yeah that’s cool then I will bounce it off a couple of people whose ears I trust, and I will just see how they respond.

I don’t know that there is any formula and I guess there is a bit of luck in there somehow. I have never been a smoker and I am not into drinking too much. I just never really developed the taste for real alcohol stuff. In my case that could be a factor. I (might have) good genes. I feel like I am five years old or eighteen if I have to go out into the adult world. I guess you put all of that stuff in a slow cooker and there you have it,” she says.  

Get Out of Your Own Way is the new full-length album from Evie Sands, her first released recording since her EP, Shine For Me four years ago (2017) and first full album in twenty years, when she last released Women In Prison.  With the first two tracks like “The Truth is in Disguise,” and “Lovin’ You Enough,” you sit there and go why has this taken so long. On “Lovin’ You Enough,” Evie Sands’ phrasing is impeccable, as the woman in the story says goodbye to someone she once loved.  Her band is excellent, and her vocals are still good.

About “Lovin’ You Enough,” she says, “It is kind of a bold or brave thing when there is a relationship that at one time was really good and then at least one person, which is the person singing realizes it is not what it was and maybe it is on its last legs. It is not something that they are looking to breakup, because they are no longer in love, but it is recognizing that something that was once good, is now not so good. It is on the line and they are not sure which way it is going to go, but the brave part is loving the other person enough and (recognizing) what they once had they no longer have, and it is time to say goodbye. Then you walk away from it rather than living a lie and remembering the old glory of what was there in the beginning. It is like the lyric says, “I know I will be lonely / It’s not that I am looking to do this,” but it is almost like asking their partner in the relationship to give them a sign and let them know. If it is teetering right on the edge, there is always the possibility it could lean back the other way and maybe pick up steam again. It seems more like it isn’t. The song is about the person preparing to walk away. It is not easy to do that.

It is one thing to be in a relationship with somebody who absolutely wants to get out and if there was anything once there it is difficult, because they know the other person wants the relationship to be ongoing and it is going to hurt them. That is still difficult, if the other person wasn’t horrible. This song is about having enough courage to recognize what is going on and then moving on from it. Staying in a thing that was once really great, isn’t good for either person.”

“Don’t Hold Back,” is a mid-tempo song with the missive “Don’t hold back / Give it your all when you think you oughtta’ / Too many times been stuck outside the door...” The song has a Country-Rock feel to it, think along the lines of Poco or Eagles.

Depending on the song you are listening to the album has elements of Rock, Country, R&B and Soul. Evie Sands presents a vast musical menu for the listener to choose from.

“It is really who I am. I love music so much and I love so many different kinds of music and expressions of music, including Classical and Opera, which I was not exposed to as a little kid, but some years ago I listened to some arias and things.

The first thing that got me going, was listening to the radio and discovering the R & B stations and I think that shaped a lot of who I am. I was exposed to a lot of music growing up, by my parents and my brother. I heard everything. I guess when I write it, I write all kinds of different things, musically speaking.

It is hard to pin down a basic foundation for me, but definitely R & B and Soul music (are part of it) for sure. I loved Motown stuff and then The Beatles hit, the English Rock scene and all of the psychedelic stuff that started happening in the later sixties. I love all of that and then it morphed into the seventies (music).  I also love all of the genre names that we could add.

My earliest years were in New York (where she was born), but then we moved to Los Angeles, when I was fourteen or fifteen. It is where I have been for most of my life,” says Evie Sands.

Get Out of Your Own Way, was produced by Evie Sands and released on her own label R-Spot Records and it was engineered by Steve Refling. Teresa Cowles plays electric bass; Jason Berk is on guitar and Eric Vesper is the drummer. Evie Sands plays keyboards, electric guitar and is the lead vocalist. Other artists who appear on this album are background vocalists Isobel Campbell and Willie Aron for the song “If You Give Up,” Kurt Medlin (percussionist), Adam Marsland (electric piano) and Steve Refling provides background vocals on some songs.

“I go in (to the studio) and the vision for the song is already there. With this particular album it is new school and old school and I really wanted to record all of the tracks with everybody live together. There is a certain energy and excitement. I call it a school of fish, when one moves then a thousand follow.

I have learned that by being really prepared it gives me the most freedom to change something completely when I get into the studio. It is because I know what I want to do, and I know what is going to happen. When those moments of spontaneity happen, I go oh that is really cool. Let’s do that. It is some improvisational thing that happens.

I talk to Steve, so he knows what instruments to setup and that we are going to be recording. He may tweak some things about recording (maybe) the drums a certain way and he will talk to the drummer. They might change the snare. He will setup the mics the way he wants. I have worked with him for a long time and there is a great trust there and he has good ears. When we are in the middle of recording, instead of me having to stop and listen to each thing, I trust Steve to be efficient. He knows I am really open, because he is someone who has things to say, and he knows I am open to listen to it.

Someone told me years ago don’t be afraid to make a mistake. When you are in the studio, feel free in that moment to try things. That’s exciting. In the recording process if there is a part of somebody that isn’t comfortable and isn’t free, I think it lessens potentially what can happen when music is recorded.

I think when you have musicians in the (same) room, you play and you listen to each other and it is live, it has a certain energy to it. It is really exciting and fun. I really, really enjoyed doing this new album and all of the tracks are like that. It is all of us playing live,” she says.  

The title track, “Get Out of Your Own Way,” came to Evie Sands, while she was meditating and when she got home, she grabbed her guitar and started to write the song. The song is 4:59 in length and it was not all that long ago that radio stations refused to play songs that exceeded three minutes, and if we went back far enough, they would not play songs longer than two minutes or 2:30 in length.

“In the early, early days of Rock and Roll, in the fifties and the early sixties, records were 1:58, or 2:00 or 2:15. At a certain point it was like do not cross over the three-minute mark, because top forty or popular radio will not play it.

Then it became a little more open and a little freer form and records could be over three minutes, or it might be four minutes or so. There were also some radio edits when intros or outros were edited. Now it is like the pendulum has swung the other way and if you don’t grab somebody in six to eight seconds, they are on to something else. It is like a TikTok universe. There is so much available from so many sources and vying for everybody’s attention that a lot of people have not developed the ability to grasp something that is literally more than a soundbite. Records now are generally getting shorter and sometimes there is not even an intro. They start ahead of where the downbeat starts if it is sung or if it is rap. They are cutting out this and cutting out that and it is bang, bang, bang.  Evie Sands Photo Two

I saw this yesterday, just for giggles, the prediction is by 2030 everything will be down to two minutes or under for music. For me that doesn’t thrill me, because I love music and I love inventive ways, whether it is a great intro or what happens in a song and if they can write another verse or they can tell the story with a bridge or a breakdown or something. The idea that cut it or crop it that isn’t a trend that I am too excited about.

“Get Out of Your Own Way,” is definitely not the six seconds in and out. There are some edits I could do to make a single version out of “Get Out of Your Own Way.” I had some stuff that was longer, but when I got to mixing it, I decided it was too long. I changed a little bit of the arrangement, so it wouldn’t be as long. It is nice to be artistically free and to serve the song and serve what it feels like. The reality is the trend is going the other way, sadly,” says Evie Sands.

We asked her to take a moment to talk about how she approaches arranging a song, “I think part of it comes from the song itself. Sometimes if I write a song and even if I don’t have all of the words yet, I can hear it and it starts playing in my head like a record. I can just hear what it sounds like. I still have some things to fill in like finalizing the music or finishing the lyrics. That is the first template that dictates where to start in terms of an arrangement.

I am just so blessed that I have an amazing band and we are best of friends, so it is really fun. I will have a foundational thing to start with, so what I am giving them makes sense and it has some cohesion to it. Then I will tell them what I am hearing or what is going on. In some cases, it is the lines, riffs or chord voicings. I will then let a musician add their own life to it. Sometimes it is exactly what I heard or the part that I wanted them to play, but then they will add something of their own. It may be some nuance and how we interplay with each other,” she explains.  

Evie Sands ranks up there with the likes of other legendary storytellers such as Woody Guthrie and Gordon Lightfoot.

“I am not the first person to say this, but sometimes as songwriter I am a short story writer. The song isn’t about me, but it is something I have observed, or it is somebody else. (There are) times it is about me, something I have experienced, and it is very personal. I didn’t intentionally do any of that, it is just how the songs got written,” she says.  

Evie Sands has come a long way from the young woman who in the beginning, as a teenager kept her music career a secret from everybody, but her best friend.

“I wanted to keep it a secret, for two reasons that are really tied together. Kids can be really cruel and mean. They can make fun of somebody else’s dream and trash it. They will pass it around like a ball, ha, ha, ha. The thing is music was and still is plastered between my eyes and stuck on my face ever since I was two (Editor’s note: There is a visual for you!). It was always the lifeblood of what has driven me. I did not want to say anything, because I wasn’t doing it to say oh look at me or this is going to make me popular with the guys or girls. For guys it was like you are on the sports team so that makes you cool. It wasn’t that. Absolutely, I didn’t want anybody trashing or in any way messing with my focus or my dream and my whole existence, so the only one I talked about it was my best friend. My first record was on the radio and I was sitting with different friends and my best friend blurted it out. She said I can’t keep it a secret and she pointed to me and said that is Evie. The song was “Take Me for a Little While.”

It was an incredible feeling. The first few times and I might be in a car and a record would come on a radio, I thought that is so cool. It is like everything stands still and the world just stops. This is amazing. Friends of mine will sometimes find airchecks from well-known DJs at the time when they would be announcing playing one of my records,” she recalls.  

The fifth song on the album Get Out of Your Own Way, is “My Darkest Days,” with reflective verses that remember a time, when one feels like packing it in and just giving up on life, but the chorus is triumphant and celebrates in a grateful way that she found her way through those dark times. During the more reflective verses the musicians play for subtly and on the chorus, the music becomes louder and stronger, becoming a musical metaphor for the mood.  

Evie Sands, talks about the song, “It partly comes from my own experience. It is also a mixture of some other people that I was close with and I saw what happened and what was going on with them. It is a mixture of it. It is basically being as down as one can be or at the end of your rope. The person has looked for answers and none have come. They have tried all kinds of different things. Even in that song there is the bit about no matter how dark it was for someone they always kept a little light on inside to keep any kind of sanity. Even though it went down to almost nothing, in the song the person realizes they have come out the other side of it. They are at a point, (and she quotes the lyric), “By the grace of God I know at last I’m here and looking back.”   

“After Tonight,” puts Evie Sands in the same sentence has such revered songwriters as Laura Nyro and Carole King. The layered vocals, the orchestration and the incredible beauty of this song contrasted with lyrics that spell the end of a relationship, draw the listener into the story and perhaps reflecting upon their own personal experiences. Evie Sands’ soulful vocals paint the picture of heartbreak.

“The song is about a breakup. It is a relationship that has fallen apart and the person that is singing is the one who was left behind. They find themselves at the end of an unwanted breakup. It is the despair over it and the loneliness. It also ties into a little bit bigger picture. The person feels that in a larger sense this is another thing that isn’t going well. They are making a line in the sand and they just know after tonight there is bound to be something good and there is bound to be light. They are not going to look back even if it is hard and difficult. They are going to be positive and turn everything around.

If I listen to music or I am watching a film or reading a book or whatever, if it doesn’t do something for me, make me happy, make me sad, make me cry, make me think, inspire me, make me feel good or make me feel bad and if I don’t get anything out of it is a waste of time. It just lays there flat like a one-dimensional thing,” she says, and this song is an incredibly powerful, emotional experience for the listener.  

In addition to Evie Sand’s producing her own albums, she has become a go to producer for other artists, such as Holly Near (Speed of Light). Her songs have been recorded by Gladys Knight (Love Gives You the Power), Dusty Springfield (You Can Do It), Beth Orton, Beck, Jazmine Sullivan and Missy Elliott.

You can listen to “Beautiful Lie,” from Evie Sands’ Get Out of Your Own Way here and “The Truth In Disguise,” here. The entire album can be listened to here.   Return to Our Front Page

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This interview by Joe Montague  published May 6th, 2021 is protected by copyright © and is the property of Riveting Riffs Magazine All Rights Reserved.  All photos and artwork are the the property of  Evie Sands unless otherwise noted and all  are protected by copyright © All Rights Reserved. This interview may not be reproduced in print or on the internet or through any other means without the written permission of Riveting Riffs Magazine.