Dublin Singer EDEN Is Exercising Honesty: Interview

“If I was leaning into something I felt uncomfortable writing down, the better it really was.”
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Eden, 2020

Making the emotionally unavailable sound enticing remains a feat. Thankfully, Dublin’s EDEN is rife with talent. An adept songwriter, EDEN’s work stands out for how emotionally gross it feels, how he gets to the bloody, beating bits of any and all feelings. No emotion can scare EDEN off; no situation is too precious to not be written about. In the past, EDEN embraced minimalism in his work—the words themselves did the work while the productions set the tone in their own right. His 2018 debut album, vertigo, was all about blowing up the personal minutiae and turning it into a series of wrenching productions.

With 2020 upon us, EDEN returns with no future, his airier sophomore effort. On no future, EDEN goes even deeper into himself and his personal experiences to hurl up some of his darkest writing (“you wanna die often”) and his most urgent subject matter (“love, death, distraction,” “2020”). At times, EDEN, 24, favors the abstract, but for a majority of no future, his writing is tack sharp and to the point, as on “how to sleep”: “And how do you love when youre frightened? / The thought of me fucking up all these threads.” Where vertigo was about pain without questions, no future is brimming with hidden lightness.

“That’s the biggest difference between vertigo and no future,” EDEN tells me. “I was still working through the same displacement, anxiety, and confusion when I was making no future. But vertigo was super overcome with heaviness. It sat in a morose space, and even in vertigo, there [are] moments of optimism and hope, but then… no future, you see the growth of being able to deal with these things in a much healthier way. Like you said, there is so much more levity to [no future]. The subject matter is still me. My brain isn’t suddenly rewired to think a different way, but the way I’m processing the feelings and the thoughts has [changed].”

no future takes the sterling qualities of electronic and the hip-hop edge of Dublin’s music scene, and the ache of being human, and stands tall as a 19-track monster of a record. You come for EDEN’s wizened writing—something of a promise he’s established between himself and the listener—and you stay for the eclectic and, at times, spastic soundscapes. There is glitch and there is squalor on no future. It is a fearless album by an artist unafraid to expose the disgusting and fleshy elements of personhood.

Our conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.

Eden, 2020

DJBooth: With your debut album, vertigo, out of the way, did you feel a sense of freedom with no future? Or, was there newfound pressure to follow up vertigo’s success?

EDEN: After vertigo, I felt like that was such a monumental effort and task to put together. I was like, “Oh, god. I’m pretty glad I don’t have to think about new music for a while.” Then, pretty immediately [on tour] started making new things. Because I don’t have to make anything, I started exploring… Out of curiosity, or for the fun of it, or because I felt inspired by what I was listening to or doing.

I’ve gone through such a transformative couple of years. I just knew I could do something that spoke to the updated me, for lack of a better term. I was enjoying the process of exploring new things and new directions. I guess I didn’t [feel pressure], which is a blessing.

Compared to vertigo, no future sounds lighter in more places. You even open lighter with “good morning.” Where were you at mentally during the recording of this album?

It’s been a process since I was 18, 19. Basically, since I first started touring. It’s taken until about last year to work through it all. It was the madness of going from being in university with all my friends, [and] dropping that to make music. Last year, I tried to travel as little as possible. I moved to London, and I didn’t wanna fly. I just wanted to be at home, in one place, and make things. It took a little while for it to kick in, but I toured all of 2018, pretty much.

I think it was March, April, or May, having a phone call with my dad. We were having a catch-up and just talking about life in general. It hit me, even though it’s only been four or five months, I was already feeling so much better about myself, and about what I was doing, having been at home in one place. It clicked.

There’s darkness packed into the creases of this record. “hertz” comes to mind: “My lines get crossed and you wanna die often.” How do you write such heavy lyrics without succumbing to the emotions themselves?

That’s kind of the biggest difference between vertigo and no future. I was still working through the same displacement, anxiety, and confusion when I was making no future. But vertigo was super overcome with heaviness. It sat in a morose space, and even in vertigo, there [are] moments of optimism and hope, but then… no future, you see the growth of being able to deal with these things in a much healthier way. Like you said, there is so much more levity to [no future]. The subject matter is still me. My brain isn’t suddenly rewired to think a different way, but the way I’m processing the feelings and the thoughts has [changed].

Is structuring songs in that dissonant way to make it accessible to the listener?

That is not on my mind, really. The songwriting process, for me, is quite odd. Sometimes I’ll write something and not fully understand what was coming out until a few months later. I stopped making music for the listener after the i think you think too much of me EP. What feels good about this new album is I did have a big desire for what I was doing for myself. I went from being considered a pop artist to making vertigo, which has no pop hits or music on it. That’s carried forward into now. Making no future, there [are] different things I wanted to express, which has made it more palatable for the everyday listener, but it’s not for the listener. It’s for me. Which feels nice! It’s taken a while to get that.

Your writing has gotten a lot more specific and, for lack of a better word, emotionally gross. I think of “love, death, distraction,”: “All you want so far is love, death, and some kind of higher high.” How have you been sharpening your pen for this album?

I started songwriting when I was six or seven. If you wanna call it songwriting. I would take an Eminem song and replace all the words, keep the flows and melodies, and put my own words on it. Pretty quickly, I started making my own pop songs. It was all pretty everyman concepts and meanings that weren’t related to me at all, just rehashes of other pop songs. I grew up, and [songwriting] just became this… It was an exercise in honesty. If I was leaning into something I felt uncomfortable writing down, the better it really was. It’s been a long journey—I’m 24 now. If you count from when I was seven, that’s 17 years of pushing deeper and deeper and saying things that you feel.

I find it difficult to make sense of my emotions all the time. Music, for me, is trying to understand myself. It’s always been trying to get to the root of whatever is going on inside of me.

In a 2017 interview, you said: “Sometimes the smallest things can feel massive.” What felt “massive” about no future?

Now that people have it and I’ve seen the reaction to it, what feels massive is I am foot-in-the-floor full steam ahead, making new things. I feel excited about creating things. I’m making things and enjoying myself. What feels massive to me is that vertigo was a massive leap from what I did before. no future feels like a big change as well. What feels massive to me is that people are here for no future. We’re doing this; it’s going to be better. And people are along with me, which is the nicest feeling. What feels massive is, in a funny way, the future.

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