Uke Solo

Who Is Evan Jarvicks? An Interview & Gallery

The Interview

The Interview

Jarvix. The man. The musi­cian. The mys­tery. Cynics call his music twee. The less jaded and more gen­er­ous call it sen­si­tive and bit­ter­sweet. Underneath all the lyrics flows a melan­choly cur­rent blended with self-dep­re­cat­ing humor. Evan Jarvicks came by the stu­dio last week for a short inter­view. Read on to learn Jarvix’ secret iden­tity in a Mercury Photo Bureau exclu­sive.

Mercury Photo BureauRight before you got here, you were in the stu­dio lay­ing down some brass?

Evan JarvicksYeah, so Larry Chin has a com­pi­la­tion called Nostalgia and the BrainSick Fever out on September 2nd. Larry Chin [Sidenote: a.k.a. Larry Chin Is Dead, a.k.a. Larry Chin Sleeps No More.] is one of Kyle Mayfield’s projects. He hit up a bunch of peo­ple [Sidenote: The 23-track album fea­tures 29 musi­cians, includ­ing Morgan Hartman, Kyle Reid, Jarvix, Oklahoma Cloud Factory, Sophia Macias and many for­mer mem­bers of Mayfield’s Ugly Suit.] who he wanted to work with.

MPBThis is not part of the Fright Night Club series?

JarvixNo, but it is part of the Larry Chin project. Kyle wrote many, but not all, of the songs on the album. It’s a col­lab­o­ra­tion. [Sidenote: The Fright Night Club series is also a col­lab­o­ra­tion among var­i­ous musi­cians, mostly from Oklahoma.] I play French Horn on one track and I have an elec­tronic track I wrote and play on too. It fea­tures some woozy Theremin in the back­ground. Kyle took what I laid down and added over it.

MPBIs it a real Theremin?

JarvixIt’s a Moog Theremini. You play it like a reg­u­lar Theremin, and it sounds like the real thing, but elec­tron­i­cally, it’s a dif­fer­ent instrument.

MPBTell us about your names. Let’s start with the name on your birth certificate.

JarvixMy legal name is Steven, which sounds like Evan, but isn’t quite. Steven Hardin. It’s spelled the same way as a musi­cian in Seattle, so if peo­ple try to track me down on the inter­net, they get that guy instead of me.

MPBYou per­form as Jarvix and you go by Evan Jarvicks. The lat­ter is a play on words?

JarvixRight. That’s how peo­ple know me. A lot of peo­ple do not know that that’s not my name. If you reverse Evan Jarvicks, you get Jarvicks Evan, which sounds like Jarvik 7, the first suc­cess­fully trans­planted arti­fi­cial heart.

MPBDescribe your music.

JarvixI call it Ukelele QuirkPop, but that doesn’t encom­pass every­thing I write. I picked up my first “uke” about 5 years ago and learned how to play from the inter­net. I learned it well enough that I could write songs, and I’ve writ­ten poetry all my life. Then, I had been mess­ing around with some audio soft­ware, and it all kind of came together.

MPBFor those who haven’t seen you per­form, you use a par­tic­u­lar tech­nique and technology?

JarvixWhen I’m live, and that’s a spe­cific thing that I do, I use a loop­ing pedal to make live, on-the-fly, lay­ered arrange­ments. I pri­mar­ily play the ukelele, but I also play the bass when I need a bassline, and I make per­cus­sion with objects I bor­row from the audi­ence — car keys, credit cards, whatever’s in peo­ples’ pock­ets or purses.

MPBLast show I saw you at, there was quite a bit of improvising.

JarvixYes, that’s some­thing I’ve been work­ing on dili­gently. I host an open-mic com­edy night, so I get to try all kinds of weird stuff when­ever I go up, and I’ve been impro­vis­ing with the audi­ence, crowd-sourc­ing every­thing from chord struc­ture to time sig­na­ture to tempo. Last week I solicited a song title and wound up pulling up Britney SpearsToxic on my phone and sam­pling it for a loop — that’s the kind of thing I wind up doing.

MPBTell me about what you’re lis­ten­ing to now. What’s on your iPod?

JarvixI run the blog at Cellar Door Music Group, so I lis­ten to a lot of local indie music. I try to spot­light bands and musi­cians who I think are being over­looked. [Sidenote: Cellar Door Music Group closed its doors in 2018. Currently, Jarvix can be found at Make Oklahoma Weirder.] Annie Ellicott is doing some ter­rific stuff — it’s exper­i­men­tal cham­ber-pop, but she has a jazz back­ground. She per­forms a lot of jazz stan­dards, but her debut is some­thing totally dif­fer­ent to that. I believe it comes out in September. Her music videos are really strange and atmospheric.

MPBTime for Redeem-a-Song™. What’s a song you think has got­ten a bum rap, and con­vince my why I should appre­ci­ate it?

JarvixVH1’s 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever was topped by [Jefferson Starship’s] We Built This City (on Rock and Roll). I don’t nec­es­sar­ily defend the song — it’s pretty attro­cious — but there’s enough there that I’m actu­ally record­ing a cover of it. It’s a col­lab­o­ra­tion with a lot of other musi­cians. We’re record­ing it as a char­ity sin­gle for music edu­ca­tion in Oklahoma, in light of bud­get cuts [to arts edu­ca­tion under the present state lead­er­ship]. There’s a cer­tain rel­e­vance to the lyrics when applied to the bud­get sit­u­a­ton; arts fund­ing has always been the hardest.

The sin­gle actu­ally started life as part of some­thing else. There’s a fel­low in Guthrie, Jeremy Hall, [Sidenote: Hall is one-half of the duo Welcome Little Stranger and gui­tarist at Get Fired.] who issued an inter­net chal­lenge to make good cov­ers of ran­domly assigned bad songs. But then nobody did it but me.

I’ve taken some lib­er­ties with it. I slowed down the tempo and cut off the last half of the song — it only has 2 verses. But I think it still retains its integrity while hope­fully excis­ing the things that have made it so crit­i­cally, uh, lam­basted. I hope to have the sin­gle recorded and released soon.

MPBThank you so much for drop­ping by.

JarvixOh, absolutely. It’s been wonderful.

The Gallery

The Gallery

This gallery fea­tures images of Jarvix from 3 dif­fer­ent per­for­mances: the Nina Simone trib­ute and fundraiser orga­nized by Jerrod Beck at the Plant Shoppe last November, Jarvix’s set at the Red Brick dur­ing this year’s Norman Music Festival, and open­ing for Kali Ra and Jabee at the Blue Note Lounge in August.

About Chris J. Zähller

International Man of Mystery. Cocktail Nerd. Occasionally designs websites. Sometimes snaps a picture or two.

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