Evian Christ, like myself, has been cursed with a baby face that makes him look younger than he really is. But there’s worse fates than being thought of as the obscenely young British producer who hopped aboard Kanye West’s Yeezus to contribute music, and he’s parlayed the attention from both that and his own music into a pretty choice evening slot at Pitchfork Festival. (Though I’m told his crowd is somewhat depleted, with most of the tweens split between Toro Y Moi and M.I.A. at the same time.) Still, it only goes up from here.
I should preface this by saying that I went pretty deep on your Twitter account to find everything you’ve said over the last twelve months.
Wow, okay, it hasn’t been that much, right?
Not a ton, but enough to get anything, something. And the first thing I’d ask is did you really play Gucci Mane remixes in a church?
Yeah. I mean, that was the most blasphemous experience of my life for sure. That was when Purity Ring came to the UK and they did one show in Saint John’s church in London. I mean, I guess the blasphemy is even more kind of visceral when you’re with Purity Ring and Evian Christ is your name, but yeah. It was kind of wild playing in a church. I wasn’t entirely comfortable about it.
Were you raised religiously?
Kind of semi-religiously, like my parents’ generation family-wise are not like super religious but kind of above that, yeah.
When you were working on Kanye’s album, were you here in France?
Yeah, I flew out to Paris for a bit.
Were you hanging out with like Bon Iver in the studio and all that?
No, he wasn’t there at the time, when I was there. I think he spent a lot of time in Paris a couple of months afterwards, when a lot of the tracks were more formed and I guess Kanye had a better idea of what he wanted from Justin at that point.
Damn, I was really looking to confirm some stories that I’ve heard about his ability to rage.
No, me too. I’d love to meet that dude, but yeah, I don’t know.
There are a couple of really bold sonic parts in “I’m In It,” and I was wondering how it all comes together when you’re producing but Kanye is also there overseeing everything.
I mean, Kanye is very hands on with everything. Possibly more so than people would realize. I guess there’s a lot of people on that level; I think a lot of people like to pretend they’re more involved than they are, but because of Kanye’s background as a producer, he’s very hands-on in the studio, and very clear direction-wise of where he wants tracks to go. That track that I sent to them, it went through a lot of different stages. And it’s just Kanye like vibing on different ideas and trying to fit it into an album as a whole. It might be like this originally, but it’s definitely his vision of how it ends.
You tweeted something about hip-hop collaborations, like imagine Trent Reznor with Gucci Mane. In your mind, do you have any dream collaborations that you would want to do, something that would be way out of left field?
For me, Kanye would be all out left field, so I’ve already done one. Do you know what would be cool? I’ve said this before but no one picked up on it. There’s this dude called Stuart Argabright and he’s New York-based, did a lot of like post-industrial stuff. Yeah, he’d be someone that would be awesome to work with I think. Along similar lines, more post-industrial stuff like Zoviet France, who were a band based in the Northeast of England who made super industrial music. With something like Yeezus, there’s a lot of contemporary industrial influences, like super distorted kicks and Nine Inch Nails style mixed-in production. I’m interested in older, more classic industrial stuff. Working with guys like that would be super interesting.
You also said something about Paul McCartney, how he should put down his ukulele. What was that?
That was a line. You know, “On Sight,” off the Kanye record? That was originally a line off that. When I flew out to Paris, that song was long as fuck. It was just like Kanye vibing on the beat, almost freestyling it, and that was one of the lines in it. And I remember when I heard that, I was like, man, I really hope this makes the cut for the album. I was so disappointed when I heard that line didn’t make it on the song. I just wanted to leave that on there as a reminder, so I never forget that I heard Kanye talking about Paul McCartney putting down the ukulele.
I noticed a lot of girls on Twitter seem to ask you to be their boyfriend. You retweet some of them but is it a fraction of the attention, or is it so much larger beyond?
It depends, if it’s a particularly funny thing I’ll normally retweet it. The best one was when I was touring the stage with Purity Ring. I had this thing when I was on tour with them where I was on this American food tourism mission and I stopping off at gas stations, eating different ice cream everyday. And they said something on Facebook like, “bring Evian Christ ice cream to his shows.” And there was this girl who was like, “Oh, you like chocolate ice cream?” And she brought all this chocolate ice cream to the show, and I was like, that’s funny as fuck. I appreciated that. She actually brought it and security wouldn’t let her bring it in, so that was devastating.
This morning Kanye tweeted that his second verse on the song “New Slaves” is the best verse of all time.
I saw that.
Confirm or deny?
It wouldn’t be my favorite verse on the album.
What would be your favorite verse on the album?
See, I think he goes in harder on “Black Skinhead.” Like it’s up to him, he knows better than me. It’s a sick verse, but I wouldn’t say that it’s his best verse of all time. I think just as a talking point, it’s interesting anyway, to talk about things like that. I’m sure that Kanye is well aware that there’s going to be a backlash to that comment, but I’m sure that’s why he makes it, it sort of spurs discussion. Not enough people are willing to put themselves out there and make statements like that.
Photo by Laura Bates