I sat down with musician Eve Belle to chat about her upcoming tour, her debut album and the challenges of balancing making music and student life.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your music!
My name is Eve Murtagh, I perform under Eve Belle which is my middle name. I have been performing and making music since I was 14 or 15. The music really started as acoustic, indie folk but it has been developed into a more pop sound: as I got more confident in studio settings it evolved with that.
Your debut album, In Between Moments, came out in 2020. Can you talk us through the specific inspiration behind the album?
In Between Moments is a really interesting one. It’s a real mixture of songs from different points in my career and also way to look back, both at the last couple of years and the different head spaces I was in writing each of those songs. I think that’s why I went with In Between Moments for the title: all these songs were inspired by these dramatic fixed points in my life. Looking at it now it makes it seem like I was constantly going through something dramatic or something sad, and that’s not how I felt about my life at all! But I think I was inspired by that idea of these being a set of moments and life being the in-between.
So that was kind of where the name came from. But yeah, I guess I write exclusively about my own experiences and my own heartbreaks. I find that romance and sadness and stuff like that are the most intense emotions for me.
Your music gained popularity while you were a student. How did you balance your career and your college work?
It was definitely an experience, and was at times very stressful! There were a couple of instances where I was on national tours and was writing assignments on buses back to Dublin so I could get to class in the morning. But I look back at it now and think that that was just a quintessential part of my college experience. And that’s how I got so much out of extra-curriculars in college as well – through the music society, through performing etc.
So it really enriched my experience, but it’s definitely a balancing act, especially if you really want to go for it. Getting those support slots on tours and being into the studio and throwing yourself into PR campaigns – it’s a huge undertaking.
And it’s no small feat to try and maintain excellent grades while you’re doing that. I feel like my grades did flip a little bit, but that was just something I was like, I can absolutely torture myself trying to get both of these things perfectly right, or I can just enjoy them both as much as I possibly can.
Do you have any advice for people in the same position as you were?
I think having a community is really important, because that was something I didn’t really have until later on in college in my final year. Get to know other musicians, especially student musicians, and see how they’re doing it. Student societies are amazing for that. Having someone to even vent to and be like “I don’t know how I’m going to get all of this done!”- that’s really helpful.
Also, if music is your source of income and how you’re making ends meet, you’ve got to look at it like that. It’s like a part-time job that you’re trying to balance with college too. So don’t spread yourself too thin, lean on your friends, find your little community… don’t go through it alone, because it can be very isolating.
How have you found going through the pandemic as an artist? Has it been creatively inspiring or draining?
I think I’m firmly in the middle. When I went into lockdown for the original four months I went back to Donegal in the middle of nowhere – we saw nobody except the guy who came to deliver our food! I was so focused on social media because it was the only link I had with the rest of humanity. You’re seeing people making banana bread every day and they’re like “Oh, I just developed this workout routine that’s getting me through the lockdown and I’m working on all these amazing things about myself” and you’re kind of looking at that and because you’re so disconnected from real life you’re like “Oh my god, everyone’s doing amazing! Everyone’s getting through this.”
There were so many amazing musicians who were sharing their content and making a song a day and doing all these livestreams. And I found myself looking at my phone being like “Why can’t I do this? Why can’t I create as much as they’re creating? I’m falling behind, everyone else is doing more!”
And I read an article about how we tend to forget that the pandemic is actually terrifying rather than just inconvenient. And the article was basically saying it’s okay to be scared -that’s what you’re feeling as opposed to just frustration. I think that was a big moment for me, because as soon as I let myself process that and take a minute to accept that I wasn’t at my creative peak I was able to write about it. I was trying to put that off and push through and keep creating, and there was a lot of should going on in my head. But after that it really loosened up for me.
I did find myself writing a lot more, but it was coming from a place of channeling how I was felt about my work rather than using my work as a way to avoid my feelings.
You’re currently part of the Irish Women in Harmony group (members include Caroline Corr, Imelda May, and Saint Sister) and will be going on tour next May. How have you found working with the group?
It was definitely a challenge. I was recording from Donegal for The Cranberries Dreams using my phone. It was a little all over the place. But it was a really cool kick for me, deciding to actually take the plunge and buy recording gear for myself so that I could be more involved.
Overall the experience has been absolutely incredible. I think Irish Women in Harmony represents so much more than just a band or a group. Obviously, lockdown put the whole discussion about festival lineups and bookings on hold, but we had a real conversation the previous summer about the discrepancy between male and female acts on lineups and in terms of radio play.
A lot of the arguments we saw around that were that there just weren’t enough female artists. And then, in the Dreams video, there’s just like a wall of us! And so you’re telling me nobody here is suitable for your event, there’s not one woman there who suits what you’re doing?
We all have a group chat (which is a lot of fun!) and the solidarity and being able to talk to other musicians about what they’ve gone through has been amazing.
I think working in music can be really isolating. In any kind of entertainment industry it’s all about how you present yourself and making sure that you give a good impression. So sometimes when you’re dealing with difficult scenarios or difficult situations or adversity with regards to gender or race or anything like that, it’s really hard to address that constructively when the pressure is still on you to be really likeable. And sharing that with this group and hearing how they have dealt with it in situations that they’ve come through has made everything feel a little less isolating.
If I had been a 13 or 14 year old musician looking at that I would have said, look at the sheer scope of talented women who are in this industry already. This is more accessible for me than I thought.
And are you excited about generally touring again?
Oh my god, so much! I’ve been saying to everyone that I will play at the opening of an envelope. I’m so excited to just get back on stage. I’ve had one or two chances to get back gigging already and it’s just been surreal. But the opportunity to actually perform with these incredible, incredible women? I am buzzing. Absolutely buzzing.
And finally, I saw you supporting Hozier in the Academy in 2018. What was it like?!
He’s a very nice man! I had kind of been freaking out in advance of that – I sang Hozier songs for my Junior Cert music practical and have been a stan for as long as I can remember! I was on the bus when I got the text that said I had the support slot for the gig and was ringing my mum and being like listen!!
It was incredible, he is very very lovely. That was one of those moments that was very life affirming.
You can buy tickets to the Irish Women in Harmony tour here.
Listen to Eve’s debut album, In Between Moments, here.