Chance encounters can lead to the most remarkable places. Lisa Kögler and Jan Eric Markert first met at an esteemed music competition, hitting it off instantly. Now they are poised to release their debut EP with a headline show at Kantine am Berghain.
Lisa and Jan are an effervescent pair with an admirable work ethic. Both are still in the midst of their studies – Lisa at BIMM Berlin and Jan at Universite der Künst. Despite busy schedules they have managed to form a band, recruit excellent musicians and record their debut. This energy shines through the music of Eveline. It’s bright, pristine electro-pop with a distinct layer of soul. We meet with the duo to find out where they are coming from, where they are at, and where they are going.
So tell us, how did Eveline get started?
Jan: Lisa and I first met at the Jugend Musiziert competition in Brandenburg. It’s a pretty big German competition for solo musicians. I was performing as a pianist and Lisa was performing as a pop vocalist. I heard her voice and instantly thought, ‘OK, we need to do a project together’.
Lisa: I noticed Jan because the other people participating in the competition were much older, so it was interesting that there was one guy around my age. Afterwards we talked. Jan complimented my singing and I said he played piano really well, but we didn’t exchange details.
J: I thought, ‘Oh no, I’ve heard this great voice, but how can I contact her?’ So I searched through the program for her name, and then searched the name on Facebook.
L: And then he just sent a friend request. I thought ‘Just a friend request, not even message?!’ So then I just messaged first.
J: [Laughs] Yeah, but it worked out well. There are so many situations where you meet people and think you could do something together, but they live in a different city, or you leave and then you forget about it.
And how did you begin to make music together?
L: When we started making music together it was hard for us because we were both living at our parents houses. We were an hour and a half from each other by train, and the train only ran twice a day. Since I moved to Berlin to study at BIMM it has been really, really easy.
J: We started with acoustic songs, just piano and voice, but we thought it had to be something more. Then we started getting electronic.
L: There are so many good singer-songwriters out there that you have to make something more specific or be different. We started composing more electronic music together because we were both into it and going to concerts together. We uploaded some demos and got some great feedback. Then we thought it would be cool to make a live set up, so we searched for some musicians who would be able to play with us at shows. When we’re live on stage we play with acoustic drums, electronic drums, and a saxophonist who sometimes plays guitar.
Where does the name Eveline come from?
L: It’s my second name, I’m Lisa Eveline.
J: It’s not such an interesting story but we thought it was better than my second name, Eric! Girl names are always better.
Did you both know that you wanted to be part of a songwriting duo?
L: I think it is a good combination because I knew that I could write good lyrics, but I had some gaps in music theory about harmonics and chords. Jan was always a composer who didn’t have a plan for any lyrics, so we were a good constellation. When we first tried it out it really worked, and that was like, yeah, ‘Shicksaal’ [Fate].
Jan, your background is in classical music, how did you get involved in electronic production?
J: First I bought a MacBook and then checked out GarageBand. Then it developed to Logic, and then to Ableton. I really love to be in these programs and to check them out. I love playing classical but I never listen to it. I always check out new music, and a lot of new British electronic music.
What’s it like for each of you to be performing in a band rather than as solo artists?
J: It’s different because when you play classical piano you are always alone on stage, so that’s a big difference. It’s cool to be in a small group. For our first gigs I thought, ‘Yeah, you don’t have to be nervous with the band,’ because I was always very nervous playing classical piano, but now, and especially at these big shows, I’m also very nervous if we play with Eveline, but that was a huge difference in the beginning. And of course you can put more emotions in Eveline than with classical. You are freer.
L: The funny thing is that now I am not that nervous on stage anymore. Of course, you are always a little nervous before you go on stage, but I have my boys in the back and I know I am not alone! When I did my shows before we found Eveline I was always alone on stage and that was always a bit more nerve wracking.
What kind of inspirations do you have?
L: We both listen to a lot of electronic pop. I also really like listening to huge voices like Adele or Amy Winehouse, and I really love the voice of Christina Aguilera [laughs]. You can probably hear that in our music. When you hear normal electronic music the voices are always more soft and calm, but I don’t have a naturally soft calm voice. We think this is perhaps something that is unique to us because I don’t think there are so many electronic pop duos or bands who have a soulful voice as the main vocal.
And what made you decide to sing in English rather than German?
L: In the beginning it was much easier to write in German, because it’s my native language, but when we tried making music together it just sounds better to sing in English. That maybe seems a bit stupid, but the German language is sometimes so specific that when you want to express something for natives it can sound really weird or simple. In English there are specific words too, but the amount of words is different. Sometimes I have the feeling that English doesn’t sound so simple. Maybe it’s because I’m not a native English speaker.
J: A lot of people told us to try it in German, but we thought, ‘no, let’s keep it in English’.
L: I really like that it’s a challenge. Now I can improve my language skills more, and also the lyrics. I think it’s a good challenge for me.
J: In recent years a lot of German bands went back to singing in German, and we thought that it would be good to go against the flow.
Your new EP, Scared – how long has that been in the making?
L: We took three quarters of a year to make it. We wrote the songs in spring, recorded them in summer, and then the masters were finished in autumn.
Where did you record the EP?
J: At a studio where some friends of ours have some connections, Funkhaus. Not one of the main studios, but one of the smaller ones. It was pretty cool. And it’s cool that you can say you produced your EP at Funkhaus.
L: We produced our music together with two friends who are also musicians and producers. One of the guys also does our live organisation, and one is also our sound engineer for every show. We have a more difficult setup than an acoustic band, so it’s really helpful to have someone who really knows exactly what we need. We’re all working with monitoring and in smaller clubs that was always a bit complicated because we need a really long sound check.
J: But it’s very helpful to work with the same people all the time, across all of the areas. They produced the EP they know how it should sound.
And what about the themes of the songs?
L: On the EP there are four really different topics. The first track is ‘Scared’, which is about insecurity in young people, how when you finish school you don’t know which way to go because there are so many opportunities out there. Then you are insecure because you don’t know what to do, what’s right and what’s wrong – you don’t know anymore. You try to process those feelings, and in the end you’re scared.
J: You’re scared in making decisions and taking risks. To do things the way you want to, and not the way that society wants you to. Not that you’re scared of a special thing, but more of reaction of society.
L: Then we have ‘Simple’ which is the complete opposite. It’s all about taking life as simply as you can and not thinking too much about stuff. Just do what you want to do in the moment. Then there is ‘Time’ which is a breakup song about the feeling of processing a relationship and being angry at the ex-partner. [Sings] “I ain’t got time for you baby.” Finally there is ‘Thunder’ which we call our ‘bedroom song’, you can listen to it later and then you’ll know what we mean!
J: There are different themes but more or less I think the sound is giving the red thread through the EP.
Would you say that the EP represents the sound of Eveline?
J: I think it’s still in progress. It’s not that I think this EP isn’t the sound of Eveline, but if you listen to our first single, ‘Cliff’, it’s very different to what we do now. I think when we bring out the next EP, or album, it will be different. We are trying to put more soul in the music.
What kind of shows have you been doing so far?
L: Last year we had great support shows. We supported Guy Sebastian from Australia, and then we had the opportunity to support Adam Lambert on his Germany tour which was really cool. We played huge venues like Huxley’s in Berlin, the Kesselhaus in Munich, and Grosse Freiheit 36 in Hamburg. The locations were so cool and it was a really good experience for us because the audience was really into our music. As a support act you’re always a bit nervous because you think people are only there for the main act, but they were really into our music, were enthusiastic, and they bought a lot of CDs! That was a good sign for us, and we thought we must be on the right track.
And how did the support shows with Adam Lambert come about?
J: Our old drummer comes from Eberswalde, a city in Brandenburg. He has a school friend who works at Trinity Music here in Berlin. We asked him if we could do some support shows, and through this personal connection we got a mail saying that Adam Lambert is playing and he needs a support act for Berlin, and did we want to do it. We said, “f course we want to! We want to play at Huxley’s!” We thought it wasn’t going to happen as it was just a possibility.
L: Then two weeks later their management called us and said they heard our music, and asked if we could imagine doing the whole German tour. And we said, “Yes,” of course!
What can you tell us about your show on February 10th?
J: We’re very excited because it’s our first headline show in a long time. Normally we only play supports or we play with different bands on the one evening. We’re very excited for everyone to hear the songs live. We’re trying to do a special show, not just our normal set, and we have some new songs.
L: Now it’s a bit stressful because that’s always how it is before a show. We have invested so much into it and we want to get the best out of it. We’re organising so many things – filming, photos, everything. So for now everything is stressful but I think it’s really worth it.
Go and see Eveline on stage at Kantine am Berghain on February 10th. Tickets are available here.