What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
I started playing music as a survival skill. As a teenager I was quite lost and I had a very hard time with most people my age. I just didn’t seem to fit in and others did not shy away to make this clear to me. Playing the guitar was the only thing I could always count on to make me feel like I had a purpose in life. Over the years I have grown a lot, from playing in small pubs for 2 friends and a drunk dude, to playing in big venues for a thousand people. I definitely do not take the opportunities I’ve had for granted and aim to keep growing over time.
Eyemèr (pseudonym of Sarah Devreese) is a singer-songwriter whose style can be compared to artists such as Soko, Daughter, Bon Iver, and Waxahatchee. In 2014, the artist became a finalist in Humo’s Rock Rally. They have also been an opening act for known Belgian musicians such as Marble Sounds and Isbells. For their new EP, the singer-songwriter has collaborated with Michiel De Maeseneer (known for productions for among others Balthazar and Bazart) and Tomas Van Hove.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
Here is my press text: https://tinyurl.com/y4jtqld9
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
Daughter, Julien Baker and La Dispute. They all make very emotionally-driven music and that’s what I always have done myself. I want to make those who are lost feel a little bit more welcome and accepted in this world.
I find a lot of things in life inspiring…. Any art that makes me feel something. People who make a difference in the world, going from the person that fled their country to create a better life for themselves, to the shy person that steps out of their comfort zone, to the person I talk to once on holiday and we just seem to connect instantly. I think vulnerability is the most important thing that connects humans. I really love connecting with others, it inspires me so much.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
With my music, I really try to create a breathing moment for the listener. My aim is to make someone who has a bad day or who is going through a difficult time in general, have a moment of clarity. I want them to listen to a song of mine and make them realise they can let all their emotions out. My sound is pretty lo-fi and I know there’s not that many artists who dare to stay in this genre. In my opinion, low fidelity music is the most honest music you can make. It’s the kind of music that resonates with people who are searching for something to hold on to; who are looking for something that is not too ‘perfect’ – just like no human is perfect either. Too many artists nowadays will do anything to cover up all their mistakes in the recording and auto tune their voice until you don’t even know what their voice really is like. I personally have never felt a connection to mainstream music like that.
Apart from that, my lyrics have always been uncensored. I write about mental illness and for this new EP I have also written about being non-binary. These topics are topics that often carry a stigma around them and I try to break that stigma. People definitely value that.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
Into The Wild – Eddie Vedder (both the album and movie)
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (movie)
Sissy – Jacob Tobia (book)
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
I think I prefer the studio, just because writing music and recording/producing is what makes me the most happy as a musician. To be honest, I would be perfectly fine being a recording artist who never performs. Performing live has its charm and I do have concerts that make me feel the most alive I have ever been, but I also have concerts that give me panic attacks and days of self-criticizing thoughts. I still don’t know if the highs of performing weigh out the lows.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
Sure! Not sure if it’s ‘funny’, but I like this story and forget if often! About 6-7 years ago I was a die hard fan of the band ‘You Me At Six’. Back then they were still a hidden gem here in Belgium. When I saw they were going to perform in my country, I decided to cover their whole new album (about 12 songs) and give them a CD in person with those covers on it. Afterwards they tweeted me about it and I think that was the first real ‘accomplishment’ I had as a musician. Those covers did get quite some views on YouTube.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
‘Bird, You Can Fly’, because there are hardly any songs in the world on the topic of ‘being non-binary’. This track has a very special place in my heart because I am non-binary and know how hard it can be sometimes. Not many understand it. I try to be patient about it, because I can see that it is a new concept to many & that is why you do not always immediately get the change in pronouns and word use like you envisioned. However, it can make me feel really sad and angry from time to time that no matter how much I tell someone I am non-binary, I am not a woman, and use they/them pronouns, they will say they accept it and then just keep calling me a girl and use ‘she/her’ pronouns. Often I can stop it from getting to me, but it’s harder to deal with when my mood is already low.
Long story short, ‘Bird, You Can Fly’ is a song about coming out as non-binary. On YouTube it seems to have resonated with lots of people like me. For the album version I worked with lots of talented non-binary and/or trans people who sing as a choir in the end of the song. Because of this collaboration, I feel the message of the song really rings through: we are a community full of strong people who lift each other up in a very binary world.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
Of course! I just plan to keep writing new music about mental health and LGBT+/queer topics. For this new EP I have a few official music videos, for the first time. I am also doing some concerts in Belgium and a European tour as well. I hope to meet lots of new faces on tour!
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
What would you say to another artist whose gender identity is disregarded in magazines, blogs, newspapers, etc?
For my new EP, I had to think about how I was going to make sure I would be gendered the right way in articles. My first album I still identified as a girl, which means if you type my artist name in google you will always find articles using ‘she/her’ pronouns for me. This made it quite scary for me to contact the same magazines from before and tell them I did not want them to use ‘she/her’ for me anymore. How I went about it? Well, I wrote one standard email as usual, with my press text, and at the bottom I wrote:
Note: Eyemèr is non-binary; this means that they are not a man or a woman, but rather a combination of both or neither of the two. That is why you saw that ‘they/ them’ was used in the press text. If you write something, please respect these pronouns. These are the only pronouns with which Eyemèr identifies. If you have questions about it, feel free to ask.
I also added a few sites of LGBT+ organisations that explain the topic in-to-depth. Hope this helps!
Photo credits: Lex Van Cauwenberge Photography
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
Connect with Eyemèr: