(New York, NY) Folk-rock singer-songwriter, Evelyn Cools, has released her new EP, Misfit Paradise. Inspired by songwriters such as Stevie Nicks, Simon & Garfunkel, Lana Del Rey, and Angus & Julia Stone, Cools is recognized for her powerful lyrics and her storytelling abilities through music.
“Inspired by times of restlessness, elation, heartbreak, and wonder, Misfit Paradise explores the complex relationships we have with ourselves, others, and our environment, and how we find peace and meaning within it all,” Cools says. “It is about life’s greatest joys – love, acceptance, nature, adventure – but also its greatest sorrows. It aims to capture little specs of magic against a world of unknowns.”
Coming from a multi-cultural background, Cools is originally from Belgium but has spent her whole life moving between different corners of the world including Hong Kong, Budapest, London, and now, the US. This sense of wandering is a driving force behind her songs, as well as the connectivity between people and the natural world. Though she began studying music as a child (piano, flute, choir, musical theater), it wasn’t until college that she first picked up the guitar and began dabbling in songwriting. While attending a university in London, the vibrancy of the local music scene combined with a musical group of friends laid the groundwork for her to find her own voice and focus on creating original music.
In 2018, Cools moved to Los Angeles to delve deeper into her music and challenge herself both personally and creatively. During her time on the West Coast, she found inspiration in California nature, crossed paths with incredibly talented people who eventually became her creative team, and experienced love like she never had before. The product of this transformative time is Misfit Paradise.
In collaboration with producer Enrique Lara, Cools took a very DIY approach to the recording of Misfit Paradise. Most of the tracks were recorded in Lara’s living room with blankets covering the walls and doorways for better acoustics. The string section for the title track was recorded and co-produced by Micah Garrido in a tiny bedroom in Silver Lake, CA., with just one cellist and one violinist. To create the effect of a string ensemble, the players moved after each take, to the point where they were using the bed and all corners of the room.
“These people we meet / Are we just the lucky ones? / Seeing what’s beneath,” she sings on “Misfit Paradise,” written while living in New York. It’s about finding a community free of judgment, that is welcoming to all ages, all races, all bodies. For the misfits, searching for a paradise to call their own.
Throughout her early travels, Cools observed the deep connection indigenous communities have with the Earth, noticing the importance these communities place on the intrinsic value of nature, and how modern culture often lacks the same respect and connectivity.
“Yosemite,” offers her ode to nature and the solace it can provide. “It’s one of the oldest songs on this EP and continues to be one of my favorites to perform live, play on my guitar at home, listen to, and think about,” she says. “Yosemite National Park has played an important role in my life showing me the overwhelming power of nature, taught me about our role as humans in protecting it, and given me the courage to move across the country to California on my own,” she continues. “It still serves as an infinite source of inspiration, and a place to reset and self-reflect. It is the place I consistently yearn for, one that is always in the back of my mind.”
“Another Night” asks, “What if we never met?” The song contemplates how small pieces affect the whole of our lives. “It’s about surrendering to the opportunities in front of you, embracing them with everything you are, and realizing that we have no control over the outcome of love,” she says. “And yet, it is the thing that drives our soul, our passions, and ultimately our life.”
“Gold Woman” infuses the collection with a bit of edge, fantasizing about a perception of perfection. “Every time I perform this song live, I preface it with ‘this one’s about cheating,'” she says with a chuckle. “In truth, it’s a bit more nuanced. It is about fantasizing and yearning for the things we don’t have, a reality that doesn’t even exist in the first place,” she says.
The EP ends with “Soaring,” an anthem for letting go of the pressures you no longer need. “I’m soaring / Over the clouds / Never looking back,” she sings on the track. It’s pretty clear that’s Evelyn Cools’ outlook on life, and music. Misfit Paradise is just the beginning.
MISFIT PARADISE TRACKLISTING
1. Another Night
2. Gold Woman
4. Misfit Paradise