Australia Decides 2022: Getting to know Evie Irie
When Australia’s Eurovision 2017 representative Isaiah Firebrace announced he would be joined by a duet partner for his return to the Eurovision world, few had floated Evie Irie’s name as a possible collaborator.
A rapidly rising star in her own right, Irie has released three EPs since 2019, and reportedly caused a bidding war amongst multiple US record labels who wanted to sign her during a trip to the States. She is currently signed to Republic Records – a label associated with such massive names as Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Florence + the Machine.
So, with a growing profile and a bright future stateside, what has drawn Evie back to Australia to represent her country, and why is she deciding to team up with fellow artist Isaiah? Read on to find out!
Central Coast Childhood
Born on the Central Coast of New South Wales, less than 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney, Evie’s early life was typical for many Australian teenagers.
Speaking to triple j, she says: “We were living in Australia, I was about to go into year 10. I wasn’t enjoying my school and I was writing music at the time”.
Always passionate about music, she found herself playing regular gigs at local venues and open mic nights from a young age. Initially, she struggled for inspiration, but quickly found it in the stories of her family around her, as she says to TMN:
“My sister was having a really hard time after my family moved with the boys, the bitches, the drama, the teachers and the parties … I had a guitar and she had the stories, so I started writing songs to represent that.”
Eventually, though, her humble Central Coast beginnings became too small for Evie, and she started to dream bigger.
“All my friends in grade 10 were doing an exchange program and I didn’t want to do that as I didn’t see myself doing anything else in life other than music,” she told TMN.
“I wanted to get out of school and do something I enjoyed, so my parents suggested going to Los Angeles for six months instead of doing the exchange.”
Music and Record Labels
Upon arrival in LA with her Dad, Evie instantly started taking up opportunities to perform and get her name out there – even though, as she confesses, “I probably had 10 songs and I thought that was a lot… there was only one song that was half decent.”
However, her trip rapidly expanded, with her spending time in Nashville, Vegas and more as the performing bug well and truly took her over.
“Every single night I would go out and play, I ended up playing 150 shows and writing 100 songs. I ended up there the whole year.”
She caught the attention of multiple record labels, and reportedly ended up in a bidding war as to who would get to sign her! However, Evie explains that it was Republic Records CEO Monty Lipman that won her over:
“At the end of my meeting with Monty I asked him ‘what will you do for me?’, and he was like ‘I believe in you 100%’ and that’s what I was waiting for. I needed someone to just understand the project and understand me, and he did.”
Evie’s music is very vulnerable, with her second and third EPs, ‘The Optimist‘ and ‘The Pessimist’ seeking to unpack different aspects of her psyche and her emotions. In an interview with Thomas Bleach, she explained that she loves the opportunity to show these different sides to herself.
“I don’t find it challenging [to show vulnerability] because when I’m in the studio I’m so honest about my feelings, and I say exactly what I feel. I try to never hold back, because the moment that you do hold back and try to shape what you’re creating because of insecurities or ego, that’s when songs become disingenuous.
Like I say all the time, I try to stay as genuine as possible to myself, and being authentic is being truthful to how you feel.”
But equally, Evie found herself quickly having experiences that most teens her age could only dream of, including opening for artists like Norwegian pop star Sigrid (“Strangers”, “Don’t Kill My Vibe”) and British band Bastille (“Pompeii”, “Things We Lost in the Fire”).
Returning Home and Australia Decides
Like many people, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that made Evie return home after a year of exploring her musical possibilities in LA. Even more relatable, she really struggled with the extended lockdowns that many in Australia have experienced.
Still, Evie remains on the bright side:
“It was not a great time in my life. But I feel like I needed it to humble me, because LA can get to your head… I feel like I didn’t appreciate all the things that I was doing before, because everything came really simple and easy… It was grounding and helped me understand why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
In December 2021, Evie announced that her single 'Hello World' will feature in the Netflix original film 'Back to the Outback'. In a post on Instagram she said "Get ready for this one to pull on all the heart strings!! I’m so honoured to be apart of it! ".
She has also found joy in collaboration with other artists – including her Eurovision duet partner Isaiah!
“If there’s one thing I like as much as creating music for my own project, it’s writing with other artists for their projects: it’s not work, it’s just fun! So when Isaiah and his team asked me to do Eurovision with this random wonderful song called, ‘When I’m With You’, that we had such a great time writing together, I was seriously shook.
I never EVER thought I’d have the chance to play at Eurovision and I just can’t say no to Isaiah.”
As well as Australia Decides, Evie will also be opening for Amy Shark at the remainder of her rescheduled shows this year, as well as focusing on her own music. After all, at heart, she loves the vibe of the crowd when performing live, as she tells TheAUReview while discussing her single ’BLEED’.
“It’s just the best thing, especially when people don’t know you. It’s like, you can get, “Nah nah, nah-nah-nah-nah nah-nah,” and they’ll just like say it because it’s so easy.”
‘When I’m With You’, featuring Isaiah Firebrace and Evie Irie, will be released this Friday 4 February 2022.
For more updates and to be alerted on the song’s release, keep an eye on Aussievision’s website and socials!