Feb 2024 14

With the release of a new single after four years, ReGen speaks with Matthew Cahoon about the history and evolution of Everpresent.
 

 

An InterView with Matthew Cahoon of Everpresent

By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

For more than 20 years, Matthew Cahoon has been guiding his gothic/synthpop project Everpresent through stylistic peaks and valleys, resulting in a sound that is difficult to pin down, but always melodically focused. This past Halloween saw the release of the “Seduce Me” single, which not only broke a four-year-long silence, but also saw Cahoon reaching back to the very roots of Everpresent; co-produced by Kris Towne, the single stems from a song originally written in the early days with Ethan Matthews of progressive/ambient act Echo Us, with current co-vocalist Katie Robinette helping to bring the song firmly into the present. Shortly after the single’s release, Cahoon spoke with ReGen about its history, the evolution of his songwriting and production methods, his various collaborations, and more.

 

Your latest release was the ‘Seduce Me’ single, which originally began as a song you wrote more than 20 years ago with Ethan Matthews. What first prompted you to revive the song after so long?
In what ways do you feel either its lyrical or musical themes have evolved from your initial conception of both the song and the band itself?

Cahoon: Ethan and I recorded two EPs while at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA in his apartment, and the original version of that song was on the first one – that was for Echo Us, and hen I started Everpresent the following year in 2002. When we got the live band going, we did a rearrangement of it, which is very similar to the final song/video of 2023 in terms of structure, but in was only rehearsed and never performed or recorded, along with a few others. I always felt it deserved to be heard professionally recorded in a full studio with drums and beefed up production and all the trimmings. I recreated the structure, but with added percussion loops and some similar bass sounds, and Ethan recreated many of the retro sounds and textures that you hear that are very similar to what were used back then, including his guitars. However, modern synth sounds were mixed in as well for this one. During my time off, Ethan and I communicated, and he was excited to add his guitars, harmonic structures, and additional synths to the textures, beats, melody, and lyrics I had. The lyrical themes are exactly the same, as well as the general vibe and energy of the song, and it is a mix of original lyrics from back then and brand new lyrics reflecting on our lives back then in the angst and intensity of our early 20s.

The video for ‘Seduce Me’ saw you once again collaborating with Kahlina, with whom you’d worked on the ‘Inside’ video and her own remix EP in 2016. Tell us about your working partnership with her, and how you feel it’s enhanced the sound and vision for Everpresent?
What more can we expect of this collaboration?

Cahoon: Kahlina and I met at the Akademia Awards Gala in Pasadena, CA in 2016, for different awards both of us had won, and where people came from all over the world to get together, network, and celebrate. We just hit it off instantly and developed a very brother/sister friendship over the years, and it was only natural that we would start collaborating in different forms, be it her video editing, performing, or remixing. She and I will definitely be doing more in the future, the next thing being in a visual design capacity.

 

 

Everpresent has been primarily your vision over the years, with different collaborators coming and going – has the constantly shifting lineup ever been a concern for you?

Cahoon: The shifting lineup has never been a concern, but of course, what can be tough is when different collaborators don’t live in the same city/state/country as me. I started as a live performer and grew up with that. In the early days in 2002-2007, everyone was all in the same place, and face-to-face collaboration was constant. It can be more complicated in terms of getting people together logistically for full-fledged video or performance now.

‘Seduce Me’ was the first new music from Everpresent since 2017; other than the pandemic/lockdowns, what other factors contributed to such a long wait between releases?

Cahoon: In 2017, Parallax had the three videos of ‘Dreamstate,’ ‘Inside,’ and ‘Intoxicated’ that spanned from 2017-2019, so it was a longer stretch of promotion, but yes, a long time between new stuff despite that. Other factors included different collaborators and business associates moving to different countries, me moving to different parts of the country, and just needing a break after going nonstop with albums and videos and shows and doing two national tours in 40 states with other artists over the years. I was exhausted, and also wanted to ‘reset’ my health as well. However, I never stopped writing, and have about three albums of unreleased material I’ve been working on the last few years.

In the interim, were there any changes you felt had to be made to your working methods in Everpresent, either in terms of songwriting, production, or collaboration?

Cahoon: As far as songwriting, I felt that we had completed a circle with Parallax since it was a collection of the most requested/played songs from 2011-2015, but with new vocals and productions, and I wanted to really work on different approaches, production ideas, more experimentation, sound design. I took a lot of time going back to just listening to music with headphones and studying things in a very internal way – basically, reconnecting with the relationship between myself and creativity and not thinking about the music industry or business; just me inside the music itself, me and a piano, me and the drumsticks, me and a microphone and a blank sheet of paper in a practice room alone. I also resumed a studious approach artistically, meaning physically going to museums, and reading physical books and feeling the pages under my fingers. It was literally a return to a much more low-tech approach before getting into the technology, even though ironically, I have become much more proficient with certain music programs. As far as collaboration, I have my core people that I still work with, but also some new people that have been brought in. But I’m more patient and more discerning.

We’d talked once before about your influences, so let’s talk now about what other new music is exciting or at least interesting to you right now – any artists or songs, or even movies, books, etc. that are keeping you stimulated? And in what ways do you feel they are helping to develop your own work?

Cahoon: As far as new music goes, some modern pop has certain elements and atmospheres in it very much grabs me, although it is more like certain songs by different artists. But they all seem to have a common element of female vocals, strong pop melodies with an R&B touch, and minimalist percussion, but mixed with kind of an ethereal set of synths and samples that make it a little darker. Some of these songs I’ve discovered in recent thriller movies I’ve seen include ‘Drain My Love’ by Kaerhart, ‘SMF (It’s Been Too Long)’ by Faith Richards, ‘Greedy’ by Kate Mccrae, and I definitely like several songs by Bebe Rexha such as ‘Die for a Man,’ ‘FFF,’ ‘My Dear Love,’ ‘Jealous,’ and ‘Break My Heart Myself.’ That kind of stuff definitely gives me new ideas and keeps things fresh for me.

It seems that every release from Everpresent also aims for a unique visual identity separate from what preceded it. What is your approach to the visual side of Everpresent, in terms of artwork, live performance, video presentation, etc.?

Cahoon: The visual side is dictated by the feelings I get from the vibe of the songs. So, based on the feel of the songs and where I am at the time, it kind of just gives me a sense of color and style. Also, just observing fashion and watching tons of movies gives me lots of ideas.

 

 

How do you keep your voice strong, especially for live performances?

Cahoon: I love to practice and have a lot of training mixed with practical experience, so for me, it’s a mix of healthy lifestyle, diet, and practice. I’m very meticulous and very routine oriented; I do not do things last minute, so for me, treating my voice like going to the gym and training is what keeps it strong. Also, I have ‘vocal rest,’ where I will not talk for certain lengths of time during the day or limit my time on the phone and make sure I do not drink anything that dries out my voice when a performance is approaching.

What do you think are the biggest difficulties with live performances right now? What do you feel artists, labels, venues, the industry as a whole should take away from the pandemic and use or think about going forward?

Cahoon: I think the difficulties are logistical and financial. People still love to play together and there is no substitute for live music; also, the crowd and band having that experience together. But times are tight and funding everything from rehearsal spaces, gear, transportation costs, and now, everyone staying healthy since the pandemic is even more important, in my opinion, so that we can keep venues open. A few of the venues that we played in Boston several times when we were based there closed during or after the pandemic, and I don’t want to see that happen again. I think getting people out of the house and making them feel that it’s worth it to not just watch shows on YouTube is at times a challenge, unfortunately, but all it takes is going to one great show with a group of people you love. There is no comparison to the fun memories that can come from that.

While the MTV generation is long over, we have YouTube, Twitch/livestreaming, lyric videos, etc. What are your thoughts on the significance of music videos – both as a promotional tool and as an art form? Do you find them to still be relevant or viable?

Cahoon: Being part of the MTV generation and being so glad that I grew up with it from the beginning, one of my childhood dreams was to make videos for my own music. So, for me artistically, creating and shooting a video in person, on a set, with a crew, is a fantastic experience that creates a lifelong bond between people, much like a theater production, or a mix between recording a song and doing a show. Even though it is not cheap to do so, I will always produce them and they, along with old-school photoshoots with a pro photographer, will always be part of what I do.
However, as seen from how happy we are, and how well the ‘Seduce Me’ video has done, which was done remotely, I can completely say that I love that too, and it’s a modern ‘new school’ approach that taught me a lot. Seeing how we got over 50,000 YouTube views in eight weeks, and the song was added to multiple Spotify playlists, and we just won another Akademia Award for the video, I can certainly say that YouTube is a wonderful and very effective way for people to get their music out. And you can still make really good videos using your iPhone and other technology that is very good and far more affordable than it ever was. Lyric videos are also cool because they do just that, literally show people your words, and since I’m super big on words, I may also be exploring this soon. Tik-Tok is also an absolutely great tool for your music to be seen and heard in various ways.

Lately, nostalgia seems to have manifested in different ways – from the resurgence of certain musical styles to several artists and bands reissuing older albums, rerecording older songs, cassettes and vinyl have come back, etc. What are your thoughts on this? What do you feel have been the key factors toward these looks back to the past?

Cahoon: I think it’s awesome that these things are coming back. There is a certain warmth that vinyl has sonically, and since I love albums and album art, the larger print area of vinyl just allows more space for lyrics, graphics, photos, all of that. Since I did grow up with all those things, it’s very heartwarming.

Outside of music, what are you most enjoying? Hiking, reading, movies, sports, gaming, etc.? What is giving you the most joy now?

Cahoon: I always have done and still do meditation, yoga, nature walks. Museums are almost at the top of the list, particularly paintings, and Egyptian and Japanese art. I’ve always loved martial arts, especially Bruce Lee because of his philosophies, not just fitness. I absolutely love, but seem to be loving movies more these days, especially more ‘slow burn’ thrillers and suspense movies – not horror, but not straight drama; more in the middle of those. I think making music videos and getting more and more into global creativity has made me notice the different subtleties of lighting, sets, hair, makeup, etc. that are in movies, and I can see myself getting more involved in that in the future.

What’s next for Everpresent?

Cahoon: ‘Seduce Me’ was the ‘we’re back after the break’ with something special and different due to Ethan’s involvement, along with both Katie Robinette and Kahlina. It is the warmup for the next couple of years and was me getting my feet wet again as far as putting something out after a break, and my first production with Kris Towne of Capricorn Studios here in San Diego, where Everpresent is now based. There will be a remix of ‘Seduce Me’ by myself and U.K. artist Sam Haynes coming out later this year, which will be very different from the original and get people on the dance floor. 2025 and 2026 will be very significant with a very strong nucleus of largely just me, Katie, and Kris creating what’s next, and possibly some surprise guests. It’s great to be back! Thanks to ReGen for supporting what I do from the beginning and thanks to everyone that’s supported this project for so long!

 

Everpresent
Website, Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram

 

Photography by Miyuki Chante – provided courtesy of Phoenix Winter Media & Consulting and Everpresent

 

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