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Interview: Kosheen (Sian Evans)

7 min read
We caught up with @KosheenOfficial powerhouse Sian Evans to talk about her incredible career and upcoming dates including @KOKOLondon on April 19....

As front woman of British electronic outfit, Kosheen, Sian Evans quickly made a name for herself with hit singles that included Hide U and Catch which came from the bands debut album, Resist. The then-three-piece went on to release several follow up records before disbanding and Sian then taking the helm of Kosheen’s live performances with some incredible new additions to the live line-up.

This month sees Sian back in in the capital performing hits from the impressive Kosheen vault including shows at Manchester Academy Saturday (12th April), Bristols Marble Factory (13th April) and KOKO in London (19th April). We were lucky enough to catch up with Sian ahead of these highly anticipated shows to talk about the bands career and what the future holds for the collective. Here is what she had to tell us…

Brendon Veevers: How are you today Sian and where does this interview find you?

Sian Evans: It has been a long winter here in Wales. We are checking the sky every day for enough blue to make a sailor’s trousers, but the rain and the wind prevails. I have two Labradors so we are out in the weather regardless. Battling the elements outside and in the house !!

BV: You are back in the UK this week to play for fans and I want to touch on that soon but first – its been over 22 years now since the release of the bands debut album, Resist. For me it feels like it was just yesterday that I fell in love with that record – as the leading lady behind the album, how does it feel for you surpassing that twenty year milestone?

SE: We knew when we were recording these songs we had something of its time but we didn’t realise how timeless they would prove to be.

I believe a good honest song or poem can resonate with generations of people outside of trend and fashion.

Dylan Thomas once said, “My poetry is, or should be useful to me for one reason; it is the record of my individual struggle from darkness to light… my poetry is, or should be, useful to others for its individual recording of that same struggle with which they are necessarily acquainted.”

BV: Going back to the start of Kosheen, you went from a hard working but relatively unknown outfit  to a band that was known the world over thanks to your debut album, Resist and it seemed to have happened very big and very quickly. What is your fondest memory of those days when you had that breakthrough?

SE: My parents had told me in no uncertain terms to abandon my “Pipe dreams” and settle down to be an unemployed single mum on the bread line! The moment I opened that advance cheque changed me and my sons life forever. Little did I imagine how much and for how long.

We moved out of sheltered housing into our own house and i could afford to buy my son his first brand new bike!

It validated me as a writer. Up to that point i had always described myself as a singer. Somehow a songwriter seemed more solid.

BV: I became a fan of Kosheen right at the start with the release of Resist, as a teen growing up in New Zealand and that shows just how much of a far reach your records have had. How did it feel to know that your music and your songwriting had reached such far corners of the world?

SE: I had always been happiest on stage but nothing could have prepared us for the response we had to our live shows. Countries we had never dreamed of visiting welcomed us with sell out performances to crowds singing our songs back to us.

We would have print outs of where our records were selling. We saw NO sales in Russia, Serbia or Croatia but we walked out on stage at the Exit festival, thinking no one would know who we were, to a full house of fans all singing our songs.

Apparently in those days it was normal in those territories to go into a record shop and have the record burnt onto CD while you waited!

BV: As mentioned at the start, it’s been over 20 years since the release of some of your staple hits like Hide U and Catch yet those songs in particular sounds as fresh today and as relevant in the dance scene as they did when they were released back in 2001. What is it that makes Kosheen records so timeless you think?

SE: Honestly, I feel like the early 2000’s were a magical time for our generation. We felt like pioneers of a new way to celebrate music and the arts. There was a freedom that allowed us to express ourselves without boundary or confinement to genre or style. It was a golden moment for so many people. I guess we all like to hold on to that feeling and the music of that time transports us back to that place.

BV: There has been a rather turbulent lifespan of Kosheen and I know from reading many articles over the years that its been quite upsetting for you but you are carrying on and delivering the Kosheen songs to fans which is amazing. It must be heartbreaking to go through the journey that you have in creating, writing and releasing Kosheen music and to not be able to enjoy the current successes together?

SE: Every time I walk out on stage to perform I say a little thank you to Mark and Darren for finally allowing me to do so. We had an amazing creative connection, but it was lost in the mix of the touring and the work. Sometimes when a flame burns so brightly it can’t burn for long. I now hold that flame for us all and share it with audiences around the world. It is a huge privilege to do so, and I hope that the boys are proud of what I have achieved for our music and the fans .

BV: Despite everything, you carry on and for that, us fans are very lucky, so thank you. What is it that you most enjoy about performing your back catalogue?

SE: As I said earlier, music can transport you to a place where you were when you first heard the tracks. It’s wonderful to see people, head back, eyes closed and in that moment, either alone or with the friends, lovers or family they first made that bond with. Sometimes I feel like a fly on the wall of all these lives, I don’t think I even need to be there ! It’s beautiful to have been a part, however small of these life experiences.

BV: Does it feel different to perform without your original band mates or has time allowed you to move on and keep focus forward?

SE: Toward the end of our time together it became very hard for me to perform, I felt I was under a great deal of scrutiny from my colleagues. I lost a lot of confidence and my mental health was seriously disrupted. I now have a group of amazing musicians and one very special woman, Maria, who have wrapped themselves around me and brought me back to the stage and built back my confidence.

I share a stage with the original drummer Mitch Glover, Ron Mcelroy, a life long trusted friend and amazing guitarist, Dave Wademan, new kid on the block but outstanding bass player and Dan Oakley-Holland and Lewis Magill who between them deliver the best sound I have ever experienced on stage and front of house. I call Dan the Wizard of Oz!

BV: You are back here in the UK this week including a show at KOKO in London on April 19th. What can you tell us about these shows and the songs that you will be performing on this tour?

SE: We have 3 shows with an orchestra. This is a dream come true. The songs we have picked for the set take you on a journey thru the music of Resist, Kokopelli and Damage. The songs are so architectural they lend themselves to the layering of strings and the power of the ensemble. We have had a rehearsal and I couldn’t stop crying. I hope I can hold it together for the shows!!

BV: Over the last 25 years you have performed at some pretty incredible spaces and venues around the world. What would you say has been the most special or the most notable performance for you?

SE: I performed at the Royal Albert Hall with a string ensemble back in 2011. It was my 40th birthday, I had just had my first number one hit with Louder and I’d fallen in love with my soon to be husband. I was on top of the world. My son and my mum were there.

My grandfather was a conductor of male voice choirs , He always wanted to see me perform there as it was his favourite concert hall. It was our dream come true. I hope I will have the opportunity to bring this classic Kosheen show to the RAH some day.

BV: Are there plans to release new music in the future, either under the Kosheen banner or as a solo artist?

SE: I am ready to write that album. My confidence is strong and I know what it is gonna take to make this album. I have songs, and lots of talented friends who want to be involved.

It is time.

Tickets to Kosheen’s upcoming tour dates can be purchased via the bands official website kosheen.live.