Irma Vep have long intrigued me. The brainchild of Edwin Stevens - whether alter ego or simply part of his fascinating brain - they pose many questions. Almost classical in orchestration, yet reclusive in how they deliver, there is a solitude to what he writes.
Edwin moved to Manchester at twenty from Llanfairfechan (Transylfechan to the locals) on the North Wales coast and soon became very embedded in Manchester’s burgeoning DIY scene. Stevens also plays in several other groups (Sex Hands, Klaus Kinski, Desmadrados…), bringing with him his very own guitar language. However it’s in Irma Vep that Edwin’s real intent can be heard; his thrilling and melancholy side pouring out of every sound.
Edwin/Irma Vep are playing in York next week, so we caught up with the elusive figure to try and get some insight into his intriguing brain.
What are your earliest experiences around sound and music?
I remember first being ‘moved’ by music when I was 7 or so and heard a song by former Eternal singer, Louise Redknapp. I joined her fan club and that was it. Then I guess when I was 8 or 9 I remember rocking out to Beatles records in my friend Tom Hulme’s room in Aber, that was fun. My mum has AMAZING taste so I was raised on great stuff like Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Incredible String Band etc. Nice one, Mum! ‘Torn’ by Natalie Imbruglia was a big deal for me, and the South Park Christmas album too.
Is Irma Vep a solo project or one that you collaborate on?
It’s a selfish venture and it’s definitely a solo ‘thing’ that I do alone in my room, like I do my sex. Live I sometimes jam with people under the Irma Vep & ‘The Something Somethings’ banner, or whatever, totally improvised, so I guess that’s collaborative? Recordings wise, it’s a bit different; it’s nice to have different players do stuff over what I’m doing or lay down something for me to work from but that’s quite rare as I’m pretty anally retentive. My good friend DBH usually records all the stuff I cannot play - like piano, violin etc on recordings as he is a ruddy genius and knows what I like…
Dominic Tanner usually helps me record all the hard stuff like drums and he also recorded the Disappointment LP, which was definitely a collaboration. Apart from that, yes, it’s me…wanking, alone, in my room, forever and ever and ever…..
How was your tour with Kiran Leonard?
It was bloody lovely, cheers. I had never played live with a full band doing my songs in the UK before (first time was Stockholm in January this year) so it was nice play the songs and rock it and have fun every night with them boys.
How would you recommend people listen to your music?
In a candlelit room, on a waterbed, in the Congress of the Cow, with a fist full of salt.
What’s been the most significant moment of your career to date?
LOL! I wouldn’t call it a career! Being invited to tour the West Coast of the US and play at Chris Johanson’s Quiet Music Festival of Seattle and Portland was pretty bloody ace. It was great to do as I like him and his art and NEVER thought I would EVER go play America by myself. My friend Lucy Jones also did the exhibition at the festival and we traveled together, I don’t think I could have done it without her. I had toured the East Coast with Desmadrados Soldados De Ventura earlier in the year but it was a very different experience but still amazing. Playing a few shows with The Rebel recently was really great as he’s the bloody bee’s knees!
What’s next for you?
I’m going to make my housemate James a cup of tea after doing this but after that, I’m off on a solo tour as of 1 August with my main man Secret Admirer and when I get back I’m playing bass in his band on a five day tour with Kiran Leonard. ‘No Handshake Blues’, the latest record should be out sometime through Faux Discx and Comfortable on a Tightrope and then I guess I’ll be recording a new one! But apart from that just living the dream every day, smoking ciggies, watching wrestling, jammin’ etc etc!
Irma Vep are playing at The Cresent on Thurs 4 August - Doors at 7.30pm.
Buy tickets here.Irma Vep Bandcamp