Evan Henry exclusive interview: Success, love for jazz, and debut EP 'Mr. Optimist'

The rising young musician recently gave an interview with AudioPhix.
Evan Henry interview
Evan Henry interview / Scott Utterback/Courier Journal / USA

Following years of songwriting, Evan Henry has debuted with Mr. Optimist, a culmination of music that covers rock, classical, jazz, funk, blues, and soul all at once. He's additionally taken the time to answer some questions about this process in an exclusive interview, but first, you need to know what led to this point.

Capturing essence from the likes of Frank Sinatra, D. Martin, and Ella Fitzgerald, Evan Henry is a 19-year-old independent musician from Brooks, Alberta. Learning piano growing up, he can also play the electric and bass guitars. For the past two years, he's also received the aid of pianist Denis Baptista in studying songwriting at Prairie College, sparking the creation of his own original music.

Evan made his first appearance online in an Instagram post from December 15th, 2023, picturing himself playing the guitar in-studio. He'd continue to post studio stills until March 2nd, ending the six-month writing and recording process of a new EP. It was then announced on the 29th for its May release as Mr. Optimist.

Evan Henry's EP's development has been steady

Evan remained busy the next month as he launched a Kickstarter campaign on the 9th and teased a performance of a song three days later. After the same time interval again, "Shadows Dancing (In My Head)" was announced as his debut single, with the beaming jazz-rock piece releasing on April 19th.

Garnering acclaim for it, he performed the song live for an EP showcase alongside two tracks from the yet-to-be-released project: "Mr. Optimist" and "Mona Lisa," which were met with roaring applause. His public discography expanded further with "Daydreamer" as Mr. Optimist's second single on May 10th, before the five-song EP came out on May 31, 2024.

Henry uses personal lyricism

Establishing a signature sound of the previously mentioned genres, the EP is often themed towards love, whether it's the act of falling into it on the big band "Daydreamer," being rejected for another on "Julia," or a heartfelt desire to connect with someone on "Mona Lisa." Evan gladly elaborated on these songs with me, which you can read below.

There are several themes of relationships in your EP. Are all of these experiences about specific people or just a general encapsulation of feelings?

Evan: It's hard to pinpoint exactly where all these songs originated from, but the relationship themes are drawn from various experiences and are more a summation of those experiences than anything specific. I think across this album, there are also a lot of introspective themes as I look at the world around me and try to figure out who I am.

What are some of the artists that you listen to?

Evan: Most of what I listen to is older stuff like Sinatra, the Beatles, Toto, and other similar music. Also, really old Classical stuff because I grew up taking piano lessons and still really enjoy classical music like Rachmaninoff and Chopin.

Some classic rock and other songs from back then are nice. How often do you listen to "modern" music?

Evan: I generally don't listen to many songs from the top 100, if that's what you mean. I like music which is interesting to me both musically and lyrically, and it's hard to find that in the mainstream. That being said, I listen to some newer stuff if I find an artist that I like. Some newer artists I have enjoyed are Finneas, Laufey, and Lizzy McAlpine.

How did you choose "Shadows Dancing (In My Head)" and "Daydreamer" as singles?

Evan: I would say these two songs were among my favourites on the EP to record and they both felt like good choices to put out as my first releases since the rest of my EP is a little more mellow.

How did it feel to perform those songs live with hundreds of people watching and giving you praise?

Evan: It was a pretty cool experience getting to play my stuff live in front of that many people with a full band and professional setup. I was pretty nervous while I was waiting to get on stage, but once I got going, it was lots of fun and I really enjoyed it. It is also a relief, after having spent months working on my project, to get lots of positive feedback upon its release.

Do you have any other plans with music? Any major label interest?

Evan: I would love to keep recording at some point, so whether this is with a label or as an independent artist, that is something I would like to do. I think, though, now is a great time to be an independent artist with all the internet tools that are available to promote yourself, so for now, that is likely the route I will follow. As I mentioned earlier, I also have interest in classical music and jazz, so if the opportunity presents itself, I would like to compose and arrange for an orchestra in those genres.

Next. Five songs from the 1980s that were better than they should be. Five songs from the 1980s that were better than they should be. dark

Mr. Optimist is currently available on major streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music, as well as on Evan Henry's website as a digital download.

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