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This week we’re highlighting Kansas-based singer-songwriter Evann McIntosh. McIntosh wasted little time on her journey to becoming a soul pop star: at the age of nine he performed in German pubs and at 15 released his debut album, the sonically diverse and amazingly self-confident MOJO from 2019. Now, at only 17 , McIntosh has a number of references – a deal with Mom + Pop Records, a fall headlining tour of North America, and a deceptively velvety voice – well beyond her years.
Today McIntosh releases Character Development, their newest project, and announces their festival debut at Outside Lands this October. The project – which they consider “more of a mixtape than an album” – is guided by the kind of self-sincerity that defines adolescence and is brightened up by moments of disarming ease. To mark the release, McIntosh speaks with Interview about fear, astrology, and their undying devotion to Prince. —JULIA OLNEY
On the inspiration for Character development: I started writing it when I was feeling very fluent in a very solid setting in Kansas. It should only be about growth. In the end, it meant so much more than that to me because of the global pandemic. So much has happened. I think while we were working on this project, I went through more character development than I ever thought possible.
To career alternatives: I have no idea. That’s why I dropped out of school. I dropped out two weeks in my junior year.
Upon discovery: I started posting on platforms like YouTube and SoundCloud at a young age, because what else could I do? My current producer found my stuff online when I was in eighth grade. Because of my voice, he thought I was about twenty. [Laughs] He sent me a message saying, “Hey, I’d really like to work with you.” I thought, “I’m 13!” and he said, “Oh my god. Can I talk to your parents? “From then on I did little gigs and around 2019 I started to have solid gigs – during the week at coffeehouses near me.
On their upcoming Outside Lands debut: I am so nervous. I try to do creepier things so that I can overcome my fears, but I am an air sign and I overthink everything. I try to practice as much as possible, which I always avoid because the whole thing is so nerve-wracking. This is one of my first ever gigs.
On Germany: My father is in the military, so we lived there on the military base for five years.
In German: In German I can only say: “Please tell me where the toilet is.”
On what is on her bookshelf: I have big plans for that. I have a glass of water, hemp seed oil deodorant, and this lamp that looks like a leg. Stole this from my father’s office.
On what’s on her bedside table: I have this Prince candle. I have a Prince biography, a book on Tarot and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I’m reading that right now.
About feelings of guilt: I never went private with Spotify. I am not ashamed of what I hear. I have an obsession with Barbara Streisand. I think she is so talented. I don’t look at her political views, but as an actress and singer, crazy.
About her obsession with Prince: I could go on for years. I could write a book about Prince. I could, and actually I should. I first heard about Prince because he had died. I was in sixth grade. When he died, I was listening to his biggest hits on my little iPod, and I had never had such a strong response in my life. He was just so weird and never scared.
How they differ from other 17-year-olds: I read The Hunchback of Notre Dame and it’s long.
On the first song they ever wrote: I was nine and it was called “It Feels Like”. It was sad. I really went through it when I was nine I guess.
About your dream partner: I don’t know, all of my influences just died. I’m going through the greatest George Michael phase. I think Andre 3000 or Pharrell.
Her hobbies: I drive around in my car. It’s a waste of gasoline, but it’s fun.
The best thing about Derby, Kansas: What’s the best thing about Derby, Kansas? Nothing! I don’t like it here at all. I think the best part is that I’m the coolest person who lives here because it’s so bad.
When leaving Derby, Kansas: I will go. I don’t know how yet. What I think is that I’ll start with bigger trips, longer trips to new places. I feel like I need to be beaten up a little by the world to appreciate greater things. When I have enough money, I move to somewhere else that is better.
In the future: Hopefully there will be another album soon. I have so many cool things that I’m ready to just put out. I’m looking forward to this tour because I get to play with this cool band of 30 year old jazz musicians, it’s going to be great.