Written by Vivien Huynh / photographed by Alvin Dahono

We sat down with Eva Celia of @evacelia; a jazz musician with amazing talents, to talk about her passion, life and being a musician. Find her music here.

Leading a passion project with life

It’s not a big day, or a special kind of day. Just a reminiscent picture of two girls going over to each other’s house and figuring out what lies ahead; present and future. Eva looks over and tells me that her hoarding habits need to be stopped, and I noticed I’ve picked up one of her ‘many’ guitars in the corner of her room. “They really intrigue me, that’s why I self-taught myself how to play — Ed Sheeran’s one was the first that I actually bought for me. My dad and I spent a lot of time together learning the instrument.”

Eva’s dad is her role model and mentor at the forefront, her catalyst for a career that didn’t start out in her mind as a pursuable path amidst all other things on offer. More time spent with him meant the inevitable exposure to a scene not so unachievable for herself. Eventually a girl who walked through many different doors was able to unlock one that she knew was right for her. And here we are now, gifted with a voice that a crowd would lay down and be still for.

“I think it was something that I always knew I wanted to do since I was a little girl. I was constantly with my dad, watching him rehearse, record and seeing him perform” she goes on to say that it was a world she was extremely familiar with, especially since another contributing factor was her own mother being a singer. “I made the move to LA as I felt I owed it to myself to get a proper education, so for 2 years I didn’t do anything with music at all and the passion faded away for a bit. I was very focused on my academics and I didn’t know anybody.” Although with the brief hiatus, it’s clear that love is a constant resurfacing component in her life as it was her mum who encouraged her to pursue music again, confident that she always had it in her. “People’s expectations of me made me nervous as well, my dad being a Jazz musician and my grandad as a pioneer behind Jazz in Indonesia. That was all a lot of pressure, so it took me a long time to want to dive back into music because of that.”

“Growing up, my father always taught me to write my own music because it’s more personal. I believe that there is always going to be people who can relate or connect to and understand what I am trying to say.”

In the flesh, Eva is beautiful. It’s difficult to not be captured by the reposeful and intimate smile that trails closely behind everywhere she goes; a reason to what makes her so relatable, and an attribute that she doesn’t have to work hard for. She tells me that despite the obvious spotlight she stands in, stage fright wasn’t a stranger and consistently effected her presence when she was performing. unusual to hear, but not at all surprising as we often forget that a walking embodiment of fame doesn’t mean that the ability to stay humble is amiss. Laying in bed with Pepper, her pup, she props herself up to the frame, head cocked slightly to fulfill her most comfortable position. “It was nerve-wracking and it was something that I never really gotten over until now, because when I’m on stage…” she breaks off to find the right words “…I always feel like there’s magic and it makes me feel alive.”

This is an aspect of Eva that without asking, is expressed through her eyes signifying a desire and passion to advocate values everyone longs for. Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway and Becca Stevens are amongst the few singer/songwriters she aspires to be, those of all who bind together share a common theme. “Joni Mitchell usually starts with poems and turns them into songs.” you can see her light up as she speaks “I always love how she covers a lot of life themes, mostly about finding love or losing it, understanding life in terms of loss and gain. that’s what I love to approach.”

And yet, she always circles back to her parents, often reminding us that these two figures were a pivotal part of who she is today. “Growing up, my father always taught me to write my own music because it’s more personal. I believe that there is always going to be people who can relate or connect to and understand what I am trying to say.” It certainly isn’t hard to believe for the most part that this girl— who is soon turning 24 this month—hopes to embolden people’s inclination to find happiness. “I want to speak for people who don’t have a voice and might think that they are alone. I feel that one of the most important things you can do as a human being is to make others feel that they aren’t alone.” she recalls the moment it became clear that this was what she strived for, explaining that finding her passion gave leeway to her purpose in life. Eva repeats that the focus is to do something greater than just creating music, encouraging us to truly dive into our passions in order to discover what we can do for people other than ourselves.

Despite being well-recognised for her music, there supposedly aren’t moments where a little self judgement seeps its way through the cracks of her livelihood. Settling back this time in a manner different to the way she spoke before, Eva speaks of frequent criticism and how it effected her creative output. “I would compare myself to other people and social media makes it worse.” as well as the weight of the public army, having eminent parents serves as a silent struggle at times “when I see my family, I see how great they are and I feel I can’t impress them with what I have. It took me a long time until I finally understood that I am on my own journey and this is my own path.” Yet this is all a part of growing up, no? perhaps not far from it, considering our environment shapes who we are. “I try to learn to see myself as the vessel and that’s very difficult because you have your ego in the way.”  she pauses. “It’s about accepting ideas that come to you and to try and be the messenger of your own message by creating a harmonious collaboration between my ideas and the unwanted negativity.”

We move slightly from the somber details of a burgeoning fight for self acceptance and touch lightly upon her final thoughts on love. “I want to see people act upon love, not fear. a lot of the time people do things because of their own fear of losing and fear of…” — deep exhalation — “…failure, loneliness? they act based on that and when you act based on those things, it never brings any positivity.”

So I ask her what positivity can be brought to this rather deep-seated conversation we just had. She laughs, “I bite my nails, and picking your nose is a pretty dope thing to do too.” startled for a second— but then I remembered,

Don’t we all?