HomeInterviewsSinger/Songwriter Evangelia on Harnessing the Magic of Music

Singer/Songwriter Evangelia on Harnessing the Magic of Music

Press Photo found on Evangelia’s Facebook Music Page, taken by Shervin Lainez.

The audience quiets down as Evangelia Psarakis takes the stage at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City. Her captivating presence and vibrant energy instantly pulls in everyone’s attention. From her soothing yet soulful vocals that are full of passion, to how she sways and moves to the music and addresses the crowd with a welcoming embrace, Evangelia makes a lasting impression.

Fortunately for listeners, Evangelia will be providing a similar experience tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge in New York City as she opens the show for her friends in Cold Weather Company in honor of their new album, Find Light.

While she currently lives in Jersey City, Evangelia’s roots trace back to Rutgers University, where she attended college and made a name for herself in the music community of New Brunswick.

As a singer/songwriter, Evangelia’s sound ranges from acoustic-driven ballads to pure pop with an electronic edge, all the way to indie folk. Her vocals take front and center in each song, and her lyrics speak of universal messages to help us confront our emotions, appreciate what we have and understand this world that we live in.

Evangelia has multiple singles out as a solo artist, including her most recent release, “Windowseat,” which is a duet with the electro pop duo Sleeping Lion. While the poignant single “Hello Again” is in the lead for plays on Spotify (740k), her clever, laid back song “Digital Age” has 3.4 million views on Youtube. Her other songs “Still Think About You” and “Cold” are following close behind and feature creative, meaningful music videos.

The Pop Break had the chance to interview Evangelia to discuss her recent major life change, her background with music from high school to college and beyond, her recent releases, her songwriting process and what drives her passion to create and perform music.

For three years up until summer 2018, Evangelia was living a double life. She was working a full-time job teaching during the day, and then heading straight to New York to dedicate the rest of her night to music, whether she was in the studio, playing shows, supporting friends or networking.

“Teaching and then being in the studio everyday taught me a lot of discipline and encouraged me to never give up,” Evangelia said. “There were so many times I was in the studio really tired, and I just pushed through it.”

However, at the end of the school year in June, she became one of the casualties of budget cuts at her school, and was laid off. This happened to be a blessing in disguise, as Evangelia had always dreamt of going full-time with music, and this was her chance.

“I feel like it’s the push that I needed—the decision was made for me, so I didn’t have to quit teaching,” she said. “It was like ‘you know what, Evangelia, the universe is opening this door for you.’ It just felt right.”

Evangelia explains that it is a good feeling knowing that her degree and the possibility of teaching will always be there.

“Education is something I’m passionate about, so even as my platform grows, some issues that I can bring to the table could involve education,” she said. “I can’t leave that behind, it’s a part of me for sure.”

Photo found on Evangelia’s Facebook Music Page, taken by Harriet Manice.

Evangelia’s own education was enriching in more ways than academics. She discovered her passion for performing during high school.

“It was something I always wanted, but didn’t quite know how to do,” she said.

After a disappointing experience in a battle of the bands competition, she had the opportunity to sing in a cultural diversity show. Since she happened to be learning a song in Greek, she gladly accepted the challenge with the intent of redeeming herself after her first performance.

“I sang in front of the entire student body basically,” Evangelia said. “It was just me, my guitar and the spotlight and I just felt so comfortable. It was almost like ever since then, I wasn’t afraid anymore.”

She began college at Rutgers University in New Brunswick on a high note, as she sang the hook for a song by the hip-hop/rap duo I.O.U. when they opened for Far East Movement in 2011.

That experience introduced her to the music industry, and she started receiving more opportunities to perform and practice at Rutgers. Along with these achievements, Evangelia made the most out of her time at Rutgers by hosting her own coffee house events, performing, and building up the music community.

“Something I’m most proud of is that Open Mic night that I created and I can say great bands like Cold Weather Company and Little Rose came out of it,” she said.

Evangelia thinks fondly of those days and remembers how important they were for nurturing her passion for music.

“I was doing as much as I could to keep spreading appreciation of art and keep bringing people together,” Evangelia said. “I was developing this intuitive understanding of the importance of networking.”

Evangelia explains that at the time, she wasn’t even thinking about the music business as a career. Instead, her focus was simply getting everyone together and collaborating for fun with her fellow musicians.

Photo Found on Evangelia’s Facebook Music Page, taken by Harriet Manice.

“If I met an artist that I thought would work well with another artist, I would always connect them and bridge people together,” she said. “That was something that I always loved doing.”

This transferred over well when it came to breaking into the New York music scene.

“I’m always going to shows and supporting as many friends as I possibly can, and in doing so, the network just keeps growing.”

In New York, Evangelia is continuing what she did in college with networking, although now it has professional implications. She adds that it’s cool since she’s still working with some of the people she met back in the open mic night days, like her previous bandmate in Little Rose, Adam Bradford, who writes music with her. Additionally, her friends Jerry Sanchez and Jean Louis Droulers of the rap group Cook Thugless work on, and star in Evangelia’s music videos with her.

As far as the basic process of creating music and determining how songs will sound live, Evangelia begins by writing the songs separately with a producer. Then, she sends them to the musicians who collaborate and perform with her so that they can learn the songs. The last step is to figure out the best way to interpret the songs into a live show setting.

“I love the social aspect of creating music and collaborating with different people and the discussions that come along with songwriting because you really have to open up,” Evangelia said.

The musicians who collaborate with Evangelia are members of various bands, such as Elle King’s. As these musicians are not always available for performances due to touring and other engagements, Evangelia is the only constant member of the band.

“I try to keep it as consistent as possible, but that’s not always the reality,” Evangelia said about her collaborators. “The beautiful thing about New York is that there’s a plethora of musicians ready to hop in.”

Along with collaborating with other musicians in the area, Evangelia teamed up with actor Christian Navarro, who plays Tony in the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, to create the single “Hello Again.” This song is meant to be a love letter to Hannah Baker from Tony, and it carries a universal message.

Found on Evangelia’s Music Facebook Page, taken by Noledge Productions.

Upon meeting Christian years back at Rutgers, the two became friends and have kept in touch ever since. Evangelia explains that the idea for “Hello Again” came up when they were FaceTiming each other while Christian was in California preparing to film season two of 13 Reasons Why.

“I wrote it to help him get into his character’s headspace before he would film a difficult emotional scene,” Evangelia said. “There was this blank spot where all these events had happened and Christian needed to act as though they all occurred. He really needed to understand his character.”

Evangelia found it exciting to get a glimpse of the preparation process of an actor and write a song about these characters. She enjoyed having a concept to focus on for writing, and it turned into an incredibly relatable message.

“We came to realize that it really is a universal message and an emotion that we all feel,” Evangelia said. “I want my listeners to feel moved by it. It’s a sad song so it would remind them of someone they miss. Those moments where you are moved by music remind you that you are alive.”

Released in late 2017, “Still Think About You” is another song that’s easy to connect with, and its accompanying music video captures the feeling of missing someone. Interestingly enough, Evangelia worked with her friends in Moonculture Films on this video, and her friends in Cook Thugless star in the video. Evangelia is so grateful to have met them all back in college and to be working with them now.

“It’s these connections and this networking that comes back,” Evangelia said. “I’m fortunate because my friends are so creative and talented, and we were able to make a beautiful visual piece to match the song.”

The “Still Think About You” music video showcases a message of missing someone or something, which everyone experiences at some point in life.

“I wanted other people in the video to lip sync the lyrics to show that everyone feels this way and can be thinking these same exact thoughts in their mind,” Evangelia said.

There are three separate characters with differing storylines, yet they all experience the same emotion. All of their stories are tied together with a symbol of the moon.

“You might say the moon represents the emotion of missing someone,” Evangelia said. “We’re all under the same moon, or we all feel the same thing—there’s so many ways to interpret it.”

An upcoming song titled “Always on Mine” is set to be released next with an accompanying music video done by Moonculture Films that was shot in Korea. This song delves into another theme that listeners will be able to identify with. The hook says “do I ever cross your mind? Because you’re always on mine.

“It’s the idea of wondering if somebody is thinking about you, because they’re running around in your mind,” Evangelia said. “It was a time in my life where I had gone through a breakup and people don’t just leave your head right away.”

Along with themes like these pervading Evangelia’s songs, she also simply writes about what is on her mind.

“I’ve been writing a lot about philosophies of life, so-to-speak,” Evangelia said. “And just writing about the whole process of living this life and what it takes. You just gotta keep going.”

Recently, she wrote about her decision not to look for another teaching job. Collaborating with a friend on a song about this helped her find the strength to fully commit to her decision.

“Although it’s about my dream, I hope that when someone listens to the song, they’ll be able to put their dream into it and decide not to give up,” Evangelia said.

Through performing, Evangelia discovered some of her favorite aspects of music, like making eye contact with the audience and forming a connection with people.

Photo found on Evangelia’s music page on Facebook, taken by Vianel De La Cruz.

“There’s this saying that music is the only magic left in the world,” Evangelia recalls. “It’s so cool that you put these sound waves in the air, whether you’re playing an instrument or singing, and people feel it. There’s something magical about those performances where you feel the audience connecting with you.”

Evangelia harnesses the magic of music each and every day, and her love for it is palpable to audience members during all of her performances. As a reward for her dedication, she now has the chance to pursue music full-time, with nothing in her way to hold her back.

“I can say that this year for music, I’ve traveled to Korea, Ireland and Berlin,” Evangelia said. “Those were all last minute opportunities and decisions. I’m just excited to take opportunities that come my way without being tied down to a full-time job. So while I don’t know the next big thing, I know it’s going to come, and that’s pretty exciting.”

Evangelia is also looking forward to becoming more self sufficient by learning more about music programming and producing.

Whether she is spending hours in the studio, playing shows, collaborating with friends, networking, or traveling to foreign places for music trips, Evangelia is constantly working hard on her music. Through it all, motivation comes straight from the heart for her.

“I have this burning passion inside me to create,” Evangelia said. “If I don’t create something, I don’t feel complete. I just love this and I’m so excited for the opportunity to put all my time into making music because it genuinely makes me happy.”

Evangelia opens up Cold Weather Company’s Find Light album release show tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Mercury Lounge in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Grab your tickets here.

Be on the lookout for her song “Always On Mine” on Spotify and Youtube in the next couple of months!


Laura Curry
Laura Curry
Laura Curry is a Rutgers University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Interviewing bands and writing about music is her passion. She is a frequent concert-goer, whether they’re happening in New Brunswick basements, Asbury Park venues, concert halls in NYC and anywhere in between. Alternative rock is her go-to genre (i.e. Kings of Leon, Cage the Elephant, Foals, The Maine and lots more). When she isn’t writing for The Pop Break, she works at the North Brunswick Public Library, which offers plenty of Fantasy/Adventure novels to quench her love of reading. Additionally, she takes on creative projects from dream catchers and scrapbooks to paintings and jewelry making. She’s always happy to talk about her furry Maine Coon cat Austen and his knack for playing fetch and hide and seek. Just try not to ask about her next career move, because trust me, she’s working on it.

Most Recent

Stay Connected