A 13 track experience with a mixture of instrumental and vocal based songs, ‘Chains’ is one of the most unique and original albums released in 2022.
Some artists play it safe and stay within a certain mould. Cairns-born, Meanjin/Brisbane-based notevenstevens is anything but. The moniker of Ethan Stevens, notevenstevens is unconventional, out of the box and undoubtedly one of the freshest multifaceted artists in Australian music.
Approaching music forward-thinkingly, Stevens combines the worlds of electronica, dance, RnB and hyperpop for this genre-smashing, boundary-warping debut album, Chains.
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Making music since he was 10 years old, Stevens channels that lifetime of songwriting and sound manipulation into his new album, capitalising on his unbridled experimental production sensibilities.
“Growing up I used to spend hours in FL Studio learning how to produce and I was just fascinated and dreamt of releasing music for the world to consume. For as long as I remember, I’ve lived and breathed music.”
Releasing music as notevenstevens – a nickname gifted to Stevens in High School – for almost three years, Stevens’ eclectic production ethos draws upon inspiration from countless sources and is never constricted to a single genre, offering new sounds and experiences with every single release.
“I find it hard to describe a consistent “sound” for the music I make. I find it drastically changes depending on what is currently inspiring me, and what is going on in my life,” he says.
“Every time I work on a new single, EP or album, I try to challenge myself to have a fresh new sound. I always like to keep my listeners guessing what’s coming next.”
With a penchant for blending as many contrasting genres to create something truly unique, Stevens truly steps up to the plate to deliver the experimental masterpiece of Chains within a year of his seven-track EP ‘Cyberboy’.
“It’s such a personal milestone to see Chains released out in the world! Undertaking a coherent album experience by myself was such an awesome personal challenge,” he says.
“The album process for Chains started a year ago as soon as the ‘Cyberboy’ EP was released. I had an end goal in mind for the release of Chains to be on the first anniversary of ‘Cyberboy’, which I am proud to have hit, after countless overnight studio sessions and a lot of caffeine.”
While ‘Cyberboy’ (released April 9 last year) mostly dealt with a happy and melodic EDM/hardstyle blend of sounds, Chains takes on a much darker, abstract and industrial vibe to the project and leans on collaboration, bringing in featured artists for multiple songs.
“It is honestly crazy looking back at how much growth that has happened since ‘Cyberboy”s release though. I never thought I would have been able to deliver an album experience, it just goes to show, you can literally achieve all your dreams if you just put your mind to it and just take that first scary step!”
From the glitchy album opener ‘Goin’ Up’, the urgent ‘Nitrous’, and the wild and unbridled electro of ‘High Beams’ and the exhilarating, euphoric ‘Paradise’, the album is packed with intense with electrifying compelling vocals, evocative atmospherics, punchy, chopped-up beats, searing dynamics, throbbing bass, rich synths tones and sharp production, confirming Stevens’ inimitable creative talents.
Delivered with a raw, unvarnished immediacy, the album zig-zag between purely instrumental electronic tracks and compelling futuristic vocals, folding disparate influences into an ecstatic shot of energy.
“At the start, my initial vision was to have only highly-layered instrumental tracks that listeners would find a new sound with every new stream. Take the title track ‘Chains’ or the outro ‘Goin’ Down’ from the album as examples, I guarantee you that with every listen, you’ll hear something new! But as the album creation progressed, the more I wanted to mix vocals into certain tracks to add a new edge.”
On four out of the 13 tracks, the album comes bolstered with talent, leaning on vocal contributions by two talented singers: stitxch and Kehar.
‘Paradise’ is a crispy, chill-inducing powerhouse anthem, featuring the alluring vocals of stitxch above the song’s pulsing beat. ‘Complex’ also sees Stevens working up a sweat with stitxch, delivering fierce commands across the sultry, bouncing chorus. ‘Spine’ has the same sultry energy, with stitxch’s menacing vocals filled with emotion and pulsating energy, while ‘Infatuated’ featuring Kehar is a high energy electro-pop blend that will prove to be an essential addition to your dance playlists for years to come.
“I love to collaborate and I am very open to it! I love how it changes the dynamic when two artists are working together, that’s where sparks fly and the magic happens! However, I don’t just collaborate with anyone, I only like to work with people that share the same passion and energy as me, otherwise what’s the point?
“All collaborators from the Chains album flowed so intuitively and I can’t wait to continue working with them. Shout out to Beltrano, stitxch & Kehar for bringing their A-game to the album!”
Here Stevens boasts extraordinary artistic prowess and vision for the album, going on to produce numerous stylistically disparate tracks as well as making his vocal debut on ‘Torn2pieces’ and ‘Haunted’.
“I have to admit it was a scary prospect at first (who likes to hear their own voice?!), but now I am hooked with the response I have gotten! I am excited to bring more of my vocals into my future releases.”
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Consistently intense, featuring hard-hitting percussion and potent drops, the dark synths and chaotic beats melt into a rush of complex feelings across the tracks, complimenting Stevens’ navigation thematically throughout the album.
“I find the album follows a consistent dark, abstract and industrial sound throughout. However, lyrically, they tell their own stories (with some common lyrical threads throughout). I really wanted each of the 13 tracks to sound very unique to each other, while still feeling a part of the same “universe”, almost like individual planets/worlds in a solar system.
Dark and intensely immersive with nods to the likes of Dorian Electra, 100gecs, Fulltac, A.G. Cook and Jimmy Edgar, Stevens’ music is entirely his own, and will hit the sweet spot for fans who thrive in the space between electronic music, trap and pop universes.
With an ever-growing fanbase with charting #4 on the iTunes Australian Electronic chart, 5.05+ million listeners on TikTok and 50,000+ streams, notevenstevens has delivered a sonic metamorphosis of kinetic energy with this release, laced with elements of alluring surprises and arresting musical motifs. A force of nature, he is definitely one to watch as he transcends the underground.
Listen to Chains on Spotify here or stream it via your favourite listening platform.