IMAGE BY AARON STERN
Ivana Carrescia’s story begins in Italy, where, heartbroken and holed up in a small, remote cabin, she turned to the guitar of her childhood and started writing. “I was going through this terrible, terrible breakup,” she reminisces. “It was my first.” It was there that Carrescia, fresh out of art school, penned her “first real song,” boldly embarking upon a new chapter in her life—never to look back.
For the better part of a decade, Carrescia quietly made the rounds in various Brooklyn bars and open mics, all while holding down day jobs to finance her ultimate goal as a successful recording artist. Eventually, Carrescia found enthusiastic support in the form of Ryan Adams (“He’s, like, glowing”) and Sharon Van Etten, the latter of whom she would go on to share stages with. “We used to play together back in the day,” she recalls with a smile. “Before anything.”
As Eddi Front, Carrescia evokes the haunted balladeering of Emily Haines, offering whispered, profound intimacy by way of sparse piano—each weighty note anchored in bleary memory. Interview spoke to Carrescia in Brooklyn, where, shortly after tending to her cat (“I just put Horowitz in the other room, because he’s on a meowing rampage”), sat down to discuss bathroom acoustics, destiny, Volkswagen-sponsored dental work, her mother, fictional biographies, and Cat Power.
JOHN TAYLOR: So, there’s this recording of a four-year-old on your Tumblr. Is that…
IVANA CARRESCIA: [laughs] Yeah, it’s me. I was always singing, I guess. Last Christmas, my mom got it all transferred over to CDs for me. I think I was singing along to Jewel, or something. Jewel and Mary J. Blige.
TAYLOR: Were you the kind of kid who would sing quietly in her room? I was.
CARRESCIA: I lived with my mom, so I think probably. I was always singing when I was a young kid, but when I hit teen angst, I didn’t want anyone to hear me, so I’d go to the bathroom. I was very private about it. Then it changed again.
TAYLOR: I remember sticking pillows and towels underneath the bathroom door so no one could hear me sing.
CARRESCIA: There’s really good acoustics in the bathroom. Sometimes I still record in there.
TAYLOR: Are you serious?!
CARRESCIA: I still go in there—for privacy. Actually, my neighbors can probably hear me right now. Everyone can hear me, all the time. I feel like the bathroom’s the only place I can go, sometimes. I love it. The bathroom.
TAYLOR: A sanctuary.
CARRESCIA: Yeah, very comfortable in there.
TAYLOR: What’s your most comfortable place?
CARRESCIA: It’s probably just my room. There’s nothing in here, it’s all just very minimal, just my clothes and stuff. I’d be alone in here.
TAYLOR: Do you believe in destiny?
CARRESCIA: I think so. I’m not very spiritual at all, like, I don’t really believe in ghosts, most of the time. But, I think we all have a past, you know?
TAYLOR: I mean, you picked up the violin at age five. How could you not have ended up where you are right now?
CARRESCIA: My dad’s a violinist and conductor, so he kind of made me. But it was good to learn and read music then. I played it for eight years. Then I picked up the guitar, and I really liked the guitar.
TAYLOR: It’s probably easier to make friends at school with a guitar.
CARRESCIA: [laughs] There’s no way to look tough walking down those halls with that little case.
TAYLOR: “Don’t fuck with me. I’m carrying a violin.”
CARRESCIA: “I could really hurt you with this violin.”
TAYLOR: [laughs] What did your dad think about you pursuing a career in music?
CARRESCIA: With my dad, we were kind of out of touch. We just became friends again two or three years ago, but he knew that’s what I always wanted to do. And, he’s super supportive now. He just wanted me to have insurance. Which I never had, because I was waitressing.
TAYLOR: I take it you’ve been doing this for some time now.
CARRESCIA: I’ve been recording for, I don’t know, ever, I guess. I was always recording when I was a kid, too. Professionally, with a goal? Probably for eight or so years.
TAYLOR: What kept you going?
CARRESCIA: This is kind of morbid, but it was an obsession for me to leave something beautiful behind. So, I was constantly recording and putting out songs for free. A lot of times I broke down, and even went into some long periods of depression—but knowing I could always write and record, and reach a few people, is what kept me going. And even more important than all of that was being strong and present for my mother.
TAYLOR: Was it just you and your mom, growing up?
CARRESCIA: Yeah, I was an only child. I really wanted a little brother, or a dog. I moved so much that I would just have friends for, like, a year, and then move. It was weird.
TAYLOR: You and your mom must be close, then.
CARRESCIA: She’s everything to me. I talk to her almost every day now. It’s great.
TAYLOR: Did you talk to her today?
CARRESCIA: No, yesterday. I’ll probably call her later, though.
TAYLOR: It’s getting late, Ivana…
CARRESCIA: I know. She’s probably waiting by the phone now. [laughs] No, I hope not. She’s always been encouraging with whatever I wanted to do. She just wants me to be happy in the end, I guess. I’m really lucky with that.
TAYLOR: I’ll bet she was proud when your song landed in that Volkswagen commercial.
CARRESCIA: Oh my God, yeah. I really needed to go the dentist at the time, so I took the money and got a few new teeth. It was awesome.
TAYLOR: [laughs] Volkswagen paid for your teeth?
CARRESCIA: Yeah, I got a new fake tooth.
TAYLOR: That’s the best thing I’ve ever heard about Volkswagen. [Carrescia laughs] Finish this sentence for me? “Nobody does it…”
CARRESCIA: “Better.” Isn’t that Carly Simon?
TAYLOR: That is Carly Simon.
CARRESCIA: I covered that song a long time ago. I forgot about that one.
TAYLOR: Do you ever go back those old recordings?
CARRESCIA: I have so many recordings—I like when shit’s real. If I go out of tune, that’s fine. It’s more important to connect with the audience. To be real. Maybe this is a bad example, but have you ever been to a Cat Power show?
TAYLOR: I haven’t.
CARRESCIA: She’s real. She’s real every time, and you never know what you’re going to get. The first time I went to see her, she only played three songs, and then she freaked out and left. It sucks, but at the same time, you can appreciate it, because that’s just her. And then other times, she’ll play for an hour. It’s great. You always get honesty with her, you know?
TAYLOR: Do you feel like Eddi Front is real?
CARRESCIA: I mean, it’s really just me. All the songs are about specific people, or things that happened. I would say that she’s someone that writes love songs.
TAYLOR: This Eddi Front character, I want to know more about her. Help me put together a fictional biography?
CARRESCIA: Okay. Let’s go!
TAYLOR: Where was Eddi Front born?
CARRESCIA: In Las Vegas.
TAYLOR: Where did she go to school?
CARRESCIA: Eddi Front went to a convent in France, with nuns. That’s where she went to school.
TAYLOR: What was Eddi Front’s favorite thing to do in school?
CARRESCIA: Walk the tightrope, outside. Between the trees.
TAYLOR: What did Eddi Front want to be when she was a kid?
CARRESCIA: An acrobat.
TAYLOR: Did Eddi Front run away from school? Or did she complete her education?
CARRESCIA: She left school, and became an acrobat.
TAYLOR: And she became an acrobat because…
CARRESCIA: Because she liked to flip around in the air.
TAYLOR: What happened to Eddi Front? Did she go on to become the greatest acrobat in the world on her own? Or did she meet someone?
CARRESCIA: She met a partner acrobat. A tall, handsome man.
TAYLOR: And this gentleman acrobat’s name was?
TAYLOR: What happened after that?
CARRESCIA: Then, they traveled the world, and after some time, they became older and their bodies stopped being able to do all the flips, so they got a dog and they settled down in Colorado.
TAYLOR: Did they settle in the ‘burbs? Or in the country?
CARRESCIA: The outskirts. Definitely. They built their own cabin.
TAYLOR: And the dog’s name was?
CARRESCIA: Jorge II.
TAYLOR: Jorge II. They lived happily ever after?
TAYLOR: I would read that biography.
CARRESCIA: That’s a nice life. They can make a movie about it.
EDDI FRONT MAKES HER US DEBUT AT THE SLIPPER ROOM TONIGHT, JANUARY 24. HER EP EDDI FRONT IS AVAILABLE NOW COURTESY OF BEST FIT RECORDINGS. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON EDDI FRONT, PLEASE VISIT HER WEBSITE.