Nice To Meet You

The Soul-Pop Artist Evann McIntosh Isn’t in Kansas Anymore

evann mcintosh

Photo by Khufu Najee.

This is Nice to Meet You, your go-to source for all the need-to-know information on the newest voices in pop culture. Think of it as a blind date, if the date were cooler than anyone you’ll ever go out with. Allow us to break the ice; we promise you’ll fall in love.

This week, we shine a light on Kansas-based singer-songwriter Evann McIntosh. McIntosh has wasted little time jumpstarting their journey to soul-pop stardom: performing in German pubs at nine, and releasing their debut album, 2019’s sonically varied and startlingly confident MOJO, at 15. Now, at just 17, McIntosh has a set of credentials—a deal with Mom+Pop Records, a headlining North American fall tour, and a deceptively velvety voice— far beyond her years.

Today, McIntosh releases Character Development, their latest 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 soul-gauging self-honesty that defines adolescence, and brightened by moments of disarming levity. To mark the release, McIntosh speaks to Interview about anxiety, astrology, and their undying adoration for Prince. —JULIA OLNEY


On the inspiration for Character Development: I started writing it during a time when I felt very fluid in a very solid environment in Kansas. It was just supposed to be about growth. It ended up meaning so much more to me than that, 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.

On career alternatives: I have no idea. I dropped out of school to do this. I dropped out two weeks into my junior year.

On being discovered:  I started posting on platforms like YouTube and SoundCloud when I was young because, like, 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 like, twenty-something. [Laughs] He sent me a message saying, “Hey, I would really like to work with you.” I was like, “I’m 13!” and he was like, “Oh my God. Can I talk to your parents?” From there, I did small gigs, and around 2019 I started having solid gigs—during the week at coffee houses in my area.

On their upcoming Outside Lands debut: I’m so nervous. I’m trying to do more scary things so I can overcome my anxieties, but I’m an air sign and I overthink everything. I’m trying to practice as much as I can, which I keep avoiding because the whole thing is so nerve-racking. This is one of my first performances, like, ever.

On Germany: My father’s in the military, so we lived there for five years on the military base.

On German: All I can say in German is, “Please tell me where the bathroom is.”

On what’s on their bookshelf: I’ve got a lot going on there. I got a glass of water, hemp seed oil deodorant, and this lamp that looks like a leg. Stole that from my dad’s office.

On what’s on their bedside table: I’ve got this Prince candle. I’ve got a Prince biography, a book on tarot, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. That’s what I’m reading right now.

On guilty pleasures: I never set myself to private on Spotify. I have no shame in what I listen to. I have a Barbara Streisand obsession. I think she’s so talented. I don’t look into her political views, but as an actress and a singer, crazy.

On their obsession with Prince: I could go on for years. I could write a book about Prince. I could, and actually I should. The first time I had ever heard of Prince, it was because he had died. I was in sixth grade. When he died, I listened to his greatest hits on my little iPod, and I’d never resonated with something so strongly in my life. He was just so weird, and never afraid.

On what makes them different from other 17-year-olds: I’m reading 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 was really going through it when I was nine, I guess.

On their dream collaborator: I don’t know, all of my influences just died. I’m going through the biggest George Michael phase right now. I think Andre 3000 or Pharrell.

On their hobbies: I drive around in my car. It’s a waste of gas, but it’s fun.

On 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 thing about, though it is that since it sucks so bad, I am the coolest person who lives here.

On getting out of Derby, Kansas: I’m going to leave. I don’t know how yet. What I’m thinking is, I’m going to start by doing bigger trips, longer trips, to new places. I feel like I need to be beaten up a little by the world in to appreciate greater things. When I have enough money, I’ll move somewhere else that’s better than this.

On the future:  There will be another album soon, hopefully. I’ve got so much cool stuff that I’m ready to just put out there. I’m excited for this tour, because I get to play with this cool band of 30-year-old jazz musicians, so that’s going to be great.