His breakthrough is the stuff of legends: Evian Christ took the world by storm with his captivating blends of trap, trance, ambient and club and has no intention of letting it go.
When the riveting music of Evian Christ first emerged on the internet in 2011, Joshua Leary, a 22-year-old bedroom producer from the sleepy northern town Ellesmere Port in UK, was virtually unknown. Disconnected from any tangible club scene and practically anonymous behind his moniker, Leary had the freedom to craft his very own sound for a unique musical project that would soon take the world by storm.
Influenced by the droning ambient of Grouper, the trance music of his stepfather who was a trance deejay in northern England, and the rap and R&B platformed on MTV, Leary distilled his own brand of electronic music that combined contemplative soundscapes with pummelling rhythms and captivating vocal hooks. His earliest tracks were gnarlier than the proliferating sound of vaporwave, but more contemplative than EDM-heavy trap. These were moody and melancholic pieces that were experimental in nature, but clicked immediately with whoever found their way to them. Leary was onto something special here and the internet would soon be onto him.
He published a mastered version of his first tracks on the Kings and Them mixtape, released in 2012 by the influential label Tri-Angle, which has been the home of seminal producers like Balam Acab, Clams Casino, The Haxan Cloak and LOFT (now known as aya). The release garnered a lot of attention and propelled Leary to the world stage of club music, where he was suddenly surrounded by inspiring peers that in their own way were pushing the envelope of electronic music. This was a highly exciting time when stadium-sized EDM was blending with more contemplative styles of electronic music, mixing trap, ambient and trance with jarring sound design and unexpected rhythmic structures. Known as ‘deconstructed club’, this niche genre defied notions of what club nights could sound and feel like.
In the week that Leary passed his exams to become a teacher in the UK, he found himself on a tour through the US that solidified his name as one of the most important producers and deejays of the 2010s. Soon, even bigger things were laid out for Evian Christ, as none other than Ye (formerly Kanye West) got a hold of his tracks and wanted him to produce for his magnum opus Yeezy. Out of the blue, Leary was faced with a tremendous challenge: to produce a series of beats for Ye in only a couple of days, to basically audition to be on Ye’s iconoclastic rap classic. The very first beat he created eventually made the cut as I’m In It, a fierce and highly libidinal track with mind-blowing club breakdowns. Following their collaboration, Ye signed Evian Christ to his G.O.O.D. Music roster, making Leary’s dream come true to also produce music for mainstream rappers and singers. “Guys like us could potentially be producing music that people end up listening to on mainstream radio. That's a really important responsibility,” said Leary in an interview with Redbull following his time working with Ye.
Evian Christ found his way into the domain of pop and tried to shift its needle from the inside. His omnivorous instinct to fuse seemingly disparate styles of music and to propel them all forwards is now mostly reflected in his fledgling Trance Party clubnights. One legendary line-up included rapper Travis Scott, alongside Powell and the late musician SOPHIE. These kind of blends of mainstream and underground trends are still what define Evian Christs music, even though he has reconfigured his style considerably. His second EP Waterfall is a much more squelchy and twisted piece of music than Kings and Them, an epic piece of distorted trance and trap, with trembling drum hits and piercing arpeggiated synths.
Currently, the seminal producer is gearing up for his highly anticipated debut LP, finally to be released on WARP Records. Based off of lead single Ultra, the album promises to be a grand embrace of the still-hidden potential of trance as a form of ecstatic music. Here, we see Leary harkening back to the trance roots of his stepfather, but warping the genre into a new era. On Ultra, thundering basses and shimmering pads lead the way to massive crescendos, aptly captured in the single artwork of an awesome wave slowly crashing on the surface of the water. It’s highly cinematic music, but never too cerebral; music for the body and mind.
During Rewire 2022, Evian Christ presents a first listen to his much-awaited new material and will be accompanied by a spectacular liveshow, designed and operated by frequent artistic collaborator Emmanuel Baird.