In the enigmatic labyrinth of Abyss X’s art, music transcends mere melody; it metamorphoses into a sinuous tapestry intricately woven within the threads of a nomadic explorer. Within this ethereal realm resides Evangelia Lachianina, aka Evangelia VS, the Cretan polymath who wields the Abyss X title, with her latest creation, Freedom Doll.
Through this sophomore LP, released by London-based record label and left-field tastemakers AD93, Abyss X navigates the path of spiritual visionaries such as Terence Mckenna, employing mysticism and sonic contradictions to elevate her craft, culminating in masterful interplaying of themes and narratives throughout that dare to explore the kaleidoscope of human existence while also profoundly confronting her own humanity.
Through this refreshingly candid interview, Abyss X provides fascinating insights into the conceptual underpinnings of the album, shedding light on the themes of rebellion, vulnerability, and the complexities of modern womanhood that permeate her music.
Firstly, a massive congratulations! Freedom Doll is a truly panoramic masterpiece of interwoven themes and narratives. How would you best describe the concept behind it?
Thank you for your kind words. I think I could summarise the concept of the album as an ode to allowing oneself to rebel against self projected notions of what freedom of being and loving should feel like according to current delusionary mainstream standards. Can you really liberate yourself especially as a woman from societal pressures in your everyday life and when making important decisions and how do you navigate womxnhood alongside your biological clock? This album is definitely directed towards a more grown audience.
We live in precarious and spiralling times where individuality, radical approaches towards creative expression and bold opinions are pretty much obliterated, creatives are playing it safe and there’s a veil of irony over everything to avoid getting political. But the beauty of speaking one’s truth lies in its raw, unfiltered and free nature, so do you feel like you can express yourself in line with your moral compass and your idiosyncrasies? Can you actually navigate deep love and true commitment freely? How can we experience high vibrational states of being as individuals and women when feminism slash female empowerment in the current visual realm inherently serve as facades for male-gaze-pleasing campaigns? Freedom Doll is ultimately a piece of raw, no-fucks-given collection of ideas around pleasure, fulfilment, hope, love, aspirations, heartbreak, loneliness, etc.
Your journey as an artist is truly awe-inspiring in its prolific and multifaceted nature. As both Evangelia VS and the creative behind Abyss X, you've delved into a diverse range of artistic disciplines. From your early years in professional dance, theatre direction, and video design to your academic pursuits in Computer Science and Performance, even finding time to host a guest show on NTS in 2017; it's an expansive tapestry of experiences. How have you managed to compartmentalise all these personal explorations, and to what extent do these various disciplines inform and enrich your music-making process?
I have a constant itch for creative challenges and I like to research different subcultures and dig out elements that resonate with me. Then I give this melange of ideas meaning by injecting my personal creative touch. I’m not compartmentalising, I’m actually throwing everything in one pandora’s box and when it’s time to share with the world I open it. I love contradiction and I love punk, again it’s about freedom of expression and finding pleasure in taking risks. I like to keep it volcanic, like lava turns to glass or rock, transformation is an essential ingredient for earnest creative expression.
As a Cretan woman previously based in New York, living a nomadic life that has taken you and your craft from Berlin to Mexico, the intricacy of your identity is a naturally consistent theme in your work that is pertinent throughout this new LP, particularly in tracks such as This Strange Asylum. Your move from New York City to Crete at an early age is perhaps the most significant transition. How have all the shifts in environment shaped your artistic identity and the themes explored in your music?
I think again, it’s the recurring theme of contradiction. The change of landscape (urban or natural) shows you what exists out there, like a bittersweet metaphor of how you can live your life if you choose to keep moving. That knowledge ultimately translates in my craft. I like to have a routine wherever I go even if it’s a short stay and that instantly brings me at ease with the change of my surroundings. So I think there’s a common denominator between all the different styles of music or disciplines I choose to explore and it comes from building a solid, grounding relationship with my emotional and mental core, my essence as a woman, my psyche. I feel like this solid base is actually a coping mechanism for excess physical mobility.
The deconstruction of locality and the self has been a foundational point interrogated in many of your previous releases. Nüshu focused on Greek events and immigrant life in the United States whilst your 2018 release, Pleasures of the Bull, was predicated upon the Minoan legend out of Crete. This album, however, seems to place a greater emphasis on introspective vulnerability and the personal transformations you navigated during the writing process the vulnerability present through your 2020 debut LP Innuendo.  Have any fundamental shifts occurred in your life that have influenced the evolution of your storytelling through your music? Have you found it easier to express vulnerability in your work leading on from the success of Innuendo?
I think confronting one’s worries about the future is a valid act of vulnerability. We are all somewhat conditioned to be suspicious towards discourse around the longevity of love, commitment, compromise, ego taming, we are all in survival mode. Which means there isn’t much freedom in expression to begin with - I had some very traumatising yet eye opening experiences while I was writing this album and I needed to channel all the angst in a way that would be healing and constructive. The biological clock for a woman, can be set off in different stages in her life and confronting it can bring you to a very vulnerable state.
The imagery of the Banyan tree is particularly evocative. How did this encounter in Mexico inspire your creative process, and how do you feel it is woven into the fabric of Banyana?
I was on psychedelics in the Mayan jungle, near where I was residing during an artist residency. I was going through a very emotional time and when I saw the tree its formation immediately resonated with me. There was something dark and chaotic about its build but at the same time it felt inviting. It looked like a breathing alien body ready to shelter me and so I did go inside its natural hut and immediately I felt its tenderness. After that encounter I named the track Banyana after that tree as it represented transforming my internal chaos into healing energy.
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Both Torture Grove and Banyana exude a powerful blend of industrial rock and psychedelic elements. The discordant tensions between your vocals and the industrial rock instrumentations in these tracks create such incredibly vivid aural textures. How do these sonic contradictions contribute to the overarching narrative of Freedom Doll?
Again it goes back to the recurring theme of contradiction in my work and the idea of taking risks in order to reach a high vibrational state, a state of freedom. It’s about finding the courage within order to overcome temptations of [a] self-destructive nature, separating the bullshit from the truth, delving deep below the surface of mainstream culture.
Terence Mckenna once said that “the artist’s task is to save the soul of mankind; and anything less is a dithering while Rome burns.” Mckenna is clearly a major influence of yours; the very name of your festival references the legendary mystic. This idea he posits of an artist's responsibility as panaceas for humankind is reminiscent of your story behind the music video for Torture Grove, wherein you state how “Abyss X is Gaia, or Mother Earth, struggling to care for herself and her child, Humanity.” How do you navigate the existential tension between being a vessel for profound messages and, at the same time, an artist engaged in your own emotional and artistic journey?
It’s not easy but it’s not supposed to be either - I think it’s important to stay involved in matters of universal significance and to incorporate messages of more profound nature in one’s work when there’s an opportunity to do so. As much as I am political in my art I’m also in personal life. Confronting the mishandling of one’s integrity and certain acts of disrespect within interpersonal relationships as well as in the workplace is a way to make the world a more vibrant place, where you feel free to exist and to breathe. I can’t just sit around wearing a clown wig all day and pretend like everything is ok. I’d rather put myself out there as a quote unquote radical, life is more joyous and fulfilling that way.
You discussed in a previous METAL feature of your debut your frustrations at the subjugation of marginalised voices drowning in the “[music] industry's capitalist-fuelled survival system.” You launched the not-for-profit label initiative SHXME in 2017 a means to confront and subvert this established system (with proceeds going towards helping trans and gender nonconforming people in prison). In the three years between your two albums do you believe that anything has progressed in this regard, or has the industry ultimately been hauled further down into the late-capitalist hellscape?
It’s definitely giving hellscape in my opinion. As I mentioned earlier, everyone is too scared to be honest about how jarring life feels within the capitalist-fuelled race we’re all thrown into and I think it’s become more and more a coping mechanism for the people and the artists. In ancient Greece theatre and comedy were there to shed light and comment on the social ills of their times. And that ‘s what also music did until the early 2000s. Somehow the music industry has since turned into a lukewarm soup of cliches and safe options and it’s quite misleading for the younger generations that have no fab role models to draw inspiration from.
You have collaborated with a treasure trove of visionary artists, including experimental pop prodigies such as Rui Ho and of course the late SOPHIE. How have these collaborations influenced your creative evolution leading up to this album, and what have you learned from these experiences?
I love working with people that come from very different worlds artistically to mine - different sonic references and music genre passions, it’s an eye opening experience and when your vibrations are in sync it feels like pure magic, it’s quite liberating and transcendental.
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Never Apart and Vacuum feature New York artist and poet Juliana Huxtable, and your close bond is palpable in these tracks. How does this sisterhood inform the creative process and result in the perceptive and cathartic works we find on both tracks? How does this emotional landscape of togetherness you both evoke intertwine with the organic, community experience you created at your incredible festival Nature Loves Courage?
I invited Juliana to come to the studio for a session one day and she brought a number of poems she had written over the past few years - many of which were love poems. We sat down and read all of them and made a selection that became the vocals for those two tracks. We recorded everything on that very day. I’m so blissed that Juliana trusted me with such personal material, I think the emotion and vulnerability radiate through her vocal performance, especially on Never Apart.
I feel like our idiosyncrasies are somehow in sync and we share similar views towards life, love, freedom of being etc. You know when we first met we spent nein hours conversing from 10 pm into the morning after –that’s how we knew we were sisters. I’m grateful that since day one she has been very supportive of my festival and my artistic endeavours and our sisterhood has definitely been the backbone for the communal vibe of the festival.
I greatly enjoyed the gospel influence on A Chew. What drew you to infuse this element into the album, and what emotions or messages do you hope to convey through this sonic choice?
There was something in the melody of the chorus that brought a very soul driven chant like energy and as I love to harmonise, I built these canons for the vocals that gave the track a bright and explosive twist. I wanted the album to have a soul nourishing, cathartic essence and a hopeful nuance, where there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I believe that even in times of grief and heavy emotional unloading, overcoming one’s fear of failure and disappointment will later catapult them into greater reaches of spiritual awakening and contentment.
The vinyl artwork, featuring the Minoan Woman concept, pays homage to your ancestors and their artistic legacy, specifically referencing Minoan bull leaping. How does this visual homage intersect with the themes of mastery, nature, and the interplay of feminine and masculine energies explored in your music?
Bull leaping was an inherently male act in the ancient Minoan times, an exhibitory play of mastery on Nature. In my world, The Minoan Woman, also Gaia, takes the seat of the bull leaper and rides the bull into a voluptuous new world, where the descendant man dominated past turns into a femme fuelled buoyant future. I wanted the visual content to fully manifest the lush properties of the music and the vocals radiating throughout the album and to communicate vibrant ideas of self-love and emotional vigorousness.
What is next in store for Abyss X? What can we hope to see from you in the future?
I will be bringing the radical ideas behind Freedom Doll to the stage with a global tour.
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Tour dates:

Lo & Behold, Tanzquartier, (Live with ensemble), Vienna - 7th October - Tickets
Haunting Vision (Hybrid), Houston, TX - 13th October
Performance Space (Dance Workshop), NYC - 15th October
Echolot Festival (Live), Lucerne - 28th October - Tickets
Trauma Bar und Kino (Live with ensemble), Berlin - 3rd November - Tickets
Mucho Flow Festival (Live), Guimarães - 4th November
eel Festival (Live), Taipei - 11th November
Abyss Shanghai (Hybrid), Shanghai - 18th November
Phoenix Central Park (Live), Sydney - 23rd November
Octopussay (Live), Melbourne - 1st December
TBA (Live), Tbilisi -16th December