Spotlight: Etéana

– by Michael Donnelly

Wordplay had a chat with Peter McAvan, one half of r’n’b/dance duo Etéana, about their debut album, their direction and whatever’s in between ahead of their Hussle Hussle show at Mojos this Friday.

Blending together dreamy electronic sounds with a touching r’n’b twist, local Perth duo Etéana are beginning to melt hearts with their sweet, serene sounds.

From a slow beginning nearly two years ago, Etéana (comprised of vocalist Lana Rothnie and producer Peter McAvan) have been flying through their fittingly sleepy hometown in more recent times.

Last Friday, the duo filled the small surrounds of Four5Nine with a blissful array of tunes from their eponymous, independent debut album.

The amazingly powerful range of Rothnie’s reverb-heavy voice and the intrinsic subtlety of McAvan’s guitar layered in to their live mix, were certainly enough to work Etéana’s sound into your subconsciousness.

And that is more or less where McAvan wants Etéana to be and believes where most music aims to be.

In terms of Etéana reaching their audience, McAvan believes “the aim is to feel transcendence. Our lives aren’t always easy, so it’s nice for three or four minutes to feel like everything is beautiful.”

The duo’s 11-track album is nothing short of beautiful. From start to finish it retains soulfulness, but at the same time is futuristic and eclectic.

McAvan’s beats stay fairly eccentric but original throughout and create the perfect vibe to compliment your last dance of the night/morning, before you crash into a dizzied heap. Opening tune The Beach will help you to understand this.

On the other half; Rothnie’s lyrics range from her own cultural observations and personal grievances, with Codeine Dreams giving a small insight to her struggle with fibromyalgia and Tee-ball painting a picture of her childhood.

It goes without saying, her vocals are faultlessly on point and harmonise perfectly on tunes The Beach, Usual Tuesday and Sinking Down in particular.

The album draws from many different backgrounds, the sounds of early jazz singers to more so contemporary artists like Brainfeeder titan Lapalux and even those ripening on Perth’s grapevine of talent.

McAvan says he is happy with the way the record turned out, but mentions he’d do everything differently in retrospect.

“How we write songs has changed since we started. It’s just about learning, but you can’t keep working on a song you made a year or two ago… it needs its peace.”

Etéana are certainly on the journey to reaching that ideal, transcendent viewpoint. When asked how they keep their audience locked in to their music, McAvan conceded it’s no easy feat.

“It’s hard, you know. You want a combination of spontaneity to make it seem real. I guess the way I see it, I just do what I’d like to see. If you’re trying too hard to impress people, you’ll just fall short anyway.”

Following the lead of similar local artists Kučka, Mei Saraswati and their support act last Friday Flower Drums, McAvan says Etéana try to draw from their surrounds as much as they can.

The duo finds themselves in a constantly evolving r’n’b/dance scene, amongst a nest of altruistic electronic artists making a name for themselves in Perth… McAvan hints that the dreampop vibe is “definitely where Etéana is headed, but it’s important to not get jaded or pretentious”.

Be sure to catch the duo this Friday, they’ll be playing the monthly Hussle Hussle event at Mojos alongside locals Blue Galleon, Natalie Mae and Mei Saraswati.

They’ll also be again playing alongside mates Flower Drums, who McAvan describes as “fantastic, Leigh’s vocals are something else” and The Dianas on the 20th of February at The Bird.

Lastly – When you’re in desperate need of something or someone to hold on to, Etéana is your soundtrack to the sunrise.

You can buy/stream the album here.

Hussle Hussle event page here.

Photo credit: Levi Neeson

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