The resident at Assemble Sound just dropped a live piano single, “Bite My Tongue,” while eyeing more releases and a fall U.S. tour with Detroit artist Chloe Moriondo. Story, videos and more.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a series partnering with Ypsilanti’s Grove Studios to spotlight artists from the east side of Michigan — an endeavor aimed at bridging the gap between east and west. Today, writer Lori Stratton profiles up-and-coming Detroit artist Ally Evenson.
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These days, Detroit’s Ally Evenson doesn’t hold back.
The indie rock singer-songwriter and guitarist confronts a past troubled relationship and reclaims a lost sense of personal power on her latest single, “Bite My Tongue,” which dropped May 7 as a live piano version.
“I think stripped-down, the song is even more heartbreaking. It’s a great empowering song for people who have ever been in a weird, abusive relationship where power was misused,” Evenson said.
Filled with somber piano and pensive acoustic guitar, the live version of the track conveys a raw vulnerability as Evenson reflects, “I don’t miss you, I just want it back/All the things I could’ve had but didn’t get/You pushed me down under your thumb.”
“The line, ‘I don’t miss you, I just want it back,’ is about my youth and me being 19 at the time. I just want to go back and relive that part of my life and do it the way I would’ve done it if I hadn’t gotten involved in it,’” Evenson said.
LISTEN: “Bite My Tongue” (Live Piano Version), Ally Evenson
An emerging Detroit artist, Evenson started her musical journey while growing up in Fort Gratiot and taking vocal lessons at age four. She wrote songs with her father and performed alongside him at Port Huron venues by age 15.
In 2016, she enrolled in the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME) to study vocal performance. Evenson contributed tracks to two DIME compilation albums before graduating from school and releasing the “Not So Pretty” EP in 2020.
Today, she’s a new resident at Assemble Sound, a Detroit music company that helps foster the careers of local musicians. The year-long residency program supports a cohort of 10-20 artists focused on songwriting, production and performance full-time.
Along with other artists, Evenson receives free access to Assemble Sound’s recording studios and participates in song critiques and industry workshops.
COLLABORATING, WORKING ON NEW MATERIAL AND GOING OUT ON TOUR
“It will push me to do a lot for myself musically. Now that I’m going on tour with someone else’s music, I also want to keep working on my music. I need to keep focusing or else I will put it to the side and not do it,” she said.
Evenson will join Detroit indie-pop singer-songwriter and YouTuber Chloe Moriondo on tour this fall. She’ll play guitar with Moriondo and her band on the 22-date Blood Bunny U.S. tour starting Sept. 30 in Cleveland at Mahall’s and ending Nov. 27 in Detroit at El Club.
“I’m so excited to play these songs live. I think that’s gonna be so fun, and it’s helping me to get a lot better at guitar. I think playing lead guitar in a band, going on tour and playing for people is the perfect way to do that,” she said.
Evenson originally released “Bite My Tongue” in February as a cinematic studio version drenched in vibrant, distorted electric guitars and dreamy soundscapes. She recently reimagined the track as part of a stripped-down live audio and video session with Minihorse’s Ben Collins on piano recorded at engineer-producer John Katona’s JK (Not Kidding) Studios.
“The song was originally written as a ballad, and I wanted to accentuate the fact that it was written that way. I just love piano, and I can’t play piano that well. I love to hear my music played on piano because it’s not written on piano at all, so it takes a whole new turn,” Evenson said.
Evenson also released an intimate live video for “Bite My Tongue” on May 18 through Bird Fight Presents, a metro Detroit collaborative video project run by Katona, Tom Mihalis and Christian Ohly. (Scroll down to watch the video.)
Filmed from different camera angles, it features Evenson calmly strumming an acoustic guitar atop a vintage wooden piano as Collins accompanies her below.
“Every time Ben and I would practice at a studio, it was amazing. I just feel every line more when it’s slowed down and a lot of the production is stripped. The words are the main part of the song, and it’s really nice to focus on exactly what I’m saying,” she said.
Both versions of “Bite My Tongue” serve as Evenson’s first new material since releasing her cathartic, five-track debut EP, “Not So Pretty,” in 2020. Produced by Elise McCoy, each “Not So Pretty” track invites listeners to tranquilly absorb and instantly connect with Evenson’s increasing vulnerabilities about self-esteem, losses and relationships.
A year later, she revisits her initial curative journey through a new lens of internal growth, wisdom and revitalization. It’s a matter of readapting the tracks from an evolving creative mindset and changing perspective.
“That person was very sad and going through a lot, but I listen back and still love all of the songs. I’ve taken some of the songs and made them into different versions, so they feel like completely different songs,” said Evenson, who’s influenced by Lucy Dacus, Mitski, Elliott Smith and Radiohead.
“I definitely feel like the subject matter of my music is shifting, and it’s less about relationships and more about different aspects of life. As a person, I’ve changed so much since then, and I feel like I’m the person I wanted to be a few years ago.”
Evenson plans to release new material, possibly a series of singles or an EP, later this year as a follow-up to “Bite My Tongue.”
“I would love to start working on an album. That’s something I’m really passionate about and have a lot of cool ideas for. I’m not sure if it’s the right time now that I will be going on tour. I also want to collaborate with as many people as possible. I think being an Assemble resident will automatically grant me that wish.”
VIDEO: Bird Fight presents Ally Evenson, “Bite My Tongue” (Acoustic)
VIDEO: Ally Evenson, The Stratton Setlist Podcast w/ Lori Stratton
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