If you’ve had your ear to the music scene in Santa Cruz, then you have may have heard the telltale vibrations of a new local sensation starting to gain momentum. New to Santa Cruz, but no stranger to the industry, Aliza Hava and her group Eve of Eden have been making a name for themselves around town. Eve of Eden’s unique sound—kind of country, with a southern rock twang and some folk and pop thrown in—coupled with Aliza’s sultry, ethereal voice, long music career, and empowering back story is distinctive and hard to resist. We sat down with Hava to learn a little more about what brought them to town, discuss their new album, “The Natural State”, and see what they have in store for us.
Your band is from all over the Bay Area. How did you all meet and get together for this project?
I’m actually originally from New York, and I moved out here about three years ago. The band started when I teamed up with my friend from college who had moved out here about ten years ago. She plays keyboard and we started playing as a duet. I met Corey, the drummer, when he was going to UCSC. He was playing at Louie’s Cajun Kitchen before it shut down as a kinda jazz trio thing, and I noticed that he was on time. The drummer is rarely the first one to arrive, and he killed it. I knew I had to work with him. Deirdre, Corey and I played as a trio for a while and we were looking for a bass player. After about half a dozen auditions we found Jesse, who is our current bass player. Deirdre now lives in the Napa Valley area and can’t join us for every gig because she’s a full-time music therapist, but we’re still very close—she’s more family to me than anything. Tyler is our local guy, he’s been playing with loads of local bands, and we are insanely lucky to have him because he’s a killer guitar player and a great songwriter as well.
Before Eve Of Eden, you were a peace troubadour who served as head of the International Day of Peace NGO Committee’s Music Team. What were some of the things you were involved with?
I worked with a bunch of projects that helped promote peace through music. It all started when I was invited to perform in something called the World Peace Fair at the Washington Monument. The ceremony involves having a few hundred people hold every flag in the world, and we sang “May Peace Prevail on Earth” and did the universal prayer in many different languages. It was pretty powerful—this was shortly after 9/11.
After the event, I was invited to work at the United Nations Shared Experiences for Peace Youth Summit as an organizer. This was a one-time event but it opened a lot of doors for me. I met a woman who worked with United Religions Initiative. I was raised Jewish but I have always been interested in all the other religions because I believe God exists in all things, even pagan stuff [laughs]. It kinda permeates all of that in my opinion. I was really fascinated by that, so I ended up moving to Jerusalem in order to sing music for peace that I had written, and not like fluffy “Kumbaya” shit. I was trying to address all the dark shit that was happening and trying to pull out the light. I had seen a lot of darkness in the world and I wanted to heal that, but when people really started responding to my music I was surprised. I mean, I wasn’t Israeli and I didn’t speak Hebrew but people were still really digging it.
I started to get invited to a lot of peace projects in the area, which led to me starting to organize larger scale peace concerts. I started a bunch of really interesting projects, including an effort to link musical stages all across the world via live stream, we actually got 50 different organizations linked up and cooperating, but in the end our vision fell a little short. It taught me a lot about how stressful it can be to deal with projects on that scale, and how people don’t always have the best intentions in mind.
It was also during that project that I met my husband in Jerusalem. We got married shortly after and moved to Santa Cruz ten days after the wedding.
What made you decide to transition from Musicians for Peace to start Eve Of Eden?
Part of it was that I really saw the dark side of the peace movement. I think I was just super burned out as well because it was all volunteer work, meaning I was barely supporting myself while trying to raise funds for things like our website, projects, and to barely feed myself. I got to this point where I hadn’t been singing or songwriting for a long time, and while I was working with music, I just wanted to sing. It all started with people wanting to hear me sing, and I got caught up with all this organizational and logistics stuff. I didn’t want to look back another few years down the road and realize I didn’t do what I wanted to do. My husband went to UCSC, and we also wanted to leave Israel because things were starting to heat up—bomb sirens were going off frequently—so we just did it. I had always wanted to live in California since I was a little kid so it worked out great.
You’re about to release the first single off your new album, and it seems like it has been a long time in the making. How does it feel to be done and almost ready to share it with your fans?
Oh man, it is such a relief. Being in it, you want it to be perfect, but at the end of the day, you have to eventually put it out at some point. It’s kind of like pregnancy: there’s this lifecycle and when that baby is ready to drop, nothing is gonna stop it from coming out. I actually got the album back in March, finished and ready to go, but one of my producers got so excited and told me not to do anything yet so he could help me get signed and put it out on a label. Then I also got interested from another guy who has been in the industry for like 50 years, even worked with Frank Sinatra, and he was convinced I should wait and try and get a record deal. I was ready to put it out and they were telling me to wait three months. It was torture, but in the end it was the right decision. Over the years, I’ve dealt with a lot of shady producers so it was great to have two of them treat me and the project so well.
You guys talk a lot about using your music to heal. What do you mean by “heal”? Do you see tangible results? And finally, what is “The Natural State”?
I’m glad you asked that actually because it is a little cryptic. As far as “natural state”, to me that takes me back to when a child is born and they are pure and innocent. Even the Dalai Llama has said that when children are in their natural state they are generally helpfu. There have been studies done where a little kid is in a room and someone drops something, and they will pick it up for them with no prompting, so it’s kind of this natural state of helping each other. Eden to me is a state of mind, a state of consciousness where we come to realize that we are all connected, to each other and to the earth. the natural state of the earth is a very healthy thing—the herbs that heal us, the fruits that grow from trees that nourish us—and we are kind of messing that cycle up as a civilization. We’ve fallen out of sync with the natural rhythm, and because of that, we’re seeing a lot of detriment in the world. So I’m trying to help us reclaim our natural state, or our birthright, which is living in harmony with the earth. When the world and politicians are pulling you towards racism and violence, that tells me we need to work together harder to influence better things on the planet, and not be cynical. We need to heal our own conditioning and the things we have been taught and get back to the state of mind we were in as children. Babies don’t know the difference between skin color, we learn all that. So that’s kind of what drives the band forward. We could write a pop song or a social song, but no matter what we realize it can be used to affect people on a deeper level.
What can we expect from your release party?
Be ready to dance, be ready to feel something with not only your ears but your heart. Come open yourself up to the community and feel how the music brings people together.
Eve of Eden’s release party for their new album “The Natural State” will take place on Saturday, June 18 at The Hophead Public House. Doors at 8pm. Free.