It feels like we could all do with a little uplifting these days. In a world that feels more divided and intolerant and unequal than ever before it can be hard sometimes just to find the energy to just keep on believing in a better world. We all know there’s one out there, but sometimes we need reminding it exists when it feels so far out of reach.
I guess that’s where music comes in. When it feels like all hope is lost, a song can be a simple shining light that pulls us upwards through the darkness. The new single from Effie Zilch, ‘Room For Us All’, is very much that sort of song; a powerful southern rock spiritual that lifts you up off your knees and gets you believing again. Something to carry into the good fight with us, like a cherished companion for navigating the fears and frustrations of everyday life with dignity and hope.
"It’s a reminder that we shouldn’t be in constant competition with one another”, they told us about the song. “We should not let greed take over. We can all make it. The message behind the single rings through in the lyrics: There’s always plenty of room in the sky." -
Taken from their forthcoming album, Trinity Vol. 2, the song feels powerfully timely and even features the San Francisco-based rock-n-roll duo’s Redtone Records label mate and Holler favourite Miko Marks.
"It was a treat to chime in on ‘Room For Us All’”, says Marks. “Some of you may not know that Effie Zilch has been an integral part of my music on the road and in the studio so it was only natural for us to collaborate on a song. ‘Room For Us All’ is empowering, uplifting and inspiring. I love the message that there’s space for everyone to shine bright and support one another at the same time."
Effie Zilch is made up of Grammy-winning guitarist Steve Wyreman and vocalist Evanne Barcenas. They have been making music together since they were teenagers living in Northern California, always sharing a love for the art that brought them back together year after year.
Although they’re both children of the 90s, they grew up listening to the sounds of San Francisco in the 60s; everything from Jefferson Airplane to Jimi Hendrix to The Staples Singers and that’s exactly what you can hear chewed up, spat out and blasting back out of the speakers at you when you listen to the fearlessly soulful blues rock of Effie Zilch.
'Room For Us All' is premiering exclusively at Holler below.
We sat down with the duo to talk about those influences, how the band came about and what inspired the new single.
Where are you from and how has that influenced you?
Evanne: We are both third generation San Francisco Bay Area people. There is so much musical, social and creative history to draw from - the beat poets of the ‘40s and ‘50s, the summer of love, the Anti-War movement, Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters (to scratch the surface) all wound up in the sounds and words chronicled in our parent’s record collections and book shelves.
Steve: Our sound inevitably echoes what we grew up listening to a la Big Brother and the Holding Company, Electric Flag, Grateful Dead, Dylan, Hendrix, ect) I later leaned more into the early blues and ‘60s soul records where Ev delved into lyric and form of the singer songwriters. The combination results in a fresh take on the sonic and lyrical freedom of those eras. Or whatever that means.
How did you meet and end up forming Effie Zilch?
Ev: My high school band was performing and we were down a lead guitarist. Enter Steve with his faded yellow strat and vintage tee. We were set to play a Sam and Dave song that night (‘Hold on, I’m Coming’) and I can remember hearing him solo and thinking, “Shit! Now I have to sing after that?” I am still scared of him, but here we are 25 years later chasing down the song.
Steve: After over ten years of making other people’s records - Leon Bridges, Jay Z, Richard Ashcroft, John Legend - I wanted a project that wasn’t tied to the commercial market; one with a looseness that gave room for following down an idea without interruption. Ev has a type of openness in her creativity that holds space for that. There is a mutual trust between us - one of old friends - where no idea is too leftfield or not worth a try. It’s funny how we sometimes end up back at the beginning.
Where does the name Effie Zilch come from?
Evanne: Heralding back to our first answer, we wanted to pay homage to the rich cultural history of where we grew up. During the making of our first album we decided to read David Talbot’s book, Season of the Witch, which uncovers the sordid and magical story of San Francisco. There was one small line, in one small paragraph, in one large chapter about Herb Caen that caught our attention.
“Caen might run around with the midnight crowd, but he always imagined he was writing for a simple housewife out on the westerly windswept avenues. ‘Effie Zilch’ he called her.”
Effie Zilch was Caen’s mythical muse. She helped him write his 60-year column in the SF Chronicle, a “continuous love letter to San Francisco” that undoubtedly shaped the lure of the city far and wide. It was an invitation to the misfits of the nation calling them home. So thank you Effie Zilch.
What inspires you to write songs and make music?
Evanne: For me, a song usually comes from a split second moment that could be missed if I don’t pay attention. When I wake up in the morning I can generally feel if it’s a song-writing day or not. It’s like there is a lens on my thoughts. On writing days, I am hyper focused on what’s around me because I am looking for the story - real or imaginary - in everything.
How did ‘Room For Us All’ come about?
Evanne: I wrote room for us all in a moment of contemplative frustration. We’re taught from a small age, especially as women, that fortune is for the few. That success is dependent upon someone else’s failure. It’s a hard human instinct to course-correct because ambition is inherently competitive. Yet, isn’t there room for us all? Miko Marks is a powerhouse singer. My voice is gentler. AND the duet is fuller because of our differences. There is room for both of our strengths to shine – in the song, and outside of it. Plus, the sky is much more intriguing when there is lots of light to ponder.
How did you come to record with Miko Marks:
Steve: I first met Miko around 2003 playing in her live band. After traveling different roads for a bit, we reconnected during the lock-down when I co-produced her album, Our Country. Evanne helped arrange and sing the backgrounds, but the two never met face-to-face because of the confines of the pandemic. Fortunately, Evanne and I were helping to make Richard Ashcroft’s Acoustic Hymns record and he wanted to include a gospel choir sound. Miko and Ev were the only “choir” available and were finally able to step into the booth together. Since then, we’ve become a close-knit trio touring America making each other’s music come to life.
What’s coming up this year for you?:
Evanne: We are releasing our full-length album, Trinity Vol. 2, in late September with Redtone Records. It’s a ten-song journey along the river of healing, change, love and loss. Effie Zilch will also be Miko’s backing band for an American tour supporting Little Feat. As per usual, we’re already three songs deep into Volume Three so we’ll be logging lots of hours in the studio. See you on the other side.
'Room For Us All' is out on 10th June. The album Trinity Vol.2 follows in September