Rosie Varela, founder of El Paso’s newest shoegaze band EEP, talks about how the band was formed and the fulfilment of her lifelong dream. By Deborah Sexton.
For her entire life, Rosie Varela has been passionate about music. As a child, she would sneak into the rooms of her two older brothers to play their records when they were out of the house. When she was eight, she learned to play the flute and went to pick up the oboe, drums, and finally guitar. At age 30 she began writing her own songs and along the way she learned how to record demos at home.
On Friday, July 24, all of her years of preparation and practice finally paid off in a lifelong dream come true. She released “Death of a Very Good Machine” by her new band EEP. This first album is described as “eclectic shoegaze.” In addition to the traditional ethereal sounds of the genre, you will also hear elements of blues, classic rock, `60s psychedelia, and jazz.
The band, which is based in El Paso, Texas, where Varela and her husband Justin Oser live, came about after she wrote a love song to him called “Hogar.” At his urging, the songwriter decided to approach a studio in nearby Sunland Park, New Mexico.
When Ross Ingram, co-owner of Brainville Studio, heard the song, he was so enthusiastic about recording it, he became the first member of Varela’s emerging group. Over the next few months, Sebastian Estrada, the other co-owner, joined on bass.
Serge Carrasco, who plays in El Paso’s The Anhedonians, was persuaded to come on board as a guitarist while also contributing vocals, lyrics and his song-writing skills. And finally, Lawrence Brown III, a versatile, well-known musician in a variety of local bands, joined EEP as their drummer.
With everyone having jobs, playing in other bands, and Varela taking full-time care of her elderly mother, scheduling practice and recording sessions was a challenge. But she and Ingram came up with a unique approach that ended up having unforeseen benefits vs. the more traditional way.
“The idea was to let the ideas take form at their own pace without stressing on timelines and deadlines,” says Ingram. “Typically, Rosie would bring a rough demo to me and the two of us would clean it up and flesh it out before bringing everyone else in to add their pieces and ideas.”
“By working on one song at a time without a hard deadline, we were free to experiment with sounds and structures and find where the songs wanted to go. This allowed us to craft the best version of every song.”
Once Varela and Ingram were ready, the band would get together for an entire day, and this happened once a month. This made it easier for members to fit the sessions within their schedules while maximizing productivity.
“The time between sessions meant everyone could listen and evaluate while figuring out what they wanted to add or change,” notes Ross. “So when we were in the sessions, everyone was so present and engaged, things moved very quickly.”
“We’d often start with almost nothing in the morning and have 90% of the song finished by midafternoon or early evening. The combination of those three things: the time to think, the time to let the record grow, and that fully engaged quick process in the studio is what shaped how the record turned out and how everything sounds.”
The title of the album was a “happy accident,” according to Varela. She used a Focusrite iTrack dock interface to create demos using her iPad. It received some hard use and after five years, it began showing its wear and tear.
“The last time I used it, it began making a very strange feedback noise,” says Varela. “It sounded like it was dying. I decided to record that sound, which became the rhythm foundation for the song ‘Death of a Very Good Machine.’ So many of the songs were born from that machine. Ross and I agreed it would be a good album title as well.”
EEP‘s eight-song first album “Death of a Very Good Machine” is now available on the band’s Bandcamp in a digital format as well as CD. Viny edition is available for preorder on Bandcamp with anticipated delivery in September.
Until Aug. 3, half of all Bandcamp digital sales will be donated to the CEA Survivors en Acción Scholarship Fund for children of victims of the 2019 mass shooting in El Paso. For more information on the CEA Survivors en Acción Scholarship Fund go to https://pdnfoundation.org/give-to-a-fund/survivors-en-accion.
Keep up with EEP: