Eph See is one of Boston’s brightest up and coming stars. Their sweet, gentle melodies and powerfully introspective lyrics waste no time drawing in the hearts of listeners – while the fun, uplifting beats layered beneath could inspire you to step into the sunlight and dance, even on the most dismal of days.
Read on as Eph See discusses all things music, specifically on how their journey in becoming fully themselves has transformed their work from diary-entry-love-songs, to radically soft and vividly-honest odes of self-exploration.
Now armed with this newfound sense of self awareness and love, Eph See explains how they’re ready to talk about romantic love again (this time in a way that represents their personhood as a non-binary BIPOC) in their most recent collaboration, “P1NK”, with fellow Boston Artist, KAI.
Hassle: How did you get your name?
EPH SEE: When I was little – before the internet took over the world, I would entertain myself by spelling out letters; Eph and See are what I came up with for my initials, F.C… so when I was creating my artist name it was between that (Eph See) and my regular name, Felisha Cabral.
All of my friends liked my full name but I was like, “No, I like Eph See better,” so, I chose the less popular one and I’m glad I did that.
Hassle: Let’s take it back to the beginning – how did you first start getting into music?
EPH SEE: I’ve always been a really musical person, but I attribute my love for music to my older sisters and youngest aunt who were constantly introducing me to new music through CDs they’d burn for me.
I was also always performing in choirs, theater, dance and doing anything I could to get on stage and show the world what I was made of.
I started consistently writing songs when I got a guitar in middle school. It was mostly very diary-entry type songs you know, about whatever boy that made me mad that day.
Hassle: Tell me about creating your first song, “Contact.”
EPH SEE: I decided to drop “Contact” my senior year of Highschool. My sister got me my first mic, it was just a $50 one from Amazon, and I started playing around with it in GarageBand, checking out all the synths. I also had an app on my phone which I would use to make beats.
I finally got to a point where I said “Let me just try this, and see how it works.” That’s when I figured out that this was something I was going to commit to for a long time.
I was 17 at that time, and it easily could have been something that people made fun of, but I put it on SoundCloud and all of a sudden people in my classes were playing it. I remember one time my friend and I were going to get coffee and a bunch of people were out in the parking lot, listening to the song.
I just had a bunch of great encouragement from the start and it was really cool that something I made was so well-received so early-on.
Then I got to Northeastern University, started taking all these music classes and meeting more musicians – and it just kept growing and growing. Now this is just my life, this is what I love, and I’m going to keep doing it.
Hassle: You mentioned having such a positive reception with your debut, how do you feel growing up in the creative mecca that is Boston played a role in that and in your artistry in general?
EPH SEE: I do love Boston, especially because it’s so close to New York. I think since it’s such a musical city, and there’s so many different music venues, it was so easy to be in love with music, and to find it wherever I went.
Here, there’s no pressure like there is in some of the other popular creative cities. I think it was great for someone who, like me, needed room to grow and needed to take up space without such harsh expectations of what my music had to sound like – or what I had to do by what time.
There was always something happening in Boston, and it’s always been such an artsy, creative city – and pretty liberal too, which was perfect for someone like me who’s always been a little outside of the box. It was like growing up in my own artistic playground.
Hassle: Your EP is titled g*rlhood, and is highly personal and self-reflective. Can you tell us about why you chose that title, and such vulnerable subject matter?
EPH SEE: I’m non-binary, They/Them pronouns; however, the EP is basically a reflection of my teenage girlhood. Which was a time when, I don’t know if I identified as a girl then, but that’s what I was trying to show the world that I was, like “I’m hyper-femme, I’m doing it right” despite the fact that I really didn’t align very closely with “girlhood” in reality.
That’s why there’s an asterisk in the word girl, and that’s also why it’s all lower-case – to represent the idea that for me it was a time that was juvenile and full of so much innocence and hope… and hopes and dreams.
Now it’s not so much that I don’t still have dreams I do, very big ones, it’s just that now the dream is different.
I wrote it all in the span of four months except for the demo at the closing track. I was living alone for the first time ever and realized that there was no one to be. Being at the peak of the pandemic, I wasn’t seeing people. I was cooking and dancing, making music and journaling, reading All About Love by Bell Hooks. Just doing so much introspection.
I was finally in a place where I felt like whatever comes out is okay, because there was no one else to have an opinion about it.
I was returning to the self, and it was scary. It wasn’t easy to realize that who I had been up to that point didn’t necessarily fit and I didn’t know how much of who I was before was real. However I was committed to getting to a place with myself where everything felt good, where life felt like breathing again.
For me that had a lot to do with letting go of what I was supposed to be doing and the persona that I was carrying around, and g*rlhood was a beautiful byproduct of that.
Hassle: Now you’ve released a song called “P1NK” with KAI and it’s about love again! How did that happen and what is the main idea this song is trying to communicate?
EPH SEE: This was such an amazing song to write, and I highly recommend watching the breakdown KAI just put out where he talks about what went into creating it.
We wanted this to be a love song, but we wanted to figure out how exactly to approach it because, he’s an asian man and I’m a non-binary black femme, so we’re not necessarily depicted in rom-coms.
I’ve always loved rom-coms, from Pride and Prejudice to 10 Things I Hate About You. I was always watching romantic movies —I just never saw myself in them unless it was a side character.
So KAI and I made this very aspirational song, even though we haven’t seen ourselves depicted being loved in the ways that we wish to be loved, we acted as if we had and wrote a song that was everything we’ve wanted. That’s how “P1NK” was born.
It’s a beautiful song. It’s for everyone, but it was written in mind for people whose love stories haven’t been told. Here’s to finding people who make us feel like “P1NK.”
Hassle: After spending so much time writing about self-reflection, what made you feel ready to go back to your more romantic roots?
EPH SEE: I think life continues to break your heart until you stop closing it. Until you let it break your heart, and still allow it to stay open. Whether that be with friends, romantically, or with situation-ships.
I’ve held a lot of that pain and anger and allowed it to rob me of my softness. The way I operate, and what feels most natural to me is being soft, and loving, and frolicking in a field in a frilly white dress – but I was letting heartbreak and anger towards people who didn’t have the facilities to treat me the way I wanted to be treated, make me cynical about love.
Which didn’t make me feel good because I am 100% a hopeful-romantic. I wholeheartedly believe in the love that I want, and just because other people aren’t making movies about it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
“P1NK” reminds me that it’s okay to be soft again, in fact it’s needed.
Hassle: What are your biggest goals for your career in music? Any Dream collabs?
EPH SEE: I definitely want to start touring. One of my favorite things about music is being able to be in a room with a bunch of people who all love this one thing, and seeing them all connect within the crowd. Having those 30 minutes or so where everyone is completely present with the music and with one another.
Being able to tap into that energy on tour, and spread that love from city to city, is definitely one of the bigger dreams for me.
Along with that, I would also love to play festivals, and get my music into tv shows and movies. I think music can become so much more powerful when it’s played over the perfect scene, and I would love for my music to contribute to another piece of art and make the experience that much more compelling.
I’ve been telling my friends for the longest time, and I still stand by this —I absolutely think my song “Vitamins” needs to be in Euphoria. One time I played it over the trailer for season one with my producer and it literally matched perfectly. So, I’m definitely manifesting that.
As far as dream collaborations, I mean, there are so many, but my favorite band at the moment is MUNA. I actually made a cover of their song “Stay Away” and they noticed it, which was amazing! They’re an example of a band that just awakens something in me.
They’ve been releasing singles lately that have made me feel like “How did you know?” It’s like we have a psychic connection or something. Also, Hayley Williams/Paramore, The 1975, really all of my idols I would love to open for or work with at some point, it’s a very long list for me.
Hassle: Where do you see your sound and songwriting growing?
EPH SEE: I definitely have a lot of songs that I’ve written in the love and heartbreak sphere, so I think I’ll be putting some of those out in the future.
What has been really inspiring my songwriting right now has been playing live with my new band. I’ve always had dreams of being a rockstar, especially in my emo-punk phase in highschool, so getting back to electric guitar, electric bass, and live drums has been really inspiring. Bridging singer-songwriter with alt/punk influences has been really therapeutic for me.
That’s the vein that’s been producing the most authentic Eph See music lately.
It’s a 2000’s revival, and that’s probably my favorite era of music — Y2K punk. It infiltrated pop with all the gritty singer-songwriters like Avril Lavine and P!nk. I’m glad we’re getting back to that brutally honest songwriting.
Hassle: Although up until this point your sound has been very soft and melodic, it could be argued that the vulnerability of your lyrics touch the same nerve as punk music does.
EPH SEE: I definitely think so, feeling your feelings is very punk. In a society where you are constantly told to shove it all down – feeling it all anyways is a very punk thing to do.
Introspection? So punk. Self love? So, incredibly punk.
Hassle: What do you want the people who listen to your music to take away from it?
EPH SEE: Feel it all. Allow yourself to feel it all. Go easy on yourself, because whatever you’re feeling in the moment is okay and is only trying to teach you something. Allow yourself to feel it so that you can move through it, if not it will only block you and get in the way.
So maybe for the moment you need to ugly cry and throw a tantrum and be a bit of an inconvenience, but it’s only so you can feel clearer afterwards.
Hassle: Is there any final comment you have for our readers?
EPH SEE: I just want to let Boston know that I’m here.
KEEP UP WITH ALL THINGS EPH SEE!