A Conversation With Miss Eaves
About a month ago I was trolling the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn for some new ear piercings and books when I couldn’t look anywhere without seeing flyers screaming “DATE ME!” I mean, I thought it was super ballsy, so I obviously took a tab with a link on it and carried on with my day. When I got home and typed in the URL, I discovered Miss Eaves, a musician, and her new single, Left Swipe Left.
Curiosity got the better of me and I reached out to Miss Eaves over email to chat about her brilliant paper marketing campaign, her music, and (obviously) dating in NYC .
Sarah Sickles for Pink Things: Hello Miss Eaves! Thank you for taking the time out of our touring schedule to answer some questions for us at Pink Things. Can you tell me about yourself? Where are you from? What do you do? How did you get here?
Shanthony Exum (Miss Eaves): My name is Shanthony Exum and I am a multimedia artist who lives in Brooklyn. I work in a lot of different mediums like design, photography, paper mache, and music.
I was born in North Carolina and lived there my whole life until six years ago. I was working as an art director and doing music on the side. When I was laid off from my job I just decided to move to NYC and become a full time freelancer at the same time.
Now I am working for myself in Brooklyn doing a variety of art projects, “Miss Eaves” being one of them.
Pink Things: Where did the name Miss Eaves come from? How long have you been her?
SE: I am a graphic designer and Mrs. Eaves is one of my favorite fonts. I thought it would be funny to name my music project after a font. I’ve been working on it for eight years.
PT: So I came to know about you by walking through Williamsburg last Saturday and seeing a bunch of posters taped all over the neighborhood that said “DATE ME! PLEAAAASE!” around a black and white photo of you in a Tinder costume. The poster featured take-away tabs, so obviously I took one. My first thought was that it was genius. My second thought was that I HAD to interview you about your dating technique. So many of the tabs were gone! I wanted to know if it had worked! Then I typed in the URL and it brought me to your website (as URLs usually do) where I discovered you were a musician with a just released single that you were advertising with these posters and tabs. I have to say, my jaw dropped at its brilliance. I’m still recovering. So let’s get into it. What is this single called and about?
SE: The single is called Left Swipe Left and it’s all about how demoralizing online dating is.
PT: And there’s an accompanying music video, correct? Tell me about that as well! How did you translate the audio into visuals?
SE: There is a video! I really don’t have a big budget for my videos since I’m super DIY and underground. When I was brainstorming this concept, budget was the first concern. I came up with the idea of the window and thought I could make a cute and funny crowd sourced video on the cheap. I directed and edited it myself and my friends Max Skaff and Erin Ryan did the camera work.
PT: So how does the concept of this song and video result in a guerrilla marketing campaign of dating posters? Where did this idea come from?
SE: I was thinking about how I have zero budget so that idea kind of hit me as a cheap and provocative way to get my work out there. I am not sure how successful it was because the video doesn’t have a wild amount of views.
PT: Has it turned out the way you thought it would? Like how successful has this campaign been do you think? Would you do it again?
SE: I am trying to redefine how I am viewing success. I used to get super bummed if I released a video and it didn’t get hella views, but I am trying now to make success a more internal thing. I am pretty proud of how well the video came out (especially considering the budget) and also my creativity and determination during the whole process.
I am driven to make art so I will always do it again. I just want to keep improving.
PT: Have you ever done something like this for your personal life? I would love to see that. Let’s talk dating!
SE: I would never do something like this for my personal life. I really like boundaries so this wouldn’t work for me.
PT: Are you a single/dating person yourself? I am and I hate it. I have social anxiety so I use dating apps and it’s truly mediocre at best, but terrifying at worst. Have you ever used them?
SE: I am a forever single person. The theme of loneliness comes up a lot in my work. I feel a lot of pressure from society to always date someone and a lot of single shaming, especially as we get older.
I have used dating apps with mixed success. A lot of the people who I met on the apps were coming at me with a lot of intense unsustainable feelings and then ghosted. I am hoping to meet people in real life while doing things I am interested in. It would be cool to make a friend first and then see if there is romance potential there. I do use one app which I check maybe a couple of times a month but that is mostly to meet other queer people for friendship/potential dates.
PT: Can you tell me your thoughts on modern dating?
SE: I think people have too many expectations going into dates, like looking for someone to complete them or to be their everything. All humans are so different, so to expect someone to totally get you is an unreasonable goal. Online dating also relies so heavily on looks alone that it marginalizes people who are not conventionally “attractive”.
I have been learning about relationship anarchy recently and the idea really intrigues me. It’s the idea of not necessarily prioritizing your romantic relationships because you can have other non romantic relationships that are equally valuable, but in different ways. It bums me out that someone’s romantic relationship status is used to judge how “successful” they are.
I hope in the future people are more open to celebrate all the different kinds of relationships humans have with each other without overly stressing one relationship structure over the others.
PT: Do you think that a sign like these posters for your single would be an effective way to start dating in the city? Because I do think that it’s a lot harder for those of us who live here in New York City.
SE: I think the posters could work but would be the equivalent to having a stranger set you up on a blind date. You could meet someone cool, but it would be mostly luck. I also think because I looked intentionally desperate on that poster I would attract mostly creeps. But I do agree about NYC being hard.
PT: Do you have any thoughts on a solution to modern dating? Polyamory? That kind of thing?
SE: I have been in a poly relationship before and that is also hard! All relationships are hard. I think the solution is people being vulnerable and honest about their expectations and desires.
PT: What about romance? I mean, is it gone? I know it’s not completely because I am a v romantic person and can’t wait to bestow it upon a partner when I find one, but are we a dying breed?
SE: I feel being connected and love is very human, but a lot of how we see romance today is constructed to make us buy things/experiences — spending money on a date, buying products to make us more sexually appealing, even spending money on apps! I would just love to have real honest human experiences with people. That would be so romantic to me.
In the grand scheme, romance is hope and I think that is beautiful. I think it’s really powerful that you know what you want because that makes it so much easier to find it!
PT: Okay, I’ll take it back to music, what do you have in the works and what’s coming up next?
SE: Right now I am doing a couple of tours until the end of the year and writing new songs. I’ll figure out where they go next year.
PT: And to end, we ask everyone we talk to about their relationship to the color pink. Can you tell me about that? Do you have any thoughts or opinions on the color?
SE: I love pink! Especially hot/vibrant pink. It reminds me of riot grrrls.
This interview was conducted via email and has been condensed and edited.
Photos by Sarah Jones except poster photos which are by Sarah Sickles.
Miss Eaves is a Brooklyn-based multimedia artist.