Eva Westphal Is Right At Home

The emerging artist on making it as a girl who loves girls and guitars.


At the opener for her first United States tour, Eva Westphal joked that she likes to tell men that she is 5’10” to make them question their height. (She’s really six feet tall.)

The show took place in November at the pinkFROG Cafe in Brooklyn, a cafe-meets-music-venue with stuffed animals hanging from the ceiling and wood carvings decorating the walls. Before she went on, Westphal studiously sipped on a milkshake, her back hunched over spread legs. But when she assumed the stage, in a black blouse and leopard print pants, she dazzled, comfortably interacting with the audience between songs. (Though she has performed with a band before, she is most comfortable (and saves tour money) playing alone on acoustic guitar).

Westphal, 23, a rising act with two EPs and several singles released, writes honest songs about her own life experiences — her high school eating disorder, coming out to her family, her love of her adult life. Westphal’s music resonates deeply with a generation self-actualizing on the internet. Her song “Loud” hit 1 million streams on Spotify on National Coming Out Day; dozens of women have stitched her song “Dobbs v. Jackson” on TikTok.

Her personality is unlike what you might expect from her social media, she said. There, she comes across as very bubblegum. Mixed Puerto Rican and German, the artist appears white, but Spanish is actually the artist’s first language, she later revealed. And she is funny and sharp — a bit she performed during that same show where she primed the audience to raise their hands if they were anxious or depressed elicited scores of laughter — much like New York City, which she loves for its “efficiency.”

One week after that show, during the 20-minute walk from her day job in Midtown to her Flatiron apartment (the bus was repeatedly delayed), she steered my 5’5” frame away from a suddenly too-close man. “I’m so annoyed at men,” she said, explaining that she would have barked at him (something she’d begun to do) but refrained because he had touched her shoulder.

Westphal said she is the only woman she knows who hasn’t had a negative experience with a man at a party. Her vigilance against men has been steadfast since 13, when she realized the world is stacked against women. Plus, she’s a lesbian. “When you see the world through that lens, you’re just like, ‘What use do they have?’” she said. “Your standards for behavior become so much higher because you’re not going to excuse mediocre or shitty behavior from men just because that’s your sacrifice for eventually finding a great one. I don’t give a fuck about finding a great one. I don’t need one. Womp.”

When Westphal was born, her eyes were wide open, taking everything in, her grandmother said. She was a curious child who “had something going on all the time,” her grandfather added. Westphal constantly put on “family shows,” in which she played the emcee, composer and living room headliner all in one.

Music was always flowing in the Westphal household, several family members recalled. Westphal’s German dad, a classical music fanatic, forced the kids to pick up an instrument. Westphal begrudgingly took up violin; her classical training extended to high school, where she sang with the New England Conservatory Chorale and Camerata. Westphal’s Puerto Rican mom, on the other hand, always played classics from Latin artists like Marc Anthony. Westphal’s grandparents live in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and when her family visited, they took in the sights and sounds of an island bursting with music.

During one summer visit, Westphal, self-described as a “girls with guitars” artist, met her instrument of choice. The house was packed with family and friends for her grandfather’s 75th birthday. After eating, everyone gathered to listen as a family friend serenaded her grandfather with an acoustic guitar rendition of one of his favorite songs. Westphal’s wide eyes were glued to the performance. “She was enthralled,” her grandfather said of Westphal. “That was it for her.”

Westphal stands out from her peers for a curious reason: her day job. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., she can be found at her day job, where she works at a record label in marketing. She sees her marketing job and her music career as two equally fulfilling aspects of her musical expression.

“People want to hear ‘Gun to my head, I want to be in a studio writing a song,’” she said, laughing, as we continued our walk to her upscale apartment building (she has the smallest in a three-bedroom shared with two friends from Columbia University, where she graduated in May.) “If it’s between being in a dark studio trying to write a hit, or going to the office and working in something that allows me to help other artists achieve their goals, and then taking those lessons home and marketing songs that I am genuinely passionate about, I prefer that,” she added.

“If it’s between being in a dark studio trying to write a hit, or going to the office and working on something that allows me to help other artists achieve their goals, and then taking those lessons home and marketing songs that I am genuinely passionate about, I prefer that.”

Westphal believes she’s talented, and that she would be a good famous person. Still, she is not “deluse” (her version of “delulu,” a TikTok-ified version of “delusional”). Marketing continually shows her how few talented artists “make it.” But it has also taught her best practices. Westphal drafts her own release and budget plans, allows no more than three days between posts, shares videos across multiple platforms (for example, uploading a TikTok on Instagram reels), and knows the best times to drop new music.

Her hard work has paid off. In December, she opened for Madeline the Person at the iconic Baby’s All Right venue in Brooklyn. She supported Molly Grace, another queer artist, on tour in March. In early January, TCA TOO, a platform that connects LGBTQ musicians and artists, reached out to ask Westphal to perform in their SXSW showcase on March 16th. Playing SXSW was a bucket list item for Westphal, who calls the opportunity “unreal.”

“She’s doing a really hard job,” said Mariel Loveland, a career songwriter, said about Westphal’s positioning in an industry that increasingly demands artists be influencers to market their music and conversely encourages influencers to pursue entertainment careers. “She is both really intimately, which is really rare.”

Another unconventional choice Westphal is committed to: working with all female artists. While female pop stars may dominate the charts, only 6.5% of music producers were female in 2023, according to a recent study by USC Annenberg, a statistic which, Loveland says, leads to the female experience effectively being translated by the male gaze. In contrast, Westphal has forged a long-term relationship with the female producer, KAIYI, solicits pitches from female songwriters, and recently began working with Tori Hamersky of VH MGMT GROUP.

For her latest project, Westphal collaborated closely with Sabrina Song and Emma Botti, two graduates of the Clive Davis Institute at NYU. Being able to bounce ideas off of Hamersky as well as Song and Botti, allowed Westphal to seamlessly hone in on her new project. “They helped me flesh out the material and we just end up with songs that I think are really great,” said Westphal.

The lead single, “The Villain,” is an “angry, empowering, feminist” anthem, said Westphal. In the recently released music video, Westphal, wearing dark eye makeup, twirls around a barn á la Cruella de Vil before ultimately setting it on fire. The song, which leans into a pop rock rather than the artist’s typical dreamy pop sound, introduces a new era for the artist. She is coming into her own, demonstrated even more so by the fact that the song features a break in Spanish – the artist’s first production in the language since her stunning 2022 cover of ABBA’s “Chiquitita.”

Loveland co-wrote Westphal’s single, “Adult,” a letter to Westphal’s high school self. In it, Westphal sings, “I will look at you and / wish you knew ‘bout me / Because the rules of this time travel say I’m not allowed to tell you / That we’re happier now that we’re twenty-three.”

Westphal says her preoccupation with writing songs to her childhood self comes from the relative stability of her current life. She is two years happily sober, a move she made after developing an unsatisfying relationship to alcohol during the pandemic; after a childhood of bouncing between Miami and Boston and Germany, she has finally forged a home of her own in New York.

“I never understood what artists meant when they were like, ‘I’m so humbled,’” Westphal said, as we approached her building. “I was like, ‘How the fuck are you humbled? People are screaming your name.’” Westphal held that opinion until the Cambridge leg of her tour — her first show where the room, rather than dotted with friends and industry figures, was filled with strangers — fans. (Though she didn’t come without backup: Her grandmother flew in from Puerto Rico, and her younger brother, Lucas, 17, worked the door.)

Seeing all those faces singing her words back to her was “crazy,” Westphal says, explaining that despite her 42K Instagram followers, 102K TikTok followers and 44K monthly listeners on Spotify, she never feels 100% certain that people actually care about her music. “It all does feel very temporary,” she said. “You don’t know if people are gonna stop coming back.”

Ideally, she would have signed a record deal by her junior or senior year of college, Westphal said, but she tries to trust that “everything happens in its own time.” Her journey from 13 to now proves that. “If your main problems used to be not being able to consume food and not being able to function well because you have an alcohol problem, suddenly, that touches every part of your life,” she said, sitting on her pink bedspread. “Once your life becomes big again, and you're eating food, and you're going out drinking Shirley Temples with your friends, every moment becomes a moment of gratitude.”

At the head of her bed, in the bedroom, overlooking the Hudson, sat a pillow with the image of a sunset — her favorite motif — hand-crocheted by a fan.

More Articles: