Ellesmere Port is a industrial town in northwest England, 13 miles south of Liverpool. It’s quiet here. There’s an oil refinery, a chemical plant and car factories that keep the area’s main arteries clogged with Vauxhall Astra automobiles. But times are changing. Lately, Ellesmere Port’s center of gravity has shifted toward the big retail park on the other side of town. Those who move away after school often dismiss Ellesmere Port entirely, telling new friends they’re from the well-heeled city of Chester.
Josh Leary is different. He had planned on becoming a teacher here. But lately, another gig has kept him flying to Paris and New York: Under the name Evian Christ, Leary makes left-field loops for Kanye West’s production team, Very G.O.O.D. Beats, and throughout the past year, he’s found himself fielding meetings with artists looking for a sound like "I’m In It," Leary’s gritty and gutsy Yeezus track that rubs West’s carnal rhymes against lurching bass lines, shadow-boxed soul, drums that slam like steel doors, barking dogs and queasy waves of ambient noise. This weekend, Leary worries he’ll miss a lads’ night out in Bangor - a city even smaller than Ellesmere Port - because a pop hopeful named Sasha Keable wants some "weird stuff" to sing over.
Today’s a rare day off, though, so he’s struggling with the stubborn steering wheel of a knackered Volkswagen Ludo as we pull into a bay at Europe’s second biggest Marks & Spencer outlet. Leary sighs. "Fucking hell," he says. "Work on a Kanye West record, and I still can’t get a car with power steering."