INTERVIEW: Sydney artist Erin speaks on authenticity in the music scene and the pathway to it
We spoke with Erin following the release of her latest single ‘Still’ about how, through the power of self-reflection, she discovered a greater authenticity in herself and her music. Erin explores the sounds of ‘dreamscape’, a style which she defines as: “a landscape of meaning with the strangeness of mystery and the characteristics of a dream”. ‘Still’ is the outcome of Erin’s internal work with self-actualisation, ultimately marking a step towards establishing her own authentic-to-self sound that is tied deeply into her experiences.
“In the first part of ‘Still’, it was a way of releasing something that I felt was authentic in the way I write. My music is almost formless. I read a lot of poetry, open phrase, haiku poems, I like to write over those feelings or emotions that are not going to have a hook. I think actualising myself in the industry as an artist with my sound even if it separates me from electro R&B or soul and genres of that kind. ‘Still’ was a way for me to establish my sound and self,” Erin explains.
“In ‘Still’, I know it comes out as a love song and that's how I wanted it to be interpreted, a very universal feeling of losing something that you still want to keep. But for me it was more of an internal reflective thing, but also being still and confident in who you are.”
Having developed her sound within the music industry over a number of years, Erin acknowledged the ever-present nature of music in her home growing up and the familial influences that have stayed with her throughout her artistic journey.
“I just always sang, singing for me was who I was, that’s how everyone knew me, and it was the one thing I was good at, I always sang. I grew up listening to jazz, my family and I were not aware of current trends, so we listened to old music and movies for entertainment.
“I got a job as a waitress, the owner was a jazz pianist and I sang there every night, and I learnt Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald and sang for my rent. So, I did jazz for the longest time, but after living more in the world I was drawn to different sounds and textures, I wanted to explore myself and the sounds of my era which led me to writing.”
Erin has been exploring the innovative sounds and textures of dreamscape and is becoming a pioneer to a new genre in the future. Erin explains that she coined the term for herself because she was unsure of where her music was going to sit in the landscape of genres.
“I describe my music as a ‘dreamscape’ because it is a landscape of meaning with the strangeness of mystery and the characteristics of a dream.”
Through her lyricism, melodies, harmonies, and textures Erin explores polarising elements such as ricocheting between light and dark and cultivating ethereal and cathartic feelings through her voice. Erin works with her producers in this artistic scope to achieve this dreamy sensation. Letting go of the idea of writing for a specific genre, scene or industry was a breaking point for Erin, as she leaned into her aptitude for music which ultimately led to the sound she calls dreamscape. The challenges of which Erin notes can be overcome by fostering your own creative lane.
“The challenge is that it is genre fluid, and I think it can be done. There are many artists out there that are not writing in the verse chorus structure, the challenge is building a truly organic audience, you can't rely with the trends, blogs, radio, it is cultivating a space for yourself is the biggest challenge in it.”
Erin continues to talk about the challenges of this genre, specifically in performing it live. She says that the first factor is the environment, “I wouldn’t play it in a bar, I would play it in a beautiful space to create the intimacy between the audience and myself and the musicians and it would have to be something that supports the music”. She elaborates that lighting would be imperative to the environment as well. In terms of instrumentation, she identifies the live sounds as encompassing electro-acoustic with sampling sounds, string section, guitar, bass, drums and keys that would emphasise the samples of dark and mysterious sounds that augment the performance.
Alongside Erin’s release of ‘Still’, a beautiful, scenic and cinematic music video accompanied the single and added to the multi-medium experience. Erin explained that she wanted there to be a cinematic feeling and element to the visuals, with her and her teams working with slow motion, fast motion and reverse action which added depth to the visuals especially with the nature theme to the video, “a river, which is so still and calm but constantly moving”, she describes it as.
Erin provides advice for artists who want to explore these types of sounds and explains that you should lose expectations for the song when writing and to let it take its own path.
“I really did that with ‘Still’, when I sent it to Godriguez (producer) I had no idea what was going to come back.”
Erin continues to say to work with people for what they do and not because of their status or what their status may bring in a commerialistic perspective such as radio or other media. “Work with people who explore sounds and textures and be open to where it can lead in a song, combining that with the writing process.”
It leads one to ponder if this new generation is moving towards a more expressionist form of art in music, a question we had to pose to Erin.
“I do, I really do. I think we have been over saturated with genre defined structure for many years, and people will start to crave creative freedom, and there are other artists that are going that way. Hopefully we keep heading that way.”
Erin’s ultimate goal is to support herself through music that she really cares about in its truest expressionist form of art. The direction of her music with the arrangements are very representative of film music as they were one of her inspirations growing up, “Hopefully one day I will be able to work in that industry”.
Essentially, “Living my life making music” is the ultimate goal Erin has in mind, one which we believe she is already achieving with her artistic flair, ambition and originality.
Photo 1 by @arvinpagala, Photo 2 & 3 by @anna_zrnic, Photo 4 by @adamscarfphotography
Words by Byron Zeledon-Torres