Listen to the premiere of Power by Erika Lloyd, out tomorrow.
Erika Lloyd is a classically trained musician who is making waves with her debut album, Power, which merges her classical past with her pop present. Check out the premiere of the album, exclusively here, then read on to learn more about this artist on the verge.
All Access Music: “You have an extensive background in classical music. How does your debut album Power make that sound more accessible to mainstream radio?”
Erika Lloyd: “I use my education as a great toolbox to choose from for writing and performing, but am still singing in a pop style with an awesome band backing me. Pop music has always incorporated a lot of elements born out of the classical world like adding in string arrangements, as we did in Power. When done right, the transitions or layers of styles and influences are seamlessly incorporated to create a new sound, unique to the artist, which is always what I’m aiming to do. I know my instrument (my voice) better because of my studies, and try to use it to it’s full potential, but in the end I’m always just trying to sing an honest song that other people can relate to.”
AAM: “Who or what inspired your song writing for this album?”
EL: “The number one queen goddess of inspiration, the love of my life musically, is Kate Bush. I listen to her music obsessively. Could you tell? Ha ha, I have no qualms with openly admitting who shapes my writing. For the title track, I created a lyric video with illustrations of Kate and my other main influences: Grace Jones, Björk, Nina Simone, PJ Harvey, Elizabeth Fraser, Joni Mitchell, Jane Siberry, and Tori Amos. It’s my way of paying homage and thanking them for their brilliant work. Also, living in New York City provides a ton of inspiration. I’m surrounded by incredibly talented and inventive people, who inspire me to jump in and create as well.”
AAM: “How do you make sure autobiographical themes are universal?”
EL: “A lot of the human experience is universal. I get so much comfort and joy from listening to other singer-songwriters relate through music stories of their life experiences, and I hope that others will feel the same sense of comfort when listening to my stories. I love those moments when I think, “Wow, she or he went through the exact same thing I did. I thought I was alone in this, but I’m not.” I also included a lot of big picture social commentary and some storytelling of imagined characters and dreams, to enter into a larger and more open world with the audience for a while.”
AAM: “How does the title Power represent the themes or messages in your songs?”
EL: “Music is so powerful. You don’t have to see it. You don’t have to read it. With or without language involved, sound waves enter your body and consciousness, and have the power to make you cry or make you dance with happiness. Why? I wish I knew. But it’s there, and it’s real. Then when language is added in, whoa, it becomes the most powerful form of communication. Being able to share my perspective is power: sharing ideas about community, love, money, equality, hopes and dreams, family, cultural roles. My voice being heard is power.”
AAM: “What are a few songs that best represent your overall sound (two songs you want new fans to hear)? How is each indicative of that sound?”
EL: “The first track on the album, “Stay Awake” is really an example of my musical thumbprint. It’s dreamy and upbeat at the same time. Pop music and choral music are woven together, with an overall modern sound that includes some influences of 80s experimental pop. “Billy’s Balloon” is kind of the opposite. It’s me at my most vulnerable. I stripped away all of the layers of instrumentation and vocal harmonies, so it’s just a girl, sitting there singing her heart out at the piano, just an exposed and sensitive human being telling an age-old story of heartbreak.”
AAM: “Besides being a classical artist of music, you’re also a painter–a master of visual arts. How was your album art developed? Who created it?”
EL: “The amazing photography was done by an artist named Ventiko. She does an incredible job of creating scenes and turning the subject into a character, set in a totally new time and place. When I saw her work, I knew right away that her vision was a perfect match for the world I was trying to create with sound. Her photographs are created and lit in such a way, that at first glance they look like Renaissance paintings, which I thought was just perfect for my style, marrying the modern with my background in early music.”
AAM: “Where do you see songs from Power in the mainstream radio scene? For instance, you are based in Brooklyn, NY; what radio station in NYC is best suited to showcase your sound?”
EL: “Every station! No no, I kid: College radio is best for me of course. I just played “Turn Around” and “Power” live on WBMB Baruch College Radio this past Friday and they loved it. I’d be so happy to be played on WNYU or neighboring WRSU Rutgers Radio. I’m also a huge fan and avid listener of WNYC, our public station, and would be over the moon if any of my material was ever played there. As far as mainstream goes, “Turn Around” is actually a pretty accessible ballad, which I could possibly imagine being played on 106.7 Lite FM adult contemporary one day.”
AAM: “Music evolved as the internet has evolved. What are your plans for music videos and how do you envision your music translating visually?”
EL: “Because I am a graphic artist, I like to create lyric videos with my own illustrations. In the past couple years, lyric videos have turned from something that only fans created with slideshows and corny fonts, into something the artist is putting out with amazing artistic direction: super fun and creative design incorporating the lyrics. I love that, and am excited to try my hand at it. In addition to that, we filmed a music video for “Turn Around” to be released just after the album release, which was beautifully shot and directed by Haim Bargig here in Brooklyn. Visuals always help to further explain the meaning behind the song and emphasize the mood. I’m also creating a piece of visual art to accompany each track on the album. All of this content is amazingly easy to share these days, so if I am able to create it, why not do it?”
AAM: “You have an advantage over many singers because of your dynamic talents. What is up next for you after the debut of Power?”
EL: “I am going to be doing as much live performance of the new original music on this album as I possibly can, and booking outside of NYC more than I ever was able to in the past. I want to learn about what is happening in different music scenes and share shows with other artists from very different cities. The in-person, live, in the moment making of music is amazing. I look forward to sharing that experience with many different audiences.”
Stay tuned for much more from this artist on the rise.