What’s more refreshing than a beautiful, spring morning after a cold-ass winter with condensation-laden face masks and a sixth shelter-in-place? A young singer/songwriter without that fake accent trending amongst all pop artists. You know what I mean, good ≠ gooid. Nah bro, it’s not gooid at all.
Like many inspired artists, Eri So, a Bay Area transplant, is making the best use of her SIP time and recording her debut album! It’s a five-track EP discussing relationships, break-ups, redemption and hope. Mighty task to take on for a 20 min ride! But listening to the opening track “Sweet Melancholy,” the polished, harmonized vocals and almost Cranberries-esque (RIP Dolores) song structure sucks you right in and you wanna see what’s next on the track list. Or perhaps go back and play it again cause it’s just so damn catchy! It’s a beautiful, nostalgic journey and narrated by the soothing harmonies of Eri.
Let’s ask her a few questions about her ride so far and what’s coming next!
On your opening track, you croon “I don’t need anything but 88 keys and six strings.” What kind of monstrous instrument is this beast? No, in all seriousness, how did you begin your musical journey?
“Growing up I took some piano and voice lessons, and then I learned how to play the guitar in college. My family never pushed me to pursue music, though, and my lessons kind of just taught me the bare minimum. I remember my mom used to listen to stuff from the 70s, so that kind of ballad-styled songwriting that you would hear from The Carpenters just left a really deep impression in my mind when I was young. I’m pretty bad at every instrument that I play, but I’ve always been a picky listener. I try to not stick to any particular genres, and I have a few favorite artists from pretty much every genre. (Carole King towers over everyone else on my list of favorites, though.) So I would say that I’ve had a decent amount of exposure to music, and I’ve had a chance to develop a strong idea of what I think good songwriting should be. But I never really got into songwriting until last year. Not having formal training in music has always been an insecurity of mine, and, even now, I still feel like a guest in a space where I don’t necessarily belong. However, like most people, the pandemic more or less forced me to spend more time with my thoughts, and I thought it’d be fun to try and get out of my comfort zone a little bit.”
Your work on this album went extremely quickly, five songs written in three weeks! We’re sure you have other full and partial songs in your laptop, so what made you choose these five to polish and record?
“I had an entire album written, actually. There were a few complications, though, time constraint being one of them. Due to my work schedule, I pretty much only had until the New Year to record everything. And because I didn’t finish writing them until mid-December, the only bit of studio time I could get was just the week between Christmas and New Year, and I would much rather put out a good EP than a mediocre full-length album. Other reasons why these five made the cut were mostly just due to the lyrical themes and melodies. I wanted them to be catchy and unique, but with enough variety in the storytelling that it makes the listening experience more interesting. I really, really wanted to make every song count and stand out on their own. The other songs were either too personal or not catchy enough. So…safe to say they’ll be sitting in my voice memos for the next little while.”
Do you plan to hire a full band to go on the road after we’re all vaccinated and shows can be resurrected? And have you played live concerts before?
“I’ve never played live concerts before, and touring feels like a pipe dream to me. I’m a very low-key person in real life. And to be quite honest, I’d just be happy to play at some local bar’s open mic nights lol. It’s interesting that you mentioned hiring a full band, though. So my producer, Andrew Conroy (@flashrecording on Instagram), is incredibly talented and he’s literally a one-man band — like, for real, he did all the guitar, bass, and drum parts, and he was amazing at all of them. And I remember thinking to myself just how fun it would be to jam with him and a few other people in a band. I’ve also never been in a band, so that could just be my inner FOMO talking. But yea if one day I could play at a small bar with a few other bandmates, just chilling and having a good time and having an intimate connection with some random diners because they happen to find my songs relatable…man I’d be so happy with just something low-key like that.”
Because of the pandemic, the only promotion artists can do presently, is online. How do you plan to get on the 2022 Coachella bill?
“Haha I feel like that’s an even more unrealistic pipe dream than touring :p Even if I were a lot more established, I doubt I’d be able to have as much of a stage presence as other performers would. I would absolutely love to write songs for other artists, though, and oh god it’ll just be unreal if they’ll end up singing my stuff to a wider audience. I do have plans for that, by the way! I’ve written a few new songs since January and I’m planning to record some demos and pitch them to a few different record labels and artists. So…who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll like my stuff — and maybe they’ll also get lucky and get to headline Coachella and perform my songs there :)”
You’re presently looking down the amazing road of being an artist and you choose the speed and when to exit. So where do you see yourself in five and 20 years from now?
“Right now I have the luxury to just enjoy music as a hobby, which has a very precious lightness to it, because not everyone who makes music has that same kind of luxury. There’s definitely more artists who are banking their entire livelihood on their craft, and I doubt that’ll ever be the case for me. Not that I’m not passionate enough about music, but I do fear that I’ll just be stuck in writer’s block forever if that care-free, light feeling is taken away from me, if I were to depend on my art for a living. The music industry is so competitive, and I don’t think I’ll have enough gumption to corner myself like that. I definitely want to keep writing, though. I think a realistic five-year goal would be for me to hone my songwriting skills in a more systematic manner, and be able to write more prolifically without losing the artistic integrity that makes for genuine, heartfelt storytelling. I would definitely be very, very happy if I get to write a few songs for Norah Jones and Lana Del Rey in five years. Hopefully that’s less of a pipe dream than Coachella :p As for twenty years…married to the love of my life and still being as passionate about music and good songwriting as I am today. Yep, I think that’ll be sufficient for me.”
Check out Eri’s website and music below and follow follow follow!