In the rush for the almighty Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris, this week, Sophie took a few minutes to sit down with Lorely Rodriguez a.k.a. Empress Of. She was performing that same night on stage at the Opening Party at Café de la Danse alongside LA Priest and Borns. All three acts actually on our radars for so long. Empress Of rocked the venue with hit singles, she was all over that stage, started with “Realize You”, which is one of our favorites tunes (she’d already played this track in a previousP4K edition).
Sophie talks with Lorely about recording her debut full length album ME, Star Wars, Living in NYC and trying to forget someone but you keep thinking about them… Read on, and follow her musical rise of Lorely Rodriguez as she creates introspective, self-empowering electro-pop centered around her impressive, aerial vocals.
Empress Of’s debut album Me dropped on XL/Terrible Records in September of 2015[separator type=”thick”]
Empress Of is the moniker for American-born artist Lorely Rodriguez, who released her new album “Me“ and played a headline slot at the Opening Party for Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris this year along with BØRNS and LA Priest.[separator type=”space”]
[imagebox maintitle=”EMPRESS OF” subtitle=”Buy ME, out now” image=”https://sodwee.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/tumblr_nruusmmXM21rfsyjqo1_1280.jpg” color=”white” space=”130″ link=”https://itunes.apple.com/album/id1011033348″]
Interview by Sophie. Photographs by Michela Cuccagna.
Just to let you know, French people have never been fond of nobility but I guess we can make an exception with you ! Can you explain the origin of your moniker ?
It’s not nobility, it’s more about being confident and just like reigning whatever I do at the moment. It comes from a Tarot cards. The first reading I got was the Empress, so I thought « ok, whatever, I’m the Empress … of ! » (laughing)
“I don’t write in NY because it’s too stressful” – Empress Of on song writing…
Your first album Me was released in September. As the title suggests it’s very introspective and it deals with the different steps you lived after a breakup. Which song was the most difficult to write ?
“Threat”, it was really hard to write it because it’s about when you’re trying to forget someone but you keep thinking about them. The memories are a threat and I’m writing a song about it so it’s an endless circle ! (laughing). Icon was also very hard because it was just about being alone. The lyrics are literally I’m just in a room with the lights on and nobody knows I’m their icon. I’ve been working on this record for months and months and nobody knew about it, nobody could care less. It’s like very introspective !
Contrary to your EP Systems, you chose to sing in English only. Why ?
Just because I wanted to be really straightforward. I didn’t want to confuse anything. I wanted it to be « this is what it is ! ». That’s why it’s called me, that’s why the cover is like no style, no make up. I borrowed that shirt from someone. I didn’t want to have songs in English, songs in Spanish. I write differently in Spanish.
And yet you recorded it in Mexico ?
Well I went to Mexico and I was like « maybe I’ll write some of it in Spanish because I’m here » but I ended up just like… I didn’t want to do it ! …..What do your shoes say ?
Star Wars and C3PO…
Where did you get those ?
I made them, on the internet !
(laughing) Yeah, I had something written (Jedi Rules)…
Wow ! That is so nerdy ! I love it, it’s really good!
Thank you ! You moved from LA to NY and I read you were actually moving back to LA ! Did you get tired of Brooklyn or do you only miss California ?
I miss my mum, the warm weather and the palm trees and I am tired of New York so yes, you’re right (laughing)… all of that ! I’m excited to move.
Do you think that your way to write songs will be different in LA ?
I don’t write in NY because it’s too stressful, that’s why I went to Mexico to write a record. I’m gonna see if I can write in LA . If I can’t do it I will move somewhere else.
You were part of a band, Celestial Shore. Do you find it easier to be on stage on your own ?
Yes, that’s why I left that band ! (laughing) I wanted to do my own thing, I mean I still have band mates but I wanna be in charge.
Isn’t it frightening ?
At first I was but I like making my own music.[separator type=”thick”]
Your father is also a musician. What is your first musical memory ?
It would be listening to the Beatles.We had a book on our piano and I didn’t know how to read music but I knew where one note was so I would go up and down, trying to read the music but I was reading the whole song all wrong. « This doesn’t sound like A Hard Day’s Night ! »
You co-directed your videos. I guess you’re interested in visual arts.
I am but in like a natural way. It’s mostly a reflection of my life. I do not think abstractly about visuals.
On the record, you mentioned other artists on the thank you notes.
Yes, I mentioned Dev and Patrick from Chairlift.
You also had a special word for Emile Haynie on a video.
Yes, he helped me on How Do You Do It ? He let me throw a pool party at his house ! (laughing) He just got this mansion in LA, it’s so beautiful !!! He’s amazing, like the nicest person in the world.
Do you intend to see anyone tonight ?
I wanna see BØRNS and LA Priest. I wanted to see Moses Sumney but he’s playing at the same time as me.
Finally, Sodwee stands for Sound of The Week, so what would be your SOUND of the week ?
There’s so much good music that came out this week ! Dev Hynes put a track out, I heard it last week before he put it out. He’s a friend of mine and I’m like « Put music out ! » every time I see him (laughing). Grimes also released videos and Adele… I’ve been crying like the whole week !