February this year. I went to London for a week on a mission. I had to interview interesting people and film this in order to be able to graduate. I contacted Erika, an amazing singer from London, who is currently pledging to get her new EP and tour funded. We met in the prestigeous Hospital Club in Covent Garden, where I asked her all about her new project.
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Erika. I was born in London, South-London. I’m a singer and I’ve been singing for about ten years now. Ten, eleven, twelve years? Something like that. Yeah, that is pretty much me in a nutshell.
At what point in your life did you decide: ‘I want to be a singer’?
When I was thirteen I sang with the English National Opera. It was at school really and my music teacher said “Oh my god, you should totally go to this audition” and I went and I just fell in love with the stage and I fell in love with the lights and the audience and the orchestra. Everything. At that moment I was like “Yup, I want to do this.”
Have you had any formal training to be a singer?
Yeah, I trained with a classical teacher, so I did a lot of classical singing. Then I went to study classical music for a year at college and then I did a year at rock school where I studied more of the stuff like I do now.
Where do you find the inspiration for your songs?
Life. My life, my friends’ lives, everyone around me’s life. I am an observer. I kind of take note and see what is happening in the world and what’s happening in people’s lives and my life and try and put that into words and music.
You are a singing teacher yourself now. What is the best thing about teaching others?
I really like working with people. I love people. It’s really fun to work with other voices and push boundaries as well with their voices and with them as people. I like the challenge of that.
What has been the biggest struggle in pursuing your music career?
Probably acknowledging that I am already successful. In this society we are really hyped up to believe that fame is success. While actually, just doing the things you love is success. I remember having a walk with an artist, an incredible artist. She’s an illustrator. And I said to her: “Yeah, well you know when I’m successful..” and she stopped in her tracks and she said “Erika, you are successful. You have a record out on your own label. You’ve written your own songs, you are doing what you love. How can you say you are not successful?” And I was like, oh my god that is so true. And actually, coming to get around that and getting myself out that space, and actually you know what, I am successful and I am doing something that I love. There are not a lot of people who can say that they do that.
You have played for big audiences and smaller gigs. What do you prefer?
The big audiences I played with MIKA as a backing singer and the smaller audiences with my own stuff. There is pleasure in both. With the big audiences, you get such a big buzz and it’s amazing because you don’t have the pressure of being on stage. You can be really relaxed and have fun with it. With my shows it’s smaller, it’s more intense and I have more of a one-on-one relationship with the people that are watching me. I think I prefer that actually. There is a lot more pressure on me and I get a lot more out of it.
You are working on your next project right now. Can you tell us a little more about that?
It’s a new EP. It’s only four tracks this time and I’ve been trying to get some remixes on there as well. It was written in Scotland and recorded in Latvia. Everything was recorded with instruments. Nothing was programmed on computers. It’s a really beautiful EP, it sounds gorgeous. It’s going to be called Onna, which means Woman in Japanese and it’s about the gentle female form. It’s a feminist EP, but it’s more about the strenght in women, your every day women, not the ones who are kind of flaunting everything. It’s more about sensualising rather than sexualising.
Is there something you would like to say to people reading this?
I love pizza (laughs). I think what I want to say to people is ‘don’t be afraid to be creative.’ Even if something you think sounds stupid, go for it anyway. It doesn’t matter. Looking back on all the stuff that I’ve done and looking back at my first album, I think ‘Oh my god, I want to go back and change everything.’ But actually, it tells a story and I remember a really bad review in a magazine and it went like ‘Oh my god it’s basically just a bunch of mates in a room doing something for fun’ and you know, it was. And why not? It’s something that I felt passionate about, something that I loved and something that really kickstarted my career on my own, with my own record-label and my own music. So just go and do it even if you feel silly doing it. Just go for it.