Torch singer Eryn has shared studios and stages with such legends as Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, Don McLean, Gin Blossoms, and Greg Allman. Her captivating live performances and commitment to old-school R&B sounds helped secure her place as the youngest-ever inductee into the New Jersey Blues Hall of Fame in 2016. She’s played in bands like The Soul Project and Eryn Shewell and the Whiskey Devils in such hallowed venues as The Stony Pony and The Bluebird Café.
Eryn has already released several well-regarded albums (Window Pane, 4th & Broadway) and recorded a smoky version of holiday classic "Santa Baby" for television. Now the Maryland-born native continues her musical metamorphosis on the new EP Lady E, whose signature track “Hallelujah, You’re Gone” celebrates personal independence, self-reliance, and hope for the future.
We chatted with Eryn about the EP, its soulful pedigree, and her affinity for authentic, emotionally-compelling music.
AXS: What did you learn from writing and recording your previous albums that you brought to the Lady E EP?
ERYN: I’ve learned so much from recording my previous albums. A lot of it was what not to do. I think in the past I spent way too much time worrying about what other people thought, and making other people happy, rather than listening to my inner self. I’ve often been told I was “hard to place” because I pulled from so many different influences; but this time, I am embracing not fitting in. I choose to define my own genre—I’ve coined “retropop”—which to me is combining old school authenticity with a modern vibe. And yes, this EP is a major reset button for me. I’ve left the negative energy in my life behind and I started this project in a much better place than I’d been for a while. I knew more of what I wanted and the direction I wanted to take it.
AXS: Where is Shorefire Studios?
ERYN: Shorefire has been the “go to” studio in the Jersey shore music scene since the 70s. Springsteen, Blondie, Bon Jovi and Darlene Love have recorded there. I’ve been working on my EP with Joey DeMaio—the engineer there—since last summer, and we completed it right around this holiday season. Joey is one of the best around. He and I have worked together on many projects through the years, but it was really exciting for me to get to work with him on my own project this time. He really knows how to capture the sound of my voice, even when I’m blowing up the microphone!
AXS: You have some great musicians here, with a common denominator being New Jersey (Bon Jovi’s David Bryan, guys from Little Steven’s Disciples of Soul). Do you think that helps inform the music a bit better, gives it certain Jersey personality?
ERYN: I do and I don’t. New Jersey has a tight-knit family of fantastic musicians that I’m honored to be a part of, and I love how we all support each other. But one of the bands I first sang with in New Jersey was from New Orleans. Jon Cristian Duque, of the New Orleans band Soul Project, played on the EP. I’m from Maryland, and my influences come from all over.
AXS: Can you talk about how “Hallelujah” works so well as a sort of musical “Goodbye, John” letter or kiss-off cut? Or how a tune like “You Missing from Me” addresses the emptiness we all feel when we can’t be with the one we want to be with?
ERYN: I think “Hallelujah You’re Gone” works as a musical “goodbye” not just to a “John,” but to anything in life you need to leave behind to come into your full self. For me, it’s goodbye to old relationships, goodbye to old bad habits, goodbye to old last names. That’s why I’m going by just Eryn! But it wasn’t easy getting there. “The You Missing from Me” is about the hard emotions that you have to go through to get to the other side. I think going through the highs and lows personally has really brought me to appreciate the beautiful things that I have in my life now. If you don’t have bad relationships then how do you know when you’re in a good one? I’ve been in a few abusive relationships in the past. It took a lot of growing inside for me to be able to break the cycle and find someone who truly appreciates and loves me for who I am.
AXS: “Just Jump” explores the idea of living for today and taking a chance on something new. Can you share a recent experience where you took a risk like that, and perhaps did something you never thought you would or tried something different?
ERYN: I’ve always been a sort of daredevil, especially when I was a wild child and was always one to take chances in life. It wasn’t until I was hurt a few times that I became a little timid in trying things. But, I never thought I’d be happily married. So when my husband proposed to me, it was a little bit of a “Hell, let’s just jump” moment for me! Even though I knew he was planning it, it still took me by surprise. Then on top of that, having a big wedding and spending a bunch of money is not something I’m used to. He had to convince me to go all in on that and I’m really glad we did because it was one of the best days of my life. Completely worth it!
AXS: What kinds of special touches did Cheryl DaVeiga, Anthony Krizan and Jack Daley bring to the writing and production side of things?
ERYN: Each of them is so talented in their own way. Cheryl is always the one pushing me to never settle for something when we write a song. She is always striving to make it the best it can be and that’s something I really appreciate. Anthony is always the guy coming up with that cute quirky one liner that kind of ties everything together and unique chord progressions. It really is a great writing team to be a part of. Jack just gets it. He knows what I mean when I try to communicate the craziness bouncing around in my brain. He understands exactly what I need musically and knows how to make it happen. He put an incredible group of people together in the studio to create this EP. On top of that, he is an incredible bass player. His feel is just off the charts! It was so wonderful to finally work with him on this level.
AXS: How’d you get started singing at such a young age?
ERYN: I began singing at a young age because of my family. We always had music around the house. My grandfather played almost any instrument he could pick up and my mother and aunts were always singing. I honestly didn’t know that that wasn’t normal until I was in middle school. I thought singing at every family gathering was just life. I always had a pretty deep obsession with it too. I would record myself singing along to songs off the radio to a cassette tape when I was really little. Hopefully, those recordings are long gone and won’t come back to haunt me! Then I would drag my poor father out to all these karaoke venues so I could sing, and little did we know my father was a great singer too! He then actually picked it up as a hobby and started performing out as a crooner. It was definitely something my family and I bonded over.
AXS: Can you discuss the importance of old-school sounds in your music (guitars, drum ‘n’ bass, horns) as opposed to drum machines and programming? Why is that element so crucial for you?
ERYN: To me this is extremely crucial because I believe there is energy in music. Music isn’t just something you hear; it is something you feel and experience and I believe that is its power. I want to feel, and I want my audiences to feel, that power. To me, music created by a computer loses some of its soul. Sometimes it’s a cool element to add in as a kind of extra touch, but to me most music should be created from the energy that comes from the soul.
AXS: What kind of music do you enjoy in your downtime? What’s on your iPod or car player?
ERYN: I’m pretty eclectic when it comes to music. If you scrolled through my playlists you’d probably laugh. But, there are always my staples—my major influences like Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Eva Cassidy and Susan Tedeschi to name a few. My heart and soul also lies with people like Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, Bobby Blue Bland, etc. I just love all of this old school soul music. Lately, I’ve been trying to listen to some more current artists, and I’ve been really into Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, Serena Ryder, Elle King, ZZ Ward, and Beth Hart.
AXS: Your Facebook indicates that you are (or were) a graphic arts student. Do your skills as a "visual" artist carry over at all into the "aural" sphere of your music? Can you "see" the sounds you're hoping for?
ERYN: I’m still a student at Full Sail University and I just love it! It’s another creative outlet for me. I love to learn and I love to create. Visual creation definitely carries over into my music career. I think creating music involves all the senses. And it helps with social media and my online presence. I really enjoy creating little ads and posts for Instagram and Facebook. Before this, I also got a degree in audio engineering and I plan to continue my education to get my masters in Entertainment Business.