Nashville indie artist discusses patience, pianos and the hopes in her sharp and sexy new album
Erin McCarley is preparing to release her new album YU YI, a strong, sharp and sexier take on the songwriter’s usual approach to songs. Her recent single “Die Die Die” was representative of the artist’s banging new mode of expression. Here things got sharper, larger in scale and set on ‘anthem’. With nods to the political climate, the social landscape and some deeply personal issues that are passed through a filter to produce infectious, hook-heavy tunes McCarley appears to have raise her trajectory once more.
Excited by the new material and eager for the new album to drop, ARTISTdirect thought now was a good time to catch up with McCarley to get a speedy insight into the work behind her upcoming album, her ambitions for the future, and just who she wants in her van on those long and lonely nights on the road.
Where are you right now?
I’m in Nashville TN hanging out in the woods writing and working on the release of this new record.
Tell us about your new project: Who did you work with? Where was it recorded? What’s it about? Is there candy?
This new project of mine is called YU YĪ. From the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, YU YĪ is described as the desire to see with fresh eyes, and feel things just as intensely as you did when you were younger – before expectations, before memory, before words. This rang so loud in my head when I first heard this concept. Not only being ok with, but owning new ideas and provocative thinking, whether it is light or dark. YU YĪ represents a power behind a voice and the music that was manifesting inside of me, and it became an open slate for me to express myself. It almost felt at times as if I was dipping in and out of an alternate universe experience. I made the entire record in Nashville with all of my musical friends that I look up to. I co-produced about half of the record and I could not have had a better experience with all of the people I wrote and recorded with including Jeremy Lutito, Ruslan Odnoralov, Evan Hutchings, The 720, Aaron Krause, Kenny Childers, Natalie Hemby, and Dennis Matkosky.
How do you describe your music to new friends?
I describe it as Alternative Pop.
Other than your music, what should your hometown be known for?
Whew, there is a long list..It’s Music City, of course. But has become the epicenter for all types of music now…not just country and gospel. Hot chicken. Hockey! And it seems that anytime I meet someone visiting from outside of the US, they always wanna know about the show NASHVILLE. The people are very nice and hospitable here too.
Please look around you right now and please describe the first item or person you see that’s significant to you.
My husband’s grandmother’s baby grand piano. Her last piece of music she wrote on it was a senior citizen’s burlesque show. Freaking awesome. The living space and piano is where I’ve received most of the muses for writing this new record. We live in the trees and in the south, the locusts are LOUD. So most of my work tapes have an insanely loud chorus of those little creatures singing at the top of their lungs.
What first inspired you to pursue music? If it was a musician or a specific piece of music, please tell us all about why you find it so inspirational…
Dancing was my first passion growing up. I was at the dance studio for 6 days out of the week. I began singing classical music in middle school and by high school, I was burnt out of dance and went full on into singing, writing and having my best friend teach me guitar at parties. Patty Griffin, Fiona Apple, and Beck are my all time top 3 inspirations for writing.
What’s the best advice anyone has given you about pursuing a life in music?
Patience Patience Patience. Start with the song. I surrounded myself with genuine and humble people and need wanted fluffy compliments. Even though the truth was hard sometimes, it helps you get to your best version of yourself.
Not including your current crew, who (alive or dead) would you love to have in your van for an all day drive from gig to gig?
Honestly, all of my buddies in Nashville! But, if we are gonna go famous:
Me, Tony Hale, Kristen Wiig and Samantha Bee would go find coffee in the mornings. Barack, Michelle, and I would go the dog park and cry. Paul Newman and James Dean would all be watching me from the front row at the show and Zach Galifiankis and Will Ferrell would be heckling me from the crowd. After party, I would be sipping Palomas and doing choreographed dances with Beyonce. Then we’d all pile into the van at the end of the night and Jeff Buckley and SZA would sing us to sleep.
What song best sums up your life right now?
Hmmm… Almost all of the songs on this new record show up in different ways all in a day’s time. I would say the “most current of feelings” on my journey would be: Struggle with depression – Out of the Fog. Pep talk out of the anxiety – I Can Be Somebody. Crushed about the election and realizing I won’t stay quiet anymore – DieDieDie/Dignity/We Got The World Dealings with Sexism – Sexy.Electric.Respected.
What is the best reaction to your music you have experienced so far?
Anytime I receive a personal note about affecting someone’s life. That’s what keeps me going.
Take a moment to dream – Where do hope to be a year from now?
Receiving a Grammy for a song I performed or wrote.
What’s your next step towards that dream?
Keep working and writing and collaborating and stay as far away from fear as possible.