With only a handful of songs finished but a huge catalogue of recorded snippets released as a 'Colourminutes' series on YouTube, Empress Of is admittedly still developing her sound. So far however, it's been a delightful mix of abstract lo-fi retro sounds and glistening melodies with a nostalgic feel. Her delicate, feminine vocals are intricately weaved with faded synths and trippy percussion in her latest tracks Don't Tell Me and Champagne which you can exclusively download here.
Dazed Digital: How would you introduce your music to those who don't know?
Empress Of: I would hope that my music sounds as confusing to me as it does to others. I'm still developing a sound, whether on recording or at a live show, so I feel sometimes like there are a lot of good clashing elements in my music. Simple at times, but then intricate vocal melodies creep up from behind with ultra-present guitar parts or synths. It's definitely feminine, and even more definitively emotional.
DD: Story behind the name? Who or what would you be the Empress Of?
Empress Of: Well originally, one of the songs I had written was titled Empress. The song was about my good friend Patrick giving me a tarot card reading and pulling out the card "Empress". Looking further into it I discovered that The Empress is a mother, a creator, a nurturer of life, romance and art. I related with this instantly, but I'm no Empress; my music is already so feminine to put a title like that on it. So I thought, it would be brilliant to sort of detach the identity from the title by leaving it open ended, "Empress Of". To answer the second question, if you go to my website you will find a few more insights.
DD: What is the working process like between you and your producer?
Empress Of: Well, I actually write and record everything myself in my apartment. The process for every song varies though. I'll either start with some synth sound and then write the rest of the song from that idea, or I'll be listening to a 'no wave' record and decide "I want to write my own interpretation of this". I usually always write the melody and lyrics last.
DD: What is the idea behind your 'Colourminutes' videos? Did you make those yourself?
Empress Of: I had written about 30 of these, more or less, minute long demos over the course of a month and then later went even further to turn a few of my favourites into fully conceived songs (two of which became "Champagne" and "Don't Tell Me"). What am I supposed to do with the rest of these songs just hanging out on my hard drive?
This thought came to me again as I was building the Empress Of website. The whole idea behind the website is to reveal information about me or the project but in a super non-literal way. How I went about releasing the colourminutes kind of fit the whole aesthetic of what I was trying to accomplish visually with my website. The ambiguity was intriguing and alluring, at least to me. A little over a month ago I started to upload a couple of these attached to simple colour swatches; but those swatches remained the most revealing piece of information connected to any of the songs. I hoped the listener deciphered their own meanings from the music of each one.
DD: What was your favourite element in doing the watermelon video?
Empress Of: That video... such a hilarious event. I met this guy Will who was staying in New York for a couple of months from London, and within two weeks of meeting him, I convinced him to come to my house and film me ferociously gorge a watermelon in my backyard. So that in itself was a really memorable experience for me. We only had one watermelon that we bought from the corner Deli so it was a one shot kind of thing.
What I really love about the video, though, is the simplicity of it. The original footage is probably only like 8 minutes of footage. Sam Hamad, who directed/edited "Champagne", did some really creative work with the limited shots he had. It was really surprising to see the final result!
DD: What's next?
Empress Of: The most important thing to me, with the future of this project, is to release more music. I'm going to release a colorminute cassette tape in Japan very early next year, which is something I've always wanted to do. There might even be a more formal release to look out for early next year as well...maybe an EP? Shows are something very important to me as well. Empress Of has only played about three shows in Brooklyn so far, but they have all been amazing experiences. This is my first time truly being the frontwoman of a band so I'm learning as I go!