When did you get interested in music? I started writing and playing when I was really young. I wrote a little bit in high school, but wasn't really too into it and just kind of dropped of the radar. In college, I started writing more and then . . . my friends started saying, "hey, if you made a CD I would totally listen to it," and "hey, you should come to this coffeehouse."
I started doing more of that and ended up just doing an album. My parents really encouraged me. When I graduated (Eastern University) with all these dreams to go to graduate school, everyone around me ... would tell me ... "put graduate school on hold; you need to pursue music." Now, I'm home (in York Township) and working as a medical assistant and pursuing music.
Did you major in anything related to music? Not a bit. (Laughs) I majored in psychology, which helps I think.
What artists inspired you? I started listening to Sufjan Stevens in high school - loved him. And eventually (I started listening to) Ingrid Michaelson and Regina Spektor. They both really influenced how I write music and how I sing. The list gets longer and longer as I listen to more artists. Radiohead (is a band I've) started to get into. They've definitely helped me broaden my
What inspires your lyrics? I think a lot of it is just working through problems. It's like a personal diary entry every time I write music. A lot of it is about relationships - mostly broken relationships and trying to sort through things like that. When I sit down to write something, it's usually because I'm confused or frustrated. A lot of it is kind of working through the anxieties and frustrations of life.
Where do you play in the area? I got a manager (Chris Flegal) in March. He's been fantastic. We booked a lot of shows from what I've been doing previously. We just played ... The Champion Ship (and) Midtown Scholar Bookstore.
Is your recent release "Fine and Foolish" your first album? I recorded (an EP) my senior year of college (called) "Shark and a Bird." That one came out February (2011). This October and January, I went down to Nashville, Tenn., to record my first full-length album, "Fine and Foolish," and that came out in May. I got in touch with a producer Jeremy Casella, and he brought me down (to Nashville, Tenn.) and we worked with some amazing session musicians. I was a really good experience.
Does "Fine and Foolish" relate to the topics that
inspire you? Absolutely. The foolish aspect kind of references the ... silly mistakes we make, and, in the midst of frustrations and broken relationships, us trying to put on the façade of being fine.
When you perform, are you solo, or do you have a backing band? When I perform an acoustic set, it's me and (my manager Chris) who plays guitar. We'll also play (with) a full band, which is so much fun. We have some guys come and just play with us.
Will you be writing more this summer? I'm always writing - to the point where I probably should stop myself (from) writing because then I won't focus on the stuff I just came out with. I write all the time. I think that's my favorite part of this whole thing.
What is your biggest challenge? The biggest challenge is just being more
organized. It's fun and I love, but it's also something that I'm seriously pursing, so I need to be smart about it. (It's) a lot of practices and a lot of booking shows and going through every process every emerging artist has to do to get their name out. We're definitely going to get a tour sometime next year. That's kind of our short-term goal. Long-term, I'm honestly just excited to see where this goes. It would be really cool to play music all the time and make that my full-time thing.
What have you learned through this experience? Honestly, I think the coolest things that I kind of learned about everything is that after picking apart music parts and working with Chris to create a different sound, I feel like I've become more attuned to the music side of it. Before, it was all vocals. It was all song writing. I think that's really equipping me to be able to write better music and put on better shows.
- ERIN MCCRACKEN,