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45 seconds with the folk-rock princess Erin Rae, who makes you feel like you are swimming in a lagoon of love and yearning….
What was your earliest memory of responding to music?
I think my earliest memories of music are from this little kid video we had called “Baby Talk,” specifically, this song about learning to walk. “Walking, walking seems so easy now, but I remember when I was small and I did not know how”—what a metaphor for life. That, and my dad prepping songs to sing at a church in Jackson, TN that we went to for a little while. “Morning Has Broken” is one old hymn he would do.
If you could say that Putting On Airs has a theme what would that be?
I think the common theme is the illusion that something outside of myself is going to make me feel better. If I posture myself this way, if I can make this relationship work, if I drink this, or achieve this. And just looking at things honestly and trying to get still and see “what is it I’m truly looking for here?” It’s kind of just about getting fed up with continuing to use these outside things to the point of insanity, and then going, “I can’t do this anymore! What do I do if I can’t do that shit?”
I LOVE the steel guitar! If you could be any instrument what would you be and why?
I think it would be a steel pan drum, haha. I know I’m from Tennessee and not the Caribbean, but that instrument is so beautiful to me. I love the combination of percussion and melody.
Who is your biggest muse right now?
Well, I’m constantly being inspired by all my friends—that never quits happening. Seeing my peers tap into what is uniquely theirs and expressing it is really exciting to me. I also think this influx of awareness about the world and the state of our country, and other countries, and just that everything is not as it seemed or as we were told, is a muse of sorts. I just mean like what everyone is feeling. The way that I saw this world and experienced this world is being dismantled, and that’s so unsettling. And yet alongside the heavy feelings this shift brings up, there are these really beautiful things going on in the world, in people and in nature. Everything feels bigger right now, the good and the bad.
When you first started making music, were you ever nervous to share? How did you get over that?
I was definitely nervous. I also had this blind optimism because I hung out at an open mic in Nashville which was just such a cool time. Everyone was different, and yet we were all just excited to play and hear each other. Lots of supportive people there. I was fortunate to have supportive family and friends, who connected me to more supportive people, like my voice teacher, (the late) Phoebe Binkley. They were all so encouraging in the early days, and I didn’t really have a grasp on how long it would take to get “good” because I always had so much nice feedback. Every time I have new songs or am in a new phase personally, I feel nervous all over again, and then you just do it and its fun, and it’s okay.
What does your family think of your path?
They’ve been supportive from the beginning. My parents played music together and that’s always been part of our lives. I think they are proud and excited for me right now.
Your voice is so soothing, do you have any children you sing lullabies to?
I don’t, but I will be a first-time aunt this fall! I cannot wait; it’s gonna be a little girl, a little niece!!!
What is your favorite lullaby?
“Lullaby for Teddy” by Tanya Goodman
When I listen to your music I feel like a heartbroken beauty watching her first love go off to war in San Francisco in 1962. What ideas or plots put you in the mindset to make music?
There is so much longing in my songs! Bless my heart, haha. After I watched the movie Lady Bird, I just wanted to go write songs and call both of my parents. Anything that connects me to a feeling of longing or nostalgia makes me wanna work on songs. I’m very inspired by romanticism—humid Tennessee sunsets bring out those feelings, too.
What is the weirdest thing you ever think you were ever inspired by?
The first song I ever wrote went “since you left me darlin’, I don’t shower…” It was about someone being so depressed after a breakup they can’t do anything for themselves. I was just excited that I wrote a complete song. The concept wasn’t weird, but I guess the song was weird, hahaha.
Who would you like to sing a cappella with?
Aw man, Marlon Williams right now. Love his voice!
I love that you write all your songs. If you had to have someone write a song for you, who would it be?
Twain! Or Tristen, or Mark Fredson, or The Kernal…the list goes on!
Now can you leave us with a little message for all the heartbroken babies out there who are trying to get better?
Find folks you can confide in, folks that help you learn to live with and love yourself. We all have the same worries. Keep going 🙂

Photos / Marcus Maddox

Story  / Koko Ntuen



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