WRBB’s Rachel Saywitz chatted with Lorely Rodriguez, known by her moniker Empress Of, ahead of her show at Brighton Music Hall on February 24, 2019.
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Your headlining tour is starting in just a few days. How are you feeling about it?
I’m really excited and really nervous. I haven’t been on tour like this in a while.
I saw on Instagram that you posted an outfit that you designed yourself, and it was sewn by your mom, which I thought was adorable. Are we going to be seeing any more of your design work on your tour?
Yes, I’m going to have more outfits! They just take a while to make. But I am making stuff for… I think one or two pieces for the LA show.
You’ve spent some time in Boston because you studied at Berklee. Is there anything about Boston that makes it different from other cities you’ve lived in?
Everyone is smarter than you.. [laughs] I mean, it’s so different because there are so many students in such a small mile radius. You’re getting a lot of people and students who are in a similar age range, so it’s always fun to play for that crowd. Also… wow. I’m driving in the rain and it’s flooding.
Oh my god!
Crazy. Yeah. I’m terrified right now. Anyway, so that’s one thing. The other thing is that I got to know a lot of musicians [in Boston]. It was always fun, and I remember going to concerts in college and thinking, could I see myself with these people? So it’s interesting in that way, to be on the other end of it. Sorry, this rain is insane.
That’s so crazy. Very different from what’s happening here.
What’s happening in Boston?
There’s just snow.
Actually, the first time I saw snow was when I was walking out of the library of Berklee. I grew up in California and I never saw snow. I was at the library and someone was like, “It’s snowing outside!” So I ran out of the library and I went and fell on my back because I didn’t know that the ground was gonna be so slippery.
How do you pass the time while you’re on tour?
There’s a lot of time in the car. I’ll be like, cool, let’s listen to every record that so-and-so put out. And there will always be that one record that feels like its soundtracking the whole tour. The last headline tour I went on, Tame Impala had put out a new record. Whenever I hear it, I think of touring for my last album.
Perfume Genius released a cover of “When I’m With Him” at the beginning of February. Who would be another artist that you’d love to have cover a song that you’ve written?
Perfume Genius was the first person I thought of when I was thinking that it would be really cool if someone did a cover of “When I’m With Him.” I heard his voice sing it and I heard him really reimagine it. So I’d have to choose something where I felt this person could do something with my lyrics and melody that isn’t being done in the song. Obviously, Britney Spears. That would be a dream. I love Britney, I’m a huge fan of hers. I don’t know what song she’d cover though. But it would be a dream.
What did you think of the Grammys? It seemed that the awards really tried to recognize the achievements of women way more than they did last year.
I never really understand the Grammys. Who are the Grammy voters? Why do they get chosen to become Grammy voters? Are they really representing what pop culture reflects? From my understanding, there are Grammy voters, they all vote on all the categories, and the most votes get the win. Maybe the voters this year wanted to highlight achievements by women more? I don’t know, but I’m really happy Kacey Musgraves won. I think that record deserved Album of the Year. I’m really happy that there was a female engineer, Emily Lazar, that won. She was the first ever female engineer to win in that category. That to me, it’s only gonna mean more representation for women and what is possible. I think representation is where we can really make an impact.
Are there any music releases that you’re most excited for this year?
I don’t know! I don’t know who’s releasing music this year. Last year I felt like everybody put a record out. James Blake, that record came out already, but it’s one of my favorite records of the year. It’s so good. I’m really supportive of him. It seems like he’s discovering a side of himself that I think is important for him to go explore. Because you can’t make sad music all the time. That doesn’t reflect real life.
Are you still driving in the rain?
I’m parked in the rain. Real romantic Valentine’s Day here.
I feel like rain is a little romantic.
Yeah, parking your car in the rain, talking with someone you don’t know… real romantic! I’m just kidding.