April 25, 2023
Culture & Music
Alexandra Drewchin is not afraid to be uncomfortable. In fact, discomfort seems to be a state she naturally seeks. As an interview subject, she’s bold, reckless and challenging; it’s refreshing, disarming and weirdly fun to engage with her. As Eartheater, we’ve watched her manifest magical worlds creating surreal and ethereal land- and soundscapes which draw audiences into her sphere. She captivates with fearless and sensitive performances and this sense of contrast is integral to who she is and why she’s so compelling.
At her genesis, Eartheater’s name was chosen from Gabriel García Márquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. Those familiar with his work will know it requires effort to experience, his use of punctuation and pause is limit-ed, enthralling the reader with a heyday mix of words, descriptions and atmosphere, which for some is irresistible and others confusing. For her though, the resonance was more personal. “I was reading One Hundred Years of Solitude and there was a character called Rebec-ca, who, when she was tongue-tied, would eat paint chips and trash and I don’t know, I related to it emotionally I guess, at that moment. And then she would eat dirt too. And then, I don’t know, Eartheater seemed open enough for how much I knew I needed to do.”
Like many with such a strong sense of self, she can appear confrontational, at certain points in our conversation she talks about the media agenda and the questions she gets asked. Journalists should be asking, “Why are they there? I’m here because of my art. I’m not walking these fashion shows because I just want to, I’m here.
I built this from nothing. I’ve been working, I’ve been delivering, and there’s a massive lack of respect I see in this industry.” Engaging with this yields rewards though, she is charmed if you can challenge her back, which evidences a quick and creative mind.
In terms of her visual representation, we discuss how she looks uncomfortable in many of her images and she immediately asserts how much of a choice that is for her. “I like feeling discomfort. A lot of it, like deliberate discomfort.” Even in her fashion choices her aesthetic leans this way, with her wearing Mugler and other designers known for how their sculptural designs impose themselves on the body. In her broader relationship with fashion though, she is a muse to many, but has a slightly more complex relationship with that overall, largely due to how the clothes work with her body. “This is just support. It’s literally just support, especially for a body like mine, which is a hard-to-design-for body shape, highly dynamic curves that actually takes way more effort and intelligence to understand.” This is not a mere sense of body politics for her though; her pride in her body and its curves is vivid, she seems affronted that fashion as a whole is not more accommodating to her and yet there’s no arrogance. Just a simple sense of “I want it to be this way, why isn’t it so?”
All Eartheater’s creative forays seem to be a playground for exploration and its extremes, but her confidence and self-assurance in navigating these is impressive. As so many songs are about love, I ask about breakups and speaking of her own, she describes the end of an eight year relationship in a beautiful but resolute way. “Everyone’s got a style, how you break up with someone, how you flirt with someone. Everyone’s got a specific style. It’s not just one way. And my style with that was slow. I needed it to be slow. I untangled it carefully for years in respect to what we had because it was worth it. Yeah. I un-tangled it, but that’s because I was deeply in love with that person, so I wasn’t impulsive at all. It was considered.” The simplicity of the statement is strong and perhaps why her lyrics and tracks pack such an emotional weight with her audience occupying the visceral space where Bjork, Grimes and Arca reside – a type of music you wouldn’t necessarily expect to be so popular. But its very strangeness is what makes it so magical.
Her ability to sit with discomfort also translates into her performance, and she describes a show where she was booked on the same bill as Arca. “They were playing above me. We were booked at the same time and that right there is blasphemy to the gods of booking. And my power blew out underneath. I was in a small room, like 500 caps underneath Arca, which was like, I don’t know, a thousand people. I was supposed to do my club set. Luckily, I always backline on acoustic guitar if I don’t play it and literally, no microphone, nothing.”
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Online reviews of her performance that night are rapturous and it’s clear she felt the same, “My fans were right there. My beautiful fucking fans are faces that just, I know they know. I just know they’re not there to decide. They know. And I was like, ‘Fuck it, I’m just going to play these. Just scream these acoustic songs over the kids’. And they were singing the synth sounds, they were singing all the instrumentation and it was so beautiful. That’s incredible.”
We discuss spontaneity and intuition in her process, and I ask if she has set ways she approaches her songwriting. But that’s not the case, “I really envied formula, irresistible formula of other artists in the past. I struggled with my chronic over-inspiration with too many conflicting mediums but now I’m realising, finally for the fifth time or whatever, that it’s a combustion, those conflicting things. I’m learning how to carefully com-bust, carefully boil things down to the molecular level.”
Recently she’s spent more time in LA recording, a shift for her as a native New Yorker. Her initial resistance to the city has melted and she’s now engaged by the city and her creative collaborators here. “LA’s just the perfect opposite to New York, it basically sort of balances things. I actually want to become more bi-coastal to be honest. “
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