Culture & Music
Lorely Rodriguez is back. Fresh from NYC, the artist known as Empress Of, has returned to her native land of LA, and with it, reconnected to a more grounded second record in the process. Naturally, she’s still layering on her signature witchy magic, and enchanting us with her comments on keeping sane on tour, female heroes and making music as a soundtrack to life.
Gown & coat both by Chloé
GL: You relocated back to LA for this record, what’s been the big- gest change for you?
EO: I was born in LA and lived in Highland Park, I think LA is a really creative city but it can be isolating because everyone is in their boxes – whether it’s a car box or home box. So it’s not like NYC where you’re confronted by everything and there is no way you can escape. I also made a real home when I moved back to LA, as I wanted to have a place and to have things. I now have a studio covered with pictures of people who inspire me. From Kate Bush to Michael Jackson and it’s the most natural part of the house to be in.
GL: What are you excited about next?
EO: To get this record out, it’s released on my birthday and I’m so excited to share this thing I’ve been working on for two and a half years – it’s time! I’m excited to tour, even the bit of travelling I’ve been doing has been amazing. I played London at Chat’s Palace and it was sold out! I’m so excited to go back there after people have heard the record. That venue is really unassuming but it has a great vibe.
GL: How do you find touring?
EO: The hardest thing about touring is juggling my time so I don’t stress myself out. You can forget to eat and then suddenly it’s 10pm. I’m someone who spends time taking care of myself. I go to the gym and eat healthily, because it helps my mental health, so managing that on tour is really hard. I need to figure out how to manage that. The other thing about touring are the audiences; some crowds are very respectful and amazing listeners but don’t move, but some just want to party. However, as an entertainer you have to give the same show every time.
GL: Chloé used one of your songs for their fall campaign and you just got back from their show in Paris, how was that?
EO: The show was amazing, the energy – it’s amplified 100 times. The amount of photographers there, the amount of work that goes into the shows. It feels intense and momentous and it was so cool to see the collection come together like that – so much thought goes into the music and what the set design for the show is like. I thought they did such a good job of pulling them together to match the collection and the energy and casting.
Dress, top, necklace, bracelets & boots all by Chloé
Left: dress & jacket both by Chloé
Right: top, dress, socks & boots all by Chloé
GL: Have you always loved fashion?
EO: It’s been a recent thing that I’ve been more confident with clothing. Part of it is using it as another outlet for self expression. I can express my femininity and masculinity with fabric and silhouettes, even down to the show. It’s been interesting to pay attention to those details and work with a stylist that totally understands me; it’s been an eye opening experience and it just helps me understand how I deliver my music, it’s a whole package. My mom used to sew and I try to personalise clothing and make things when I can. I like altering clothes from thrift stores and adding layers to make them more me.
GL: What other artists – especially female ones – inspire you and why?
EO: So many, but the first that comes to mind is Frida Kahlo. I love how rebellious and assertive she was in her dress and her art – she didn’t compromise. I recently got into Agnès Varda, I love how her films are so very much her own, she’s another woman that inspires me. There are other musicians too, Selena hugely inspired me. She’s a cultural icon, and so many Latin people look up to her.
GL: We heard you’re also a big fan of Elizabeth Fraser from Cocteau Twins. Is that true?
EO: Yes! With her, I love her voice, the tone and the way she sings is so unique. She uses loosephrasing and she’s magical! I read an interview about how she writes her lyrics. She has lots of books in different
languages and she goes and finds words from different books to create songs. There’s no direct lyrical meaning; she just uses the sound of words. In that way, the lyrics almost feel like an instrument, that can’t be confined by a system of language.
GL: What do you want people to take away from the new record?
EO: I like the idea of people seeing a bit of of themselves in the record, I like music to have a purpose and fill a void for someone. For me, sometimes there are songs where I’m so glad that someone wrote it because I needed it in my life. I get messages like that – especially with Woman Is a Word, people write to 78 me all the time about that one and say it’s given them confidence or gotten them through something. That’s moving as an artist to fulfill that in someone’s life.
GL: Is that how you respond to music yourself?
EO: For me, music is something that’s a part of your life – it becomes like a soundtrack. With the Blood Orange album for example, and all the music Dev Hynes makes, I think they’re records that are part of your life and so you form and feel memories connecting to these songs.
GL: Is that a magical thing for you?
EO: Yes, I believe in magic, in the sense that life is unpredictable. You can hope for things and they will happen. Music gives you the sense that there are unknown and intangible things.
Right: gown & coat both by Chloé
Left: shirt & knit dress both by Chloé
Dress and boots by Chloé