Empress Of caused a pretty big stir when we first heard her colourminutes in the Dummy office. Anonymously uploaded to YouTube over the course of about a week, the thirteen minute-long videos each featured an arresting piece of inventive synth-pop, set to a block of unapologetically garish colour, and were enough in themselves to infect the listener with curiosity.
Since then, Empress Of has been revealed to be Brooklyn artist Lorely Rodriguez, who describes the project as one of both “sight and sound”. Fittingly, you can use your sight to read on to discover more about the person behind this beguilingly innovative new project in our interview with her, and use your hearing to sample two brand new new colourminutes from her private collection. ‘14’ is a meandering track that refuses to stick to a narrative, instead leaping over angrily monotonous synths and space-age wobbles with a deceptively twist-y melody, while 15 is an early cut of the single Don’t Tell Me. Stream both exclusively below.
Empress Of – 14
Empress Of – 15
Hi, Empress Of! Could you introduce yourself to Dummy readers?
Hey! Hi! If you’ve found yourself reading this…we’re most likely strangers. Thanks for being curious.
How did you get into making music?
I was 17 and I had just gotten my first computer and was making these esoteric pop songs on this program called Reason. I just like really hilarious beats that were complicated for no reason. Things haven’t changed much!
Could you tell us a bit more about how you view the relationship between colour and music (hence the colourminutes)?
My original intention for the colorminutes was to remove myself from the project so that people could focus on the music and less on the identity of the composer/creator. It somehow manifested into this collage of sound and color. In the case of this project, since there is so little information available, color relates to the track as like a “title” for the song, which usually suggests some theme, or tone to the music.
You describe Empress Of as a visual project as well as music – are these balanced equally, or does one take prevalence?
I like to think that they’re equally important. I don’t usually work on both aspects simultaneously; I’d like to change that though. I have put a lot of thought into creating all this music and I want it to be presented with as much creativity, whether it’s how I choose to release my music, or my website, or the videos that accompany them.
My favourite colourminute is probably ‘6’ or ‘2’. Do you have any favourites?
Oh yeah! I was hoping someone would ask me that eventually. I have favorites but it doesn’t really have to do with the music, more so what I was experiencing at the moment when I recorded them. ‘3’ has a haunting effect on me. I listen to the first chime of that little toy Casio keyboard I used and I’m transported to the the beach with my two friends and we’re being chased by seagulls.
Are there full versions of the songs that we can hear at some point?
Yeah. Actually, what’s awesome about this project is that these are all essentially demos! I have turned a couple of these into fully formed songs like Don’t Tell Me. I’ve just uploaded the “colorminute” demo version of that track.
What’s the songwriting process like for you?
Well, it’s constantly evolving but at the moment…I like to start with some crazy little keyboard/guitar/drum thing and try to write some sort of grounded melodic idea over it. Then the words come last, usually inspired by something that happened to me that day…helps keep the music personal to me. I’ve been really into film/TV music lately. A lot of Angelo Badalamenti and Vangelis. That’s probably the strongest influence I feel in a song like Don’t Tell Me.
What’s the best thing you’ve heard this year?
That’s an impossible question. Almost every one of my favorite bands right now has released a new record in 2012. Good year for music. So I’m just going to answer that question with this: this Radiolab podcast I heard the other day kind of blew my mind. It’s called ‘Dark Side of the Earth’ and it’s about this astronaut that gets locked out of his ship and has a couple of hours to try to figure out how to get back in. True story!
What are your plans for what’s left of 2012?
This year went by so fast! I got some more music hiding somewhere on my hard drive that will surface, some videos as well. I really would love to play some more shows around the world as well.