10 questions with Erika Wester
LA based singer-songwriter Erika Wester has created a definitive style that combines her soft and intimate vocal style with dreamy instrumental soundscapes. Her sound drifts between the hazier side of Indie Pop and the rich vocal-led comforts of Folk. Her last single 'Fifteen' was a beautifully nostalgic track that discusses the tough process of growing up in your mid-teens while her next release 'Best of Me' (out on January 31st) sees her delve into a slick Dream Pop realm that contrasts a smooth, understated melody with quite intense lyricism. We caught up with Erika to talk through the lyrical inspiration behind her new music, her musical development and her attraction towards the dreamy aesthetic.
Q. Can you talk us through the main lyrical inspiration behind 'Fifteen'?
A. I was sitting in a lobby in Sweden and it was still light outside at midnight and I felt totally disoriented. I remember listening to music and writing about how much had changed in my life over the course of the year. It was an overwhelming feeling of not knowing what would be next, and not being able to feel settled in the present. The first line “what are you supposed to do when home doesn’t feel like it used to” just represented growing up, and how your perspective shifts as you get older. I wanted this song to represent trying to find comfort in the unknown.
Q. The track features the line "growing up way too fast" - in what ways have you felt you have grown up too fast and do you think there's an unnecessary temptation to do this in modern society?
A. I didn’t necessarily feel a temptation to grow up too fast, but it definitely happened due to circumstances out of my control. And I saw a lot of my friends go through that as well. There probably is a lot of unnecessary temptation to grow up faster, but I think the best people are those who can still be kids at heart. I think we all end up wanting to find that in ourselves again.
Q. What draws you towards a dreamy, almost ethereal, aesthetic?
A. It’s comforting to me. Even when the lyrics are dark or sad, you have this sort of dreamy feeling behind it that guides you through the song.
Q. What kind of moments would you say your music is written for?
A. With what I’ve released so far, I’d say it’s probably best for going on a long drive or walk.
Q. Your next single 'Best of Me' is one of your more uptempo tracks, what prompted this slight change of pace?
A. It’s a more positive track, about one chapter closing and a new one beginning. It was literally inspired by falling in love during a very transformative and disorienting time in my life, and I wanted the listener to be able to feel that. I wanted it to feel like something you can chill out to and find joy in.
Q. The track discusses themes such as "broken identity" - do you feel at all vulnerable when penning self-analytical lyrics such as these or do you find it more cathartic?
A. I find it to be extremely cathartic and therapeutic. Later on when I listen to the lyrics I sometimes question if I should have shared as much as I did, but I always think what makes a great song is honesty.
Q. You also produced some of your tracks, do you enjoy having this full creative control over your sound?
A. I love having creative control over my tracks. But I absolutely love collaborating as well. One of the most fun parts of making music for me is doing it with my friends. For 'Best of Me', and a few of the other tracks coming out this year, I worked with Dylan Tirapelli-Jamail who produced them with me and we just had such a great time making them, so they feel very special.
Q. Do you feel you have learned more about you as an artist since your first release back in 2019?
A. Oh for sure. When I released in 2019 I had no idea what I was doing, I had just moved across the country back to New Jersey after living in Los Angeles for several years and just wanted to write. I didn’t even know if music would be something I’d pursue, I just wrote as a form of therapy for myself. Last year, 'Novelty' was the first track that I really felt like I could fully get behind. It represented the direction I wanted to go in musically.
Q. What element of your writing/performance/production do you feel you have improved on the most since your earliest releases?
A. I’m more in control of my own sound because I know more of what I want now. When I first started, I genuinely had no idea what direction I wanted to go in, I just knew that I liked to write songs. I think all of it has gotten better, and hopefully will continue to get better as I go along. Production has probably grown the most, but that’s because I figured out the direction I wanted to go in.
Q. Which new artists can you recommend to our readers?
A. Oh man there’s so many. Slow Pulp and Pool Kids are two of my favorite bands right now. I saw Slow Pulp live last year in LA and remember thinking these guys just deserve everything. They’re so good.