Empress Of

Lorely Rodriguez, the artist known as Empress Of, recorded her new album, Us, all over
Southern California. Topanga Canyon. Ojai. At a recording studio “with no windows.” At her
home in Highland Park. At another recording studio “with a really loud cricket.” “He was there,
like, all month,” she says, “And I was trying to track vocal tracks and he’d be like, CHIRP,
It was the first time she tried to record music this way—sequestered, for a month at a time, in
between touring and performing, alone but for the company of a cricket. She would later invite
collaborators—Dev Hynes (aka Blood Orange), LA production duo Sam Griesemer and Jerome
Potter of DJDS, Spanish electronic producer Pional—but the resulting project remains a
showcase of Rodriguez’ skill both as a lyricist and a producer, though she is wont to admit it.
The artist is modest about her skills as a instrumentalist (“Lorely plays every instrument half-
assed,” she says, “Put that in the bio.”) and coy about her process as a writer (“I don’t write out
chords for my songs. Everything is intuitive in production. I don’t have one piece of sheet music
for my songs.”)
She estimates that she’s produced about 75 percent of this album, which serves as the real
testament to her dynamism as a musician, since she won’t testify to it herself. She’s frustrated
with a media preoccupation on her jazz music education, but only because she believes her
experiences singing to Céline Dion and Mariah Carey in the living room of her childhood home
in Southern California are far more formative. When pressed about her influences, she lists her
Empress Of’s debut album Me was released almost three years ago, in 2015. As the name
suggests, it presented a deeply personal exploration of her emotional world. So personal, she
says, it was difficult to perform. “It was, like, every day, just giving myself to the audience,” she
says. With Us, Rodriguez wanted to facilitate a more equal exchange of energy between herself
and her listeners, to create a “community.” “It’s not just love songs. It’s about different
experiences of the heart,” she says. “I want it to be like a mirror, and [the audience] sees a little
bit of themselves in every song.”

Salt Cathedral

Salt Cathedral is the electronic project of New York based Colombian musicians Juliana Ronderos and Nicolas Losada. Their music combines elements of trip-hop and ambient genres with folkloric influences from many cultures. The band's most recent record, "Oom Velt," makes reference to the individuality of experience – the discrete "worlds" as they are experienced by different organisms. Guardian UK, in their coverage of the EP's lead single "Holy Soul," describes Salt Cathedral as "purveyors of breezy electronic pop with lightly tropical rhythms and deathlessly pretty vocals’’.

Salt Cathedral has performed alongside acts like Hundred Waters, Young and Sick, Tei Shi, Until The Ribbon Breaks, Sonnymoon and Cibo Matto. Onstage, the band combines live instrumentals, electronics, and choreographed lighting to create an immersive environment of "crackling energy" (Pitchfork).


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