Eryn Allen Kane Makes Music to Heal To
Written by Vocalo Radio on November 6, 2019
Eryn Allen Kane has made her mark as an emerging talent in the R&B and soul scene …
After cutting her teeth in the Midwest, Eryn now calls L.A. home. She’s recently released her newest EP entitled “A Tree Planted by Water.”
Jill Hopkins caught up with the dynamic singer and songwriter about new music, overcoming voice injury and the importance of celebrating Black female artists.
First things first, I want to check in with you personally. I know you were going through it vocally.
That was a difficult little situation, I was actually misdiagnosed. My doctor kept telling me that it was acid reflux and was telling me to stop eating spicy foods. I started to get worse and worse, but then we booked a tour, and I was really excited for my first tour. On top of already having that pain, I did not have the proper equipment to properly facilitate what I needed as a singer, so the pain just got worse and worse. By the time our tour ended, which was almost three months later, I went back into the studio to start recording the next thing. One day I went in and I just couldn’t sing anymore. My voice just completely went out.
Instead of going back to my old doctor, I got a recommendation for a vocal therapist. I went to him and he said I clearly had damaged vocal cords. I found out that I had a permanent vocal injury. He said that the pain was a cyst on my vocal cords that is usually easy to remove if you catch it early. But because I sang on it for so long, it burst and left a scar. I can still sing and do it all, but I’m a little more raspy, my voice gets tired a little easier. I had to start going to a speech pathologist to relearn how to communicate in a way that wouldn’t hurt my voice further.
My voice is my identity, so I had to find a different Eryn. In a way it was helpful … it gave me a chance to get in touch with myself, but it was difficult because I was on a big pause.
Some say that trauma is a great muse. Did you find that to be true for yourself?
My therapist said: when you go in through things like this you’ve got to use it as fertilizer, which is what I had to do. I had to use those experiences and lack of resources to create. It was definitely difficult, but we made it through.
I want to talk about the track “Fragile.” What was the inspiration behind that track record?
Well, during that time that I had to just sit and wonder if I would ever sing again. I found myself being in these vulnerable positions and closing myself off to people around me who really just genuinely wanted to help me and love me and be supportive of me. I started talking to my mom more often about her past and I started realizing that a lot of the things that I was currently going through, she had been through and dealt with tin similar ways. To just know that she carried that with her for so long, it really got me thinking about all the things I carry around. I was really inspired by that to write a song about how a lot of times we think we’re acting in our present mind and our conscious mind, but a lot of how we operate and move through spaces on a regular basis is through our subconscious.
Let’s talk about the song “With You.” What story are you telling there?
One of my family members went to jail and had just been really going through it. I wanted to focus on our resilience as Black people, and how through it all, at least with my family, we’ve really been there for each other and stood by each other.
We all have these traumas, and that can make us act on things in bad ways. And a lot of times people tend to look at people who are getting into trouble and say, “if they want to help themselves, they can help themselves.” In this case, I just saw it important to be there and listen and focus on the positive side and the resilience of that person. Despite what you’re going through, you’re still here and you’re still trying.
Let’s talk about living in Los Angeles. How did those big changes after the move affect the little things in your day to day life?
Yeah, change is hard. You can stay in your house and avoid it, or you can get out there and embrace it and start moving your way through whatever boulders you’re gonna have to move through to get to the other side. I knew nobody there and I had the vocal injury, which I wasn’t really sharing that with people at the time because vocal injuries have a huge stigma. I think that because a lot of people move there for similar reasons, it’s an entertainment town. I had my run ins with some weird situations, but once you find your people it gets better.
Let’s talk about Black women. This album is a tribute to Black women. Why is now the time to pay tribute to your sisters like that?
It’s always been the time! We’ve always been influencing the influencers and not really getting the shine that others get, especially considering how there’s so much talent that exists. You see pop stars that are trying to sing just like Black girls. I also think it’s great that R&B is making a comeback. Music is a shifting culture and that shift is being done by Black women.
On this album, I wanted to touch base with my sisters and talk about the things that we go through. Why not make it for my girls? Those are the people I go to when I’m going through something in my life. I’m not gonna turn on Ariana Grande that day, even though her music bangs at the club, that’s just not what I’m healing to. I wanted to make music that my girls and my sisters could heal to, that they could talk about and discuss with their girls and their mothers and grandmothers. And in doing so, we’re shifting culture and opening the conversation for other people who aren’t Black women to talk about these things.
Listen to the full interview here:
For more info, visit Eryn’s website
Interview edited for length and clarity by Olivia Cerza
Photos courtesy of the artist
Audio produced by Fyodor Sakhnovski