The avant-pop artist talks about her Honduran heritage, essential New York and LA tunes and the new wave of Latinx musicians.
Lorely Rodriguez, AKA Empress Of, grew up in Los Angeles but headed across the country to study production and audio engineering at the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston. In 2011 she moved to New York, and the following year Rodriguez unveiled Colorminutes, a project in which she anonymously uploaded minute-long song fragments to YouTube. The synthy, ethereal pop snippets garnered plenty of attention, and the debut Empress Of 7”, “Champagne,” was released shortly thereafter. After connecting with Terrible Records, Rodriguez issued Systems, a four-song EP that found the Latinx artist – Rodriguez’s mother is originally from Honduras – singing in both Spanish and English. After signing with the vaunted XL label, the time came to record her debut LP — a friend offered the use of his rural lake house in Mexico, so Rodriguez decamped there for an extended period and came up with the bulk of what would ultimately become Me, her first full-length album, released in 2015. Empress Of soon swapped isolation for collaboration and joined forces with the likes of Dev Hynes for his Blood Orange project, MØ, Perfume Genius, Khalid and others. It seems only right that on her latest full-length, Us, her perspective has shifted from introspection to issues of interpersonal relationships and shared experience. In this Fireside Chat, Empress Of discusses this pivotal moment in time for Latinx artists, considers pop music with underground sensibilities and offers what she learned from spending her formative years on both coasts of the US.