Eryn Allen Kane is a name you may not be familiar with, but a voice you will have. In 2015 alone, the Chicago based singer-songwriter, added The Social Experiment, Chi-raq and the ambiguous “Purple One” aka Prince, to her credits list. Eryn is outspoken, she’s not just a singer, she has a voice, she’s conscious about her role as a musician not just to her listeners, but to society.
Like many artists, Chicago’s Eryn Allen Kane, made a track and posted it online. Unlike many artists, her track stumbled upon the ears of none other than Prince. The track in question is Eryn’s 2013 release called ‘Hollow’. “I released Hollow, it was like one of my first proper songs, and somehow he [Prince] found it and tweeted it out”. Eryn laughs as she explains the story: “It was crazy; I started getting shit on YouTube like The Purple One sent me here“. Eryn’s reaction to her idol tweeting her music was priceless, “I was stunned. I had just come out of the shower and I just stood there for literally a minute in my towel – my friends thought I was crazy, and then I ran around the house screaming naked”.
The year prior to this, Eryn had seen her idol Prince perform to a sold out crowd in her hometown, Chicago. A year later, Prince was tweeting her music and fast forward to 2015, Eryn was heading to Minnesota to record a track with Prince. “I released Mercy in April and I guess I was still on Prince’s radar, because he heard the track, and he hit us up and wanted to work on a song with us”. Oddly enough though, Eryn didn’t want to do it; “it was too early in the game, I only had put out like 2 or 3 proper songs – I just can’t be making music with Prince right now! It’s all too surreal”. With a little persuasion from her manager, she did. The song the pair made was ‘Baltimore’ a protest song, dedicated to the people of Baltimore, after riots and rising racial tensions, after the death of Freddie Gray.
But it’s not only Prince who has Eryn on their Radar. Closer to home, Chicago’s Chance the Rapper asked Eryn to come down and work on some tracks: “I had known Chance for a while, but he didn’t know I could sing, and then the whole thing kinda snowballed from there”. Chicago is a melting pot of musical talents at the moment; Saba, Noname Gypsy, BJ The Chicago Kid and King Louie – just to name a few, are all featured on the project. “The Chicago music scene – it’s wonderful. It’s a real community and really different from other major musical cities like LA… It’s kinda like one big family”.
In November, Eryn released her project ‘The Aviary Act 1′, An aviary is a cage, an enclosure, often used for birds. Echoes of Maya Angelo’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings can be seen within the captivating and delicate artwork, Eryn is surrounded by a red background, in a cage.
Aesthetics aside, another one of the beautiful things about Eryn is her consciousness. On Twitter she’s vocal about current socio-politico situations in America and across the world. Ahead of the release of Aviary Act 1 she shared a note with her fans where she acknowledges her role and responsibility as a musician. Eryn is all too aware that as a woman in music, her songs may be perceived as ‘love songs’ or ‘tunes about breakups’. She questions and interrogates her own role as a singer and performer in wider society: “Yes. Music and politics have to work together. Music has and always will be about the human condition and our current state as humans.” Eryn believes it’s an artist’s duty to forge discussion and to talk about things that bother them as artists.
Lifted from The Aviary Act 1, ‘Piano Song’ has been featured on BET’s ‘Being Mary Jane’; it’s a personal, elegant, jazzy ballad with Eryn’s soulful vocals echoing in and out of the track. Personal experiences drive Eryn’s music; they’re not just filled with content about typical break-ups or romantic love. Eryn is driven by news reports, suffering and injustice around her – often close to home: “Normally something will happen to me, or I’ll see something and just be affected by it… I head to my basement, sit down, cry and just write how I feel”. That’s exactly what she did with ‘Have Mercy’ a minimalist track powered by Eryn’s anger at the world and humanity – her aim was for it to heal her listeners. Not only did it heal, but it continues to do so.
With the ‘Aviary Act 2‘ out in 2016, Eryn guarantees; “It’s going to be very soulful, it’s political, it has a message and I’m so excited to share it all”. Eryn promises we’ll get five new, unheard songs on Act 2, including “one of the first songs I’ve worked on”. But what Eryn is most excited about is the live shows she plans for 2016; “I want to continue to grow and do some touring – in the USA and hopefully one or two in the UK. I live for the live stuff; I’m excited to do that.”