“I think it’s only fair that I pay tribute and pay homage to the people that have inspired my music” – Anna Rodriguez catches up with Erica Cody, featuring a shoot by George Voronov.
Erica Cody may be a newcomer, but she is quickly making herself a permanent fixture in the Dublin R&B scene. At just 21 years old, she has been writing and creating music for years with the hope of releasing a project of her own, a dream that will be realized later this year when she puts out her first EP, ‘Leoness’.
Aside from dropping new music, the singer-songwriter will also be making the rounds at a handful Ireland’s summer music festivals, which kicked off with Bulmers Forbidden Fruit earlier this month.
“It was fantastic. It was great because the tent we were playing at was literally at the main entrance so everyone was just filling the space and it filled quickly, so that was really good.”
Erica is playing Electric Picnic, Indiependence and Body&Soul, but the main event this summer for her is Longitude Festival in Marlay Park, where she plays on Saturday, July 14.
“It will be insane. I’m really excited for that one just because of the line up as well… Oh my god, it’s just so refreshing to see that Ireland have taken on such an urban-heavy line up. Normally it’s really indie line ups. It’s really refreshing because it’s more like a Wireless London line up, which is sick.”
Erica performs both covers of R&B classics, like Destiny’s Child’s ‘Say My Name’, and original songs like ‘Good Intentions’ that dropped earlier this year. She says her EP will have a very similar sound to the music she’s released, but she’s hesitant to reveal too much.
“You can expect a lot of funky basslines, loads of really catchy melodies, just something that everyone can listen to and have their own take on it, whether they’re going through a relationship or just having a shit day or whatever it could be. I write in a way that people could put it into their own situations.
“A lot of people that have heard the couple of songs have been saying that they’re very, very 90s because everyone that knows me knows I have a very heavy 90s influence, from the likes of Jodeci to Aaliyah to Brandy, all of them. I think it’s only fair that I pay tribute and pay homage to the people that have inspired my music.”
Fans can become even more familiar with her music and vibe with the Leo Series, a collection of videos following the artist around and documenting her come up.
“So basically, the Leo Series is just something I came up with because it’s really reflective of the EP with the name… It will all make sense, but it’s basically just something I wanted to start to give people, especially my new following, an insight into what I’m all about, to meet my team, and make them feel like they’re coming with me for the journey – from festivals to my new project to everything else.
“I’m all about my star sign – I know it sounds so cliche, but if you look up a Leo it’s literally me and my mane. That’s just how it is; it’s just my mantra so I thought it was really important to stick something that personal on it because it’s something that’s really personal to me on my EP. It’s going good so far. I love the concept now. I’m like, ‘Oh, it makes so much sense!’ [laughs].”
As I talked with the songwriter, she certainly had the undeniable optimism and infectious energy commonly associated with her star sign. Whatever she lacks in terms of time in the industry, she makes up in plenty of positivity, drive and confidence.
But despite her sunny outlook, the beginning of her songwriting career was a distressing one, sparked by harrowing events in her personal life.
“My mum was diagnosed with cancer when I was 10. She’s ok now, thank god, but I used to keep a diary and I used to have little headings in my diary and then they turned into poems and the poems evolved into songs. I’d come up with a concept that revolved around the title and I’d come up with a story around it. I probably hadn’t even been through some of that.
“Some of it was pure imagination and some of it was real, and as time went by I was like, ‘No, I need to write about how I feel in certain moments’, because it was kind of like therapy to me. I didn’t really know what the illness entailed, so that was my little outlet to really get my feelings on paper. There was a release from it when I was writing. I’d just feel like there was a weight that was totally lifted off my shoulders. So it became my little addiction, I suppose, since I was eight until now.”
Since then, her approach to writing has undergone many changes, but she continues to keep up her output of new songs.
“I feel like I’ve gone through nearly every kind of songwriting process. Now more or less, because I produce as well, I normally start off with a bassline and then come up with countermelodies for that and then the main melody of the hook and the bridge and all of that.
“I don’t really write titles first anymore. The title comes naturally after I finish the song. More or less now I write with a bassline and then sometimes I’ll write with a chorus. Like if my producer gives me a track, instantly I just hear choruses when I’m writing to tracks that aren’t my own that I’ve produced. Really it just depends.”
When creating music, she’s not only influenced by R&B legends of yesteryear, but also by rising stars. She spouted off inspirations effortlessly.
“Definitely with the likes of SZA, Bryson Tiller, Kehlani. London-wise and UK-wise there’s Mahalia… I could literally sit here for hours and just go on and on. There’s just such good music out right now! There really is, and the scene is in a really good, healthy space and everyone’s on the same wavelength. I could sit here and name names for ages [laughs].”
When I prompted her, Erica had an abundance of nuggets of wisdom for other up-and-coming artists like herself in the community.
“Don’t rush. Take your time. I’ve noticed that because I’m such a person that likes to be at the end product. You need to just take five minutes out for yourself.
“If you really want to take it seriously, you’re going to have to invest. There’s going to be a point when people will only do stuff for free for so long. But definitely just take your time, don’t rush.
“I know it sounds really cliche but self-love is a huge thing. If you don’t believe in yourself when it comes to music, it’s a really, really tough business to be in. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, it’s like, ‘Well, what am I really doing then? What if I can’t actually reach my full potential?’. It’s definitely important to do that and plan everything you do.”
In following her own advice and learning from every step of the process, Erica Cody is without a doubt ready for the spotlight.
“I started off by literally just doing any gig that I could get, just getting a seven-piece band together and we would get 100 quid and try to split it among all of us. I think you need to make a lot of sacrifices, too, but they’re so worth it at the end of the day. But I think no matter what kind of situation you’re in, you’re always going to have make some sort of sacrifice, so if it’s with something that you really feel like could be your career, just do it. You shouldn’t have to think twice about it.”