It’s almost impossible not to be charmed by Erika Spring. She has a warm smile, sparkling eyes and a surprising lack of cynicism for someone who calls New York home. Her self-titled EP, recently released on Cascine, doesn’t veer too far left of her primary band Au Revoir Simone but isn’t quite as sweet, featuring songs with a distinct edge that would be more comfortable at a Bushwick dance party than a Park Slope dinner gathering. Produced by Jorge Elbrecht of Brooklyn’s Violens, the EP is a tight package of textured electronic pop that features the infectious single “Hidden” and a well-executed Eurythmics cover. Prefix got a chance to talk with Erika briefly before her show at New York City’s Mercury Lounge.
When you started working on your solo material did you have some ideas or sketches that you built from?
Yeah, I had been saving some sketches of ideas from when I was on tour with the last Au Revoir Simone album and then when I got home I started sifting through, trying to develop them. A lot of my friends were starting new projects like Blood Orange and Rewards and Neon Indian was recording so things were all in this kind of developing stage that was really inspiring. I had some fun jams with different friends and that just helped me to see what the possibilities were for my project. I started from the same place as the Au Revoir Simone songs, with lo-fi keyboards but one of the big differences is that instead of building beats from a drum machine I collected some beats online, mostly from old soul records, so having that foundation let the songs become something different.
And what was the recording process like?
It was just me and Jorge (Elbrecht) from Violens. I played all the keyboards, he played bass guitar and we programmed the drum beats together. We based our beats off the things I’d gathered and made new ones. I was introduced to Jorge awhile ago, he was going to give me lessons in Pro-Tools and then we ended up working together after that. We recorded everything in his apartment in Greenpoint.
Did that kind of environment help the record at all?
That’s how I’ve always recorded so I’m used to it. I think the days of going into a fancy studio are over. This was perfect because we could take our time and we were becoming friends at the same time, so it was a nice hanging out, making tracks in the neighborhood kind of thing. From the first song we did together he just brought the craziest magic, I was so excited and it’s great fuel when you’re doing something by yourself to not have the time to second guess yourself.
Cascine seems like a really good fit for this EP. How did that come about?
They have a mission statement on the website and as soon as I read it I thought, ‘Oh, awesome, great.’ Then I listened to the bands and right away I thought, ‘This isn’t a label that’s about who’s the next big thing that’s going to blow up, this is a label of really curated music.’ Everything (on Cascine) sounded melodic and catchy and emotional, cool and sexy but in this natural way. So I really responded to all the bands on the label and it just felt like a good fit.
Has living in New York helped shaped the sound of the record or you as an artist?
Yeah, definitely in terms of the other music that’s being made here and the other people I interact with, absolutely.
Do you go out a lot to see bands and hear music?
Whenever I can. I was dj-ing a lot for awhile but I lost my taste for staying out too too late I think. I mostly just see the bands that I love because that’s such good fuel and a reminder of why I’m doing this.
So what have you been listening to this summer?
Tezeo, they’re working on an album but I’ve heard some of their demos which are amazing. Sophia Knapp has an album out. She’s from a band called Cliffie Swan that I was a super, diehard fan of. Pretty much all my friends – the Chairlift record, Class Actress even though that was out awhile ago I still always dj that. I always listen to a lot of older music, like 80’s stuff. I just went to an outdoor screening of Top Gun and the soundtrack is hilarious. I don’t think movies do this anymore, but they use these two songs four times during the movie. There’s “Highway to the Danger Zone” and “Take My Breath Away” and they’re both used so many times in different montages. But it was awesome to be lying on a blanket, watching the sun go down while these huge speakers were blaring those songs.
Do you like to see what people come up with when they remix your music?
Yeah, the Aeroplane remix just came out today and it’s something that Vito from Aeroplane and I have been working on forever so I’m really excited about that. He’s an insanely busy dude so I was appreciative that he took the time to do that. I’m a big disco fan so I love his style. I feel like he takes the best elements of disco and makes some really fun, contemporary dance music. With remixes in general, I always say that it enables you to listen to your own music the way fans would, just in a different way than you would when it’s your own creation. It gives you some separation which is nice.
So what do you have coming up?
I have some shows in Europe this fall, then CMJ and I’m also recording with Au Revoir Simone right now so I’m not doing a full-on tour. But the Au Revoir Simone sessions are going really well and we’re aiming to release a full LP in early 2013.