The Cultural Reset sits down with groundbreaking talent, Eraste to discuss her unique creative journey navigating the music industry. In an in-depth piece, Eraste talks her religious upbringing and how her identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community has helped to shape her music as well as her distinct mission with her art. An unbridled, unapologetic, and self-realized creative herself, Eraste is a prime example of artistic authenticity in the face of a limiting and gatekeeping industry...one she is no doubt destined to change.
Hi, Eraste. Welcome to The Cultural Reset. And thank you for being here today. We are super excited about your Favourite Secret release. Where and how did your journey in the music industry start? Yeah. Well, thank you for having me. I've heard about The Cultural Reset. I'm so excited to be a part of it. So thank you for having me to talk about my musical journey. Well, it's been less than a year, I feel like I've been in the industry for ages, but it started at the beginning of March 2020. I was working at a coffee shop in Uptown Dallas, which is in Texas. I was working with this barista who was also a musician. It was just by pure chance that we met and that we were working at the same store. I came up with ‘Break My Own Heart’ with him and he directed me to some producers that I worked with. Then I made the EP, and that's just how that happened. I didn't grow up in the industry. I had no idea what to do. I feel like I've learned a lot this past year about who I am as an artist, how to get started and involved.
I know how to help others get to that point because a lot of the industry is really ambiguous especially if you're not exposed to it at an early age. I grew up in a town of 3000 people. I had no idea how to break into the industry. I think now I am figuring out that making music and having the career you want is a lot more attainable than it seems. I'm really thankful that I am where I am. I just met amazing people to help me along the way. That's just kind of the beginning and then now I'm here.
What is your mission with your music?
I have a lot of different missions. I've lived a lot of life. I definitely want to tell my stories. I think that's why any creative creates—just, because we can't imagine doing anything else. A big way that I process my trauma is that I create about it. I guess my mission for myself is to have a cathartic experience. I don't have healing and so that's why I create for myself. But with my brand and my image, I definitely want to stand up for LGBTQ+ rights because where I'm from, it's still really conservative and closed-minded. I know the United States as a whole, there are some parts that are really open-minded but especially in Texas, it's a conservative state. Where I was, there were not very many people and so a lot of people are set in their ways. It’s really important that somebody from there is proud of who they are. Having women on my team, women producers and trying to have those voices be heard and as a woman, being heard as a musician is important. I'm also a person of colour and fighting for those, being able to take up space in the industry without as much pushback. I definitely think we're making strides, not me myself, but everybody in general, the music industry is definitely moving forward. But I want to do anything that I can do to make my fans feel safe, who are in those groups because I understand how hard it can be. By being at the forefront, I am trying to lead by example. Who are your influences for your music and your messages? I feel as a whole, I would say pop music. But especially the 2000s to 2010 was such a huge era for pop music and pop hits. They were transitioning out of the grunge era in the United States, and we were getting Britney. Then we got into 2012 and Katy Perry and Rihanna were dominating the charts. As I mentioned before, I didn't grow up in a musical household. My family didn't understand it at all. None of my family's creative. None of my family understands whatsoever. They didn't encourage me because they didn't understand. That's totally fine. But I feel like a lot of musicians grow up with influences from their parents or from people they know and having music in the household, but I didn't. Being the youngest of five, I have four other siblings. I was just listening to what they had on their eye at the time. I was just listening to the radio. I think that's why pop music comes really naturally to me, because that was the majority of what I heard growing up not by choice, but I'm really thankful that it was. When I started getting into music for myself, I was really big on 2014 Tumblr culture. I grew up different and isolated. It’s finding those communities online. So a big one is Halsey for sure. I just really love them. They are probably the reason that I make electro-pop music. It was really cool to listen to that and be like, oh, my goodness. What is this? I just love it so much. Then as far as the musicians that I've loved for the longest, I would say Taylor Swift. I'm a huge Swiftie and I will never, ever apologise. She was my first love as a musician. All of her albums that she's done, I feel like a lot of what I do is inspired by her. I listen to her at least once a day. It’s been really inspiring how she has successfully moved in and out of genres. I feel like that's one of the main reasons why I feel like I could. I feel like my music is going from country music to pop music to folk music. In music historically, there's been a lot of boxes and there's been a lot of genres that you have to stick to. But now I think it's becoming a lot more genre-bending and so that's amazing. Lorde’s ‘Melodrama’ again is the reason why I am. If I could only listen to one album forever, it would be ‘Melodrama’. I definitely feel the whole concept, every single song, the imagery - I love everything on that album, from the writing to the production to the intricate details. I definitely think whenever Lorde captures an emotion the way that she does, she encouraged me to be more conceptual with my feelings and my emotions when writing about them. A lot of my influences for writing and also my musical choices come from those people in pop music and alternative music. I think it's really interesting that you started your musical career during the pandemic. So when have you felt most inspired writing?
Writing is really important to me as a musician. I feel like that's something that I hold with as much value as the production or as much value as pop song in itself. Growing up I did a lot of coach writing. I just love to write. I feel like in a sense, it takes a really honest process for me to write. That's a huge part of who I am as an artist because a lot of musicians don't write their own music, and that's totally fine. I definitely want to since I want to tell my own stories, then I do eventually want to write for other artists. with my EP. I knew I always wanted to be an artist, but I was too scared to admit it. then in the pandemic. I met Good Guy Levi, who I co-wrote ‘Break My Own Heart’ with. I lost my job and then I read this book that said “Don't wait until you know who you are to get started”. That really resonated with me as a musician. As an aspiring musician, I've been so focused on figuring out who I was so that I could convey that to my fans and in my music. But I feel like a huge part of music is that I say I don't know. The first line of my EP is “you can never really know me because I don't really know me”. I started writing. I met the producers. I had written most of ‘Crashing Every Party’ and I brought that in and then I finished it with them. Then all the other songs we wrote in a room where we bounced ideas off of each other and we would sing to a track. That’s how a lot of pop music is written, especially if there's six or seven co-writers on a song. You’re in a room and you bounce ideas off of each other. Then you send it to somebody else and they like it. It was really cool to learn how to do that process. That definitely is something that I need to do, especially if I want to write for other artists.
But what works for me the most is writing alone. I grew up playing the acoustic guitar and playing the piano. Having it out and then going into the production, I feel like that works a lot better for me so that things don't get lost in translation. In the future, I definitely want to be more in control of, my words and my writing. With ‘Break My Own Heart’, I love Good Guy Levi so much. He definitely got what I was trying to say and he let me say it. When I started my EP and wrote with more established producers, it was really interesting as a beginning artist to adjust myself to their process. But now I know what process works for me. It's all just a learning experience. It’s going to be really interesting how I write music whenever my life doesn't feel like it's on a pause. I don't think this would have happened without the pandemic because I lost my job and had more time than ever to focus on my music. I can tell it gave me a lot of time to think about who I was. I'm just grateful that I could make something that I loved out of something so horrible.
Well, that leads me straight to my next question. So tell me about ‘Favourite Secret’?
Eraste: ‘Favourite Secret’ is like the first version of the song on my EP called Forbidden Love. It's the same exact but I feel like with my EP, I wanted to touch on a lot of different genres, so I changed it to fit the EP. But I thought that the first version could stand on its own and be a single. I didn't think I got the attention I deserved. I was like, I'm going to re-release it so I talk a lot about being queer. I identify as bisexual and that's really important to me. ‘Favourite Secret’ is all about a secret romance. I'm talking about falling in love for the first time and how intense that can be, but it's even more intense when you know that you're not supposed to or you're feeling like you're getting away with something, but it can also be really toxic and really draining and crushing. I mean, being in the closet because it wasn't accepted, I feel like my first love was taken away from me. Whenever you’re stripped of your identity for so long, it's hard to find that again. Whenever I look back on my first love and the intensity of it, that's what I wrote ‘Favourite Secret’ about how I wanted so badly to hold on to something. This other person was the only person that I felt comfortable to be who I was and identify how I identified with them because I was in love with them. Outside of that relationship, with secret meetings, I was erased. That's just what the song is about. I knew what I was doing was really toxic and bad for me and really awful. But your first love takes you the whole you. When you're like a teenager, it's like, I will die without you. That's how I felt. And so I think my favourite secret is about intensity and passion. This production definitely comes across with the urgency of that emotion. You mentioned you want to talk more about being LGBT in the community. Have you experienced any other limitations in your career because of how you identify? A lot of the people that I surround myself with are open and accepting. So if I have been denied those publications or placements I would know if I got denied on the premise of that. My family was super unaccepting of who I was and how I identified. Whenever those people aren't there for you and don't care enough to know you or take you as you are, it makes you really try to find the people who do. Growing up, I had the opportunity to go to Church camps and their denomination specifically was open and accepting. So I think I was already used to seeking out my people because whenever I went home, I had to hide those parts of me again. I think being out in the real world for two or three years now, I don't even think about it. I don't even remember how it was to hide. It feels really nice that I’m living the life that I had never imagined I would. Being queer, I think the main thing that I want to do is normalize it and especially speak out about bisexuality because I think there are a lot of misconceptions even in the queer community about what it means to be bisexual or how I identify. Currently for while I've been in a same-sex relationship, but I'm still bisexual. I want people who identify how I identify or in the LGBTQ+ community to know that they are safe with me. I definitely feel like a lot of people from my hometown or Texas, in general, aren't super into my music. There is a lot of pushback from my family and my ex-friends who don't want to listen to my music. That’s okay because it's not for them. I feel like that would be my main struggle with it. It's always about going where you're celebrated, not just tolerated. I think a big part of finding my friends is finding people who make you feel that you can be the full scope of who you are and not have to hide, compensate or water myself because whenever I go home or in high school I had to water myself down to be a socially acceptable version. That’s drained me and caused a lot of trauma - why do all these people get to be who they are and I don’t? The feeling of being stuck in my adolescence. I think finding people who don't make you become smaller whenever you're around them. I take that really seriously. I won't be seen with people who would possibly make my fans feel ostracised or outcasted. I'm really particular about the people I am friends with and other people I involve in my life, because how would my fans feel if I preached self-acceptance and social acceptance but I was friends with somebody who didn't believe that? Or somebody that was openly against that? It’s hard to find the balance in those things, but I never want anybody to say that I'm ingenuine or don’t lead by example. I don't think that there's been a lot of pushback in my musical journey as much as my social one. But finding my fans or even my team that accepts me for who I am that's just more than I could ever ask for. In terms of mental health in the LGBTQ+ community are there any other insufficiencies in the music industry that you'd like to see, rectified or change that you'd like to make in the industry as a whole.
Another part of my identity that I haven't really gotten the chance to talk about is that I am diagnosed bipolar. As far as the industry goes, there are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be bipolar and what it means to have depressive episodes. Halsey is diagnosed as bipolar. That’s another reason why I feel like I relate to their music on such a personal level. But whenever you think about these things, like writing or having this music out there, I think there's a lot of hurtful verbiage that's unintentionally used. I think whenever I make my music or give insight into what it means, how people can understand that more, how I feel whenever I'm in those situations or having those episodes or how I feel just on a daily basis, is important. The more you can understand somebody and why they do the things that you do, the more understandable you can be. If you think about examples of known bipolar people in music, there's a double standard because we're really accepting as a society of certain things. But if somebody's having an episode, I feel like it is something that a lot of people feel ashamed about. Understanding myself and my mental illness and standing up for that and saying this is something that I live with and that's okay, is important. I write about it and this is a part of my day-to-day life. In the music industry, I want to show people that, because I think that there are a lot of misconceptions about bipolar as a whole. I feel like people understand anxiety and depression. But as far as bipolar, I feel society as a whole doesn't really understand that as well. I feel like there is a double standard for bipolar people in comparison to people with anxiety and depression. Whenever I show symptoms of being bipolar or having symptoms, they're like, “she’s just a bad person” or “she is careless or reckless”. I want people to see that it’s just as much a symptom of something. It's hard to see that in the industry. It’s hard to see that in my day-to-day life, because it is something that I see often. Hopefully, whenever I speak up about it, write about it, then people just become more aware of how the things they can say or their attitudes can hurt diagnosed bipolar people. I definitely think that's something that I want to start talking about more. But thank you for asking and giving me the opportunity to talk about it.
Of course. What advice would you give to other aspiring LGBTQ+ musicians looking to break into the industry? Be who you are. I definitely think like Lil Nas X. There are so many people that have paved a way for queer people to be in the industry and to be seen. But what he's doing right now - he is a pop star and not losing any traction. It’s so amazing to see that. He was who he was, like from the very beginning. I think it never came as a shock. He said, “I'm gonna showcase my music, because that's who I am.” So that's just what I would say. Be who you are and never water yourself down for somebody or a label or for because I have made it known what my identity is so if I do get signed or get the opportunity, they know what they're getting. I know it's really scary to put yourself out there as a musician but ultimately it's going to lead to more authentic art and more authentic fans. Your fans will come because they're out there. I feel like more and more I say I'm not a different category of musician. I'm just a pop artist who happens to be LGBTQ+. I definitely that's amazing that we're, like, moving towards that. Be you are, let it be known unless you're not ready, then that's totally okay, too. But trying to break into the industry and just finding the people that are not going to gatekeep from you. I feel like as POC and as a queer woman, there's so much gatekeeping in the industry. I found the people that wanted to help me whenever I joined so like the 'Girls Behind The Rock Show', a networking group. That's all women uplifting you and showing you where to go. If you're trying to break into the industry, there are a lot easier ways to do it when you find people who relate to you on those levels. There are good people out there who want to help you. It's just hard to find them. But once you do, it's great. I feel there's this idea of the music industry that's it has been forever controlled by a certain type of people, like white men but now there's a whole other community of non-binary people and people that are coming up and creating these paths and helping each other. I think the more that we help each other in this community, we can create a better music industry. For other career people coming into the industry, definitely look at networking, but not networking in a sense “I'm only going to be friends with you for the sake of getting something from you” but for the sense of once you find people who do what they do, love it - you meet them and your friends with them, and you're nice to them. That will get you so much further.I worked with really established producers who had connections and who did XYZ and I feel like they withheld those connections from me. I thought ‘I'm working with these people who are in the industry, so they're going to help me and it’s going to catapult me to a certain extent if they're gonna help me’. But I thought because I was professional and I knew professionals that I would break into the industry but joining that group and networking with people who aren't fan girls and aren't acknowledged as professionals has done way more for me than working with those types of people that are kind of gatekeeping from you. So that's what I would say. Find your community, find the people that can help you get where you want to go and just don't be an a**hole because people remember that.
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects that you're working on?
Yeah. So I haven't revealed the name of the song yet. I feel like when you're a musician, work never stops. I'm super happy that with ‘Favourite Secret’, I got to put the EP to rest a little bit. For me, it served the perfect purpose of what it was. It is a project that seemed so in a time capsule. It lives in a bubble of who I am and who I was at that time. But the stuff that I'm writing now is a lot more true to the things I'm experiencing as I experience them. I'm just writing a lot about how I'm living the life that I'm experiencing right now. I do have a song in the works that I'm so excited about. It's the first song that I've written completely by myself. I'm really proud of that. I definitely want it to be known that I did this by myself. I feel like the music that I'm coming into writing is the most “myself” that I have so far. My EP is a concept album. I wanted to explore genres and do a lot of different stuff. I wanted to have fun and be different and make a country song and do a bunch of stuff because I didn't know where I wanted to be as an artist or what space I wanted to take up. Now with the projects that I'm working on, I'm making music that sounds like the music that I love. So I'm making songs like ‘Break My Own Heart’ and ‘Right Back Where You Want Me’ and working with other artists and producers who know that style of music and know how to create that with me. I played that on a show the other day and people were like this is your best song. I think now it's going to feel so cathartic to release something and to continually write something that isn’t as conceptual as the emotions that I am feeling right now. With my EP, I would write a song and in hindsight, I would have a goal of making it a country song or exploring. I pushed myself a lot on the EP, and I think that's necessary but now I know a little bit more about who I am as a person. What I make from now on is going to be a lot more true to that. I'm really excited for people to hear it
Great and where can people find your music?
I'm on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Amazon Music, all that stuff. So, yeah, whatever platform you use, you can stream Eraste. I have an EP. I have another song out. I'm definitely excited for people to listen to it, stream it, hear it here, and be introduced to a whole new type of music that I'm making. We're all really excited to see what you continue to do next. Thank you for speaking with me. Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, I can't wait.
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