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Erika Lloyd: Not Your Momma’s Choral Music

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From folky americana to blues rock, most audiophiles have heard their share of genre-bending music on the airwaves, but even in the ever-growing world of music, choral pop will never be something you’ll see any “average Joe” of a musician pull off.

Just like many modern musicians, Erika Lloyd is a firm believer that artists shouldn’t have to contain themselves to any one genre or art form. Instead of blending somewhat similar musical styles, Lloyd effortlessly blends traditional  choral music with the likes of modern pop – two genres that are on opposite ends of the musical spectrum.

In Infectious Magazine’s interview with Lloyd, she dished on her song “Cells Planets,” her favorite venues in New York, and what it’s like working on her original music with her equally-talented husband. You can read the full interview with the New York songstress below the jump.

To hear more from Lloyd, you can purchase a CD here, or buy concert tickets here

IM: What does “cross-genre performance” mean to you?

EL: It means being true to who I am, while fully inhabiting each genre I am performing –choosing to take part in what moves me, not just performing certain music for popularity’s sake. As a vocalist singing my own original music, I go from using the techniques learned from singing early choral works, to imitating the style of jazz singers, to belting like a musical theater ingénue. Cross-genre performing, to me, also means mixing many different types of music together in the programming of one concert, like when I performed with Choral Chameleon a Bach masterwork and then premiered a new piece that featured beat boxing in the same night.

 IM: One day, you’re recording “Cells Planets” during a one-day package of studio time from a battle of the bands prize pack, the next, Chanticleer is performing that same song around the world. How did that happen?

EL: Right place. Right time. The director of the aforementioned Choral Chameleon, Vince Peterson, was commissioned to write an arrangement of and indie pop song for Chanticleer that fit the theme of their current concert season, which was “Out of This World.” Vince is a big fan of my music and “Cells Planets” was a perfect fit.

IM: Can you tell us a little bit about performing with Pro Arte and how you got involved with them?

I auditioned for John Poole, one of my absolute favorite choral conductors, and he took a liking to me. He called me one of his “little choir boys” because of my light soprano straight tone sound. Youth really is wasted on the young; I had no idea at the time how lucky I was to be singing with that group of students, most of which were older, more talented, more accomplished, and way more knowledgeable about the repertoire than I was. I was very much surprised when he and many members of the group attended my senior recital and were singing my praises. It was incredibly encouraging.

 IM: What’s it like working with your husband on your music?

EL: This question made me smile and chuckle a bit. First, you have to understand that Brad is a brilliant and highly accomplished musician. I have had the pleasure of seeing him work with Regina Spektor, David Byrne, and hundreds of amazing bands and ensembles. He recently wrote music and was filmed for a PBS special. He plays classical piano, jazz piano, jazz organ, pipe organ, every electronic piano and synthesizer known to man, knows how to program all of the necessary software live and in the studio, arranges, produces, composes, has been a professional performer since he was a kid, and more crazy examples of talent I can’t even think of right now. He can play anything by ear. It’s nuts. So, of course it’s a dream come true for me to collaborate with someone like that! He’s a mentor to me. That being said, he still drives me crazy when he shows up an hour late for everything, “forgets” to take out the trash, or talks over me to tell one of his weirdo free-association jokes. Every couple has their list of “Stop doing that right now, I know where you sleep” annoyances. I run a tight ship and get hyper-focused when I’m working. I think we might be a pretty annoying combo in rehearsal for the other band members, but in the end, we write and perform really well together, so it’s all worth it.

 IM: What was the inspiration behind your new single “Power?”

EL: I feel like I am wearing a coat of armor when I’m listening to certain music: like the artist is somehow sending magic and strength into my body through her sound. I want all of the women who have made my life worth living through their art to know how much they mean to me and thousands of other people. Women in music often do not get credit for their work and I want that to stop. I want the next generation to understand that gender has absolutely nothing to do with creative abilities, skills, and knowledge.

 IM: You’re currently working on creating visual art to accompany each track of your new album. What made you decide to add that visual aspect?

EL: I’ve always used the visual arts as a large part of my expression. I love when different art forms are synthesized together into one work, to more fully express the ideas behind the art. I think combining visuals with music is very impactful. It’s been done a lot in the past 100 years or so through film, but why not through still images as well, beyond just an album cover? It’s so easy to share that kind of content through social media these days, where as it wouldn’t have been so easy to share so widely even just ten years ago. The way I look at it is: if I have the ability to create and share this work, why wouldn’t I?

 IM: What’s your secret for balancing teaching and your music career?

EL: Performing and teaching require the same type of high energy, think-on-your-feet, engagement. Whether my audience is made up of a room of kindergarten piano students, or a group of 30-something New Yorkers looking to reenergize after work, doesn’t matter. I have to show them that I care about them, I’m there for them, I want to share ideas and interact with them. If I keep the big picture in mind and put the audience first in both instances, no little problems or disruptions will get in the way of my work. I try to treat everyone I work with or for with respect, I get back to people right away, and am always on time. It also doesn’t hurt that I love organizational office supplies.

 IM: Spill – what’s your favorite place to enjoy music in New York?

EL: My favorite large venue is The Beacon Theatre and my favorite medium-to-small-sized hot spots are LPR, Mercury Lounge, Rockwood, and The Bitter End. They all have great sound. I have so many amazing memories in each place.

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Victoria Wasylak

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