Jan 8th – It’s a new year and Alternative Sound is super excited to talk to musician Erin Coburn in our first interview of 2020! Erin is as driven as she is talented, and was kind enough to talk with us about her passion, her influences, and the ups and downs of a career in music!
Welcome to Alternative Sound! First, tell us who you are, your pronouns, where you’re from, and what you do!
Thanks for having me! My name is Erin Coburn, my pronouns are she/her, I live in Northern Kentucky, and I am a professional touring musician and songwriter.
Who are your biggest influences?
So many artists inspire me and I like to think I have a wide variety of the kinds of artists that influence me. My biggest influences are Gary Clark Jr., The Black Keys, Cage the Elephant, Badflower, BROCKHAMPTON, Polyphia, and Jeff Beck. I feel like I add a new influence a day.
You’ve been playing music for a really long time! What are some of your earliest memories with music?
I have been! Over half my life! One of the earliest memories with music that pops into my mind is when I played my first recital at age 9. I had this cute little pink acoustic guitar with a hand painted fairy on it and I played an instrumental blues song I wrote. I really wanted an electric guitar, but my parents said I had to play a recital first before they would get me one. That night, after the recital, my parents took me to Guitar Center to get my first electric guitar. I haven’t been able to put down electric guitars ever since. I also remember getting up on stage with Joseph Wooten, Scat Springs, and several other incredible musicians at Third and Lindsley in Nashville. I believe I was 13 at the time and being up there with people who can really put on a show inspired me and gave me more confidence on stage.
You said you’re from [insert place], how has living there (or growing up there) influenced your sound? What is it like playing in that scene?
The Northern KY/Cincinnati area has a lot of great musicians of all genres. There isn’t just one genre that sticks out in the music community here. I think that has really helped play a role with my music because I like my music to be unexpected and bend genres. I don’t play around here too often since I am on the road a lot, but when I do my hometown fans are super supportive!
Playing music for so long, you must have some really good stories! What have been some of your most memorable moments as a musician?
I have some great, good, and bad stories! One of the most memorable moments was when my guitars got crushed by a speaker during one of my shows. Someone in the audience had leaned on the speaker and it came down on my guitars in the guitar rack behind it. The necks of two of my guitars broke, there were pieces of guitar all over the stage, and we were only halfway through the first set of a two set show. After the guitars broke, I played the rest of the show with no tears and the only guitar I had left with me. Of course, once we got back in the van to go back to the hotel room… it kicked in – I mean the waterfalls of tears came. Luckily, my Telecaster had a bolt on neck so it was able to be fixed, but my Electra was not worth fixing since it would’ve cost more to fix the guitar than it was actually worth. A much more positive memory from being an artist would definitely be when I saw and heard quite a lot of my audience singing along to my lyrics. Watching people sing what you’ve written and really relate to the music is one of the coolest things. That’s one of the greats inspirations when it comes to what pushes me to make more music. Seeing and hearing how others relate to it.
Being a musician, especially as a young woman, has its challenges and frustrations – what makes all the ups and downs worth it for you?
It absolutely does, but I think with every “down” I face in my career it bounces back with an “up”. I’ve faced hate from some people, I’ve been told I can’t play as well as others, I’ve been disrespected, forgotten about, ignored, cheated, but with each of those I have learned how to handle tough situations. At the end of the day, no matter bad or good, my goal is to communicate to my fans and give them something they can relate to and feel. I love hearing that my music helps others escape or helps them face an emotion they thought they were dealing with alone.
Having been writing songs for so long, how has your style and process changed since you started?
I can definitely say my songs have gotten more mature. I started seriously writing when I was 12, and my songwriting process at that age was very sporadic and random. I wrote songs when the idea came to me, but never tried to force it or set a specific time to write. I thought I couldn’t do that when I was younger otherwise the song would sound forced. As I’ve gotten older and continued on with my songwriting, I’ve learned it is good to do both. I write songs when they come to me AND I make myself set aside specific times to write. I try to write as much as I can because the more I do it, the better I’ll get. Some people ask if I write the lyrics first or the chords/melody, and I say yes, because it just depends on what I am feeling. Sometimes the melody comes bursting out of my noggin and it has so much to say, but other times I’ll have a title that reaches out to so many other words.
You just put out a new record called Out From Under, which is your third full length, and features the title track single ‘Out From Under’! Congratulations on a really killer release! What was it like from start-to-finish making this record? How did it compare to the making of your previous records?
Thank you so much! This album is my FAVORITE album that I have made so far. I recorded it at Lava Room in Cleveland, OH, which is also my favorite studio. This record came so easy since I had a clear message I wanted to get across. My other two albums had messages too, but this one was so much clearer and all of the songs really went along with it. With Out from Under, I want my listeners to know that it’s okay to not go along with the crowd or fit under society’s standards. I underwent this process of stopping the constant feeling of needing to fit in before I wrote this album, which inspired me to invite others to be “Out from Under”. I also wanted a more modern sound with this album, so the effects and the technology we used to make it come alive were very different from my previous works.
Apart from just playing and writing songs for most of your life, you’ve also been performing on stage! Which do you prefer: the initial writing process, the grind of the studio, or the rush of live shows?
Ooo… this is a tough question because I feel like I love all of these equally. Writing a song that flows is a party, the studio makes me feel super focused and productive, and live shows just have this wildly unique energy. If I REALLY had to choose one… I would say live shows because each show has a different energy which is very refreshing, and I can see for myself how my fans directly interact with my songs. It’s cool to be in a room (or at a festival) where my music can bring others together and we can exchange energies.
Do you have any live shows coming up that people should be on the lookout for? Or any other cool plans in the near future?
New Years Eve I will be at Big Ash Brewing in Blue Ash, then January 16 I am headed to NAMM! I am a demonstrator/artist for Bad Cat Amps and will be at their booth. I’ve never been to NAMM before so I am extremely excited to go, especially with my favorite amp company. Right after NAMM I will be at Evangeline’s in St Louis, MO on Jan 23, Knuckleheads in Kansas City on Jan 24, The Red Shed Music Venue in Hutchinson, KS on Jan 25, and Magoon’s in St Joseph, MO on Jan 26. I’ve got lots more shows coming up and more to tell you about so keep an eye on http://www.erincoburnmusic.com to see if my band and I are playing near you!
What is the #1 reason why everyone should checkout your music?
Everyone deserves to feel unique and try something new, and my music has a unique blend of flavors from several genres. There’s something for everyone.
Any last words?
No matter what you are passionate about, whether you are thinking about playing guitar, writing songs, or anything else, I highly encourage you to do it. You’ve got to work hard and stay focused, but I believe you can do that. Don’t stop dreaming and set goals to achieve your dreams!