Who is Alexandra Drewchin? The Pennsylvania-born, Queens-based composer who records as Eartheater seems to shift shape with every release: one moment, as on 2019's superlative Trinity, she's a doyenne of experimental dance music; another, as on last year's Phoenix: La Petit Mort Edition, she's a creator of gossamer ambient pieces.
The first time I saw her, at 2018's Unsound festival in Adelaide, she stalked the stage in ripped double-denim, the reverberation of her operatic voice, harsh noise and a harp accompanist causing shingling from the venue's roof to shake loose.
This year, Drewchin has only found bigger and bigger stages: an expanded version of her new single "Scripture," released today, soundtracked Proenza Schouler's Spring 2022 show; she modeled in Rihanna's Savage X Fenty show, walked for Mugler, and released a video for her Tony Seltzer collaboration "JOYRIDE" featuring Lourdes Leon.
Speaking to PAPER over email as she prepares for her first tour in support of Phoenix, Drewchin sounded excited about the many worlds she's beginning to inhabit: "I love that my more accessible work also lures people into the stranger side of my discography, and maybe introduces new outlets and ideas to people that wouldn't necessarily be inclined to explore before."
Listen to "Scripture" and read PAPER's conversation with Drewchin, below.
You started out in this kind of underground milieu, and now you're also on this bigger stage, walking for Mugler, appearing in the Savage X Fenty show, and so on. How do you navigate moving between these two worlds, so to speak?
It feels like a natural progression. I'm easily bored and creatively claustrophobic, so moving through different focuses and worlds keeps things spicy.
Do you ever feel pressure to make your music more accessible to capitalize on that new audience, or do you feel like the world is just becoming a little more Eartheater?
I never feel pressure from anything other than from my own curiosity or genuine desire. I feel lucky that my myriad of expressions reaches into many different worlds. Since I've occupied the more experimental and left field world of music for most of my career, I've actually received more backlash for making more accessible music than any type of pressure the other way around. I've always obsessed over the craft of a good pop song, so when I finally felt that kind of writing muscle mature in me it was really exciting. I'm glad I waited until I was fully ready. This all being said, it's important to know that just because I've started to make pop music doesn't mean I'm done working with obtuse sounds.
As far as capitalizing, I've had a lot of my ambient and experimental music placed in commercials and fashion shows that have proven to be as lucrative if not more than my more palatable songs. As we know, the songs with the most amount of streams on DSPs doesn't necessarily mean they're songs making most of my money. Maybe I should stress that I don't make the majority of my money from streams or record sales. Also there is way more pop music being made than experimental music. I think that my particular pop flavor benefits from my experience with noise and texture. I love that my more accessible work also lures people into the stranger side of my discography, and maybe introduces new outlets and ideas to people that wouldn't necessarily be inclined to explore before.
Today you're releasing "Scripture." How did the song come about, and what do you think it says about the direction you'll go in next?
I wrote "Scripture" while I was just finishing Phoenix and right after releasing Trinity, so it felt like a very lucid and lubricated deposit during a very prolific and electric time. It felt like I had just surmounted some kind of huge mountain in my life I had been climbing for years. I was feeling very validated and rewarded in trusting my stars after following my heart, for years, down an unorthodox and uncertain path.
As far as what "Scripture" says about my forthcoming music, I guess you could say the new sounds are back to being more electronic and beat oriented compared to Phoenix.
"Scripture" has this line, "Even though they think they know me on the screen/ No one knows where I have been." Can you expand on that for me?
At that time my following and recognition was rapidly growing and I started to experience in my infantile celebrity that people begin to see you as purely a means of entertainment and an object to project on and make assumptions about. This is by no means what the song is about entirely — it was just a little subplot for the bridge as it relates to the more overarching picture about the ecstasy of validation in my maturing as an artist.
"Scripture" soundtracked the latest Proenza Schouler show and you've soundtracked runway shows before. What do you think it is about your music that speaks so much to the fashion world?
I think that I'm very serious about the visual aspects that accompany my music and I know for a fact my visuals stay on mood boards, so that might have something to do with it, but I really owe it to Michel Gaubert for putting my song "Concealer" in the Chanel show. Fashion work became pretty consistent after that. I guess it's also convenient that I have so many different sounds in my discography that designers can choose from — I'm a one stop shop of various moods and atmospheres.
Earlier this year, you released an ambient reworking of Phoenix. How did it feel to reshape those songs in that way, and what do you think you found in the music that maybe you didn't see the first time around?
It was cool to see the songs as pallets of paint, and observe the dissonance and harmonies smudging like colors mixing and blending.
You're about to tour Phoenix for the first time. What's your vision for the shows?
I had the live show very much in mind when writing the album. I wrote the album with violins, cellos, piano, flutes and guitar because I was getting bored with performing without instruments. I'll be accompanied by various chamber groups throughout the tour.
How are you feeling about getting back into touring after so long?
I'm really excited, but a little bit nervous about my stamina after laying low for so long.
Photo courtesy of Eartheater