BE COOL, FIND YOURSELF, FIND YOUR PEOPLE, BE TRUE TO WHAT YOU ARE, HAVE PARTIES, JUMP AROUND, CARE LESS WHILE CARING BETTER
This freewheeling way of thinking comes from Porlolo’s founder Erin Roberts, a wanderer in life and an individual that seeks the joys of adventure. Reading about Roberts, you will discover that she labels herself the following: a self-definer sister, a stunt artist, and a swimmer. While these traits and activities are all well and good, it’s pretty clear the Roberts also has a distinct gift of forging timeless connections with the power of her songwriting.
“Porlolo has been an incredibly powerful force in my own life, providing equal amounts of sanity and absurdity, keeping it weird when life gets tedious, heavy and too adult,” Roberts says regarding her band. Over the fifteen years since she formed Porlolo, the band’s music wafts through grungy tunes to sometimes highlight a twangy vibe, followed by pure pop. The latest effort, the three-song EP Awards feels different. Enclosed with Roberts beautiful lyrics is a focused concoction of indie and folk; listening to the album’s title track alone is all the proof that you need.
We recently caught up with Roberts to discuss the inner workings of how the EP came about, her approach to living a life that comes off as carefree, and what the future holds for her.
Growing up, what got you into being a fan of music?
My parents had a decent record collection, and as a little kid, I loved turning on our old tuner and spinning records while lying on the living room floor. I started playing trumpet in 4th Grade, and that got me pretty interested in what goes into a song. It wasn’t until high school though when I went bonkers over music. REM, The Beatles, Fugazi, Nirvana, those songs got to me. And though I was never straight edge, the only shows I could go to as a teen were hardcore warehouse shows and I felt the power of the live performance there.
When did it become clear to you that creating music was going to be important?
Music creation was something that I did from an early age, so its importance just kind of grew into me over the years as something that I did and something that I was. I remember the exact moment that I wanted to be in a band though – I was at a Cap’n Jazz show in Urbana, Illinois while in college, and right up front by the band. It was an insanely good show, and I think I saw some little bit of what I wanted to be or feel from music in that performance.
Your approach to life is rather awe-inspiring. You seem to value the importance of taking each moment and embrace it. Have you always followed this line of thinking?
I’m a true Sagittarius, a weird adventurer, and very impatient wanderer. I’m a product of the stars. I do value the importance of embracing each moment, though it’s harder to actualize as I’ve gotten older with more responsibilities and with more repetition in my life. And I’ve struggled at times with massive depression, so it’s really just belligerent optimism that keeps my head above water by doing what I want when I want to and trying to find adventure in the tedious.
What would you suggest to those that struggle to enjoy life to try to do to turn it around?
I’m not sure I have good advice for those that struggle, because I struggle – life is insanely hard, and I haven’t seen the half of it. I really do think there is so much pressure on everyone to overproduce and over-engage. There’s so little time for peace and self-reflection. I want humans to slow down, disengage, sleep more, go outside, turn off, not care, be kind. I have no idea if that’s good advice. I’m not one people generally come to for help, so that’s probably an indication that I say weird things.
After all these years wondering around, what have you experienced that you previously didn’t think you would?
The total dissolution of self after having kids. I live in a house full of maniacs, and the only tame creature indoors is our family dog, Pinto. Transitioning into being a parent then the act of parenting itself tore away every layer of self until I was left with this shiny core of being, which sounds like a bad thing (it was certainly painful) but it’s been super fantastic to get rid of the unnecessary.
Do you see your life excursions coming into your music?
Every place I have lived has had a great deal of influence on me, especially in the relationships I’ve developed through music. I’m really only in Porlolo because it’s fun to hang out and have adventures with good friends. I guess I like writing songs too.
I saw that you are a stunt artist. What provoked you to go into that line of work?
I’m not really a stunt artist but did go through an extended period in life where my friend Stephanie and I would stage extravagant public stunts involving dramatic fake falls, public arguments, fake blood. Or one time we hid in garbage bags piled on the street in NYC and cried for help when pedestrians went by. Lots of prank calls. I think we stopped around the time Stephanie broke her foot…
You have done a lot within your time here on Earth. What is it that you haven’t done yet that you want to see/do?
I can’t wait to retire from my day job. Retirement is going to be awesome.
The EP is only three songs. Was there any discussion of adding more music? Perhaps turning it into a full-length?
We put these three songs out over the course of a long weekend in Denver. I camped out in Denver and spent a few long, long days in the studio with James Barone, Anna Morsett, Jake Miller and Tom Mohr to knock’m out. James produced and played drums, and he has a super insane touring schedule with Beach House, so we were pretty limited to the three days. But, so was I! It’s almost impossible for me to carve out time to record right now since I have a 9-5 record industry job and live with savages.
When releasing music, do you prefer to go about releasing clunks of music at a time?
Had I the time and money, I’d definitely prefer to release full-length albums. But, I also want to get my music out in the world, so releasing songs three at a time has worked better in the last few years. And releasing little chunks has proven to be a more concise statement to where I’m at with music at the time.
What was the vision going into the writing of Awards?
All of these songs were written in the last couple of years while playing with Tom, Ben, Anna, and Jake. I can’t say there was an exact vision behind the writing of the songs; they just are the ones that came out. They definitely speak to the last few years of my life.
I have to admit that the EP (especially the title song) is one of my favorite recordings I’ve heard all year. I also feel it’s some of your strongest works to date. Would you agree?
I love this EP and am so grateful for the support of my talented friends who helped actualize the songs into something beautiful. This one feels really true to Porlolo, especially the title track.
What is coming up for you? I hope that we see you out on the road sooner than later.
We’re having a release party at Lost Lake in Denver on May 4th with buddies Land Lines, and Spirettes, some other shows throughout the summer, and I’m going to start recording the next batch of songs. Hoping to do another Midwest tour in the Fall!
Porlolo’s Awards is slated to be released April 27th.