Erin Christine knew singing was her Golden Ticket. Born and raised in Connecticut, the Italian-Lebanese singer grew up in a house that was bursting at the seams with song. From an early age, Erin was aware of the sound of her voice—it was while watching The Little Mermaid and singing along to Ariel and Company that she realized “Damn, I can sing!” After a short stint in south Florida, Erin hooked up with now best friend, Tiffany Starr—founder of Starr Studded Sounds—and became the poster child of the company. Since then, the two have garnered a surge of fans in and around NYC and are steadily making their rounds in small venues, including the legendary The Bitter End in SoHo. Following her intimate performance at Ella Lounge on the Lower East Side, the 22 year old’s voice still hung in the air; full of pleasure and pain. And although she draws many comparisons to singer-songwriter pianists, Erin Christine wants you to know that she is no Vanessa Carlton.
YRB: What can we expect from your debut effort?
EC: I’m signed to Starr Studded Sounds and we’ve been working on the album for a long time, like probably two years and basically the sound is soulful pop. I like to say if Alicia Keys and OneRepublic had a baby, I would be their baby [laughs]. It’s emotional lyrics—it’s real music and I’m really excited about it. We’re doing tons of shows around the city and hopefully outside of the city so it’s really exciting.
YRB: Which of the songs on your debut—or any song—was your most favorite to write and which one was the most difficult?
EC: I would say my most favorite and the most difficult was the song called “Say”, that I composed on the piano, and it’s my most favorite because of the way it was created. I was in the studio and I was just playing around on the piano and I started playing this chord progression and really liked it. So I called Tiff (Tiffany Starr) over and I played it for her and she started doing a little dance and words just started flowing and the melody just came together. It was definitely one of the most difficult songs because it’s just so personal and it means so much that we want to get it perfect. We’re still working on it.
YRB: That was the second to last song you performed right?
EC: Yea, and that’s another thing: it’s very vocally challenged so it was hard to record and is hard to perform but I’m getting used to it now.
YRB: How much of your personal experiences go into your music?
EC: I would say all of it. I’m a very strong, emotional person and Tiff writes most of the lyrics but she knows me inside and out so she puts all of my experiences into song. They really showcase my strengths because they are about me and that’s what I want to show people most as a performer.
YRB: How would you describe your sound?
EC: Like I said before, OneRepublic/Alicia Keys vibe. It’s soulful, classic and timeless, and it’s pop. It’s emotional because we do a lot of ballads but we like to keep the energy up.
YRB: Who would you describe as your biggest musical influences?
EC: I grew up listening to everything—from the Beatles to Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder. And even now I listen to all different kinds of music like Death Cab for Cutie, I love Brandy—It’s a huge mix. My dad used to listen to a lot of blues tracks and rock music so I’m totally into a lot of different music.
YRB: What comparisons, if any, do you hear most? Which ones make you smile and which ones drive you crazy?
EC: It’s funny how some people just don’t get it. They usually see me as a Vanessa Carlton or an Alicia Keys and I’m sure they make those comparisons only because I play the piano and I’m a white girl [laughs]. The Vanessa Carlton comparison—while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that—she has a completely different sound than I do. I just really don’t like being compared to anyone.
YRB: What’s really funny is that after I saw your show, I totally made that same comparison. But you would be like a Vanessa Carlton with some swag.
EC: [laughs]. I like that. You gave me some swag.
YRB: In your bio, you mentioned that you first realized you like to sing after watching The Little Mermaid. Elaborate on that.
EC: I was about three years old, sitting at home with my babysitter watching The Little Mermaid and I was just singing along with Ariel and realized that I liked the sound of my own voice. I was like, “Oh shoot, I can sing!” [laughs]. At three years old! I liked the tone of my voice and from then on [I continued]. My house was very musical growing up—like both my siblings sing and play guitar, my mom used to take piano lessons so there was never a silent moment. I would always mess around on the piano and sing, as well as the rest of my family.
YRB: Are you classically trained on piano?
EC: I’m self-taught. I never took a lesson. When I was little I would always just play on the piano we had at home. I would just play, pretending I was Mozart, just banging away at the keys and, of course, hear myself [playing] as Mozart but I wasn’t [laughs]. It was when I went to Berklee [College of Music] and became inspired by all the talent and all the musicians, and then getting to perform with Herbie Hancock and Gloria Estefan that really made me want to get serious with the piano.
YRB: If you could do a duet with anyone—dead or alive—who would it be?
EC: Stevie Wonder. I always picture myself on stage with him, crying. He’s just one of my all-time favorite artists and I die every time I listen to him sing. I would be so honored if I ever got the opportunity to perform with him.
YRB: If you weren’t a singer, what would you be doing?
EC: Definitely something creative. I never really enjoyed school; I only enjoyed the arts aspect of school. I love cooking but—I don’t know. Music would have probably made its way towards the top of my list anyways. It’s just it for me.
YRB: Do you have any other upcoming projects you want us to look out for?
EC: I’m doing tons of shows in NYC. I just got residency at The Bitter End [in NYC] and it’s such a historic club. Lady Gaga got her start there and a bunch of other artists. But right now [while working on my album] I’m also focusing on my shows and the band and, of course, still recording and writing a lot.