‘Britney was wearing the red jumpsuit and I was just blown away’: 7 songs that shaped Empress Of

Empress Of image by Fabian Guerrero

Lorely Rodriguez makes lush and lilting pop songs. Under the stage name “Empress Of” (inspired by a tarot reading), the LA-based Latinx artist has been creating beautiful bops in both Spanish and English since her emergence back in 2012.

With co-signs from the likes of Blood Orange and Perfume Genius along the way, the Honduran-American’s incredible second album, last year’s Us, poured forth sunshine and sweet emotions.

While she was in London on her world tour this month, Lorely spoke us through seven songs that have shaped her – and, in turn, the sugary pop and emotional sounds help shed light on her own dreamy work.

The first song I bought: Britney Spears – ‘Oops!… I Did It Again’

Not with my own money. I just remember going to Target and buying a jewelled CD case of the album that song was on – so yeah it was actually the album I bought. I was a huge fan of pop culture, and I spent a lot of time watching MTV and VH1. I saw the video – she was wearing the red jumpsuit and as a kid I was just blown away.

A song that makes me think of my family: Selena – ‘Como La Flor’

Selena is a huge icon in Latin American culture. This makes me think of my family because it’s just a song you heard everywhere. And you still hear it everywhere, especially in Los Angeles.

A song for when I’m in my feelings: Mitski – ‘Nobody’

That’s a really in your feelings type of song. In general, Mitski is very good for being in your feelings. The melody is so euphoric and you have to sing along with it when it comes on. I always really liked her song, ‘I Bet On Losing Dogs’, too – the imagery, it’s just like a really good way of phrasing that type of feeling – it hasn’t been said like that before, that feeling that you’re doomed in yourself. You can be self-loathing or just fall in love with the wrong people for the wrong reasons, and you keep doing it even though its toxic.

A song that I think has been slept on: ABRA – ‘Pull Up’

So many of ABRA’s songs should be massive. The lyrics are so good, I love her, I don’t understand how she’s not one of those artists with like 20 million streams. But she’s making waves in her own ways.

A song I wish I had written: Kate Bush – ‘Running Up That Hill’

I love songs where the opening phrase is something that immediately grabs you, and for me this is one of those songs. The lyrics in the first verse are insane: “It doesn’t hurt me / Do you want to feel how it feels?” Like they’re such grandiose and vague lyrics – they’re lyrics that just stop you in your tracks, you know? To me, that’s a sign of genius. It’s just crazy. “If I only could make a deal with God and get him to swap our places.” She was possessed when she wrote this, something was channeling her to make this song. I don’t know if that’s what happened, but that’s how I would feel if I wrote it – like some greater being or cause was channelling my body.

A song to fill a dancefloor: Beyoncé – ‘Love On Top’

There’s a lot of dancing songs on my tour playlists that play before I go onstage. People lose their minds when this song comes on. It makes people go crazy and I think it’s because she modulates the chorus so many times – which means she changes key. That song goes off.

A song that always gets me out of a bad mood: Cocteau Twins – ‘Cherry-coloured Funk’

I always put on Cocteau Twins on when I’m in a bad mood. You just don’t know what she’s saying. So it’s not a love song, not a break-up song, you can create your own meaning and you can be captivated, purely by like the sound of her voice. I grew up listening to their music, and became the person I am while listening to it – their music soundtracks so many positive parts of my life. So whenever I get home and I’m tired or stressed, I blast them in my house and it makes me feel really good. It reminds me that these moments pass, you know? You don’t have to get stuck in this, ’cause you won’t be thinking about it in five years.

Empress Of’s second album, ‘Us’, is out now. You can listen on Spotify. You can buy physical copies and check tour dates on her website.

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