not either or but everything
(First City Artists)
Add date: 10.8.2024
Release date: 10.4.2024


Apple Music
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“I wrote through all of it,” says musician Erisy Watt in referring to the changes 2023 held for her, “the anticipation, the upheaval, and the aftermath.” In a short span, Erisy entered a new decade, lost a loved one, saw the end of a relationship, flew halfway around the world to work in remote regions of Thailand and Indonesia, returned home, packed up her life in Portland, and moved to Los Angeles. “Showing up at my desk with pen, paper, and guitar each morning in the midst of navigating such uneven terrain allowed me to process and feel more grounded.”

Hailed by No Depression as “what contemporary folk sounds like at its peak,” Erisy’s music often harkens comparisons to 60s singer-songwriters. But on her third album, ‘not either or but everything,’ she shakes the sound loose from the tenets of decade or genre. From the cosmos to the kitchen sink, lyrically, Erisy’s art is in connection, and on this new offering she hones an even deeper acuity for tracing the through line, peering through both telescope and microscope in search of the common threads. 

Beyond the lyrics, Erisy remarks, “I started feeling an opening up with the guitar, putting a finger somewhere at random on the fretboard, building a chord around it, and from there, allowing a song to come through. I was faced with all this empty space to fill, which felt scary but also gave me the opportunity to explore my edges, and in turn, be more open and expressive.”

Erisy connected with Luke Temple (Adrianne Lenker, Hand Habits) in the first week she moved to Los Angeles at a nude figure drawing night that he was hosting weekly. Having met him earlier in the year on another project, they reconnected and made a plan, resulting in a collaboration that Erisy describes as “a total dream and absolute joy.” Recording live over five days at drummer Kosta Galanopoulos’s home studio in Long Beach, along with Will Graefe on guitar, Erisy found freedom in a new cohort and fresh philosophy. She says, “Luke moves quickly but doesn’t rush. He gives care and attention without being too precious. We’d scrap things and try again. We’d goof off, and we’d go deep. It felt easy, electric, expansive.” Additional engineering by Riley Geare and mastering by Heba Kadry (Björk, Sufjan Stevens) provided the finishing touches. The result is an album ranging from earthy to cosmic, strikingly spare to deliciously textured, contemplative to outright playful.

In addition to her current base in Los Angeles and past residences in Nashville and Portland, Erisy has the right to call global remote wilderness home. She works in environmental science and much of her career takes place on the other side of the world. “My life can feel very patchy sometimes with the work I do in Asia, but through song, I’m learning to connect dots that otherwise might not seem obvious.” The album track “Sandhill Crane” is a stunning illustration of such, as she draws on her experience working in Muslim villages along the coast of Indonesia soundtracked by the call to prayer coming from the mosques, and in the plains of central Florida seeing and hearing sandhill cranes for the first time. She sings:

Oh how to explain it, the words fall short, 

No sound from my mouth, will sum up the worth

Of the sandhill crane, the hard rain on the roof

Or the call to prayer, but you’re looking for proof

And it’s all there in the wings

The flight, the fall, the landing

The magic, the tragedy

Not either or, but everything

Erisy’s profession informs the song “Rachel” as well, inspired by Rachel Carson, a writer and biologist, who represents the bridge between worlds Erisy so often crosses in her own life. “I imagined us walking together on the beach and her teaching me about the animals of the intertidal,” Erisy says. “All the special adaptations they have to thrive, all the shit they have to deal with—from drowning to drying out, to getting eaten by both land and ocean predators, this toggling between worlds and what lessons we can take from that.” Throughout the album, Erisy leans into the profound perspective the natural world provides. Top to bottom, ‘not either or but everything’ glimmers with the tenacious mystique of evolution—personal and universal. 

Posing the abstract with the concrete, her songs speak to both the miraculous and mundane, the obvious and oblique, the magic and tragedy. “They helped bring clarity,” says Erisy. “They brought certain things to the surface, certain voices to the foreground, shed light on shadows, and in part taught me it’s okay to be sad, to not have the answers, to feel lots of things at once, and to be lots of things at once.” The album ‘not either or but everything’ will be released October 4 via First City Artists.

background: Erisy’s 2022 release ‘Eyes Like the Ocean’ gathered acclaim from tastemakers including Spotify’s Fresh Folk, No Depression, PopMatters, and Under The Radar among others. She went on to tour both nationally and abroad, sharing stages with acts like Hurray for the Riff Raff, River Whyless, Dylan LeBlanc, Josiah Johnson (The Head and the Heart), and more.