Empress Of Releases Her Debut Record ‘Me’ With A Newfound Confidence

Taking a breath from New York City, Lorely Rodriguez (Empress Of) found her inner confidence in the lake town of Valle De Bravo, Mexico. With nowhere and no one familiar to turn to, Lorely was forced to reflect and decide what ‘me’ really means. Me, out tomorrow via Terrible Records, is her first full-length record.

Empress Of, Galore, Shannon Kurlander, Me, Terrible Records

“I wanted to be able to say I did everything on this record,” said Lorely. She’s a woman who stands fiercely on her own and is the champion of her operation, which is why admirers like Solange have taken notice. Since crowing herself with the Empress Of moniker after graduating from Berklee College of Music, Lorely has undauntedly occupied the roles of songwriter, singer and producer.

“When you’re completely alone, you’re just looking in the mirror and really analyzing yourself.”

Since college, Lorely followed the musician’s compass to New York City. She recalled the days of sneaking into shows at 285 Kent and spending her nights at Glasslands, where she played her first show as Empress Of on her 21st birthday. This was the same community where Lorely would meet future friends Dev Hynes, of Blood Orange fame, and Terrible Records’ family, Chairlift. “When you’re in New York you feel this pressure like, I got to make it…everyone is trying to do the same thing as you, so it pushes you really hard,” she said. And while art and the survival of New York City challenged Lorely, it would also become her biggest distraction.

“[Me] is a journey of learning to love myself…learning to be alone and confident is huge on this record.”

Terrible Records recruited Lorely to their roster for her first full-length record, which follows her past critical acclaimed songs like “Champagne“, packed residencies at hip NYC venues, and opening for Florence + The Machine. Lorely was blessed to finally ditch the New Yorker hustle of juggling a handful of jobs just to make rent, but she soon found that the city was no longer a conducive place to write music. “When I’m in New York, I can call someone and there’s always someone there to distract me. But when you’re completely alone, you’re just looking in the mirror and really analyzing yourself.”

Empress Of, Galore, Shannon Kurlander, Me, Terrible Records

Mexico became the backdrop for full-length debut, which she would title after a person she found new love for; herself. “[Me] is a journey of learning to love myself…learning to be alone and confident is huge on this record,” said Lorely. After leaving the noise of the city, all she was left with was her own thoughts. Lorely found she had to finally address her insecurities head on. Each day Lorely would set up her recording equipment in front of a big window overlooking Lake Avándaro, which inspired her first singe “Water Water”. This vision of serenity is deceiving though, as Lorely felt anything but peaceful. The clock was ticking, Lorely was now on Terrible’s time and she felt immense pressure to create something impressive for her debut. Lorely said, “I felt like, I have to do something great.”


Each song is a part of Lorely – among the parts are the experiences that define her womanhood, or rather the experiences she wishes did not come along with the territory of being a woman. “[‘Kitty Kat’] is about when I’m walking down the street and I’m getting cat-called and I don’t get the opportunity to say something back to them because why would I? Why would I waste my time and feed into their bullshit?” said Lorely. While she doesn’t get the opportunity to say something in that moment, Lorely has the chance to get on stage as Empress Of and share her message with an entire crowd. Her female perspective is part of Me because it is part of her voice. Aware of her role as a woman in music, she hopes that one day she can make music without that being the topic of conversation. Lorely wants to leave a legacy, one not shadowed by misconception like so many great women in music (Billie Holiday or Amy Winehouse) but rather one marked by her life’s work, serving as bookmarks of both time and herself: Empress Of.

Story & Film Photos by: Shannon Kurlander

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