Sunday Morning with Erin Rae
We’re so excited to bring you the inaugural edition of our monthly interview series we’re lovingly calling Sunday Morning! Each month we’ll be chatting and collaborating with people who inspire and influence us. Some of our special guests are our friends, others are people we want to meet, all of them are sensational artists in their own right who encourage us to create. There isn’t a better first guest than the incredibly gifted and chic Erin Rae McKaskle of Nashville’s Erin Rae & The Meanwhiles.
Erin Rae’s approach to music is as effortless as her style. Her songwriting is smooth and simple, cathartic and thoughtful. It warms your veins like coffee on a cold day, and we couldn’t wait to chat with her. Read up on her thoughts about fashion, her musical roots, and her new record Putting on Airs, coming out this fall!
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee, but I should drink tea. It makes me freak out.
Do you take your coffee black or with cream, sugar? How do you dress it up?
Uh, it depends on the day. I can drink it black and I feel proud when I drink it black.
Like a good ‘ole southern woman. What’s your favorite piece of clothing that you’ve ever owned?
Probably those blue pants [pointing to the ditsy floral high-waisted trousers that are being tailored by us]. Also, I found this yellow dress that is not super practical to wear as much as I have worn it but it’s like a crocheted, long-sleeve dress and I got it from Nashville Dry Goods from the flea market.
Why do you like it? Does it make you feel fancy?
Yes! Well, yeah, and it’s the color yellow which I have almost worn out. It’s a marigold color. It’s got a high-collar and makes me feel like I’m in the 60s. It’s crocheted all the way down. Very proud of that one.
What inspires you to create?
I think there’s several different factors. Some of it is just processing things internally, then paired with a romantic idea of creating things in general, like the artist, that has played into it. Getting to play music ties me to my family and gives me a sense of tradition. My parents played music growing up and my dad got me my first guitar and they always sang together. Things change so much throughout life, and my family looks differently than it used to, so that’s how I feel tied to them. Also, the songs he taught me how to play—or that I grew up hearing him sing—kind of reach back even further and give me a sense of roots in America, like Doc Watson.
So your parents played music—
Yeah. My mom sings and she’s a writer and poet. She wrote a lot growing up and she works as a therapist now, like a mindfulness counselor, so she teaches people how to meditate. She’s a cool lady. My dad is definitely a musician. He played in rock bands growing up. He’s from Missouri originally—Caruthersville. He always worked normal jobs but either he and my mom played or he and a couple friends played while I was growing up. He’s awesome.
Did you guys have a family band together?
I sang with them when I was really little—with him. When I got older, I got too shy. But when I started singing again, when I was 17 or 18 I started singing harmony with him, and my brother—I have a half-brother that lives here now— and he played bass with my dad. He learned how to play bass in order to play with him. So that was a really cool thing to all do together.
You were living the dream with the Family Band.
Yeah. [laughter] The Family Band!
What do you hope to leave behind to follow up with the art you’re creating?
Well, I think getting to be alive is a cool thing. It also can be an extremely difficult thing to learn how to navigate being a person. Hopefully, some of what I have experienced will come through and be relatable; either help people process some of their own stuff, or just it’s nice to listen to. I hope to explore more musical territory as well. With the next record that we just finished, there’s three of us that play all of the instruments, so we got to explore some different sounds than the previous traditional Americana treatment of pedal steel and guitar and harmonies. Hopefully just continue to evolve with that stuff, too.
What’s your favorite piece of iconic clothing through any decade?
I’m getting a slideshow of all the clothes that I like. Maybe this is just the most iconic, I don’t know if it’s necessarily my favorite but in my mind it sticks out, Twiggy. Her super mod, simple, white shift dress. I like a shift dress. That one sticks out and I got really into Karen Carpenter over the last year and all of her crazy 60s dresses, kind of in the same vein as the yellow dress I like. I like that part of the performance, too. Putting on clothes to perform.
Yeah, stagewear is really important. Your dress at the [Sing Me Back Home] benefit show was amazing.
Oh the pink one. That’s very Karen, or it felt like that. Somebody gave that to me. They mailed me three dresses. This lady from Wisconsin—these Wisconsin people—they’re so nice. It’s happened twice, now.
What’s something coming up that you’re most excited about?
I’m going on the road with Andrew Combs. One of my favorite people and bands in town. I’m excited about that. That will be a lot of March into April. That’s going to be really fun. Then when I get back from that, I’m going to be playing Bluegrass Underground in the caves. I’ve been wanting to do that for so long, so that will be really cool. That’s the end of April.
How cool! When does your record come out?
We haven’t set a date yet, but I’m thinking the fall. I’m imagining September. It’s called Putting On Airs. We recorded it up at The Refuge in Wisconsin, in Appleton, which is Cory Chisel and Adriel Denae’s place. The city of Appleton—I don’t know if I completely have the story right—but they gave [Cory] the reins to run this monastery, this Franciscan monks monastery for the last however many hundreds of years, but now they use it as a creative space and studio and it’s really cool. It’s like a dream situation.
That must have sounded so cool in there.
Yeah, I’m excited to hear it. I’ve only listened to it a couple of times in my headphones because I was nervous to listen to it, but I’m really happy with it.
We can’t wait to hear Erin Rae’s new record either coming out this Fall! Catch her at the Bluegrass Underground on April 29th and on tour this summer. All photos by Emily Beaver. Hair and makeup by Erin Wood. Styling by us. Featuring Erin's sweet dog, Billy. All outfits available in our online shop.