As an artist and entrepreneur, it’s essential that you have a group of people who you turn to when you need support in your business and artistic endeavors. When I set out as a freelance writer over two years ago, I was fortunate to have connected with singer/songwriter Erica Bryan, and since then, it has been an honor to be a part of her circle and to have her as part of mine.
This past January, I was thrilled to be included in a focus group for her first EP. Erica’s music and lyrics are always very evocative of a particular sensation or image. While I listened to each of the six incredibly diverse songs that will be featured on her debut EP, I was immediately overcome with an array of feelings. As Erica and I formulated a concept for a feature on the EP, it has been amazing to watch these moods brought to life through outstanding styling, makeup artistry, and photography. I was eager to dive in deeper with the photographer, the makeup artist, and Erica herself and to learn how they collectively translated the music into Erica’s image.
AOC BLOG GIRL: How did the EP influence the wide variety of backdrops you choose for the photoshoot?
DANIEL MEIGS, PHOTOGRAPHER: Erica and I discussed ideas that centralized with the theme of the song Jericho – destruction, crumbling walls, and debris. She wanted a darker, moody feel for a lot of the outdoor locations. While I didn’t find exactly what I wanted, we did end up with some places that worked really well. Lots of concrete and some old abandoned buildings with plenty of overgrowth.
AOC BLOG GIRL: How did you adapt Erica’s makeup to the diverse set of looks for the EP?
ANAIS SHIBA, MAKEUP ARTIST: When I’m coming up with a look, I always try to capture the feel of the set. For Erica, we wanted a range of looks that would really express the diversity of her musical style. So, after meeting her and seeing the outfits she had chosen for the shoot, it was easy to come up with makeup looks that would not only accentuate her style but also her beautiful personality.
AOC BLOG GIRL: Describe the creative process that went into conceptualizing the looks for the EP.
ERICA BRYAN: I really wanted my looks to reflect the different styles of songs that I have on the EP. To represent the song Jericho, I wanted a look that was very strong. I thought the black dress with the fur shawl was very powerful and warrior-esque – like maybe I was going to hunt for my own dinner that night! I call the style inspired by the track Billboard “Cali-Chill.” I wanted to wear something fun and laid-back, so I chose loose, light-colored clothing. For the song Immune to You, I wanted to emulate a classy Adele-type style, so I went with a vintage hat, fur vest, and some jewels of course! And finally, to represent the track Leaving You In Memphis, I wanted a little more edge, so I wore a Journey t-shirt and some leather fringe!
AOC BLOG GIRL: What type of direction did you give Erica in order to evoke the mood of each look?
DANIEL MEIGS, PHOTOGRAPHER: You know, Erica really knew what she wanted. When we started at each location, she just turned it on. It helps working with an artist who understands what she wants and how to get herself there. I would offer suggestions here and there with posing and getting more of a natural look. A lot of that is achievable by natural movement. So, instead of, “OK, turn like this, and look this way,” we would try things like, “Ok, start here, let’s walk together, and just look back at me along the way.” We did some smiles and laughs, especially in the studio, but for most of the outdoor looks, we were channeling a strong feminine vibe.
AOC BLOG GIRL: What is one signature quality about Erica’s style that you maintained throughout each look?
ANAIS SHIBA, MAKEUP ARTIST: I really wanted to highlight Erica’s eyes and hair in each look that we did. Although the makeup and hair changed with each location, my goal was to bring focus to those qualities, as they are some of her most striking features.
AOC BLOG GIRL: Who or what has been the greatest influence on your personal style as an artist?
ERICA BRYAN: I really look up to strong women performers, so I think the edgy-rocker look of Grace Potter and the classy, timeless look of Adele really speak to me fashion-wise. Some people have even called me a chameleon because I can look rocker one day and classic the next, but I enjoy switching it up!
AOC BLOG GIRL: Which look was the most exciting to shoot and why?
DANIEL MEIGS, PHOTOGRAPHER: I love shooting on location. It’s just so unpredictable. I love the old building with all of the gnarly branches. We lit it in a way where you had just enough light on the background, and it created such a creepy feel, so much character everywhere we would turn. That was my favorite.
AOC BLOG GIRL: Which look was your favorite to work with and why?
ANAIS SHIBA, MAKEUP ARTIST: I think my favorite look was the black dress and faux fur. It was the first look that we did that day, and everything came together so perfectly when we started shooting. It was also the most dramatic hair and makeup, which I tend to naturally gravitate towards.
AOC BLOG GIRL: What is one thing you’ve learned after producing your first EP that you’d like to share with aspiring artists?
ERICA BRYAN: What I’ve learned is that once you record your EP… you’re not done! Recording is just the first part. Figuring out how to get people to listen to it is the hard part. The industry is always changing, so you have to be creative about how you are getting your music out there. So many artists put their EP up online and wonder why no one’s listening, but if you’ve thought it through and made a plan of action, someone will hear it besides your mom. And that, my friends, is success!
When I first listened to the EP, I was torn between the tracks Leaving You in Memphis and Billboard. I couldn’t decide which was my favorite! After seeing the music come to life, I have a whole new appreciation for Jericho. I have to agree with both Daniel and Anais – the look inspired by that particular song took my breath away.
Click here to listen to an exclusive preview of the four songs that inspired the looks for Erica Bryan’s debut EP, which is set to drop on July 1, 2016. Stay tuned for the release of the first single off the album in the next few weeks. To keep up to date on all of Erica’s future release dates, tour dates, and more, visit her website and sign up for her mailing list for a free download!