Eryn Allen Kane spreads her own musical wings


Wesley Herold

Chicago-based artist Eryn Allen Kane, whose energetic singing and dancing that elicited excitement from the massive audience, opens the concert accompanied by a band of brass instruments, piano and drums. The evening before Election Day, Chance the Rapper held a free concert Nov. 7 of Chicago-based musicians titled “Parade to the Polls” as a way to encourage millennials to vote. After the concert, which was held in Grant Park, Chance led the hundreds of attendees to a local polling place so they could cast their early vote.

By Arts & Culture Reporter

Singer and songwriter Eryn Allen Kane has been the artist to watch since releasing her breakout hit, “Have Mercy,” relelased in 2015. The Chicago-based songstress who grabbed the attention of the late Prince and sang guest vocals on his track, “Baltimore,” has a distinctly  impressive resume. Kane released her first EP Aviary: Act I on Nov. 17, 2015 before following it up with Aviary: Act II on Feb. 2.

She has lent her writing talents to Chicago native Chance The Rapper’s 2016 Coloring Book and was featured in Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq” as an actress and soundtrack contributor. Recently, Kane has set her sights on personal success and is set to perform at the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, 126 E. Chestnut St., Nov. 25.

Kane spoke with The Chronicle about her success, writing process and overcoming the fear of judgement. 


THE CHRONICLE: What has life been like for you since the initial buzz began?

Eryn Allen Kane: It’s been pretty cool. I came out with a project and didn’t really expect much, but the attention we received off the single “Have Mercy,” and working with Prince on “Baltimore” led to other opportunities. We kind of hit the ground running and got to go on a small tour, and later a bigger tour. I consider myself lucky. I am pretty happy.


What is your writing process like?

A lot of times I’ll produce [my music] too. I’ll sit at my computer and come up with a melody and then I’ll create the music [by] singing a base line and a horn section. [Then] I’ll bring it to other musicians and have them interpret and mimic what I did and then I write the song. After I get that skeleton down, I can feel how the song makes me feel emotionally.


What was it like working on Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book?

[Chance] is my friend. I worked on Surf too and knew him even before that. There is a good community of people and I love them. All of the songs that I’m on in Coloring Book except for “Finish Line” were done years before. I hadn’t even been in the studio for a while and found out that these songs were going on the album. These were songs that were recorded on a regular day here and there. The only song that wasn’t old that we worked on was “Finish Line” and not even the second half. I love all of them and it’s a great community to have around you when starting out in music for the first time. 


Did you ever feel nervous when releasing Aviary: Act I and Aviary: Act II?

I did because it was my first actual project. It’s not like I’m a spring chicken, it was just later staged for me. I focused on acting during my beginning years; I actually went to Columbia. I majored in acting and theater performance. You’re making yourself vulnerable to the world and telling people very private parts of who you are and that can be extremely scary, because you don’t want people to judge you. You don’t want to fail. I think when you make music that is genuine to who you are and your beliefs [while] trying to capture the climate of what’s going on in the world at that time, it has no choice but to stick with certain people.


How important is it to you to have a music video that is cohesive to the song?

I think a song tells a story. I’m a huge movie fan and the ones that are really good are able to tell you a story in the most beautiful way. Sometimes they are elaborate or sometimes they are simple. Just like with my music, it’s storytelling. When I put a visual to that it is important to me have it match the feeling of the song. It gives people the opportunity to understand where I’m coming from. I leave it just oblivious enough to let the listener or viewer make their own decision on what it is I’m talking about. 


What can fans expect from your show here in Chicago?

It’s at a 104-year-old church that was originally burnt in the Great Fire but rebuilt. It’s right downtown and is this beautiful space. Within that space I’m going to have a horn section, my regular band and in addition to that percussion and singers. There is going to be acting and dancing. It’s just going to be a rollercoaster. I take you on a journey of my EP from start to finish.


Do you still get excited performing in Chicago even though you are based here?

I’ve only had one other ticketed show here and that was my very first solo show ever, in Feburary. I’m new to performing in general and to have performances in a place where I call home is special. I know a lot of people, even up until I released my project, had no idea that I sang. I still to this very day still get people tag me and [write] “Chance The Rapper, you should get on Eryn Kane, she can sing.” I know there are a lot of people who have yet to discover me as an artist. This show that is coming up is going to be really special because it’s only the second ticketed show that I will have ever done in Chicago. I’ve got a lot of stuff in store so I’m really excited for this one.