Hello all, I’m Erin McLaughlin and I am thrilled to be returning to SXSW this year for round two of all the action, the glory and of course, the music. If you didn’t meet me last year, we need to catch you up. I am a singer/ songwriter from southern California. I spent the first part of my life learning the basics- how to climb trees, catch lizards, ride a snowboard in a half pipe, etc. Later I traveled around the world a bit and met some real nice folks who wrote sweet melodies that awakened a long sleeping desire in me to do the same. So I borrowed guitars and forced my friends to teach me anything they could. Neither of my parents are really what you’d call a musician. Though, my dad did play a mean trumpet in the high school marching band (which is way cooler than being a star quarter back with no soul, if you ask me). I say this to make the point that I’ve really had to learn independently how to hear music with new ears and learn it all from the bottom up, to be able to make music. Also, neither of my folks were into The Beatles or Bob Dylan or anything like that, which is where most youngsters get their initial exposure to real gritty songwriting. So, as I began to write music it was the people who played along side me (always embarrassed and dismayed at my short and shameful catalogue of music) who taught me about the rich history of music that I’ve come to feel so enlightened and humbled by. The stuff that’s really resonated with me in the last six years has been a lot of country or alt country, mostly from the past. I look up to artists like Graham Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Fleetwood Mac, Iris Dement, Joni Mitchell, Johnny Cash and so on…
In May of 2007 something truly tragic occurred in my family. My younger brother lost his battle with depression and took his own life at 16. I only share this because it’s absolutely the paramount shift of my life’s story which simultaneously crushed me and all my world views and has with time, been a key motivator and a bottom line for a reckless pursuit of hope and life worth living. Music is a place we go to mourn, to revolt, to challenge, to ponder, to celebrate and so much else. Thus I threw myself into songwriting and the dream of playing music and the opportunity to tell a story (albeit a sad one at times), a true story that has and continues to change my life.
In 2009 a few very talented friends graciously jumped on board to help me make my first EP. Tyler Chester (bass player for Fiction Family/ Brooke Fraser/ Nika Costa) stepped in as producer/ bass player and roped Sean Watkins in on guitar (Nickel Creek/ Fiction Family), Aaron Redfield on drums (Greyboy Allstars/ The Bird and the Bee/ Brooke Fraser/ Nika Costa) as well as the uber-talented brother duo, The Pawnshop Kings for harms. The project took three months in total to make. After it’s release in Jan 2010 at the buzz worthy Hotel Café in Hollywood, I began regularly appearing in listening rooms from San Diego to LA proper, sharing the stage with the likes of Peggy Young, Deana Carter, The Secret Sisters, Joe Purdy and more. Some nice folks from local publications started giving the EP and my live performances some attention and around this time last year I was invited to SXSW for the first time to showcase as the opening act for familiar names like, Meiko, Brian Wright and Brooke Fraser.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Austin last year and have been looking forward to a return. I met all kinds of fun and talented friends, played for a super enthused crowd and broke ground in touring for the year to come. 2011 was full of music and life changes. I met some amazing players and put together a touring band that I am really proud to make music with. We kept busy playing all kinds of great shows up and down the southern coast. And best of all, I spent most of the year writing/ recording a new record with another all-star cast of players that should be set for release sometime early this summer! I can’t wait to get back to Austin for another kick-start to a great year and to hopefully meet YOU (and sell you some merch). See you all real soon! And as always, thanks for staying tuned!