Photo credit to Jo Chattman.
Singer-songwriter Erin McKeown is a total badass. Eschewing normal pop sensitivities and subject matter, McKeown isn’t afraid to get brutally honest in her music. She also isn’t afraid to speak out for causes she’s passionate about, such as media justice and immigration reform.
McKeown recently released an EP titled Mirrors Break Back. The six songs on the EP revolve around ideas of self-image and confronting your insecurities and are a direct response to McKeown’s 2016 ode to self-confidence and identity, According To Us. While the songs address insecurities, there is an optimism found throughout. “You Cannot” will be your new empowerment anthem, and it should have been the soundtrack of the Women’s March.
McKeown shared with Rock On Philly the experience of recording the EP and her advice for fellow activists:
Rock On Philly: What inspired you to release your new EP, Mirrors Break Back, which you call a “meditation on self-hate”? Were you struggling with your self-image?
Erin McKeown: Like most people in our image-oriented society, I definitely struggle with self-image. I thought it would be useful to see what happened if I said some of this stuff out loud, to see if it turns anything around. To some extent it has, but I think it will take something more dramatic to free everyone to feel good about themselves and stop comparing ourselves to others. Like the abolishment of capitalism, for example!
ROP: How did it feel to release the EP? Was it cathartic to release something so raw and honest?
EK: So far it hasn’t felt much different than my other releases, but I feel artistically satisfied with what I was exploring on the EP. The subject matter is more raw, but the music is also very different from my other releases and the sound of the record is as cathartic for me as the lyrical subject matter.
ROP: Your activism also ties into your music and you are involved in a variety of causes. In these rather conflicting times, what do you suggest for those who want to engage in activism for the first time? How should someone get started?
EK: I encourage people to do what feels right for them and not worry too much if it is “enough” or the “right” thing to be doing. If you are moved to call Congress everyday, fantastic. If you are moved to make your church more inclusive, fantastic. If you are moved to smile more in your day, fantastic. As progressives we have a long road ahead of us, so we need to make sure we can be as engaged two years from today as we are right now.