photography Sandra Myhrberg

fashion Filippa Finn & Emelie Bodén


dress and shoes Stylist's Own
rings Artist's Own

Erika Sirola’s Journey of Musical Revelation and Artistic Freedom

Written by Filippa FInn by Filippa Finn

Exploring the depths of jazz melodies that echoed through childhood home, music became an undeniable force in shaping Erika Sirola's artistic journey. From tender lyrics to intricate harmonies, every element resonated deeply, igniting a passion that would lead to unforeseen professional endeavours. Yet, Sirola didn't stumble into the music industry; rather, it was a serendipitous convergence of events that propelled them forward, ultimately landing a record deal at a remarkably young age. But beyond the glitz and glamour of the industry, Sirola found herself on a quest for creative autonomy, eventually embarking on an independent path, where artistic freedom reigns supreme. As she continues to evolve, their multifaceted talents now transcend mere musical expression, intertwining with design to create immersive worlds where sound and texture meld seamlessly. In this exclusive interview, Sirola delves into the intricacies of her creative process, the liberating journey of independence, and the boundless horizons that lie ahead.

What initially drew you to music, and when did you realise you wanted to pursue it professionally?

Jazz was the initial catalyst, my mother had it playing all the time in our home. All the thematic elements were incredibly interesting. The dissonance, reharmonizations, major/minor chord interchange, polyrhythms…the lyrics… I think the lyrics hit me the most, but maybe that was because of the other elements building such an emotive experience around them? I also enjoyed writing a lot in English - stories and poems and such - it came very easily to me, probably due to my mother’s proficiency in languages and writing. Learning to play instruments was a must in our home, so I eventually combined the two and wrote a lot of very very sad songs. I’ve always felt deeply, often in a very frustratingly impeding manner, so I've had to channel those emotions into a lot of different mediums. There was never a moment of realisation to pursue any of this professionally, I very much unintentionally tumbled into it all out of necessity I guess. I happened to write a song, which I happened to perform to a producer at a studio, which I happened to be cleaning at for a school related ‘charity event’, which happened to reach the ears of the label head, who signed me a few weeks later.

Can you share a bit about your songwriting process? How do you typically begin crafting a new song, and where do you find inspiration for your lyrics and melodies?

I don’t think there is a ‘typically’ for me, they always form in such different ways. Now that I produce as well, it’s flipped my entire songwriting process upside down - it’s way more fun that’s for sure, like I've been given 10000+ more colours to paint with. I used to write lyrics and concepts in advance and bring them into sessions. They were often inspired by visual stimuli, be that paintings, dreams, pictures or films. For example BERNADETTE from my recently released EP is inspired by Đinh Ý Nhi’s painting. Then I resorted to mainly freeflow writing - that’s melody and lyrical improv over pre-existing production. Sometimes using english, sometimes glossolalia. Sometimes the improvisation was so magical that I actually didn’t have to go back in and change anything at all. This technique might still be my favourite method of writing as it feels the closest to one’s soul or innate self. THERE WAS A BOY from my most recent EP was written using this technique - I cannot explain why the improvisation has taken such heavy inspiration from ‘Nature Boy’ written by Eden Ahbez but something about that fact alone is very magical to me.

Currently I'm working on my album which is a sort of fantastical sonic ‘commentary’ on topography. It is as much visual as it is audial if not even slightly more. Every track is inspired by a different landscape, i.e a song called ‘the swamp’ needs to sound like what i imagine a swamp would want to sound like, including all the fantastical creatures that live in it. I either start by thinking up the landscape I want to sonically depict and collect sounds that fit it or I first collect satisfying sounds and figure out later what topography they could fit into. The vocals and lyrics come later as they function as the creatures and thus could not be written without the direct ability to produce/manipulate one’s singing.

You signed to your first label at 13 years old and it is first now that you have become an independent artist. What made you take that step? How does that play out in your new EPTHE FOUR FACES” as well as in future songs?

I was very eager to follow in the footsteps of many other independent artists, but I guess the main reason was to gain some sort of control over my own…life? I couldn’t handle how much time I was losing being contractually forced to sit on finished projects. It felt even worse to just toss them away though I had moved past them artistically. I was also very disappointed in the lack of professionalism and honesty of the industry after spending 11 years in it. Not to disregard the necessary commodification of music and profit-incentives of labels, but very often I'd exit meetings quite literally feeling like I wasn't seen as a human. On top of all this I'm a big advocate for fluidity in artistry and being open to change in one’s catalogue or repertoire. This will very much come to light with my upcoming music, even my new EP’s central concept is the analysis of the self, identity and its many masks. They’re all different and they're all me, I'm not an absolute identity - I represent process and ever-present change and that moldability is what makes me want to create and be an artist. I’d say many labels aren’t on board with that as it has huge financial risks with minimal profitable cause.

Since you are independent now you have total creative freedom when composing your songs which must be nice. What are the upsides and/or are there any downsides?

An artist technically always has creative freedom when composing, it’s more about ‘what gets released and when’ that is under tight surveillance/scrutiny. I’ve always been free to make whatever I can dream up, but overtime that excitement to create gets muffled by no’s, as well as being encouraged to enter into more marketable/profitable music lanes. Growing up as a ‘developing artist and writer’ pushed me into the narrative that an artist must have a consistent sound and aesthetic, anything else outside that should be pitched to somebody else’s project. That diminished the desire to create even more - though one’s desire for artistic expression should be devoid of any outsider’s opinions and industry high ground. You can’t help but lose a bit of your magic to false promises, rules and regulations. I want to compose and create freely with the ability to sustain some sort of living, it’s brutal how near impossible that has become. Independently I have more control over creation and output but it’s more challenging financially. I would rather have it this way around any day.

What are your plans for the future? Do you want to work alone or do you have any dream collabs?

Well since my artistry toggles in a multitude of mediums, I'm not exactly sure what I might get excited about next. Right now I'm working on a furniture collection to coincide with my album release. I will say that my main focus absolutely lies in releasing more music as consistently as I can, to catch up to my artistic development that I mentioned earlier. As for dream collabs, there are so many names to list - but I also want to improve on my own production more and keep my music work solo for the time being since up until this point, all my music has only ever been collaborative… I want to change that collaborative aspect to other mediums of work as well. I want to collaborate with artists from every corner of the term ‘art’ and incorporate it into live performance spaces. Oh to build a visual, audial, tactile, gustatory and olfactory world for these projects - I want everyone to immerse and spiral.

Lastly, As we know you have your own design collection with both jewellery and clothes. Would you mind telling us about that? Like what made you interested in fashion and what are your plans for the future with it?

Well, on the topic of many mediums, I had already imagined a visual world for each track within the EP; why not make those worlds wearable as well? I had playfully dabbled in making clothing and jewellery during the pandemic as a sort of separate thing, but suddenly the combination of sonic and tactile seemed very fitting. Each song in the EP has 4-6 corresponding looks to showcase the world the track exists in. The jewellery (being rings) is interwoven in every look, being thick silver ‘armour’, as it relates to the theme of ‘masking’ or ‘shielding’ one’s identity. It also pulls each world together to remind you that everything is always connected.

THERE WAS A BOY’ being a song of a toxic relationship between the self and masks, has an ‘end of the world’ feeling to the sound and meaning of the song. Thus, I connected my ‘sand dunes’ collection of lightweight ‘sand-coloured’ clothing to that ‘almost inhospitable’ landscape. ‘BERNADETTE’ is a world where Mother Earth is dark and angry to reflect one’s ignored dark side, thus I connected my ‘volcano’ collection of black heavy garment looks to this song. ‘GOLDEN GIRL’  is a world of shipwrecks, drowning and desperation due to an imbalance in femininity/masculinity; thus, a ‘shipwreck’ collection of distressed but elegant garments seemed fitting to depict the world that the song lives in. ‘A CHILD’ is an eerie song of mists and reflection, perhaps slightly bittersweet, and thus is a world of ethereal forestry. I created ‘The Meadows’ collection of earthy tones and elven fabrics for those that live in it.

I have always been interested in the perception of others when one chooses to wear one garment over another and how it can shift so fast. I’m interested in clothing as an expressive art form, in the underrated power that clothes have on the psyche and how often unnoticeable of a role it plays in social dynamics. I love and live for costume designers and all the strange pieces one can find in archives. I hate every possible thing about fast fashion and love every possible thing about antiques, upcycling and reworking. I guess my attitude towards rework also indicates my visions or plans in the future - I myself am in a constant state of rework. One thing is for certain, I’ll keep making things, but what ’it’ is that I make might be completely different to now and thus purely indicative of my internal state of change and fluidity.

Listen to “THE FOUR FACES” here!
Check out her designs here!

hoodie & rings Artist's Own

jacket Deadwood

shirt, trousers, & shoes Stylist's Own
rings Artist's Own
earrings pfg Stockholm

dress & rings Artist's Own
necklace Sägen
earrings Clara Fin
corset Deadwood
skirt Lilli Jahilo
belt Deadwood
rings Artist's Own
earrings Ioaku

photography Sandra Myhrberg

fashion Filippa Finn & Emelie Bodén

makeup & hair Filippa Finn

special thanks to Old Town Stay Hotel

jacket Diesel
skirt Stylists own
shoes Artists own
belt Stylists own
teddy bear bag Artists own
rings Artists own
earrings Sägen