VIDEO PREMIERE: EPL Explores Change with Sparse and Soulful Folk on “Catalyst”

Erinn Peet Lukes is a singer, songwriter and guitarist who performs under the acronym EPL. Originally from the sunny shores of Redondo Beach, CA, EPL’s musical journey has taken her through Seattle, New York City, Denver, and, most recently, Nashville. Her lilting vocals, vivid songwriting, bluegrass-style flatpick guitar playing, and singable hooks have enchanted listeners in the US and abroad.

When her bluegrass band Thunder and Rain went on indefinite hiatus after two members quit due to the uncertainty of the pandemic and other musical opportunities, EPL decided it was time to expand her musical horizons and try out the one place where she knew she could outgrow her Thunder and Rain roots – Music City. In January 2021, EPL sold everything and moved to Nashville. She had the songs she wrote in the early parts of the pandemic in her back pocket and was ready to record them in her new hometown. She asked Nashville songwriter and musician Rachel Baiman to produce the songs and recording for the seven-song EP took place in March 2021. Baiman assembled a dream team of musicians and Grammy-winning engineer Sean Sullivan to bring out the best in the songs, which will be release on the album in 2022.

This EP is EPL’s signal to the world that an experienced musician and frontwoman is finally coming into her own. She’s blending the genres that inspired her and coming up in the world as a fresh voice in Americana. “This EP is a celebration of all the music I’ve been a fan of my whole life, and it was recorded with musicians I’ve admired for a long time,” she says. “It’s a great way to celebrate 10 years as a professional musician.”

Each song on the EPL EP has a different vibe. “Loneliness or Solitude” is inspired by Irish music and adds a modern twist. It features droning fiddles and a rolling banjo supported by fuzzy bass lines and huge half-time drums. “Queen” is a pop-inspired dance anthem, written for EPL’s childhood hero, Britney Spears. The track features electronic sounds and background vocals reminiscent of Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo. The first single, “Catalyst,” was inspired by the folk-indie stylings of Phoebe Bridgers and features EPL’s voice at the height of its abilities. “‘Catalyst’ was one of those special songs that popped right out of my head,” she said. “I had just moved to Nashville, and it seemed like every little interaction felt life-changing.” The pop-rock apocalyptic anthem, “Piece of Land,” drew inspiration from Panic! At The Disco and Blink-182. EPL’s rootsy voice and acoustic guitar tie it all together into a cohesive Nashville debut.

Today Glide is excited to premiere the new tune “Catalyst” and an accompanying video of EPL performing it live. Accompanied by banjo and her own straightforward acoustic guitar playing, Erinn Peet Lukes lays down vocals that are angelic and soulful. This is clearly a song about transitions in life, and she lets her vocals bring the lyrics to life with a simple, sparse and beautiful folk soundtrack that keeps some of her bluegrass roots intact. 

Check out the new track and read our chat with EPL below…

What inspired you to write this song? What is the story behind it? What is it about? What is the catalyst?

I moved to Nashville in January of this year. It was a scary move, because I was leaving Colorado, where I had lived for seven years and had a community there. In Nashville, I didn’t really know anyone. My first night out, I met someone that I ended up having a fraught relationship with. He was in a relationship, but didn’t seem happy, and I felt I was put in his life to make it better. It was my manic pixie dream girl syndrome kicking in. In order to understand how he was feeling during that time, I thought back to when I was in a relationship and developed a crush on someone else who ultimately helped me decide to leave the relationship. He was the catalyst that came into my life to help me realize that I needed to end my relationship. Now, years later, here I am, and I am the catalyst for this new person.

Both of those stories weaved through my head as I wrote this song. I love the word catalyst because it’s so scientific, yet it described a process that is so magical. Something comes along and totally changes something else, and that’s its only role. I loved embodying the role of the catalyst in this song. My favorite part of this song is the bridge, where it goes from a sweet, romantic song into a dark, heavy chant. In this world, you either change what you cannot not accept or you accept what you cannot change. The message in that moment is the catalyst may be present, but at the end of the day, only the individual can make a true change within themselves.

Do you consider this song — and your music in general — a place for you to work through things that are weighing on you or that you are trying to process? Do you find songwriting therapeutic? Did writing this song bring you solace or peace in any way?

Absolutely! I was extremely new to Nashville when I wrote this, and I was feeling very vulnerable in this relationship that wasn’t really supposed to be happening. My emotions were so charged at that time, I was hearing bits and pieces of the song on my morning walks with my dog. So when I had a free Friday night to write, it came out all at once. I tried to stop but the bridge wanted to come too; I remember my pen had a mind of its own.

Writing is not always like this for me. Writing is therapy, but I’ve gotten to a point where I don’t have to be emotionally wrecked to write a great song. I put a lot of work into writing in a journal, and writing bits and pieces of songs whenever I can. This keeps my antenna tuned for when a song from the creative source wants to pop out, like this song. Though this song didn’t solve my messy relationship, it did give me a nice souvenir from it. When your’e a songwriter, no heartbreak is for nothing.

What do you hope listeners hear in its music and lyrics?

I hope listeners take in the dreamy soundscape and intensity that was created in the studio the day we tracked it. I was playing along with the band, just watching them feel the groove of this song, and it made all of the hairs on my arm stand up. Lyrics are meant to be for the listener, I want the lyrics to mean whatever they need to depending on whose ears they fall on. I also want everyone to hear the bridge and know that whoever they are inside is the real them, and we go through many changes in life but there are some truths about each of us that are immutable. Things like sexuality, gender identity, who we love and what we dream about are aspects of life where we should live our deepest truths and not keep them inside. If we do, we lose. I hope that folks hear this song and are encouraged to change what’s not working in their life and embrace what their deepest truth is.

This song is from your forthcoming EP, which comes out early next year. What made you want to release this song into the world before the EP comes out?

I wanted this to be the first single because it was my producer Rachel Baiman’s favorite song. My sister heard this song for the first time and said, “This is one of your best. Don’t mess it up.” I feel like this recording glorified this song and my new sound. I drew a lot of inspiration from the alt-rock and pop music of the late ’90s/early 2000s that I grew up with, and I feel like this song showcases those influences. I was in a bluegrass band for so long, and I feel like this song is the best way to show how those acoustic music sensibilities and electric instruments can combine to make something spellbinding.

Photo credit: Natia Cinco

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