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Erin Foster: Dark pop for our darkest timeline

The reign of dark pop in our dystopian timeline has continued to see the genre resonate with more and more people, as audiences look to alternative for meaning instead of turning up to club anthems night after night. The truth is, we’re not in the mood to party right now, something that rising alt artist Erin Foster knows all too well. Everything was coming up daisies for Foster before the pandemic pulled the staircase out from underneath her, and if she had one wish, it’d be getting back to where she was prior to the March that saw our downward trajectory.

“I just want to be back there playing those gigs,” she tells BLUNT. “But I’m not sure when that’s going to happen. So at the moment, I really just want to focus on getting my music more out there so it can connect with more people and nothing makes me happier than comments…It puts a whole new spin on it, you know? Like rose-coloured glasses, because someone likes my song and someone connects with my song and feels similar to how I did.”

Foster has both the purest of ideals and the skill to back up her ambition, sharing her new single ‘Sometimes’ earlier in the week after establishing herself under her solo moniker with her debut, ‘Birthday’. This incarnation of Foster’s music is focused solely on executing on the vision she had for herself faithfully, after she ended up scrapping a track she had worked on with a label in favour of ensuring that her output remained true to what she wanted to create.

“Being independent and self-sufficient is such an important part of what I do,” she adds. “I have a really strong idea of what I want to accomplish with mixing the image with the sound. And I’ve never been able to get that right anywhere else, except for by myself, really. So it is really important to me that I have that full creative control.”

Perhaps that’s due to the fact that the songs that Foster creates are so meaningful, not only to her but to others, wrapped in candy-coloured aesthetics and delivering your heart to you on a silver platter. Or perhaps her compulsion to continue to remain independent has its roots in the way that she grew up, home-schooled in a remote part of New South Wales where she had to fight tooth and nail and strain her ears in shopping malls just to enjoy the music that made her feel connected to the world around her.

“I wasn’t really allowed to listen to music because my parents were quite religious,” Foster narrates. “They were against commercial, mainstream music. So I would always have a nice time going to like a bowling alley or going to the shopping centre where I could even just hear Katy Perry on the radio. Pop music and how perfect music could be, it blew my mind, really. With songwriting, I guess Death Cab For Cutie, they’ve been a huge influence on my songwriting, from a lyrical way of looking inwards and taking inspiration from darker themes in life.”

The innate nature of dark pop makes it the ultimate contradiction, as musicians and artists alike dance along to the sounds of the world falling apart around us. ‘Sometimes’, Foster’s latest cut, sees the artist layer on a bubblegum lustre as she toys with being torn out of her daydreams by the cruel realities of her situation. Speaking on how she pieced together the track, Foster explains that it stemmed from the move she made to Sydney pulling apart the situationship that she was in at the time.

“This person, the guy that I liked, [it] ended when I had to come back to Sydney. The song is basically talking about that situation of being forced into an unhappy place due to I guess just life, and how you can only live in your memories and live in your fantasies for as long as – well you could live in them forever – but I go into this self-aware state where I go, ‘I know I’m so out of my mind’ in the lyrics, and it’s about how I’m aware that I need to get a grip on reality and face the situation. A lot of people have had to adjust to different situations in the past year, so I think that’s quite a relatable theme.”

Ultimately, connecting with the people around her through her music is what Foster does best, and that will only continue with the new material that she puts out and the stages that she occupies when the time is right. The label interest in Foster is justified, but her integrity is the deciding factor in what she intends to do to make her vision come to life, as she navigates an industry that she’s hyper-aware has claws of its own.

“There’s so many great advocates at the moment, like Jaguar Jonze,” she references. “I’m such a huge fan of her music, but also, you know, what she’s done and how she uses her platform. It is really inspiring seeing people hold others accountable.”

Whether she’s dabbling in dark, alternative or even bubblegum pop, Foster concisely sums up what compels her to continue to persist in what is an incredibly difficult path to pursue for any artist right now: “When I listen to a song and I connect with it, when it’s like it was written for me – that’s what I want to write for other people.”