Music

Erisy Watt Meditates on Ecology and the Planet With "Am I" (premiere)

Photo Bradley Cox / Lucky Bird Media

Portland folk singer-songwriter, Erisy Watt shares her concerns about the planet on "Am I". The track is from her new LP Paints in the Sky, due out July 26. Anna Tivel guests.

Raised in Nashville, singer-songwriter Erisy Watt now makes her home in Portland, Oregon, where some of the seeds for her new LP, Paints in the Sky, were sewn. The album arrives 26 July and may be pre-ordered now.

"Am I" is the new single from that album exemplifies Watt's distinct nature as a writer and performer. Though firmly informed by roots music, the song eschews standard Americana fare, leaning into the far-reaching musical climates heard in the songs of Joni Mitchell and Judee Sill and speaking to uncommon lyrical concerns. Call it dream folk, call it mesmerizing or imaginative, but Watt's compositional voice (she's aided by partner Jeremy Ferrarahere) is something to behold.

Watt says, "In addition to writing and touring as a musician, I spend part of my year helping lead environmental field studies programs for university students in remote regions of Thailand, Indonesia, and Nepal. My time in this part of the world engaging with the native ecology and culture has profoundly impacted and influenced my songwriting. A lot of my lyrics and ideas for songs come from phenomena in the natural world that I witness and engage with directly."

She adds, "'Am I' was in part inspired by the evolutionary history of life, which during my marine ecology course in Thailand and Indonesia, is a topic we discuss. The idea that at one point in the earth's history to be a living thing meant passively drifting on the sea floor and that that simple existence eventually gave way to the wildly diverse and beautiful forms that populate our planet, including us, never ceases to amaze me. Those ideas continually find their way into my songs, weaving within and throughout a story much bigger than me.

"'Am I' is also inspired by the countless hours I spend in those remote places gazing up at the night sky, thinking about how all that light and matter out there in the galaxies is the same stuff that makes up me. How everything I've come to know, from the constellations to the Himalaya to the California coast to the people I love, comes from some inconceivably ancient bang of energy that gave life to both the milky way and me.

"My music and songwriting feel at home at this intersection of art and science, and I will always strive to weave the stories of the natural world into my own work in hopes that they continue to celebrate and shed light on the beauty of existence and teach me about my own life."

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