Erika Sherger is a singer-songwriter and guitarist from Northern New Jersey. After traveling the world and living out of state for 10 years in her twenties, Erika returned to her home state. She has been writing songs and playing instruments since she was a kid, but became more serious about her songwriting in her 30's, after being treated for cancer.
Erika's songs are honest and raw responses to the different emotional terrain she has traversed, from losing her mother to ALS to riding her blind horse, Levon. Erika openly embraces the beauty and pain of life. Her autobiographical style, set among an indie-folk-americana landscape, tells stories with courage and humility. We caught up with Erika to talk about her March 2023 release ‘Bad Wolf’:
How did the band form and what does the band name mean?
I gig as a solo act , in several duos, trios or 4 piece iterations, but we always play my stuff. I have at least 2 people who know my stuff on each instrument so I can mix and match- but for now we are just going by "Erika Sherger" or "Erika Sherger Band".
Previous musical projects? How'd you first get into music?
I have been playing guitar since I was 19, but songwriting was something I did alone and I rarely shared my music with anyone else. I finally was ready to start playing open mics in 2019, and of course met lots of amazing people and started playing with other musicians here and there. My first band was called Blue Druzy, which was a collaboration that started in 2020 with a bassist I was dating at the time. We started gigging regularly in summer 2020 and went strong for a couple of years, but in a tale as old as time, the band ended when the relationship did. Since then, I decided I prefer to have a couple different coals in the fire at all times so that my gigging or recording is not dependent on another person's availability.
First concert that you ever went to?
My first concert was U2 or the Grateful Dead when I was in high school.As far as local acts, I remember going to see Christina Alessi and the Toll Collectors in Boonton in the months right before I decided to start going to open mics.
What's your writing process like?
I come up with a few chords that sound nice to me and then I get into a zone where I am not thinking about anything at all. I just kind of start making noise- nonsense sounds and humming to find a melody. Eventually words or phrases make their way through and a song comes together. A lot of times I am surprised about what it is that comes out. It is rare I sit down and know what I am going to write a song about.
What other artists or songs inspire your music?
I would say my biggest influences as a songwriter are probably Stevie Nicks, Jeff Tweedy and Ryan Adams. I love Stevie Nick's and Adams' honest but poetic take on relationships, or on a particular feeling or circumstance but I also appreciate a mystical swirl of words that can be interpreted by the listener, which Jeff Tweedy is a master at. But I grew up in the late seventies and 80's so my singing has been influenced by a lot of that music-. I love just letting loose and belting out songs like Pat Benatar does.
What's the live experience like and your philosophy on playing live? Do you think the music live should be identical to the recorded version or should it be its own thing?
I think of recording and playing live as separate things, at least up until now I have. Even if I record a song live with bass and drums, we add on lead guitar, piano or organ tracks afterwards. So, my records have too much instrumentation to be replicated by a duo or trio, which is what I normally gig as. Maybe I will start playing more band gigs in the future where we can get all of those instruments on stage, but for right now, I am just playing restaurants and bars.
Has the band toured?
Not yet! I just play 4-5 gigs a month around North Jersey.
What's up next for the band?
I would like to keep collaborating with great musicians, to continue writing and recording songs, and to keep playing gigs as much as I can while still teaching high school. I recorded a new song at Pinebox Studios with Damian Calcagne a few weeks ago, before Bad Wolf even came out. I am super excited about working with Damian and to see what happens next.