It’s about noon in Chicago, and Sophia Eris is just now starting to slowly wake up. Eris, along with her friend and rapper Lizzo, have the day off today on their short tour between days opening for Sleater-Kinney. When we start to talk on the phone, you can still hear the drowsiness that is lingering Eris’ soft voice. Today’s agenda includes getting the oil changed, and checking the tires to their tour van, as they prepare to head towards Dayton. They have a show in Fairborn, then will be hitting some other towns. No matter how many times they visit, and this goes for many who visit, Chicago is a place that always finds them getting into something. That is other than doing car repairs. “Every time I come, I see a different side of it,” explained Eris when talking about the Windy City. While Eris gave me the impression that the night before in Chicago was nothing exciting, Lizzo, (real name is Melissa Jefferson), tells a different story.
“Chicago wasn’t really low-key at all. It was a high key (chuckles). It was cool,” Lizzo says in a laid back tone. “We made up a song last night, and I wanted Sophia to hear it.”
To many, it will be hard to believe that the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota is slowly accumulating some of the best new musical talent in the States. Yes, we all know that Prince is from there. However, that’s not the only thing that you should know about this city. The music scene is thriving with some incredible talent-ranging from indie rock to some of the best rappers to date. Two of those musicians were introduced to me while I was visiting the city back in this past summer. A friend was telling me that there was a rapper in town that is starting to make some noise not only within the city limits, but nationally as well. The musician was also involved in some groups that could easily rise within the ranks of stardom. I couldn’t help but be intrigued, and asked who they were talking about. They mentioned that it was Lizzo and Eris. And I am not alone. The duos are also two of the five members of the group Grrrl Party. Recently, the duo passed through the Dayton area as their side project Absynthe. The music that the duo creates offer dazzling hooks, along with dizzying rhythms. While they seductively lure you in with their sultry pop/R&B influenced vocals, they will be quick to inform you that they are powerful, smart, and confident. The goal is simple-to help empower women, and embrace themselves for they are as beautiful as they can be.
With her hometown being here in Dayton, this will be the first time ever that Eris will be performing in the area. While attending school in Wayne, she played soccer, along with other sports. Eris was fortunate enough to some earn scholarship money, and she began attending Urbana to major business. It wasn’t she wanted at the end of the day, though. Her aspirations to get involved in music business was what she cared most about. Still-she appeased her family and continued marching forward. “Go major in business. Take what was given to you,” Eris explained. She pushed through her freshman year, trying to find some enjoyment and happiness in the school. However, it wasn’t where she thought she should be. Eris yearned to be in music business. When she arrived home the summer after her freshman year in Urbana, and mentioned her displeasure-her family finally gave their blessing for Eris to move on. Once she arrived in Minneapolis, Eris began studying and graduated at Institute of Production and Recording.
Eris talked about writing when she was younger, mostly poetry. She did a little rap verse in one of friends’ songs while living in Dayton. When she was young, Eris mentions to me about how she would stand in front of the family’s television set while watching Star Search. “I would bow and say ‘thank you, thank you’ to everyone,” she adds. Eris admits to me during our conversation that she really didn’t think about performing in music till she arrived in Minneapolis. “I just knew that I wanted to be involved in music somehow, and I thought it be on the business side,” Eris says. “I wanted to help someone change the world. I wanted to be that person to find that artist that did so. I ended up doing it as well (performing).”
Born in Detroit in the late 80’s, Lizzo was fascinated with writing and astrology. Having one of her first words being ‘star’, Lizzo wanted to go to space, and experience the solar system firsthand. She would read books and encyclopedias that all involved astrology, and the inner workings of the solar system. While the phase of wanting to get into astronomy tapered off as she got older, she always continued to write. As far as singing went, Lizzo grew up in the church; singing songs from musicians like Fred Hammond, and groups like The Clark Sisters, The Winans. Lizzo was also introduced legendary artists like Stevie Wonder and Elton John. Citing “they weren’t vibing at the time”, Lizzo explained that her dad saw that a change of scenery from Detroit would be good. At age 10, Lizzo and her family packed up everything and moved to Houston, Texas.
Lizzo’s time in Houston was the precursor that began her music career. After skipping class in 5th grade to see Destiny’s Child perform at the local Wal-Mart (obviously they hit it big), Lizzo began to learn how to play the flute, and feverishly started to write more. She would obsessively listen to freestyle on the radio, which showcased Southern trademark of chopped and screwed rap tracks of the underground, to R&B. At nineteen, Lizzo joined a rock band and moved back to Detroit. Shortly after planting her feet in Detroit, she was asked by a friend if she wanted to move up Minneapolis. At the time, the friend was in a band and was moving back to Minneapolis. Without hesitation-she said yes.
When Eris and Lizzo met at the Red Stage Music Festival, located in Minneapolis, the bond was instantaneous. “We hung out with friends, drank some, walked up the streets to this karaoke bar together, sang Beyoncé together at the bar,” Eris gleefully says. “We’ve been great friends since.” During that first night of Eris and Lizzo meeting, they got together with another friend and wrote would be become of their breakout hits, “Push It’. A low-fi recording was uploaded online, and it caught the interest from one of the premiere radio stations in town, Minnesota Public Radio’s 89.3 The Current. When the ladies were asked for a cleaner version of the song, the musical careers of Eris and Lizzo soon took off.
This past year, the duo have begun seeing all of their hard work start to pay off. With the one in a lifetime opportunity of recording a song with Prince under their belt, some of their highlights include recently performing on David Letterman’s late night talk show, and now doing some dates with the reunited Sleater-Kinney. “I just remember getting the call from my manager about it. We previously requested hopefully being able to open for the show in Minneapolis. Two months later, boom! I freaked out of the car,” Lizzo said.
Eris still knows that her potential, along with Lizzo and the others from Grrrl Party, has just been getting touched. However, the ladies still are taking the time to enjoy themselves. “It’s kinda like a running a race, and you have your head down the whole time. You finally get to the finish line, and look up and realize you’re there already,” Eris discloses. “It’s just work. You gotta look up every once and in a while. Next time we look up, it’s going to be sick.”
“I appreciate it as it comes,” Lizzo adds. “My focus is on my trajectory as a person, and an artist. How’s my music sounding? How’s my shows? Are people feeling it? I’m a not falling off? Based on those terms, things are going good.”
Couldn’t agree more.