- 22 Apr 21
Rising star Etaoin discusses her superb debut EP, the fearless and emotionally powerful Bedroom Walls.
London-based, Irish-raised musician Etaoin is gearing up to release her debut EP, Bedroom Walls, and her excitement is palpable. Despite hibernating in her brother’s flat alone during lockdown, the 24-year-old’s bubbly personality isn’t even remotely dimmed through the Zoom screen.
And she has good reason to be excited – Etaoin’s irresistible melodies and raw lyrical honesty have earned her over 400,000 streams in a matter of months. Her most recent offering, ‘I Dare You’, is another powerful track exploring the trials and tribulations of heartbreak.
“When I fancy people, I write really sappy songs,” laughs Etaoin, poking fun at her penchant for love stories. “I find myself writing about subjects I don’t really care about anymore, but they were deep wounds in the past. If I didn’t write about romantic connections, I would bring the theme of friendship into my music. A best mate splitting up with you can totally break your heart.
“I was always writing songs in my room about boys who made me cry, as you do! I never thought a music career would happen for me – it’s the kind of thing you read about, but never think will actually work out. I was at university at the time studying anatomy and developmental human biology, which was honestly painful. I would ditch lectures and exams to play the piano in the basement.”
Despite her life-long love of music and performance, Etaoin took her creative fate into her own hands by approaching a major industry figure.
“I cold called the owner of Ealing Studios after finding his number online,” she recalls. “He was like, ‘Who the hell is this?!’ We got along after I’d clarified that I wasn’t a telemarketer. He put me in touch with the sound engineer Michael Briggs, who I recorded ‘Pale Damp Cheeks’ with. BBC Introducing played the track, and then record labels started getting in contact.
“I feel like I’m living a totally different life to all of my friends at the moment. I’ve always been the happy-go-lucky person within my friend group, so I would never play my intense, emotional songs around them – the lyrics are incredibly vulnerable. I also feel like everyone around me has become more open.
“I’ve made friends out of releasing honest music. I think it’s easy to look at people from the outside and not actually know who they are at 1am, when the lights are off.”
Indeed, Etaoin’s songs are notable for their fearlessness.
“I wrote the fourth track of my EP, ‘For Her’, when I was abroad; it’s about waiting for your old self to come back,” she explains. “That subject scared me a lot. I was too nervous to perform it for a while because it’s dark – I was exploring that feeling of not wanting to be here anymore. I didn’t even want my best friends to see that side of me and assume that it sums me up.
“It crosses your mind that listeners will have that sole perception of you once they hear a song like that, but I try not to care what anyone thinks. If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing. Words I sing in my music are usually phrases or confessions that I wouldn’t have the balls to say in conversation.
“Songwriting is a journey with one’s self, and sometimes you have to face challenges when you talk about uncomfortable topics.”
Etaoin is also keen to address subjects she feels are under-explored in music.
“Something I feel isn’t covered enough in songwriting is female body image, especially after a break-up or toxic relationship,” she notes. “Most girls have told themselves that they’ll get over a tough situation by losing weight – I definitely have. Imagine feeling that changing your appearance is the key to making the wrong person want you. I was afraid to talk about that in songs until recently.”
There’s a certain duality to Etaoin’s output – almost as if her music reflects an alter ego, who can immerse herself in her own, often painfully nostalgic, thoughts.
“I’d be hyperactive around my friends, and then act like a totally different person when I’m alone at home,” she says. “I have a private Twitter that most people even don’t know exists. I’ve had it since I was about 13, and I used to just tweet my thoughts. It’s funny looking back, I can see all the adolescent phases I went through. ‘I guess I’ll just sit here and think about you to my bedroom walls,’ is a tweet that actually made it into my debut single. Other than that, I would most likely turn to writing poetry if I couldn’t express myself through music.”
• Bedroom Walls is out on April 30
- Film & TV
- 20 May 22