As empty bottles pile up on the corners of tables, wine enthusiasts walking in for a tapas meal at Boca Raton’s Vino Wine Bar on Thursday nights are treated to singer Kendra Erika’s chameleonic musical transformation.
Erika begins the night singing jazz standards and the songs of today's retro-inspired divas — Sade, Amy Winehouse, Adele. But as the night progresses, the audience watches the sultry, Jessica Rabbit-esque chanteuse fade and give way to Kendra Erika, the deep-house pop singer — the same singer whose new single, “Oasis,” has leapt to number 12 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.
She's still working through the shock. “How I take things is that I have to let it process and marinate. It doesn't really hit me until a couple days or even a couple weeks [later]... I still like to continue the momentum of going forward and creating more. I'm never really satisfied.”
“Oasis” was written and recorded in Los Angeles with producer Damon Sharpe (Ariana Grande, Kylie Minogue, Jennifer Lopez). The Valley’s desert surroundings became the inspiration behind the deep-house pop track.
“I was looking out the window and driving to the studio, and the inception of that idea just started coming to me. When we were discussing what the song was going to be about, I said, ‘What about an oasis?' An oasis is such a visual place. Having a deep-house track with a strong visual aesthetic, it just makes the track even stronger, 'cause people just want to get lost in it.”
It’s clear she relishes the house and EDM scene and doesn't view her throwback act as conflicting with her electronic pop music. Rather, she sees her ability to float between the two disparate worlds as an asset.
“At this point, a lot of my audience is the DJ subculture... They really appreciate EDM music, deep-house music, and so forth. That audience is... all the more promising as to what's going to unfold in the year to come.”
She understands that some of the women whose songs she covers on a weekly basis have abstained from giving their music the EDM pop sheen that's made “Oasis” popular, and that's OK. To Erika, the most important qualities an artist can possess are authenticity and integrity.
“Both Amy Winehouse and Lana [Del Rey], they really like to stay very vintage. There's nothing futuristic about what they're doing, and I appreciate that because that's what they want to do. They're sticking to their guns. They're sticking to their principles, and that's very respectable coming from an artist to another artist. Sticking to your integrity is very important to me and not selling out. In order to be really impactful as an artist, you need to have that timeless, iconic mentality.”