Shooting Star: Empress Of on For Your Consideration

We catch up with Lorely Rodriguez – aka Empress Of – ahead of her playful, bold and provocative fourth studio album, For Your Consideration

Feature by Arusa Qureshi | 18 Mar 2024
  • Empress Of

Just a week ago, Lorely Rodriguez was performing in front of an audience that included Alanis Morissette and Caroline Polachek. Having been invited to sing two songs at We Are Moving the Needle’s Resonator Awards, the musician found herself in a small room with the aforementioned two artists, who were being honoured, among many other heavy-hitters.

“The only other time I've been that nervous was when I sang in front of Björk,” Rodriguez says, beaming in from her home in LA. “I had to keep reminding myself – I've done a lot of stuff in my career, I did Madison Square Garden with Blood Orange when he opened for Harry Styles, and I played Primavera twice. I was trying to remind myself, that 'hey, you've already been in this position'. But Alanis was particularly special because I grew up listening to her.”

Rodriguez has been releasing music for over a decade now as Empress Of, a moniker that was inspired by a tarot card reading that drew the Empress card, typically signifying strength, love and femininity. In that short time, she has achieved a great deal, from working with artists like Khalid to opening for Carly Rae Jepsen on her North American tour. Nervous energy is natural for any performer but when listening to Rodriguez’s upcoming fourth studio album For Your Consideration, it’s hard to imagine how the voice behind such defiance and vulnerability could ever feel anything but confidence.

“I'm more of a contained fireball,” she says of her new music. “Before, I just had so much ferocity, and now I kind of sculpt it into storytelling, which is what you do when you perform thousands of times.”

For Your Consideration is a culmination of Rodriguez’s years of living and working in LA, reflecting on love and sex and the fantastical nature of Hollywood. The bilingual album was born out of its title track, which was inspired by heartbreak but then opened the door for an exploration of numerous broader themes.

“If you live in LA, 'FYC', or 'For Your Consideration', is something you see all the time,” Rodriguez explains. “And I had my own experience with it. Long story short, I fell in love with a director as he was announcing his 'FYC' for the Oscars, and he love-bombed me. And then I wrote a song about it.

“The album is not a heartbreak album,” she continues, “and it's not a love album either – it's just sexy. I keep saying it's sexy, but it really is. And I'm being very flirtatious on every track. I liked calling the album For Your Consideration because I've always felt like an outlier in the pop world. To me, this feels like a play on Hollywood.”

While the album has a clear element of playfulness which runs throughout, from tracks like the Rina Sawayama collaboration Kiss Me to closing track What’s Love, which features fellow LA group MUNA, there’s also a sense of boldness and provocation that sits within the songwriting itself. As Rodriguez notes, “I just think I write songs in a way that no one else is going to write songs. Even if I write about the same thing, even if I write about a one night stand, even if I write a break-up song, even if I write about my hoe-era – I'm not going to write songs in a way that other people do. I find that lyrically, I just really like the way I deliver a phrase.”

For Your Consideration was written in LA, Miami, and Montreal, with Rodriguez working with a diverse collection of songwriters and producers, including Nick León, Billboard, Valley Girls, Cecile Believe, and Umru. Despite the inclusion of different styles and voices from varying genres, the album sounds cohesive and in turn, elevated as a solo body of work. When asked if listeners might be surprised by anything they hear, Rodriguez points to two tracks on the album.

“There's a song called Baby Boy that has an acoustic guitar on it and it's like my early 2000s pop song,” she says. “And I really love the song Lorelei, which is one of the singles that's going to come out.

“My name is Lorely and people always call me Lorelei when they first meet me, and this song is my take on Dolly Parton's Jolene. It's about a guy who cheats on his girlfriend with me and I read it from the girlfriend's point of view. I like that people are going to see that and they're going to be like, ‘oh, there's a song on the album called Lorelei? Isn't that her name?’”

The aforementioned playfulness in the writing is backed up in the album’s visuals and styling, which Rodriguez believes have also taken a step up. “I kind of wanted to go a little bit camp for this record in my own way,” she adds. The Ryan Heffington-directed and choreographed video for Femenine, for example, sees Rodriguez at a sweat-fueled dance party which she previously labelled a "fever dream fantasy”.

“I think looks and styling and what I’m trying to say across the board for this album is really important,” Rodriguez notes. For Your Consideration may be seductive and sexy in its make-up, but it’s theatrical and hyperbolic in the same breath. “That's also why I happen to be riding a shooting star over LA on the album’s cover.”

For Your Consideration is out 22 Mar via Giant Music