Los Angeles native Lorely Rodriguez embodies her stage name Empress Of in her music. Her voice is strong, and she isn’t afraid to open herself up to audiences with personal songs.
With two albums under her belt, Rodriguez will perform in Chicago March 1.
Rodriguez’s first album, “Me,” has songs fit for a dance floor with hits such as “Water Water” and “To Get By.” With her sophomore album, “Us,” the music is less experimental and sounds more like traditional pop songs with polished beats and a lighter tone.
The Phoenix spoke with Rodriguez about her music ahead of her Chicago performance.
In both albums, her songs are very personal, often opening up about her experiences with identity, relationships and community. “When I’m With Him,” from “Us,” is a song about a relationship falling apart, but the sound contrasts this with upbeat pop rhythms and an effusive chorus.
“I realize through making those albums I make autobiographical songs and they have to be songs that are personal … I can’t just make up fictional songs; they have to be about what I’m going through in my life,” Rodriguez said.
The song, “I’ve Got Love,” for example, comes from her experience having a friend struggling with mental illness, the singer said.
“It’s not even a song about me necessarily, but it’s about a friendship,” she said. “It’s about a friend going through depression and wanting to commit suicide and he told me that, and I wrote this song … it’s all the things I wanted to say in that moment but you never know what the right thing to say is.”
Rodriguez, a Honduran-American, also blends Spanish into some of her songs. In “Trust Me Baby,” she serenades listeners with lyrics about love and trust such as “confía en mi” (trust in me), “respétame” (respect me) and “yo soy tu igual” (I am your equal).
Rodriguez said bilingual singing gave her another way to share her story through music.
“I was singing it in English, and it didn’t sound the way I wanted it to sound,” she said. “So I started singing some of it in Spanish … It was nice to be able to sing certain lines in Spanish because it’s like a different way of expressing a feeling.”
Rodriguez will perform at Sleeping Village (3734 W. Belmont Ave.) March 1. at 7 p.m.