“This is what I mean when I refer to self-expression. I do my best to share my personal truth but people will not always interpret it the way it is meant. This is why I refer to artwork as a mirror. When I create it, it’s my mirror, but when someone else views it, it’s their own mirror to see as they see fit. This is why I don’t believe two people can truly understand each other, but in essence we are all the same, so if we understand what makes us human then we really understand what is essential about each other perfectly.” -Erica Xenne, 2013
The prefix Xen- means foreigner or stranger, and the suffix -Ne means ‘not.’ We are all strangers to our own essence until we delve into the mirror.
Erica Xenne began writing songs and diaries as a young child, and moved on to novels, compositions and a professional music career in her early teens. She spent ample time in the woods, singing to tape recorders or writing in diaries, and collected gemstones, beginning with one she was gifted by her first piano teacher at age four. Between her favorite authors, Hermann Hesse and Carlos Castaneda, and her most beloved Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera, she was drawn to themes that mirrored her own interminable yearning. The music that wrote itself through her was her earliest experience of catharsis.
Cycles of resurgence wove through Erica’s lyrics, and also, her life. At sixteen, after falling ill for months, she found herself on her death bed. “I may die,” she told herself, “and that is out of my control. But I am going to fight for life with everything I have… because I still have songs to sing.”
Though her battle with illness would continue indefinitely, she recovered most of her faculties… but there was one loss she could never reclaim. She emerged with vocal cord damage and was left speaking in a whisper permanently, which forced her to reconcile two burning questions: what was the purpose of her life, if all of her striving was for naught, and who was she, now that she was stripped of her greatest passion?
Erica devolved into isolated musings about past lives, dreams, and anything else that could reunite her with her most burning desires. As she lost sight of humanity and purpose, she was consumed by insatiable hunger, like a vampire feeding on the blood of the living. By ripping herself down to the animal within, she embodied her most primal energy, but shut down her vulnerability. She could desire, inspire and consume, but she could not love.
This lifestyle fueled a volcanic fury that erupted suddenly at age 21. As Erica rode in the car with a friend, both holding a crystal orb, an entire trilogy unfolded in her mind. It was a story of death and resurrection, love and war, self-exploration and transformation. After delving deep into themselves to discover their connections with nature, the characters join with the elements to determine the course of the world.
Though Erica had completed novels before, she was never a talented writer; but the story felt more real than her life. She resolved to gain the skills and insight to give birth to this vision, and began her long journey toward nurturing it into written form. Exciting though they were, her early drafts revealed she could not nourish her protagonist’s voice until she rescued her own. Every path lead to the graveyard of her music and her innocence buried beneath it.
Erica trained herself to sing through her whisper, restructured her songs to accommodate it and ultimately resurrected the ghost of her voice, beating the odds senseless. “My powerful voice was reduced to a whisper, but I am still a vessel through which passion emerges,” said she. “When I sing through the scars on my vocal cords, my voice embodies brokenness channeled into beauty, which means more than a perfect performance. Take my voice, my hair, my mobility, my memory… but if you want my passion, you will have to kill me.” Her humanity was reborn.
True to her word, when Erica resumed her opus, she infused it with beauty and love. She is now in the process of refining her writing skills and preparing the first book for publication.
Her passion is to explore passion itself and her purpose is to be a vessel through which it emerges. This vessel is her very being, and she tweaks and refines it, forever honing the skill to capture the insights that erupt from the aether and deliver them with clarity. She strives to mirror the forces that drive all living beings, so that through her designs, others may see their own nature. Her hope is to expose their reflection so brutally that they experience their animalism, their humanity, and their divinity.
“On a deeper level, I live to expose my true self through my work. I feel I’m a vessel through which songs and stories emerge. The content serves as a mirror. It exposes parts of myself that are buried deep within my subconscious, and which might otherwise remain unnoticed. In sharing my work, I hope to function as a mirror for others. What success means, to me, is knowing that my fight to sing on my album, despite speaking in a whisper, has inspired someone else to create her own artwork. Success is hearing someone quote my lyrics or reference my stories because it expresses something SHE is feeling. I want people to see themselves in my work, rather than merely seeing “me.” I want to touch on something universal. And, through bearing my own soul, I hope to inspire others to express themselves honestly, and to pursue their dreams against all odds.” -Erica Xenne, 2012