“My powerful voice was reduced to a whisper, but I am still a vessel through which passion emerges. Take my voice, my hair, my mobility, my memory… but if you want my fire, you will have to kill me.”
Erica Xenne speaks in a whisper and sings in a ghost-like voice. The alchemy between her ethereal voice and rhythmic piano, robust drumming by her brother Jon Brand, and soulful guitar by her consort Prince Ruby Valentine, birthed Erosian Exile. By combining their otherworldly sound with original videos and art as a backdrop, Erica channels her memories of Erosia.
She began studying piano at age 4, and had a career in music as a teenager, singing, playing piano, and composing. At age 16, Chronic Lyme complications lead to permanent damage on her vocal cords, reducing her voice to a whisper and condemning her to exile from her deepest passion. But as emotions welled up and songs wrote themselves through her, the ghost of her voice was resurrected.
The people of Erosia have no legal system, but nature has its own laws. To love is to channel the essence of Erosia’s creators.
Prince Ruby Valentine was exiled from Erosia for failing to believe in Love, and Erica Xenne, obsessed and consumed, followed him into exile. In doing so, she sacrificed her magic power – her singing voice – which channeled the God of Passion. She was left speaking in a whisper.
In Dystopia, music exploded through Erica’s being, and she learned to channel her songs through her whisper in hopes the music would lure Ruby to believe in Love and return to Erosia with her. Yet Ruby knew her music was fueled by obsession and desire, rather than love, and mourned all the reasons that love could not exist.
The first album, Slave to Freedom, is Erica’s love note to Ruby, conveying conversations between Erica (vocalist) and Ruby (guitarist) which occurred in Erosia and Dystopia. Desperate to inspire Ruby, she invited his other consorts to sing backup despite her possessive fury. Ruby’s guitar wailed to meet their sensual harmonies and Erica’s alluring melodies, but the more aroused he was, the darker his nightmares became, and the more tormented he felt. He remained a slave to freedom.
Art is the blood of the exile. Since Erica and Ruby were exiled from their homeland, Erica made it her mission to bring the essence of Erosia to everyone. Through the arts, she hopes to lure others back to their own origins.
Erica began studying piano and writing songs as a child. By her early teens, she was consumed by vocal mastery and began singing professionally.
At sixteen, she became ill. She suffered high fevers, hair loss, memory fog, immobilizing arthritis, inability to swallow or move, and barely escaped death. After enduring misdiagnoses and maltreatment from several doctors, she finally received a diagnosis of Lyme Disease. Through intense, ongoing treatment and fierce determination, she recovered many of her faculties, but her vocal chords were permanently damaged. For the rest of her life, she would speak only in a whisper.
Erica tried to give up music. She studied writing and photography, and wrote novels about musicians, photographed musicians, made videos for local bands, and indulged endless headphone-buried walks. Regardless how deeply she cared for other arts, music ignited her core… yet she could not sing the songs that screamed within.
She was an Erosian Exile, exiled from Eros… her passion. She adopted the surname Xenne, which came to her in a sudden transmission from her home planet, Erosia. The prefix, Xen- , means ‘foreigner or stranger’ – as everything from her body to her life path was suddenly foreign. The suffix -ne means “not” because no matter what she has lost, she has a home in her passion, her drive, and her memories of Erosia.
Her music kicked and screamed its way out as songs came to life. As her accumulation of songs grew too large for her small town, she moved to New York City and played shows either solo, or with a revolving lineup of musicians. Soon her brother, Jon Brand, joined as her drummer. After five years of shows and recording, Erica released Slave to Freedom. Any time she feels defeated, her vocals remind her that nothing can stand between her and her vision, as long as she remains willful.
Read more about Erica’s inspiring triumph over illness here.
Jon Brand grew up listening to alternative rock, metal and punk rock. One of his past musical endeavors was drumming for DDF, a pop-punk band which blew up in the surrounding counties of Rockland, NY.
Jon plays DW Collectors Series drums and Pearl Masterworks snare drums with a variety of Zildjain and Paiste Signature cymbals.
Piano, Organ, Synth: Erica Xenne
Bass: Brian Bankoff
Jon Brand: Born in a Box, Sleep on the Ceiling, Slave to Freedom, Ruby Roue, Lullaby for Defeat, Apostasy, Hurricane Ruby, Trysticide
Steve Goldberg: A Muse, Chasing Tigers, Rockless
Guitar: Ira Siegel, except verses on Hurricane Ruby which were Dalton Jobson
Lead Vocals: Erica Xenne
Mezzo harmony: Meghan Bridges
Alto harmony: Emma Colleen, except Slave to Freedom, Ruby Roué, and Hurricane Ruby which were Evelyn Doorley
Choir: (bottom to top) Linda Johnson, Evelyn Doorley, Jane Kelman, Lisa Spielman
Mixing & Mastering: Larry Alexander
Drum, Piano & Bass Recording: Larry Alexander, except Slave to Freedom, Ruby Roué, and Hurricane Ruby which were recorded by John Naclerio at Nada Studios
Choir recording & additional recording: Philip Aitken
Music & lyrics: Erica Xenne.
Lead guitar melodies: Erica Xenne & Ruby Valentine
Production: Erica Xenne
Album Art: Erica Xenne & Riki Jane Wild