Euphoric, reflective and with a smile on the face, Platonica Erotica rips subtly through the heartstrings.
Words by Hannah Hayden
Ahead of the release of her second single, I Can’t Be Your Everything, I sat down with Platonica Erotica at one of her favourite London haunts (Kipferl, an Austrian restaurant in Angel) to talk . By the end of the night it was clear that we were bound to become great friends, despite the fact that her debit card mysteriously disappeared and I had to foot a largely cocktail-based bill in a relatively central London location. I’m a journalist, for God’s sake. Anyway, this conversation has been condensed and edited for presentational purposes.
Hannah: Hello! It’s so nice to actually be meeting someone in person.
Platonica Erotica: “Yes! One of my small rebellions in COVID was that I refused to download Zoom, so this definitely works out better for me.
Hannah: Wow, that’s really rebellious, I can’t think of what you’ll do next! Can you describe what you’re having? [I should note that upon our arrival, Platonica hastily ordered an aperol spritz and a marble bundt cake which she requested to be slathered in cream, like a pig on payday].
Platonica Erotica: “It’s called gugelhupf! [This spelling I had to google-hop]. I generally don’t really like sweet food but for some reason I can just gobble this stuff up. It’s kind of fitting because this song I’ve just put out… I was in Salzburg with the person who I guess it corresponds to. So, you know, I was eating a lot of cake.
Hannah: And now we’ve gone full circle?
Platonica Erotica: “Yeah, definitely. Maybe I’m, like, having my cake and eating it too? I don’t think that makes much sense in this context!
Hannah: Well it sounds triumphant. So London and apparently Salzburg aside, you’re American?
Platonica Erotica: “Yes, I was born in LA but I grew up in NJ… I came here for University a few years ago and never left.
Hannah: Were you attracted to London’s music scene in particular or was that aspect not so much a part of it?
Platonica Erotica: “Well, I didn’t necessarily come with any agenda to be honest. I just wanted to live in a city where there was some level of excitement, and anonymity. I wasn’t a terribly confident person at the time and I knew I was a very good singer, and I loved to sing, but I did think of my voice as more of a tool that I didn’t quite know what to do with. I hate when people are like, “I can sing, this must be my calling.” Good singers are a dime a dozen. I suppose I had a desire to perform but I didn’t really know what I had to say yet.
Hannah: I’d venture to say, that’s quite a business-like attitude to take regarding yourself.
PE: “Well, I’m a Capricorn! I can definitely be vicious, but I really have little time for work that, on the outside, is just hypey venue stuff or a minimalistic/ soulful-sounding cover that everyone under the sun and their entire extended family have sung into the same iPhone camera. It’s just boring.
Hannah: So do you think you’re better than people who do that? Because that would be quite an unattractive quality, and I (as well as our readers) would judge you for it.
Platonica Erotica: “I don’t think that, but I can understand that it sounds like I think that. It’s just a type of path that doesn’t fit me personally, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable presenting myself that way, but obviously there’s space for everyone to do whatever they want! Also, I think that what I’m referring to is maybe more of a big label vibe, and at the time I started I wasn’t as aware of what was happening on a smaller scale, and the extent of artistic freedom in that.
Hannah: Good save. How long have you been writing music?
Platonica Erotica: “I always sang in choirs, and I would write on the piano and the guitar a bit as a teenager. I always found those melodies quite difficult to marry with lyrics, however, as I just didn’t have the practice. I was in ballet school for a while when I was younger, so I was very familiar with this idea of embodying instrumental music and interpreting a score. But it didn’t seem to be a pathway into writing songs and pop music…. Yet!
Hannah: “Yet!” indeed. What’s something that you’d want to tell your younger self as an artist at that point?
PE: “I’d say don’t ever sell yourself or your ideas short, because there’s a lot of men who will feed off of that lack of confidence to make themselves feel big. I don’t think that’s only artistically though, necessarily, I think that’s advice I’d give to my younger self in general.
Hannah: Maybe in an artistic setting it just becomes amplified?
Platonica Erotica: “Oh, absolutely. It’s easy when you’re young to want to believe someone when they insinuate that they know everything or that they’re an expert of some sort. It’s very idealistic when you don’t feel quite confident enough in yourself. But it wears off— none of the people I’ve ever really respected or gotten on with tend to have that attitude of swaggering around and acting chosen by God.
Hannah: Confidence is currency though, in the right hands. Maybe even in the wrong ones too?
Platonica Erotica: “Oh, I completely agree. I mean, I’m not working at a massive scale or anything like that but even when I decided to just put music out, I was like, I have to act unrealistically entitled, otherwise I’m never going to be able to expose anything about myself.
Hannah: With that in mind, do you think you’re naturally drawn to keeping parts of yourself hidden?
Platonica Erotica: “Depends which parts! [Both laugh]
Hannah: So, I’ve heard through my grown-up music industry friends that you’re going to be releasing a lot more music in the coming months.
Platonica Erotica: “They’re right, I am! But grown-ups are always right, aren’t they? I’m calling this single “the last of my prom music”… but after that, there’s a very different feeling to the music than what you’ve heard on the last two singles. I’ve been working with a lot of other great artists, as you’ll soon find out, and the songs have come from a very different process.
Hannah: I believe you mentioned recently that some of the music on your upcoming EP is derived from a concept album you’d written during the pandemic?
Platonica Erotica: “Technically part of a concept album, yes, even if in this case that’s actually just a load of crap.
Hannah: What, you think concept albums are a farce?
Platonica Erotica: “Oh no, not in general. I do think that calling something conceptual when the concept is that someone is undergoing a similar situation to you and reacting in quite the same way you would is very easy to see through, which is definitely what I’ve done! Like, just own up! What I’m writing now, I’m trying to create a fiction that’s so completely different from my actual life- on the surface at least. And then it becomes more about responding to a set of narrative constraints, of whatever world you’re trying to inhabit.
Hannah: Interesting. But even in that case you can’t fake your emotional response to those constraints, can you really?
Platonica Erotica: “No, that’s the rub! And your life and inner world will always come out in some way, but that can also be a good thing. Like, that’s probably what makes it emotionally truthful, and possible to connect to.
Hannah: Well, at least we got this far into the interview without having to address truth-in-art.
Platonica Erotica: “Ha! Yeah, let’s not beat that dead horse. I sound like an actor, “performing is about telling stories as honestly and truthfully…” blech! [makes a small retching noise]
Hannah: Very well. To give one final blow however, do you find songwriting and performing to be a good outlet for the things you want to tell people, even if the meaning changes over time?
Platonica Erotica: “Oh, definitely. I don’t write very explicit lyrics, which means I don’t have to necessarily return to an event or moment to sing about it or depict it— that leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
Hannah: So you can find ways to truthfully connect to the song without really having to return to the direct inspiration?
Platonica Erotica: “Yeah, definitely. Like, with this most recent single for instance, it’s about a breakup. However, I’m not going to go onstage and try and act as if I’m still upset about something three years in the past. I’d be lying!”
Hannah: I mean, lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off.
Platonica Erotica: “Ha! I’m not so sure about that.”