Considering her predilection for unironic lyrics about "the innerwebz," one would think the harsh binary static that opens The Future's Void is Erika M. Anderson's nihilistic anti-statement against our self-imposed entanglement in the World Wide Whatever. But it's not the hyperconnected wasteland of the future Anderson finds disturbing: According to her, the real nutjobs are the regressive, beard-stroking folkies.
"I don't think [writing lyrics about the Internet] is that crazy," Anderson says. "I don't know what you talk about with your friends, but I often feel like a lot of it has to do with this enormous force that we're interacting with pretty much at all times. To pretend that it doesn't exist and to not say anything about it—I guess if you want to do that pre-Civil War era, antebellum type of banjo music, whatever. But if you want to make a record that's in the modern age, it seems like a willful turning of your eyes if you don't engage with the thing that the world engages with daily."
Before going solo, Anderson spent time in Los Angeles and Oakland, playing guitar in the experimental noise bands Amps for Christ and Gowns and cutting her teeth at clubs like the infamous L.A. venue the Smell. Her 2011 breakthrough, Past Life Martyred Saints, was lauded for its fusion of lo-fi folk with a buzzing sense of dread. The Future's Void, her third album as EMA, is bigger and louder, at times sounding like what we might expect from Lady Gaga if she employed Trent Reznor for one last stab at morose, eccentric grandiosity. But it's clear that Anderson's ears are still ringing from the busted PAs her previous bands played through.
Anderson moved to Portland in 2011. Here, she has a heightened level of anonymity compared to her days in California. She lets on that she's more of a homebody these days, but she knows people occasionally notice her out and about in her Northeast neighborhood—via the Internet, of course.
"Part of the reason I liked moving here out of Oakland is because I don't really like to be recognized," she says. "I did get tweeted at when I was walking around with sweatpants and a giant fake plant in Fred Meyer once. I was like, 'Aw, fuck. I'm walking around with this giant palm tree looking like a lunatic.ââ
EMA plays at 2:25 pm Aug. 17. Tickets and info at musicfestnw.com.