Erica Cody: Our New VBF
R&B singer from Dublin has put in the hustle to make her passion a career
Erica Cody: ‘Growing up in Ireland, I found it difficult for people to accept my image, especially my skin tone and hair.’
For the last 18 months, there’s been hype building around the Dublin R&B singer-songwriter Erica Cody, who has shared a stage with established and respected acts like the incredible UK singer Mahalia and living legends En Vogue, but with the release of her debut EP, Leoness, she’s getting ready to match the hype.
With a knack for calling it like it is, Cody doesn’t shy away from big topics, like being black and Irish, on her EP but she exudes a confidence in her identity that she’s literally bottling up and selling for us. Joining the ranks of Ireland’s incredible growing R&B and hip-hop scene, she’s using her mahogany voice to speak up for people who haven’t found theirs yet, while giving us some serious beats to bop to (see: Over and Over). And that’s the kind of generosity we like from our VBF.
Music wasn’t always Cody’s main focus. The Baldoyle local split her time between songwriting and playing basketball as a kid, with an eventual goal to move to the United States to pursue a professional basketball career but an anterior cruciate ligament injury forced her to rethink her future.
Luckily, the drive she had for sport was easily transported to her music. As a child, she kept a journal to document her feelings when her mother was sick with cancer, and these notes, she realised, could be turned into songs. A Christmas present of an iTouch meant that she began producing her own work when she was 15. With a background as a Billie Barry kid, if she couldn’t make it to centre court, centre stage was a far better alternative and she went on to play her first live gig when she was 15, supporting the Nigerian singer WizKid in Citywest.
At just 22 years of age, she has an impressive CV that also includes studying vocals in BIMM Dublin. Cody has put in the hustle to make her passion a career and this hard work can be heard on Leoness. Songs like Good Intentions draw on the R&B music that her parents listened to at home, like Stevie Wonder, SWV and Lauryn Hill, but she modernises that soundboard with pulsating electronic beats.
Steering away from the overly experimental stylings of FKA Twigs or Kelela, the bones of her music is old-school 90s but with her confessional lyrics, she puts a piece of herself into her music so listeners can latch on. Growing up in Dublin with a white mother and a black father from South Carolina, Cody always stood out in the playground and Where U Really From captures the frustrations of people always asking her that question.
This empowering stamp on her identity has also led her to launch a campaign called Don’t Touch My Hair (DTMH) as a bid for young people to accept who they are.
“Growing up in Ireland, I found it difficult for people to accept my image, especially my skin tone and hair. I would regularly let people touch my hair so I wouldn’t come across as ‘rude’ or to avoid confrontation however as I grew older, I started to realise my self-worth and love my features and beautiful heritage,” she explains.
“Just because I’ve a darker skin tone and bigger hair is simply not an open invitation to push boundaries by touching my hair or the need to know my history – I’m black. I’m Irish. I am me.”
Leoness is out on April 12th and Erica Cody plays The Grand Social on April 11th. Tickets are €14.45 and are on sale now from Ticketmaster.