At age nine, Erica Mulkey started playing the violin because her dad played. Music was in her blood at an early age, but the violin was a hard instrument for a first timer.
“I had a friend who played cello and I was really jealous,” she recalls. “I got my parents to let me switch like halfway through fourth grade and then I actually really was into it.”
Today, at age 43, she looks back at modest beginnings that led her to major in music at the University of California at Santa Cruz with the cello as her primary instrument.
“I love the cello. I didn’t love playing in orchestras. I wanted to write my own stuff. I was really doing experimental stuff in the music studio. I was stretching the limits of, like, what I wanted to record and having so much fun with that. And sometimes recording cello and sometimes recording voice, but I didn’t see myself having a classical future, more of a compositional experimental future.”
More than 20 years later, she has made a living writing, performing and recording her own music her way, with no compromises and no day job. All the work is accomplished in her home studio. She’s never had a record label, manager or anyone telling her what to do, or how to do it.
“The last two albums, I’ve been really unafraid with my songwriting choices. Like, I’m gonna do something weird here and that’s okay. I always did weird stuff but I didn’t have as much confidence about it before, so I guess I probably did the same stuff, i just feel better about it now.”
We’ll let you decide whether her music is weird or not. You’ll hear several songs in this episode of Type. Tune. Tint. I invite you to listen below: