Miami's own Kendra Erika spins a spellbinding web of sensuality and body-confidence with her brand new single Miami Love -- a wind-swept Lana Del Rey-sharpened narrative of lust and love. As the first few waves of strings and shiny horns lift off, the song needles its way through flickering images of penthouse glam, high-speed chases and a sense of inescapable danger. Having grown up in the heat of Miami, Erika (who is set to release a follow-up single very, very soon) attributes her dalliances with moody pop and orchestral instruments to her jazz and classical roots, as well as the very climate of south Florida. "There is so much beauty around. Being able to capture that [in the song] and have that as an influence as a young girl is great," she shares with Popdust over a recent phone call. "I love Michelle Pfeiffer in ‘Scarface,’ and her persona was really captivating. She was a woman of integrity and of strength. She took no prisoners. I love how the tropical environment can bring out the beauty in a lot of people."
The music scene, too, certainly had an impact on her creativity. "There is a lot of Latino influence here. However, with the help of Ultra and all these other night-life venues, the DJ scene has really been growing," she says.
Of course, the spirit of Lana Del Rey's work can not be ignored in Erika's own. "Lana is the only artist thus far who has been able to hold a very strong image. She’s one that also likes to have that cinematic experience and take you into her world," she says, noting the overall structure of today's music releases. "Most artists today, they just put out music without any attachment to it. Lana has been able to be vintage and know how to captivate an audience. I love her sound. It’s incredible."
As with the throbbing pulse of Miami Love, Erika's entire aesthetic is influenced by her fascination with James Bond, whose "whole persona is very enticing to me," she says. "He is old Hollywood. He’s my muse. The fact that he has been able to be an icon for so long has made me want to emulate that style and feel [in my music]. The Bond girls themselves have been able to stay cool. They are women of tasteful sensuality. They were always in control and got what they wanted. I love having my art personify that perception -- that women can be alluring but classy."
Reflecting on one of her first memories of the Bond franchise, she recalls, "I would have to say it was when I was around 12 or 13. Coming into young womanhood, I instantly gravitated to the Bond girls themselves. The movies were really able to hold my attention for so long, and I was transported into that thrilling world." She then cites a few of her favorite entries, "Well, I love the new ‘Spectre,’ but I think above all, I would have to go with either ‘Goldfinger’ or ‘Casino Royale’ (the old and new version)."
With a possible EP or full-length expected in 2017, she is set to drop a brand new track called The Truth Never Lies next week (June 24). She describes the song (significantly influenced by Kygo and David Guetta) as "a deep house track. It’s ready for summer thrills. It’s about two lovers who whisk each other away. It’s sort of like Bonnie & Clyde or James Bond and his girl. The vibe of the song makes it more contemporary."
She adds, "The vocal makes it very euphoric, and there’s a yearning for someone to make you feel something."
Erika is also exploring a jazz-inspired song. "[The song] is like an Ella Fitzgerald or Doris Day or Frank Sinatra song. It’ll have a jazzy, lounge vibe," she says. Elsewhere, two other standouts, Moonlight and Let Me Fall into Your Love, serve as the fuel to propel her into the next chapter.
As she continues writing and recording, she has her sights set on putting together an acoustic live show. "I’m working on [that] for the summer to start performing in the fall or early winter. I’m thinking about a mini-tour. I just love hearing my songs in their rawest form, especially coming from classical and jazz roots."
Being such a new act, she says building her fan base comes down to a few key factors. "It’s about maintaining your integrity and your individual style and being yourself. Be the best version of yourself. We are our own magnets in this world. Whatever energy we put out there we shall receive. I know a lot of people love Bond and similar style movies, like ‘American Hustle’ and ‘Casino.’ Bringing back that classic element in my music is what will ultimately win people over."
Grab Kendra Erika's Miami Love now on iTunes.