Eartheater is a pop renegade searching for truth
She’s a gifted New York eccentric who treats music like an experiment.
Photographer Micaiah Carter
Eartheater is a pop renegade searching for truth

The FADER's longstanding series GEN F profiles emerging artists to know now.

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The placenta that nourished Alexandra Drewchin in the womb is buried under a cherry tree in the garden of her childhood home. The artist, who makes industrial-spiked pop as Eartheater, grew up on a remote horse farm in north-east Pennsylvania. She was born to a British mother and a Russian father who met and fell in love in New York before moving to the countryside. Drewchin’s father, the son of a Soviet-era propaganda artist and himself an abstract painter, was absent for much of her childhood. When Drewchin was eight, her parents split up, leaving her mom to bring up four children on her own.

“She’s the most badass lady,” Drewchin tells me one morning in December, as we sit at a wooden table in her light-filled bedroom in Queens, New York. “She gave birth to us all on her own in the house, and home-schooled us all.”

Around us, flowering orchids, platform shoes, boxing gloves, and musical gear wrestle for attention; two of her father’s paintings hang on the walls. Drewchin has lived here for six years, renting the room from an established visual artist in her 60s. The roommates share an affinity for metallic sculpture and lush vegetation; from behind a closed door I hear what sounds like the call of an exotic bird or three.

“I was extremely sheltered in some ways,” she continues, explaining that her family didn’t have a TV or a computer. “I remember the first time I managed to hear a Lil’ Kim song when I was 11 or something — naturally I was just so inclined to get the fuck out and find that stuff.”

Eartheater is a pop renegade searching for truth
Eartheater is a pop renegade searching for truth

When Drewchin was 16, money problems forced her mom to sell the farm and relocate the family to a tiny apartment in a small neighboring town. Her mom had to get a job, and Drewchin found herself attending school for the first time. She gravitated to the art room and hung out with punk kids, musicians, and stoners. She fell in love with Rage Against the Machine and had her first kiss under an angel statue in a graveyard. The rigidity of the school system, however, left her disenchanted. For her senior year, she transferred to a community college that allowed her to take the classes she wanted to: psychology 101, color theory, and creative writing. “I was like, Boom, I’m just going to educate myself.”

When she was 18, Drewchin followed her nose to New York. She supported herself by busking with a guitar and picking up weird jobs from the people she met in the street; she dog-sat for an “incredible anthropologist writer lady,” who later went on to get Drewchin her first gig as a hired gun in a freak folk band. Around 2010, she made an Eartheater Myspace, but she didn’t do much with it for the first few years. Instead, she threw herself into learning how to survive as a working musician. “I sucked it up and I played in a lot of other bands, went on a lot of tours, and played on a lot of other people’s things.”

Eartheater is a pop renegade searching for truth
“‘C.L.I.T.’ stands for ‘curiosity liberates infinite truth.’ That’s kind of the main theme of the record.”
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All that learning culminated in two albums of her own, Metalepsis and RIP Chrysalis, both released in 2015. They carved out a compelling space in between rock, pop, and electronic experimentation, and they paved the way for two years of hard gigging, during which she developed a stage presence that includes contorting her tall frame with the vigor of a snake shedding its skin.

The forthcoming new Eartheater album, Irisiri, crystallizes Drewchin’s curiosity. It pokes, critically and poetically, at societal systems, social expectations, and sonic conventions. There are aesthetic threads to be drawn with her previous work, but her growth as both a songwriter and a composer is immediately apparent. Her eerily sensual electronic compositions are set off by wistful moments of harp, performed on the record by her friend Marilu Donovan. Vocally, Drewchin shapeshifts from frayed intonation to pillowy harmonization to a tense falsetto. There are also two guest features: Philly artist Moor Mother in galactic rap mode, and a deliciously John Waters-esque vocal turn from art-noise duo Odwalla1221. It’s these juxtapositions that Drewchin takes delight in: “The tension is a cool thing to play with. It’s like when you’re squeezing a balloon or something.”

Eartheater is a pop renegade searching for truth
Eartheater is a pop renegade searching for truth

The album’s lead single is called “C.L.I.T.” and it’s a thunderous electrical storm that has Drewchin yell-singing: “Yeah / I rejected that culture / Do you blame me? / No.” “‘C.L.I.T.’ stands for ‘curiosity liberates infinite truth,’” she tells me. “That’s kind of the main theme of the record,” which is due out on PAN this May.

These days, Drewchin’s drive is nurtured and stretched by the community that orbits Otion Front Studio, a creative space run by performance art collective FlucT, and Bushwick queer haven Happyfun Hideaway, where she works shifts behind the bar. She compares her extended musical network to mycelium, the vast root system of mushrooms. I mention a documentary I’ve seen that highlighted a type of fungus that can render toxic material safe. “That’s a perfect metaphor for this community,” she says, referencing the real-world ambitions she and her friends have for their art. “They’re just going to eat the toxic waste, and we’re going to eat the patriarchy.”

Listen to Eartheater on Soundcloud.

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Eartheater is a pop renegade searching for truth