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Spotlight On: Singer, TV Host and DWTS alumni Erica Cody

You’ve heard her voice on the airwaves, you’ve seen her in her dancing shoes on TV, but this week we’re getting to know Erica Cody better than ever before.

The Dubliner has been singing from the age of 16, and has since released a host of hit songs including ‘Back to Basics’, ‘Good Intentions’, and her latest single ‘Love Like This’.

Adding yet another string to her talented bow, the 26-year-old recently made her presenting debut on RTÉ’s new Friday night show ‘The Main Stage’ alongside Danny O’Reilly from the Coronas.

In her exclusive interview with Goss.ie, Erica speaks about her career to date, her recent stint on Dancing with the Stars, and why she keeps her love life out of the media glare.

Plus the Gossies 2021 winner opens up about her activism and her plans for the future.

Take a look:

It’s been a very busy year for you, starting with your stint on Dancing with the Stars. Do you think being on such a popular show has opened new doors for you and given you new opportunities?

Yes, I do but also, it was such an intense experience. I think it was one of those things that I’m very happy I let myself enjoy because I think often, especially pre-pandemic when things were so busy, we were just moving from one thing to the next.

I know I’m guilty of not being in the moment so when it came to Dancing With The Stars, I was like ‘This is one thing that I’m absolutely making sure that I enjoy single every minute of.’ It’s one of those things that could just be over in a second.

And obviously, when you’re on such a beast of a TV show like DWTS, which millions of people watch every Sunday, you have to prepare yourself. I knew it was such a big deal. I’m just so happy that I did it.

You formed a strong friendship with your partner Denys on the show. Have you both stayed in touch and remained close?

Yes. Me and Denys honestly went into it the best of friends and came out of it the best of friends. To me, that is just an absolute bonus. As I said, it’s such an intense experience that it can go one of both ways: You can either really get along, or you probably won’t.

For me, I’m just so thrilled that I found a partner that’s basically the male version of myself. We got on like a house on fire. He’s such a great boy and I’m so grateful that I got to share that experience with him. We literally text each other all the time! He’s so amazing.

Denys Samson and Erica Cody at The Gossies Awards 2022 at The Convention Centre, Dublin.
Picture: Brian McEvoy

Are there any other reality TV shows you would love to do?

At the moment, no. I’ve done so much TV lately that I’m just really excited to be back doing what I do which is music. You never know down the line, something could pop up.

I think if I was to do the likes of ‘I’m A Celebrity: Get Me Out Of Here!’ I’d be out in a hot shot because I just don’t do bugs or insects or anything like that. I appreciate them, but I just don’t want to share too much space with them, so I don’t know if that would be the show for me!

You are the host of RTÉ’s new Friday night show ‘The Main Stage’. What has the
reaction to the show been like? Have you always wanted to try your hand at
presenting?

The reaction to ‘The Main Stage’ has been incredible, I’m so overwhelmed and full of gratitude and joy that people are enjoying it so much. It’s something that was definitely needed because we’ve so much talent in Ireland and I think it’s a great opportunity to showcase exactly what we have. And no better time to do it than on a primetime slot!

It’s not every day that RTÉ come knocking on the door to offer you and Danny O’Reilly your own music show, so I obviously jumped at the chance and I’m super happy that I did.

Presenting is one of those things that I never thought I would get into. I thought maybe I might dabble a little bit later in life when I want to try some new things, but obviously, when you’re in the middle of still establishing your career you’re very selective about things that you do. I think especially being an artist and a musician, we’re quite picky and choosy about what we do and how we make ourselves accessible because we’re so used to making ourselves accessible through our music. So presenting is something I probably thought I’d never do.

When ‘The Main Stage’ came knocking it was one of those things I couldn’t turn down because it’s a music TV show, music is what I do, and I’m doing it with Danny. So I really couldn’t have asked for a better dream job. I’m super happy I took it on.

You’ve been singing from the young age of 16. Who were your musical influences growing up? What gave you the confidence to follow your dreams and pursue a career in music?

I grew up listening to a hell of a lot of 90s R&B and hip-hop, but also country. I was a huge Dolly Parton fan and Johnny Cash fan. I grew up listening to the likes of SWV, TLC, Aaliyah, Brandy, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Rihanna, Boyz II Men, the list goes on.

When I got that love for R&B, especially old school R&B, there was no turning back and it just naturally progressed into my music and became a part of my sound, so I think it’s really important to pay homage.

How I got my confidence to pursue music, I suppose it was the only thing that I’ve done that I’ve felt really comfortable doing, and felt like it’s kind of my purpose. I did my first support slot when I was 15 or 16 for WizKid and the minute I took to the stage, I felt like a duck to water. I felt that any other outside noise or people not understanding what a music career could be, that all just left and it was just me on the stage enjoying myself and just being completely unapologetic. I haven’t looked back since then and I’m so happy that I didn’t.

Tell us about your new single ‘Love Like This’? What is the song about and what does it mean to you?

As musicians, we’re really picky about how we make ourselves accessible and tell people about our lives because a lot of us are songwriters and storytellers.

I think going on TV was a big deal for me because it was one of those things I thought I’d never do. So when it came to actually doing it, I was like ok, people are going to have a lot of opinions and might want to know a little bit more about me, and who I am, and who is in my life.

‘Love Like This’ was the first song that I wrote after Dancing with the Stars. I basically put everything on pause while I was on the show, because it was one of those things I wanted to give my absolute all to because it goes by so quickly and can be over at any given moment, so I wanted to throw the kitchen sink at it and be really good at it and try my best to be really good.

So I put music on hold for a good few months and then as soon as I went back into the studio, one of the first lyrics that came into my head was: “People’s opinions are none of my business”.

The song is really centered around people’s assumptions about what they think is real, but it’s actually the complete opposite. For me, the things I cherish and the things that are so sacred to me are really good relationships – whether that’s friendships or intimate relationships.

So for me, that’s the one part of me that I love to not have so public, because I live everything else so publicly. It’s nice to have something for yourself.

So that’s pretty much what ‘Love Like This’ is about. It’s about ignoring the outside noise. People are always going to have a lot of things to say, but they might not necessarily be true so when you’ve got something good, it’s worth protecting.

 

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The music industry is notoriously cutthroat. Do you have any advice for aspiring singer-songwriters?

My advice would just be yourself. Comparison is the thief of joy, so try not to play that game.

I know it’s really tough, I do it myself sometimes, but just always be unapologetically you. There are a million people that do what we do, and what makes you different to the next person is you, your story, and what you’re trying to tell. So it’s really important to stay authentic and true to yourself.

Make the music you want to make, not for an algorithm. If that’s your bag then by all means, make that TikTok song, get your voice out there. I feel like in my own experience, I was one of those people who was so eager to be in the industry that I did any and every gig that I could possibly do to just get my name out there.

I used to put myself out on YouTube and stuff to boost my confidence and make myself available to other people’s critiques. They’re the things that have really helped me.

Also, don’t take ‘no’ as a bad thing, use it as your motivation.

Alongside your music career, you have become well known for your activism and speaking out on important issues. Would you ever consider fronting a documentary series exploring social issues in Ireland?

I’m all for growth, and I think when you’re pushed out of your comfort zone it’s a really good thing to do because you can only learn from it. But in terms of the whole activism thing… I never saw myself as an activist. It was one of those things that was just put upon me in the wake of something that was really important that people wanted to learn more about.

A lot of people during the Black Lives Matter movement didn’t really know where else to go except for the people that were already accessible in a way, or who were in the public eye and speaking on their experiences. So for me, it was kind of this accidental thing.

I grew up in a house where it was ‘right is right and wrong is wrong’, and ‘always try to make sure you do the right thing’. For me, it’s not even something that is about activism, it’s always just about doing what’s right. If that changes one or two people’s minds in the process, I think that’s a job well done and it’s progression.

It’s one of those things that’s tricky because it’s something that I never saw myself getting in to. I love everything about my culture, my heritage, being a black Irish woman, but it’s also really important to know that people of colour can just exist without bringing up racial trauma. It’s also really important to spread awareness, but each to their own.

Would I ever consider fronting a documentary on activism? I don’t know what’s going to be lined up in the future. I suppose if it was the right thing then yeah, but there’s also other amazing black and Irish presenters that I know would be great for a job like that too.

Would you consider yourself a role model and if so, is there a pressure that comes with that?

Again, I just think what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong, and I like to live by ‘It costs nothing to be kind’ and ‘It costs nothing to be nice’. So if that makes me a role model in some way, that’s really lovely. But I would never want to put the pressure on myself to be a certain way. I’ve been unapologetic this far and it’s gotten me this far!

It’s one of those things that was also accidental, but it’s really lovely to get messages from even parents saying how much of a role model I’ve been for their kids. I wouldn’t even use the word ‘role model’, I’d say it’s more about representation and if you see something, you believe you can achieve it and that’s really important too.

Despite being such a public figure, you’ve managed to keep your relationship out of the limelight. Was that a conscious decision for you and do you think you’ll continue to keep that part of your life private?

I think it’s no secret that I’m notoriously private when it comes to my relationships and private life. It’s really important to me to keep those special moments and special people to yourself, and it’s ok to do that. We don’t owe anyone explanations for who we’re dating or whatever so for me, it’s just something that’s been going on for a really long time and I think I’m going to keep that to myself.

I don’t really want to share it just yet because not everyone wants to be in the limelight, which is totally fair too. I like it this way for now. My mind could change in a couple of years, you never know, but for now I’m in a really really happy place.

People have so many opinions on everything and when you put yourself out there and become a public figure, you leave yourself more susceptible to people’s opinions again, so I think it’s one thing I don’t need people’s opinions on because it’s something that I’m really confident in and that I really cherish and adore.

 

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We absolutely love your style! Would you ever consider launching your own collection of clothes?

I would LOVE to have my own collection of clothes. I want them to be made well and done right and not quick. If the opportunity ever came up later in life, I think definitely I want to broaden my entrepreneurial skills, so yeah we’ll have to wait and see!

I’d love to make something that I love to wear, and I think it’s safe to say that anyone who ever sees me I’m always in a jumpsuit and a bomber jacket. So you never know, but yes that would be an absolute dream.

You’ve achieved so much over the past few years. Is there anything else still on your bucket list? Personally and professionally?

I think it’s very important to make lists. I’m all about the power of manifestation, I think it really works and it’s gotten me this far. There are plenty of things. I definitely want to go abroad to the States this year, I want to play more festivals abroad next year, and I just want to keep collaborating and make a hell of a lot more music with new people, and keep learning and growing and evolving in this ever-changing industry.

Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?

I hope to see myself really content, really happy and healthy, not comparing, and just in a good place in my career.

Hopefully, I’ll have a number one – I’m speaking that into existence now! But hopefully, we’ll get one at some stage in the next five years, but no pressure. I try not to put too many expectations on myself. I feel like when I do set myself up for expectations, I’m setting myself up for failure if I don’t reach those.

I just keep riding the waves as they come. My main thing is protecting my peace.

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