NOT 15 MIN­UTES INTO AN IN­TER­VIEW WITH LORELY RO­DRIGUEZ, the mas­ter­mind be­hind elec­tro-pop pro­ject Em­press Of, a stranger pass­ing her front stoop in L.A. in­ter­rupts our con­ver­sa­tion. “Sorry,” she pauses, “some guy just went by and said [puts on low, dumb voice], ‘Hey beau­ti­ful.’”

It’s a mo­ment ripped straight out of Ro­driguez’s most em­phatic track to date, “Kitty Kat,” on which thump­ing drum and synth blasts add even more weight to lyrics like: “Don’t kitty kat me like I’m just your pussy / Let me walk away.” It’s also the kind of sex­ist bull­shit that, in part, fu­elled her move from New York City, where she’d gone to con­tinue her bur­geon­ing ca­reer, to Valle de Bravo, Mexico, a se­cluded lake­front town out­side of the coun­try’s cap­i­tal, where she spent five weeks com­pos­ing the heart­felt, pointed and po­lit­i­cal pop songs that com­prise her first full-length, Me.

“Kitty Kat” is just one of a se­ries of hon­est, di­rect mo­ments on an al­bum that paints a rich por­trait of a young artist across ten ex­pertly pro­duced and ar­ranged tracks. Be­tween songs about love lost and found, fear and priv­i­lege, Ro­driguez lays bare her in­tensely per­sonal thoughts and feel­ings.

“The only way to re­act to be­ing vul­ner­a­ble when you’re alone and there’s no one to talk to is to put it in a song,” she says about her iso­la­tion in Mexico, which led to the soulsearch­ing lis­ten­ers hear on Me. And though she wrote these songs for her­self, she un­der­stands why they might have more uni­ver­sal ap­peal, too. “When you al­low your­self to be vul­ner­a­ble and hon­est, you reach more peo­ple. Peo­ple can lis­ten to the record and re­late.”

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