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Breaking the Mold: ERLY Challenges Genre Norms with Bold Genre-Bending Sound

ERLY is an accomplished Alternative R&B/Soul artist, songwriter, and actor. Raised in a military household immersed in jazz, funk, soul, and blues music, Titus Makin has collaborated with and been produced by industry luminaries such as Steve Mostyn, Quinn Mills, and Jimmy Duval. He holds a publishing deal with Kobalt Music.

Currently working under the guidance of Verdine White from Earth, Wind & Fire and Neal Pogue (known for his work with Outkast, Steve Lacy, Tyler The Creator, Janelle Monae, Kaytranada, Doja Cat), ERLY is developing his debut solo project. Additionally he features on the PWP Works of Art single "To Be First," which is part of the soundtrack for the recently released film "Sweetwater."

ERLY aspires to further elevate the evolving sound of Alternative R&B within mainstream music arenas.

Take us back, do you recall the moment you told yourself "I'm going to make this my career", describe that moment. What made you pursue this career?

In all honesty, music, and dance were my passion for as long as I can remember. It truly just felt like it made the most sense. I would watch all the award shows, music video countdown shows, and dream of the opportunity to perform my music on stage. I hadn’t really considered any other career path, other than trying to make it to the Olympics as a competitive gymnast.

How would you describe your artistic style?

I personally don’t like artists needing to confine themselves to any one genre or description, but for people to grasp my world a bit more, I typically say alternative R&B/Pop.

What are you most passionate about? What themes or concepts do you explore in your music?

I am most passionate about God, and that is what truly drives my determination and artistic expression. I also like to explore themes/concepts surrounding my personal life and/or relationships. I like to use my music as a place to release thoughts, fears, joys, concerns, and opinions. My music is like my public diary.

Are there any specific artists or movements that have influenced your work?

So many artists have inspired me. The main five are Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Andre 3000, Pharrell, and CeeLo Green.


If you had to title this chapter in your life, what would it be?

Love this question. I would title it “The Unforeseen Journey of the Misunderstood Butterly”.

When was the last time you did something for the first time? What did you learn from that experience?

The last time I did something for the first time, was when I went on a Hinge date. I’ve never met up with anyone from a dating app before, so I figured I’d go for it. She was amazing and it went well! I learned to be more bold and allow myself to try dating more.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given is to “Quiet the noise”.

What’s one something you had to “learn the hard way”?

One thing I had to learn the hard way, was that not everyone is rooting for you. Everyone isn’t your friend, sadly.

Has there ever been a time when you felt like giving up and starting a new path?

I have felt like giving up and starting over multiple times in my life and career.

What keeps you focused?

My family has kept me motivated and focused, constantly reminding me who God sees me as, and how much I have to offer myself and others.

What has been the most exciting thing that has happened to you recently?

The most exciting thing that has happened to me recently, I would say, is that I just got a new niece, “Jona”. The most loving, beautiful little girl, such a blessing.

Also that I’ve finally built up enough confidence to step back into the world of promoting myself and music.

In your opinion, whom do you consider to be a visionary? What about them do you admire most?

Andre 3000 is an absolute visionary in my opinion. I admire his artistic expression and creativity. He’s pushed against social norms and genre boxes, and has just made fantastic unique music.

How do you show up for yourself? As in, what does self-care look like for you?

I show up for myself by allowing a lot of prayer, sleep, exercise, and water.

The past years have been life-changing. What's something new you've learned or discovered about yourself in the past 3 years? How have you applied that to your work?

I have learned and life’s long worth of lessons in these past three years. They have taught and allowed me to be more open, receptive of growth/change, vulnerable, and aware of my surroundings, and how I’m perceived.

What was the inspiration for your new project? Can you tell us more about the meaning behind the music?

It was inspired by some extremely tragic life-altering happenings in my personal life and career. It awoke me to a side of the industry, people, and my own heart that was a lot to process and heal from, but it led me to a lot of growth and confidence in sharing my journey/heart in trusted spaces. I was able to use this release to finally narrate my own life/story, as opposed to people listening to false versions of my reality.

How does your new music compare to your previous releases?

My new music is even more creatively honest than my old music. If I feel like dancing, that’s the track I make. If I feel like crying or being sensual, that’s the track I make. I am in a place now where I’m not letting myself be held back by genre or the opinions of what people think I should be making.

Describe the creative process. When did you know you had the final cut?

The creative process took quite some time as I was building up the confidence to tell my story in music video form. We knew we had the Final Cut when the story, colors, and edit felt the most genuine, while also incorporating my quirky side all in one.

What do you feel has been your biggest growth as an artist?

My biggest growth as an artist has been artistic freedom - trusting that I can follow my expressive direction and people will catch up eventually.

Following your dreams comes with many ups and downs. What would say is the hardest thing about following your dreams?

The hardest thing about following my dreams has been having to navigate the industry. Not being able to fully elevate unless someone in a high position somewhere says you’re “of worth” for the masses to digest.

In your opinion, what do you think is not fair about today's music industry?

I personally don’t think it’s fair that we are required to label ourselves as a specific sound or genre early on in order for people to “understand us”. I feel like if it’s a good song, it’s a good song. Who cares what genre you make next?

How do you hope your music resonates with viewers or impacts the world?

I hope my music allows people to feel seen, heard, and not alone; especially young black boys feeling like they have to be extra tough because of the world’s perception. You can be mentally tough while being creative, expressive, and loving.

What's next for your career?

I hope to continue releasing music and music videos. I’d love to be signed, performing at Coachella, and nominated for a Grammy within the next two years.

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