Erin Dougherty of
Interviewed by: Moriah Hope
Ceremonial Photography by: Madelyn Soldner Sullivan
It started as a jewel of inspiration glimmering in the ethers. The melody, the lyrics, the meanings and metaphors, bound together within a song seed in the heavens like a star ready to birth a supernova. A mysterious force plants the seed in my consciousness. I feel it. I know it’s there, ready to be expressed. Do I have the courage to sing the tune of the cosmos? Might I trust the intuitive flow of creation?
I do not think about what’s going to be sung. I tune in to the muse and allow it to move. Lyrics arise like a rainbow appearing in the mist. Like a cyclical dance of energy between singer and listeners, the two activate one another. Call it vibrational transformation.
What else is possible when we trust in the divine flow of all things? Little Star, a 20-years-young, up and coming songstress, knows the muse well. Wise beyond her years, she’s been gifted with the ability wrap her listeners in a sphere of healing harmony. With aesthetic lyricism that resonates in the deepest recesses of the heart, Erin Dougherty has brought to life her very first album, Celestine.
“I sing to All That Is…
the infinite power, knowing, and grace just within;
In hopes that these waves of sound may reach you and move you,
…allow you to feel the light of your own within. “
SYJ: I’ll never forget that music is what initially sparked our friendship. I found Erin on Youtube singing a Nahko Bear cover at the ripe age of 16. A few months later we bumped into each other at a Rising Appalachia concert. Erin, what was your early experience with music?
Erin: Music has always been such a powerful and transformative force in my life. For as long as I can remember, I have been called to write songs, and it has always been my most authentic and fulfilling medium of creative expression.
Throughout my life, I have received more than can be put into words through the experience of live music. In my early teens when I was just beginning to open to my spiritual awareness, (and all along the way since,) many of my deepest, most euphoric, reality-opening, soul-stirring experiences transpired within and through the shimmering, shapeshifting sea of spiritscape that music opens to us.
Song has always been a guide or messenger to me, or maybe a reflection of my own spirit that has led me into so many spaces of growth, initiation, freedom, Truth… Song has a playful and simple way of weaving us in and out of time, deep into the expansiveness of now.
Feeling the bliss transmitted through seas of thousands of hearts at shows or through my own mind and body within dance journeys may have been my first experiences of truly feeling sacred space within myself. Once I knew the power of this sacred space within, there came a calling and desire to hold this space for others and offer it through my own music.
SYJ: So that’s when you knew you would want to pursue music?
Erin: I have always known inside of myself that being a musician was my soul’s true work. However, it wasn’t until my junior year of high school, while touring colleges, that I really had the strong and empowering knowing that I could pursue this work, simply by believing that I could.
We are raised in a cultural story and paradigm that says artistic work, or the pursuit of dreams of any kind, is not real, substantial or possible. However, I knew that I would never feel right following a path that didn’t honor my Truth, that didn’t allow me to live each day with a depth, curiosity and passion that mirrored the vastness of my spirit’s knowings and callings.
So this was the first time I truly spoke to myself and to those around me that this is what I was going to pursue, which was a huge step in opening everything. Speaking, claiming, and stepping into that truth to yourself, the people around you, and the universe is the most daunting, as well as the most powerful step in realizing any vision, dream, or calling.
Once you truly open to your own spirit’s power, and surrender your control to the greater vision of the universe in absolute trust that you are divinely and uniquely purposeful and capable, that you are going where you need to be even if the path is not yet laid clearly, all begins to align within and around you. The muse begins to flow, the messages begin to find you, spirit begins to provide for you, and just the right opportunities for growth begin to arise at just the right time within your journey.
The universe wants the deepest offerings of your soul to be expressed and to flourish, to inspire and uplift all those around you. Once you commit to showing up to your self fully each and every day in whatever way you know you are meant to, with trust in the mystery, all else will become natural and miraculous. From there, the universe will carry you and unfold the path, resources, and manifestation needed to bring your heart’s offering to the world.
SYJ: What is the story behind the name Little Star?
To be honest, I have just meditated on it for years, and it was the only thing that came through that felt right. Star has always resonated with me because it’s how I perceive or visualize my spiritual self; my formless, timeless, higher self. I have always felt inspired by the night sky and grounded in the celestial realm, but also on a biological level since light (or simply energy) is our truest eternal form.
I believe music and performance art can be such unique and powerful opportunities to channel and embody the higher self. Through these mediums, the artist becomes alchemist, catching the whisperings of spirit to sing forth to those around them. They become shaman, moving between worlds, dancing along the edges of reality, shining light upon the expanding edges of what we know to be real, and truly tapping into the universal currents and pools of being within every listener.
Star allows me to immediately connect into that higher, more expansive space within myself. To release my mental perceptions or assumptions of ‘me’ or my limits and truly be in the space which muse asks. In my music, I want to offer those higher and underlying truths that exist always within us, regardless of what human journeys and stories we are going through.
And Little is not in the sense of being small or minuscule, but humbly walking in awareness of the purity and understanding that human consciousness holds when newly emerged from the realm of spirit. Is honors the state of lightness, simple understanding, creative energy, perception of interconnectedness and broad, expansive vision that often comes with freshness of life or any experience of rebirth throughout our lives.
It honors the way that through a ‘young’ vessel, one can so simply and gracefully, without question, carry forth the Wisdom, Knowing, and Truth of the eternal. Of course this spark of consciousness is universal, timeless, and lives always within each of us, even if buried.
So maybe Little Star is a juxtaposition representative of the human experience, to humbly symbolize and remind us of the POWER that is within each of us; to anchor this ‘light-child’ harmonious awareness and hold sacred all those upon and coming to earth at this time as true bringers of the dawn and stewards of a way that honors life; to anchor these states of being throughout this very important time; to anchor a lightness within this shift; to bring our collective creative consciousness to the dawn that is rising, and sing to its pure beauty as we weave it into being through ourselves, learning to realign with the Ways of Life.
SYJ: Like a one woman orchestra, Little Star performances are all woven together through a few accompaniments and a loop station. Can you describe all the components of sound that make up your musical masterpieces?
Erin: Yes! I have always loved harmony and layering of vocals, and at this time it feels most authentic to be writing and creating on my own, so the looping pedal has been a wonderful tool for me.
I usually begin by recording one vocal line, and then layer several more parts over it to create a foundation or base for the song. Then I will bring in the melody, lyrics, and harmony above that. I love weaving rich and dynamic tapestries of sound, and voice is the most natural and fulfilling instrument for me right now. There is a fluidity, grace, primal power, and ebb and flow that feels especially potent to me in all vocal compositions.
SYJ: What is the general ethos behind your first album, Celestine?
Erin: Celestine means ‘of spirit’ or of the ethereal. I crafted this album with the intention of creating a sacred offering, journey, and space that would carry through sound and word the currents of universal truth that exist eternally beneath and beyond any human journey we are on, or story we are living out.
It was really my intention to create hymns of the universe that could bring people to an internal landscape where they could release space and time, and feel the shape of their Truth, the currents of their power, the raw, beautiful, feeling and knowing of their spirit, their flame. For from that place, once we feel back into our flame, we can awaken our completely unique and entirely needed medicine within the collective mosaic. Once we are activated through the purpose of our heart, we can transform our collective outer world so quickly, and powerfully.
So, Celestine is a prayer for these deeper Truths to be revealed. It is an invocation for me of stepping into my higher self, all that which I wish to create, and the space which I wish to hold. It is simply singing to the tune of wonder and beauty and love for the entirety of creation. And I hope that it has some magic to offer you!
SYJ: I imagine you relate to the preface of this interview, being a star yourself. How might you put into words your unique connection to the creative force, the muse?
Erin: Muse to me is the breath or spirit wind that gently, yet fiercely blows upon the flickering flame at the center of our being. It is the breath that ignites and fills this internal flame with life and energy and luminosity. This flame within also contains a seed, which carries the blueprint of our highest self, our fullest expression outside of the archs of time. This seed is always invoking growth and calling to evolution upon our path, and the omniscient, omnipresent spirit wind invites, guides, and inspires this evolution and divine unraveling from every direction, at all points.
Muse is the deeply intelligent, playful, benevolent co-creative urge of the universe to weave us along our path, to lead us to fulfillment of our own greatest callings and fulfill our most sacred dreams; to realize ourself as creator dancing with creator. Muse beckons for us to join her illuminated realm. She speaks to us in moments of unexpected clarity, in melodies received as if upon ripples of water, in wind’s whisperings of raw earth song, in clear nights, swimming in universes of earths and mirages of pure heavenly being.
Through flickers of inspiration, through world stilling beauty, through the deepest valleys of human experience, and through knowings of transcendent perfection, muse speaks. Through vision, passion, and curiosity… Muse is the soft whispering that intrigues, beckons, and summons, calling us deeper into these realms of magic and those yet to be known.
Muse is the persistent call to gather our courage and stand taller, embody ourself greater than ever before. That which challenges us to communicate and share these feelings, to hold our unique prism to their light, and transmute them into myriads of form, works of art each casting ripples of rainbows towards each heart around us.
For muse is the essence of the glistening unknown, and yet, the most deeply known. She is the incarnation, indwelling presence within all life itself. Her web of creation is the expansiveness of our own truth. Muse lives to lead us deeper into the ever evolving and expanding horizon of our own co-creative truth and to travel onwards to the ever expanding opalescent edges of the universe, co-creating with creator again and again.
SYJ: You recognize music as a tool for healing. Lets say all musicians had a sort of ‘physicians bio’ in regards to their musical healing practice. What might yours say?
Erin: Hmmm, probably something like: “Through harmonic resonance and spirit encircling emanations of sound, Little Star’s angelic hymns will carry forth medicine from the ether, from the pools of universal life force energy- to fill and still the mind and body. They will vibrationally align, open, and raise your molecules to their highest Truth by bringing them to alignment with the heart flame at the center of your being, allowing your spirit to extend its wholeness, love, clarity and transformational power to all of your being and all of your reality!”
SYJ: Who/what are some of your guiding lights on this creational journey?
Erin: The biggest guiding light I have had on my creational journey has been Trust in Self! In my experience, the deepest compass and constant throughout any unfolding process is trusting your dreams or your hearts knowing above all.
Know that you are receiving dreams, visions and inspiration of your future creations, self, role, life’s unfolding, and so on because they are pure images of your own potentiality- that which is already inside of you and seeking to come to life and be shared with the world. These visions come to you because they are entirely possible, and they are that which you already are through space and time, that which you came here to be.
Sometimes I think of it as my future self or higher self sending images and glimpses of the feeling of its own expansive, flourished reality. All of this is inside of you right now, and all of the resources, magic, courage, and connections are and will be divinely provided as you continue to dance with this unfolding story, painting, unique masterpiece of your own life and co-creation.
Trust in Self anchors a knowing that you are capable of your vastest dreams and visions. Simply because they are coming to you, you are capable.
It may seem like blind faith at first, but my own creational journey through this mindset has created the most empowering relationship I have ever had (with myself) and brought me to such fulfilling depths in life. The journey/relationship of Trusting, honoring and loving Self, of believing in our own capability above all else (because truly, it is all the force of the universe acting within and through you,) is one of the greatest keys in opening our unlimited potential.
I have also known a very powerful guiding light to be having a continual practice of envisioning and really feeling the sensation of the reality of that which I want to grow into. When I was in high school and couldn’t yet physically devote much of my time and energy to creating music, I would everyday, within my day to day routines, envision that which I wished to create and experience and be, and really just feel the sensation of that reality as if I were already living it.
Every day, I would hold space for the life/creations/dreams I wanted to manifest and call into being. I would feel the energy I wanted to transmit through my songs and the joy of living with purpose in all the ways I dreamed of, through being a musical artist.
Over time, I came to feel that this was my truth, and it was all that could come to unfold because the universe held the same excitement in return for this unfolding life that I did.
This is a strong tool, because before long, these dreams and versions of self that you meditate on just become embedded within your molecular awareness, and you begin to vibrate at that frequency, and you simply begin to be or create or change your life in ways that before might have seemed out of reach.
SYJ: Lyrics are a powerful catalyst for motivation. Share with us one of your all time favorites and how it’s helped you in the day to day of life.
Erin: Absolutely, words are so so powerful. A lyric that is very sacred to me and my personal journey is: “Everything is beautiful, let the music carry us together.”
I’m not even sure of the origin of these lyrics, as they came into my life through a DJ mix made by a friend of mine named Chris. Chris passed away very young, but was an amazing and unbelievably inspiring musician and human. When he was no longer embodied, I could feel his spirit everywhere, as if it permeated everything- the sunlight, the land, the sky, music, myself. This soul stirring sense of his spirit’s bliss and unification with everything, everywhere, all at once was the first experience that really grounded me into a knowing that this true and expansive form of his spirit was a mirror of my own.
I just happened to be in my body for this time- and what a blessing that was.
And so, I could now tap into this power to create the life I had always dreamed of.
I was listening through his songs and mixes at that time, and this line so beautifully mirrored the understanding I was receiving.
It is a simple line, but when we step back and look at life from a larger perspective, it all becomes this simple. It all merges into a light filled wholeness, a purely open potentiality- entirely composed of love. Moments of beauty and unification are all that remain real in the end.
Through this perspective, I saw this life on earth as so minuscule in a sense of the greater universe and expanse of time. But through this- I realized there was nothing to be afraid of in this life. There was no force holding us back from filling this journey with our greatest dreams, other than our own selves. I understood the everlasting, all pervading essence of our souls, and saw that life is our momentary canvas, to paint with love and embodied joy.
So, ‘Everything is beautiful, let the music carry us together…’ Those words always bring me to that timeless, all powerful space, where I am merged with Creator and All of Life and all potentiality. Through life, beyond life, everything is beauty. And music is this golden thread that weaves us all together, carries us together…
SYJ: If you had the opportunity to collaborate with any (living) musician in the world, who would it be? Why?
Erin: Hmm, I have felt very aligned with and inspired by Yaima these days, so collaborating with them would be a very powerful experience for me!
I have always envisioned opening for Nahko- to anchor a really deep, ancient, sacred feminine space of invocation before the primal power and masculine medicine that Medicine For The People carries so beautifully. I have always felt that an opener of mystical Goddess energy would create a really nice container and be a balancing and enriching force to the energy that they carry so powerfully live.
I would also love to share my songs with different electronic producers and make some Celestine remixes!
SYJ: How do you envision Little Star’s evolution? Are there other instruments and genres you’d like to play with?
Erin: We shall see! After devoting so much energy for so many months into the recording and mixing of Celestine with my amazing producer Chadzilla, I am very excited to return to writing and see what comes forth! I definitely want to expand my instrumental fluency, and deepen my relationship with electronic producing as well.
I would love to continue merging ceremony and music. I have a vision of really holding powerful shamanic spaces, containers and journeys for my listeners. I would also love to begin DJ’ing ecstatic dances, and creating live sets that weave in and out with live singing and looping.
SYJ: How can our readers find more on Little Star music?
Erin: My music is available for ‘name your price’ on Bandcamp at littlestarmusic.bandcamp.com. I am also on Soundcloud at soundcloud.com/littlestarmusic, as well as on Spotify and iTunes! I would love to connect and share my music with you!