If you met Erin at the Wythe Hotel, where she helps guests with everything from choosing a spot for lunch in the neighborhood to planning proposals, you might never know about her hidden talent. Listen to her sing and her silky voice can take you back to the Jazz Age.
What exactly do you do and how long have you worked at the hotel? I’m a concierge. I’ve been doing concierge now for about two, two-and-a-half years. I’ve been there for three. It’s been great. I didn’t initially start working there with the goal of being concierge, we didn’t even have a concierge at the time. I had just moved to New York and had everything planned—I had a place to stay, I had work. And then all of that kind of imploded. So I was just kind of looking for any work to get me on my feet because I had been couch surfing for about six months and happened to know someone who was working here, and it turned into a far more serious job than I ever thought it would be, and also a community that I never thought I would have, so it’s actually been a really big surprise in a really positive way.
Where were you coming from at that point? I had been in San Francisco for almost five years. I went to school in Boston for musical theater and had tried doing music in San Francisco. I loved that city, but I felt like I needed a fire under my ass. I decided to move here in my thirties—I don’t know if it was the wisest decision—to try to pursue music.
Can you tell me a little more about that? I was in Boston for five-and-a-half years. Even though I did a musical theater degree, I was raised by a family of musicians and my roots are folk music and bluegrass. I come from a family where everyone’s a musician and I thought that’s how everyone else was too, everyone could sing and do harmony and play multiple instruments. So I’ve been kind of getting back to that now. My boyfriend and I perform together. He’s a songwriter and I’ve been performing with him. Before that, I was actually in a Motown group in San Francisco and I’ve done a little bit of that out here as well. And my next goal—beyond performing with my boyfriend—is looking for more of a classical voice.
Where do you perform? I’ve performed at Pete’s Candy Store. In Manhattan there’s always those clubs that pop up and sometimes they last and sometimes they fold, so I did a couple performances in Manhattan last October. And when I first moved here, I helped with a launch party and performed some songs at that too.
You mentioned before that you came here wanting a fire under your butt, right? What was it about New York? Was it New York? Was it Brooklyn? What inspired you to come here? It was mostly Brooklyn. In the past, I would visit and when I would go to Manhattan I always felt a little overwhelmed. My best friend lived in Brooklyn Heights and I would visit in college and think it’s so beautiful, it’s a little slower. And my brother for a long time was living in Williamsburg. I guess I started visiting ten to twelve years ago and go to check out the bars and really liked the feel of the neighborhood.
I didn’t think I would get a career not in music, but it’s been really good. I feel like I grew up a ton here and I like that and I feel also more solid in myself because of it too. You really have to stand up for yourself in the city because everybody’s trying to get by. You have to work really hard because you meet so many people who are doing what they love and working really hard. It’s like being a fish swimming upstream and sometimes that overwhelms you and then sometimes it inspires you to do what you love. And I think I’m at that point now.
So how did your position at the Wythe Hotel push you in that direction or help you grow up as you say? Hospitality is, I always say, like customer boot camp. You are managing a lot of expectations because everybody has a different idea of what a hotel is even though there are common things across the board. But you constantly have to be at 100%.
I think we all really enjoy meeting people. I’ve met so many guests who find out I’m a musician, and they come back and they’re like “What are you doing? Do you have a show?” And it’s so wonderful to meet these people who are so kind and though we don’t know each other that well, they believe in me so much. That kind of blows my mind.
It made me more conscious about what I was doing with my extra time. Was I being efficient with it? Was I going after what I wanted? I feel like I handle difficult situations and conflict so much better now too because sometimes something goes wrong or someone has a great experience, and we have to give so much. It’s hard to describe, but I feel like I have emotionally matured a lot because of it.