For Psychic Twin's Erin Fein, The Best Collaborator Is Herself

We all had an imaginary friend growing up. Singer-songwriter Erin Fein imagined a recording partner.

In 2012, Psychic Twin, led by Fein, released several rapt, evocative singles. These starry-eyed exercises in the shoegaze genre, filled with wistful counter-melodies and dark rhythms, were meant to be solitary affairs, a way to capture the feeling of recording with her imaginary twin, someone on her creative wavelength.

“I didn’t have a band name yet, but I knew I had a really strong vision for the sound [of the band],” explains Fein. “Frankly, one day I was a little stoned and really deep in the creative spirit, and the thought came into my mind. It almost felt like there was the presence of a twin person riding along with me. That is what it feels like when I go into the world of Psychic Twin.”

Fein’s songs featured recording tricks like doubling her vocals and doing call and response with herself. The singles showed promise, but little has been heard from Fein since. Until now.

Strange Diary, Psychic Twin’s long-awaited full-length album, is a breakup record that tells Fein’s story since the release of those auspicious songs four years ago. It also carves out a new direction for the music of moving on.

“It wasn’t difficult to feel inspired to write music,” Fein says. “It was difficult because when you go through something as difficult and life-changing as divorce, it is difficult to keep your life together. It made being in a band hard for a while. There was a lot of transition.”

The album is not the standard collection of acoustic torch songs detailing the personal peccadilloes of a failed marriage, but rather a melodic, synth-heavy package of tunes that redefines confessional music, recalling the early work of the Eurythmics.

“I did a lot of soul-searching. Great pain can inspire creative moments,” Fein says. “I’m grateful I was able to process it so beautifully.”

It is both a sonic chronicle of Fein’s marital estrangement and a documentary of how cold and isolating it can be to start over in a new place, as she packed up her life in central Illinois and relocated to Brooklyn. Psychic Twin, which also includes Rosana Caban, would often drive back and forth between the Land of Lincoln and the borough of hipsters. She felt very drawn to the energy of the location. It has offered Fein artistic opportunities that she was not able to take in her former life.

“I feel surrounded by talented and amazing people,” Fein describes. “Weird stuff happens in Brooklyn, and I like it.”

It's been an arduous road for Fein bringing Strange Diary to the world. It is a raw and intimate collection of songs you would share with your best friend or imaginary twin.

Psychic Twin is scheduled to perform Wednesday, November 9, at Crescent Ballroom.
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Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil