Her true self
Difficult experiences clear a new creative path for Eimaral Sol
“Sunflower,” the lead track on Eimaral Sol’s new album, “Sol Soliloquies,” opens with a graceful doo-wop vocal motif that morphs into a powerful personal declaration.
“Mama always told me/ Not to let others withhold me/ Not to let them stunt my journey/ Never let heartbreak deter me/ Yeah I got a little mixed up/ Lost myself in some addictions/ But according to the stars it’s still my time,” she sings, her voice honey dripping over a tastefully minimalist sound bed. It sets the tone for an album that folds defiant breakup tunes and steamy bedroom jams into a body of work that, at its core, is about self-discovery.
“It’s a very intimate vulnerable thing as far as everything I wrote about,” the artist also known as Laramie Pouncy says.
The album came at the end of a period of turmoil and personal growth for the 25-year-old Killeen native.
In 2015, Pouncy was finishing up school at Texas Southern University. Working with producer Russell Guess, she had released a string of singles and was growing a fan base in Houston. Her next move was to relocate to Los Angeles, but as she prepared to advance her career, life disrupted her plans. Two weeks after she graduated from college, she discovered she was pregnant. To complicate the situation, she describes her relationship with her son’s father as “toxic.”
“It was really like a lot of infidelity, a lot of things that caused me to go through periods of feeling worthless or just like, ‘Well, why would anyone treat me this way? What did I do to deserve this?’” she says.
The responsibility of impending parenthood helped her find the strength to leave. “I was able to remove myself because I felt like it was going to affect my path and I had too much going for me to risk it,” she says. “Especially setting the example for my son.”
To find her footing, get her mind right and nurture the young life she was bringing into the world, she returned to Killeen, moving back in with her family.
“I was really scared at first,” she says. “A lot of people thought I was going to stop doing music, but I’m a competitive spirit so I was like, ‘What? What else would I do? This is what I enjoy, This is what I’m good at. This is what makes me happy and fulfilled, so no matter what, I’m going to have that in my life.’”
Pregnancy, it turned out, was not an end to her creativity but a new beginning. She had a natural birth and felt “super empowered” afterward. It opened her to a period of reflection.
“I just had time to really sit with myself and so I feel like, honestly, I’m the best version of myself now, because I have this little human, this little soul, and I get to see how he’s developing and revisit my own development and just be like, ‘What made me this way?’” she says.
In the end, she says motherhood makes her “a way more aware human and woman.”
She describes “Sol Soliloquies” as a very intentional but organic body of work that grew out of her attempts to work through her difficult experiences in a therapeutic way. She sees herself as a healer as well as an artist. She’s trying to connect with others who have faced the same struggles.
“I’m willing to make myself vulnerable so that other people can be more comfortable,” she says.
The process of “feeling through these things, expressing them openly, acknowledging them,” is important, she says. “Especially (things) like mental health, domestic violence and exploring your spirituality, breaking your mental conditioning, all of those things. I wanted to open the door for that.”
Though she was raised in the church, Pouncy has adopted a non-denominational divine philosophy in adulthood. “I feel like it has a wider reach and is a lot less exclusive which is what (spirituality) should be,” she says. “A lot more love based.”
She carries stones that she believes affect her mood, such as amethyst for anxiety and to encourage gentleness, kyanite to help with communication. She sings about kundalini and energy vibrations. Her song “Systematic Transcenda” splices heady neo-soul with a lecture from “Laws of Attraction” speaker Esther Hicks.
She describes her spiritual transformation as “a wave that came from really dark moments and finding light and reason.”
On her 2018 single, “OTW (On the Way)” she breaks some of her ideas down. “I was just at a really depressed suicidal point in my life,” she says. “I was questioning everything around me. I started questioning social constraints and conditioning and ‘Why do I believe the things I believe?’ and ‘Do I believe the things that I believe?’ Asking myself uncomfortable questions that I hadn’t previously asked. And I started exploring my spirituality, going to Buddhist temples and going to Zen gardens and talking to other people who were into different things.”
On the new album, resisting social constraints includes being open about her sexuality and rejecting the idea that women should feel ashamed to experience themselves as sexual beings. She hates the way society boxes women in. “So, like, I can only be romantic and sweet, I can’t be sexual too? I can’t be all these things?” she says. “And just because I’m sexual does not mean that I’m going to engage with you. I’m allowed to feel all these things and I’m allowed to still be as reserved as I’d like to be.”
Roughly two years ago, she moved to Austin, attracted by the moniker “Live Music Capital of the World” and the close proximity to family. Building a following in the new city was difficult at first, but she slowly made inroads, connecting with like-minded artists and individuals. Her approach to audience-building is collaborative. She spends time getting to know the people who come to her shows.
“You’re not fans, y’all are my community, we’re building a community,” she says. “I want to be able to help you and share whatever it is that you’re passionate about the same way you’re supporting me, sharing what it is that I’m passionate about. I feel like that’s important to have kind of like that tribe mentality.”
With her music, she hopes to share her hard won self-love with her tribe. “It sounds like it should be the easiest thing for us, like to just wake up every day and just be yourself, but for me, most of my life that has not been the case,” she says.
“I personally have taken the initiative to go to therapy, but it took a lot and I know for a lot of my peers, it probably is the same," she says. "We’re now becoming more comfortable talking about mental health and our inner balance, but for a long time that was not a topic of conversation and some people are not going to seek that out. They’re not going to go read an article. They’re not going to go watch the news about it. They’re not going to go to a therapist and they’re probably not even going to talk to anyone around them about it, but they’re going to listen to music.”
She says she believes her music gives her a powerful platform.
“Of course I’m into turning up and I’m into all these other things as well, and there will be more of that in the future, where I’ll expand and you’ll get less serious things from me, but at the same time I do consider myself, in some ways, like a leader, like a guide for the people around me,” she says. “I’m really walking in that light now and trying to continue to sharpen my knowledge. And so I share that the best way I feel like it will resonate with the most people.
"I would rather overwhelm you with my authentic self than underwhelm you with just, like, a lesser version of myself."
AUSTIN360'S MAY ARTIST OF THE MONTH: EIMARAL SOL
Recordings: "Sol Soliloquies," March 2019
Upcoming shows: May 4, Pecan Street Festival; May 12, Hotel Vegas; May 31, Geraldine's
Collaborators: Russell Guess, Lyle Harrison, Denis Cisneros, Tame The Aspiring Me, Jax Yohana, Burniss Earl Travis