“I think the beauty of music is its ability to transcend cultural divides, language barriers, international conflicts, or simple interpersonal spats. It’s such a unifying force.” – Emmeline
A music major at Scripps College in Claremont, CA, Emmeline lives the life of an impassioned, lyricist, balancing her busy schedule with all life has to offer. Her music is a reflection of the life she lives, complete with the struggles and issues life deals.
For several weeks, we’ve been trying to get together for an interview, to talk about what she’s got going on…and to catch up on her upcoming performance at the Lake Whitney Music Fest.
Get to know Emmeline…
Hitmusiclink – You’re so busy…What do you do all day? Give me an example of an average day in the life of Emmeline…
Emmeline -I’m sorry my schedule is so crazy! I have a myriad of jobs and activities that keep me busy. I usually send booking emails and explore show opportunities in the morning, then I work as a writer at Radio Disney in the afternoon. I teach private lessons, rehearse, and/or play music in the evenings. I also like to reserve time for being outside with my dog, taking dance classes, and other physical activity.
Hitmusiclink – It sounds like you’ve got the routine down…scouting for opportunities, making the calls, booking the gigs… What percentage of musicians do you think do it all? What are the benefits, or disadvantages of doing it all yourself?
Emmeline – I think there are a growing number of musicians who are struggling to do it all. Earlier this year, I started something called The Momentum Project for artists who are feeling overwhelmed or looking for direction. We’re all trying to do the same thing, and I firmly believe that there is enough interest in the music to allow enough room for all of us to succeed. Two lovely female musicians in the area, EllenOnceAgain and Micha Goolsby, and I get together every week for lunch to talk shop and commiserate.
I’ve been fortunate enough to find a lot of help along the way, too, though. My friend Jerry Spain acts as a booking agent, and he helps me find new venues. My friends John Grant and Mandy Caulkins come to shows and take pictures and videos so I can share the live experience with people who can’t make it. I’ve made wonderful friends with photographers, DJs, bloggers, and other musicians in the area, and we all do our best to support each other and introduce our fans and friends to each other. Building a career in this industry is kind of like raising a child–it takes a village.Tomorrow, I’ll be taking posters to venues with upcoming shows in the morning, meeting with a fellow artist for lunch, heading to the station, attending my graduate class at TCU, going to a women’s bible study, then hitting the gym for a run before it closes at midnight. When they kick me out of the gym, I’ll walk my lab mix, Chloe, around the neighborhood for a bit.
Hitmusiclink – So, do you feel “balanced?”
Emmeline – “Balanced” is a tricky term. I love my job as a performer. Making music for and sharing it with people is a beautiful opportunity, and I feel blessed every day that I’ve been able to make it a career. If I could devote all of my time to creating things, I’d be in heaven. However, I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that, in order for the creation to be self-sustaining, there’s a fair amount of business involved. The balance between creative and industry is, I think, a constant struggle for artists. The balance between music and life is one that I’m still learning to navigate. I write songs to make sense of the things in the world that leave me feeling unsettled, or to exorcise emotions that feel too big to keep inside. That said, there’s no material without experience. In order to accurately write about the world, I have to spend as much time as I can living in it. I’m a workaholic by nature, but the people in my life are wonderful about dragging me away from my piano or my desk and forcing me to live a little.
Hitmusiclink – If you had 10 hours, uninterrupted, on a Saturday…no work, no phone, no internet. What would you do?
Emmeline – 10 uninterrupted hours? I’d probably check the window for flying pigs or ice skating rinks for the devil…No, seriously, that’s quite a prospect. I’d probably spend a significant amount of time playing around on the piano. Then, I’d take my guitar or ukelele and my dog to a beach or a park, soak up the sunshine, and write. I’d cap it off by dragging friends for a picnic, a swim, a drive, or an impromptu dance party on top of a parking garage.
Hitmusiclink – Sounds like an awesome time! Now all we need is that 10 hours… On another topic, I’ve always wondered…Do you think people, in general, are more attracted to the music production, or the lyrics?
Emmeline - I think it depends on the song and the listener. Don Henley’s “Heart of the Matter” hits home with me every time because the lyrics are so true and so honest. Matchbox Twenty’s song “Long Day” had a huge impact on my life because the lyrics “Reach down your hand in your pocket/ Pull out some hope for me” so adequately expressed what I felt at the time. I also really love the song “Shots” by LMFAO, though, and that has nothing to do with the lyrics. (Although it is fascinating to hear Lil Jon say full sentences that don’t include “WHAT?” or “OKAY!”)
I love the adrenaline rush of great production because I think it reaches a place we can’t touch with words, but I love really great lyrics in songs because they often verbalize what I’m feeling in ways that I can’t.
Hitmusiclink – Are you currently working on any new projects?
Emmeline – YES! (I’m completely apathetic about it, as you can tell.) We’re in the process of putting together a full-length record, and I am so, so excited to share new music. I’m also working on a few music videos for some of the older songs, and I’m really thrilled about the way those visuals will enhance the songs as a whole.
Hitmusiclink - What are your thoughts on selling your music? Do you believe in CD production? Or are you all Digital?
Emmeline – I’m such a lyrics nerd. I love the feeling of buying a new CD, tearing back the shrink wrap, and pulling the liner notes out of the jewel case while the opening notes of the album play in my ears. There’s something special about holding a physical manifestation of the record’s theme in your hands. If a physical CD is done correctly, it gives you a visual idea of what the artist is trying to convey musically, and it adds a special dimension to the artist/fan relationship. I love reading thank-yous. Growing up, they made me feel like I knew my favorite artists better. So…I’m all about CDs. I’ll put out physical projects as well as digital projects until CDs are obsolete. You?
Hitmusiclink – I love the CD as well. I get into the graphic artist’s head, and wonder why they selected certain pictures… I like looking at the effects, try to pick out the layers.
Emmeline – Exactly!
Hitmusiclink - One last thing, and we’ll wrap it up…How will you know success when it hits you? Is it a money thing? If you could live off your revenue from music… Or is it something different?
Emmeline – I would love for the music to be a self-sustaining career. Success, to me, though, is the sound of people singing your words back to you. I had an anniversary show recently, and I ended my set with my song “A Hundred Years.” There’s a breakdown towards the end where the ostinato is reduced to soft, blocked chords, and I could hear the audience singing along. I’m not a big crier, but it moved me to tears. I feel like I’ve succeeded when someone comes up to me and tells me that my song or my record helped them through something difficult in their lives or made them feel understood. When something I’ve created musically has changed someone else’s life for the better, that’s success to me.