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  • The Sound Cafe

Ken Wallis Chats With Miss Emily



Ken Wallis interviewed Miss Emily for the radio show BluesSource Canada, which can be heard here on our podcast page, and also airs this week on Blues & Roots Radio. The following is an edited transcript of that interview.


Look up talent in the dictionary and I’m sure Miss Emily’s picture will be there. She’s a dynamo when she sings, and her stage presence is mesmerizing. Gene Simmons of Kiss states, “she has the best pipes we’ve ever heard.” After 20 years of performing, she’s recently been honoured with a multitude of awards. She’s a talented songwriter that isn’t afraid to put her emotions into her lyrics. Writers often say performers are the ‘real deal’ but in my mind the word genuine leaps out.



Ken Wallis

Miss Emily has a new album out it is called Defined By Love and we're so pleased to have Miss Emily join us.


Miss Emily

Glad to be here. Thanks for having me on.


Ken Wallis

First of all, congratulations on your Juno nomination for your live album, that was fantastic.

Miss Emily

Thank you so much, that was a real surprise for me. Very exciting and nice to have that recognition and be in such great company in that category.


Ken Wallis

And, that wasn't all. Another Maple Blues award came your way.


Miss Emily

It's Been a good year so far and there's a few months to go.


Ken Wallis

So, after 20 years of working hard in this industry, what's it like to be an overnight success?


Miss Emily

[LAUGHS]

The age issue in the music industry was like a real thing up until a few years ago when all of a sudden people were celebrated in their diversity. Oh, wow look, you are a different race, oh you're not a male, you're a different gender, or you identify differently, you have a different background, you're a different size. So age has been another part of that and I feel like I've been able to kind of get grouped into that fact that it doesn't really matter anymore. People are just looking for diversification in this industry and I'm just really excited to be a part of that.


Ken Wallis

So, let's talk about the album Defined By Love. What's the title mean to you?


Miss Emily

It's very personal, incredibly personal. Of course, I share my personal almost everything with everyone so really, I had a challenging time during Covid. It got incredibly more challenging for a number of reasons, and I really had to dig deep this last year and take a look at my values and see if at the end of the day I was still the person that I wanted to be. The reality was I was pleasantly surprised that I really stuck to my guns in a lot of the ways that I like to conduct myself. I think it all really comes down to for me, is love of my family, love of my art, my music. love of other people, music lovers, and lovers and friends. I feel like love really is a word that defines me, and it was like rediscovering myself. So, it's a really long answer, but I don't know what's the perfect answer.


Ken Wallis

For me the album seems quite different than your previous studio albums. I would almost say it's a softer, gentler side of you. There's a lot more instrumentation in there. Do you agree?


Miss Emily

I really agree fully. I will say my best friend of 35 years called me from L.A. and said you've never made something that's more you. And I couldn't agree with her more. I feel so, for about lack of a better word, defined by this album. I really feel like it just reflects me so well on so many levels and so many different parts of my life. It's very exciting for me so it's good to know I'm still growing. I'm 41 now and so to still be growing as a person and as an artist I feel like that's a good place, where I want to be.


Ken Wallis

And you wrote most of the songs on the album. How do you go about writing your tunes?


Miss Emily

My process can be very different depending on the song and what I'm writing about. Generally, I write from a personal standpoint, so those feelings come at me in lots of different ways, through emotion generally. And then I try and capture that emotion with a lyric and then sometimes there's a melody that immediately comes to mind. And sometimes that takes a little bit of time, but every song is a bit different, a different journey and some are written all, and I call it like barfing out a song. So it all happens in like 10 or 15 minutes and other songs are years.


Ken Wallis

Is there one song on the album that touches you the most?


Miss Emily

Oh, I really love Defined By Love. I really love that song. I feel it's like a little personal anthem for me. Having said that, the song This Road that I re-recorded for this record, I put it on a record in 2009 under the pseudonym Sugarplum, it's an Americana record and This Road I wrote when I was 23 years old. To have a song that's that old, it's pretty special for me to have it on this recording.


Ken Wallis

Who else plays on the album with you?

Miss Emily

Well Steve Mariner produced the record. He is the star of the show. He's not playing a lot on this record. He's playing a little bit of bass and singing a little bit, and a lead guitar solo somewhere in there. But his footprint is all over this record. He really, really understood what I was going for and was able to capture it and articulate that to the wonderful musicians. And speaking of the musicians we have Jimmy Bowskill who co-owns that Ganaraska Recording Company. Jimmy is a real star, playing for so many great artists like The Sheepdogs and Blue Rodeo and he has his own thing as well. He's a great talent. Steve O'Connor who plays with Jim Cuddy; great on all the keys. He's a real star of the show on that record. I've got Andrew Moljgun on sax and then my saxophonist Bunny Stewart from Kingston as well as Tom Moffett from the Arkells on trumpet

.

Ken Wallis

Is it difficult selecting the songs that you put on an album? I know most artists have more material than they can put on an album. Is that a difficult process?


Miss Emily

It's not my way. I'm quality over quantity. I don't just breathe them out like some artists do. I get such lovely compliments on my songwriting. I still feel like I have a ways to go with it but I think one of the reasons I put that attention to detail with my songs is because I only need 10 to 12 for a record. That's all I need so I really focus in.


Ken Wallis

Let's switch gears just a little bit. You're a driving force as an incentive for women in the music industry. What do you feel needs to change so that it's much more accessible for women?


Miss Emily

I did a great interview recently with Erin McCallum about this - www.thesoundcafe.com/post/behind-the-curtain-miss-emily - and I do love talking about gender with regards to the music industry. My approach is not oh woe is me, it's really not. Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. In some ways we just are. Now we have this beautiful diversification of gender. I mean there's just so many great things happening in a world where there's so many tough things happening. I feel like I have a great opportunity, a great platform as a female artist especially with a platform that's growing just a little bit. I really have this goal Ken where I want to encourage other young females to get into this business. I feel like it's not a fuzzy warm feeling for a lot of young women and so they get scared off. I was fortunate for a number of reasons to be able to stick it out but it's really hard for a lot of young women.


And then of course for us, I don't want to call us older women but for women who mature and the biological clock’s ticking. Do you want to have babies? It’s really hard to do that in this industry. My husband peaced out a year ago, and I was like, I had this moment. It was brief but I had a moment where I turned to my friend and I said what man wants to marry me and send me on the road with a bunch of dudes three months of the year or plus? I work with almost exclusively men, not on purpose. Just the way it is, and it takes a very special person to partner with me, and understand that my job is to go out on the road, and in a very intimate setting, like work all up in each other's everything when you're on tour.

Ken Wallis

I really admire what you're doing and encouraging young female artists but also young artists to get involved in the music industry and that's so important.


Miss Emily

I think so too. Music is a part of all of our lives every day in so many capacities, so we need people to make it.


Ken Wallis

Speaking of music, where can folks get a hold of your new album?


Miss Emily

My new album’s available online on all digital platforms or if you like CDs and many people still do, which is great news for me, you can go to my website www.themissemily.com and I have them for sale through my website. I'm happy to ship them anywhere in the world.


Ken Wallis

And it's well worth getting because it's a great album. I've really enjoyed it and enjoyed seeing you perform over the years. It's been great knowing you and I really appreciate your time.


Miss Emily

Ken you're such a music fan and such a sweetheart and I'm very humbled that you enjoy what I do, because I really feel like you know what you're talking about. So thanks for including me and your kind words that you put out there for us artists.




Website: themissemily.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/themissemilymusic

Twitter: twitter.com/TheMissEmily

Instagram: www.instagram.com/themissemily