Sunday, April 1, 2012

CMW: Emma-Lee

If you saw a hitch hiker downtown holding a sign that said “Song for a ride?” would you pick them up? Well, some curious Torontonians stopped for singer-songwriter Emma-Lee, who offered to sing a song for a ride around the city to document for a series of YouTube videos called the Backseat Sessions.
Originally from Toronto, Emma-Lee has experimented in different music styles, from electronic house and pop to R&B and jazz. Her most current sound has become more “rock/pop with a bit of country.” She just released her newest album Backseat Heroine in February.
I caught up with Emma-Lee during Canadian Music Week, where she was showcasing at The Drake Underground on March 23.
Q: How has Toronto influenced you as a musician?
A: I feel like there’s a really strong sense of community here, with other artists. A lot of people think Toronto is a really hard city to break into and I guess it could be if you take on the outlook that everyone is your competition, but I think if you go more with 'let’s band together and help each other,' it’s a more positive experience. So I went that way. I supported other people and they supported me, so that helped us all grow at the same time. So I think having a strong community around me has really helped me get to where I am.
Q: What was the response to the release of Backseat Heroine?
A: It’s been great - people really seem to like it. We’re getting really great response playing the songs live. Because of the way it’s recorded on the album, it’s all just real people and real instruments, and not a lot of editing, so it’s just the way we sound. I think it’s nice for people who hear the album to then go to a show and be like wow, it sounds like the CD. So I guess it depends what approach you take, but I’ve really enjoyed just being real with it.

Q: What have you been working on since then?
A: I do a lot of song-writing all the time, so I’m starting to figure out what I want to do next. Other than that, I do writing for other artists too. I’ll get together with different people who are working on their records so I do a lot of that when I’m not doing my own thing. I also do photography, so I do promo photos for other musicians and stuff like that.
Q: How would you describe your song-writing process?
A: It really varies. Sometimes it’s just me hanging out with my guitar. I usually write music first and then start singing some type of melody and then I’ll fit words into the melody. So for me, the melody is the most important thing. And if I find one that I really like, I find words that have the amount of syllables that fit perfectly like a little puzzle.
Q: What’s the hardest part about being a Canadian musician?
A: The hardest part is the fact that our cities are spread out really far apart and when you tour, it’s probably around nine hours between every show. It’s very taxing on your body. It’s a lot of time that you spend in a car or a van.
Emma-Lee will be heading out to LA for the first time in May and will continue writing songs. She will also be releasing some new videos on YouTube so keep an eye out! Until then, check out one of her favourite tracks to perform, Figure It Out, which was just released last week (she describes it as “Glee meets the grocery store.” Enjoy!
Be sure to check out her website ( and follow her on Twitter (@emmadashlee)
- Christina
Follow my adventures on Twitter: @christinaaa28

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