We recently sat down with Toronto-born singer & songwriter Emma-Lee before her show at The Drake Hotel. Emma-Lee has released 3-full length albums since her debut in 2008 and has had her music featured in multiple TV placements including NBC’s “Saving Hope”, MTV’s “Teen Wolf” and “Degrassi: The Next Generation”.
She has also contributed to the success of many Canadian artists with her songwriting. Most recently, she’s co-written songs for Brett Kissel, Kira Isabella and Madeline Merlo.
In this interview we chat with Emma-Lee about her new album “Fantasies: Volume 2”, songwriting, interesting jobs and her new life in Nashville. We had a great time getting to know this talented artist- check out our interview below!
Sharon: Congrats on releasing “Fantasies: Volume 2”. Tell us about your new single “Driving”.
Emma-Lee: That was a really good one and it was done right before we started recording for the second album. Karen (Kosowski) was working on a track and I was sitting at my computer coming up with ideas for what I thought the song sounded like, and I said “what about Driving?” the music just feels free and that was another one that ready by the end of the day, Karen had sent me an MP3 while I was driving home from the session. Sometimes the best songs are the ones that come together effortlessly.
S: What about filming the video for “Driving”?
EL: The video was crazy, I was trying to come up with a concept for that song and ended up asking my friend Paul Steward, who’s done my photos and videos in the past. He’s a really close friend, and we were literally sitting in a car together for two weeks, so it required someone that you knew pretty well, cause it was just the two of us with four cameras, driving from Nashville to LA. It would normally take about 30 hours, but we were stopping and filming. We knew the cool neon motels we wanted to stop at and they were filled with tons of crazy characters. We also met a lot of tourists who were on the same journey. Route 66 is such a famous drive- now its actually called the I40, but there are signs all along the highway to show where to turn to get to the old Route 66, and we would always take those little side roads to get to the original Route 66 because that’s where all the cool motels would be and so many interesting locations.
S: You’ve written a lot of songs for other Canadian artists like Kira Isabella, Victoria Duffield. Were they always songs written intentionally for other artists or were there a few you wish you kept for yourself?
EL: There’s definitely not any songs I wish I kept for myself, I know right away if its me or if it could be for someone, you know, older than me, younger than me, male, female, country singer, pop singer, or whatever it is.
S: Best lesson you’ve learned so far?
EL: It just really doesn’t matter what anybody thinks, and that you should not ever do things thinking about that because you will never win that way. You can’t please everybody so it has to just be whatever you’re doing, you have to be so excited about it. That would probably be the number 1.
S: Can you tell us about some of the exciting things in your life happening lately?
EL: Professionally, living in Nashville has definitely lead to some amazing opportunities and songs that are coming out with different artists this year. On a personal level, I really just love Nashville, it’s got a much slower pace, and I grew up in Toronto. I’ve been used to city life, so it’s really different, it’s a lot more like living in the country even though there’s a city there. It feels really low key. I also think I’m going to be getting a dog this year so that’s probably the most exciting thing coming up for me.
S: Working in the entertainment/ music industry, typically means one has to work a few jobs. What has been your best and worst job, either before or after music?
EL: I’ve had a lot of bad jobs prior to doing music full time haha. Like literally tried everything, from server, bartender, telemarketer, sales person, movie extra. That’s probably one of the weirdest ones, being a movie extra. It’s very strange- such a long period of time where you have to wait.
S: Best job?
EL: I do photography also, that’s probably my second best job outside of music. I do photos for other musicians and have been doing that for about 10 years now.
S: What are you a bestfan of?
EL: Cats, red wine, Twin Peaks – it’s a television show that I got into much later when it was kind of like a cult classic and it has since returned for a third season. It was like 25 years since the first season- and I’m obsessed with it. My birthday is coming up in February and I’m actually going to the town where this show was filmed. I’ve been wanting to do this trip for years, so I’m excited!
S: What’s coming up next for you?
EL: I’ll be going back to Nashville and continuing to write. Maybe seeing what the next project would be for myself as an artist in terms of starting something new.
S: Thanks for chatting with us! If our readers want to find you on socials where can they find you?
EL: @emmadashlee for Instagram and Twitter
Photo by Jen Squires.