BACKSTAGE WITH: EMILY KEATING | EMILY KEATING MUSIC on SPOTIFY | NEW YORK, NY
Main influences on making music?
When I was little Joni Mitchell felt like my musical mother. She sang what I dreamed of singing. She is a major influence on my music. Then in high school, my musical guru became Regina Spektor. I obsessively learned her songs like they were my own. Come college Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens became the first male artists to deeply influence my work.
My other main influences are Kate Bush, Carole King, Lady Gaga (mainly what she stands for), and Sylvan Esso. I know there are more, but these are the first to come out of my mouth and heart.
Most appreciated and innovating artists in the NY Music Scene?
NY music venues are the heartbeat of the city. A lot of the original venues from the 60’s and 70’s closed down, so the places that are still alive are very alive indeed. More than any artist I can name right now in the NY Music Scene. The music venues are the ones that are innovative in their consistency, their openness to explore different sounds, and they stand strong in their conviction that music is one of the answers.
What are your main challenges as a young, up and coming singer-songwriter?
It is truly hard to execute everything that needs to be done in one day / in one week/ in one month/ in one year.
From writing new music, keeping up my vocal and instrumental technique, maintaining an active engaging social media presence, playing shows and rehearsing with my band, networking events, promoting new releases, working on PR and marketing, there is A LOT to do in this beautiful career of music. I know it’s all about creating your team, which I’m finally starting to build with the right people. This helps immensely, as it is impossible to succeed doing this career alone. I will always be the captain on the ship but the ship only moves with a team on it. The challenge here is picking the right people for my team, knowing who to trust, and who will help me move forward to my dream.
The other key here is organization / making priorities and managing time well-which are big challenges.
When the pandemic hit NYC you retreated to upstate New York. How is your time spent in the Catskills?
My parents recently bought a very old farmhouse from the 1800’s in Parksville, New York. It is an enchanted piece of land, there is a lot of beauty here. I am very grateful and humbled to experience it.
I have spent a lot of time in the woods speaking and singing with the trees, and thanking the earth for being who she is and apologizing for what other people have done to her. From that headspace, I have written a few new songs in this seven week period that I’m really excited about with with producers from afar. I am currently writing my debut album with these producers.
Did you manage to record new material while in Parksville?
I have recorded all my new material by phone and have sent these files to my producers in NY and LA. One of my next steps in my list of priorities after my EP releases, is learning how to record vocals from where I am-I’m going back to the city to my apartment for two weeks so I plan to record there. This is NOT an easy task for me, as the engineering side of production does intimidate me. But I know this is the very reason I have to do it, to grow in this area of my work. Besides, this is the only way my producers can move forward in the songs we are creating for my record No Drama Club.
My guitarist, drummer and co-songwriters have recorded from their homes and have sent their recordings to my different producers. I am SO grateful I have them on my team, and that the producers I’m working with are creating such musical beauty from where they are remotely. It’s interesting because my idea for my debut record was to always have many different producers from across the country contribute. Now this is happening outside of my control – It is fascinating this was my vision from the start.
How are you technically managing music collaboration & work during CoVid 19 times?
Frequent communication and check-ins have been key to moving my songs forward in this time. Even if I reach out to say I cannot focus on this song until my EP is released this week, I do so and it feels balanced this way. I only had one producer tell me that he couldn’t resume our production of our song untill we were back in person in the studio. I respect his decision because we all create differently and each song has a different need and story. Another producer I was working with completely dropped the ball on our song and communication because of his own mental health faltering in this time-I have complete empathy for him and understanding. But it was very challenging to have to start completely from scratch from afar. On this particular song I’m working with a very talented co-writer-Without the producers stems we had to look for a brand new producer on a song that was already written. But when I take a big breath I see that everything that’s happened is leading us to how the song is supposed to exist. But, yes, for a song to thrive in this time, all parties need to be in good communication.
There is also an amazing creativity and synergy that has happened working with my producers and collaborators from afar. By working in our own spaces, there’s an intimacy and space that is born in the music that wouldn’t have been found in real time in the studio-with the ticking of the clock.
Something I’ve learned with my song writing and collaborations in this time is that if I give the songs more space to breathe (ie. not forcing a melody if it’s not working and taking a few days to let it build) a power is born within the music that I never want to loose from my songwriting now, There is something to say about deadlines and moving quickly-genius is born there.
Have the last months proven to be in anyway inspirational for you as an artist?
YES. Nature has again become my biggest motivator and inspiration. Looking within and having more time on my own has been a catalyst for new work too. And facing the most challenging relationships of your life, your family (with love) has let a lot of creativity enter my body mind and spirit. I’ve learned the lesson of patience again with songwriting, the daily work it takes on a song to master it, and the beauty of listening to what you can’t see might be where all the answers are.
I’ve started to meditate again every morning, and because of that I have been able to create words and melodies I might have not otherwise made.
What is your next music project? What excites you most about it?
My debut album No Drama Club. I’m currently writing each song with different producers in NY and LA. It is me, but it has an evolved sound from my first EP HEART made in 2018. This EP of mine is FINALLY releasing this week-That is very very exciting. Writing my first long record is exciting in a way I can’t put into words yet-All I know is it’s challenging me and making me put my best self forward. That’s all I will write about it now 🙂
Which venue are you waiting to perform at? Why?
The venue I’m waiting to perform at is any stage I can get on next. I’m not picky as long as I have an audience, my band and my voice. I love performing more than anything. It’s truly a remarkable feeling at home in a place that’s sacred. The stage is as sacred as a temple or church. I know performance is also the best rehearsal I can ever have. You give it your all (hopefully) and then you can see yourself clearly, and where you can improve. I can’t wait to do my first tour. Right now my venue is the screen-performing on live streams and that’s wonderful in a weird, new way. I’m eager to learn more with my band again, to make as cohesive as a sound we can make.
My dream venues? Red Rocks, The Beacon Theatre, and Radio City Music Hall.
Recommendations for up and coming artists to take and treat their art as a business?
Stay organized in the way that works for you. Don’t give up on finding that way until you master it. Speak up-always. To people you’re working with and to the world. Don’t take your music so seriously that you’re intimated to make new songs. Try to get back to the place when you wrote songs for fun, for the pleasure of it. Try to get to know someone well before signing any contract, or even having them work with you on your team. But be very open that’s the only way they’ll come. Know you deserve the best team and people supporting your career and don’t settle for less. Always stay excited even when all you’re doing is the business side of your career for a few days-because this is even a privilege to do. You’re pursuing your dream and there should be a lot of gratitude in that. If you’re not naturally business or technically savvy do not ever give up on becoming it. You are capable of learning anything you focus and put time into. Know that comparison is the devil-It only defeats you does nothing else. Know that you are unique and your music has a purpose no matter how daunting or competitive the industry might seem. Don’t let lack of funds stop you from making your art and marketing it-If you show up for your creativity/otherwise yourself, the world will conspire to help you-including finding the funds.
Don’t be as hard on yourself as I am, but still expect only greatness from yourself.
Who are your favorite collaborators & people you just love to work with?
I love to work with my band and my four amazing players, a songwriter i’m working with right now Jeff Franzel, and producers Nico Phillip, Eric Sanderson, Fran Cathcart, Bob Cutarella, Byrn Bliska, Itamar-Gov-Ari. There are many more but those are the first people that come to my mind. Thank you!