Interview with Emily Hearn on her new album Hourglass, Musical Influences, and Bill Murray

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Emily Hearn is a talented artist with a beautiful voice that will captivate you and leave you wanting for more. Her new album Hourglass is due out March 10 and is packed full of 12 songs that will capture your heart with catchy tunes like “Waking Up Again,” “Can’t Help Myself,” and “Without You,” to slow ballads “Please Don’t Take My Love, “Thank God You’re Holding Me,” and “Volcano.”  “The Oak Tree” will take you back to the days of young, innocent love.

Hearn is heading out on tour this month and took the time to give us a brief insight into the inspiration behind Hourglass, her musical influences, and having the opportunity to work with Bill Murray.

GGM:  You’re new album Hourglass is due out on March 10. It’s a very emotional album with very touching lyrics. I read were you said this has been your favorite album to create. Can you share with us a little about the album and why this has been your favorite so far?

EH:  In the past I have approached albums very differently than I did this one. I had always written songs that were about love and heartbreak, and when I performed them I always felt a little petty. I don’t think that singing about relationships is petty—it always seems to be those girl anthem songs that get us through the worst times in life and the most heart-wrenching breakups, so I’m all for that—but I wanted to also write about something with more substance for this particular album. At first I had no idea what I wanted to write about. But my husband Michael and I were in Michigan playing some shows and had about a week off. We were writing for the new album and had been struggling with a bit of writers block until this one moment when I was suddenly inspired. My grandparents and parents are getting older, and I was going through a season where it was making me really sad. So Michael and I sat down that day and wrote “The Oak Tree.” We knew right after we finished that song that the album wouldn’t be about one subject but about a series of feelings—the process of growing up. So you’ll see plenty of different subjects in this album; falling in love, getting your heartbroken, dealing with loss, learning to believe in yourself, moving away from home, and making hard decisions. But it’s what we all go through as we grow up. I think people will identify with it a lot. 

GGM:  I know it’s probably difficult to answer, because so many of the songs have such special meaning, but is there any one particular song on Hourglass that stands out from the rest and why?

EH:  My favorite is probably “Give It Up.” I wrote it about learning to make hard decisions even when you don’t want to. Knowing the right thing to do is one thing, and actually doing it is a whole other journey that takes a lot of courage and I think makes us all better people in the long run.

GGM:  The artwork for the album is very unique and symbolic. How did you come up with the design?

EH:  I was struggling with what I wanted to put on the cover! We had taken some pictures and I felt like none of them really fit what I was going for. But I was on tour at the time and had just ordered Chinese food, and suddenly an idea hit me. I sketched a flower idea on the take-out box and sent it to a fantastic illustrator and graphic designer that I know. I explained to him that I wanted it to be a flower continuum where on the left there are buds, in the middle the flower blooms, and on the right it dies. It’s symbolic of the passage of time and of the beauty in it all. I liked the flowers so much better than a traditional hourglass, but it has the same meaning.

GGM:  Do you feel this album is different from your previous recordings and, if so, in what way?

EH:  I think all my albums have a really similar sound, but with each album I grow a little bit. I started writing when I was 19, and now I’m almost 25. So I think it’s natural and so interesting to see the process of change that is happening from album to album. Hourglass is a reflection of where I am right now, and I think I’ll continue to shift and grow and change over the years. I’m looking forward to the journey, but for now I’m so proud of what we’ve created in this album.

GGM:  You’re heading out on the Roll With It 2015 Tour with Tyrone Wells kicking it off in San Francisco on March 18. What can fans expect to hear?

EH:  I’m so excited about this tour! It will be my husband Michael and I playing the songs, so the sound will be a little more broken down, and there will certainly be stories and laughs. I can’t wait to meet everyone!

GGM:  After playing the piano, you decided to pick up the guitar and teach yourself how to play. How did you approach that process and did it come easily to you?

EH:  I used chord books to teach myself, I didn’t even know that there were guitar videos online until after I knew how to play! So I just spent a lot of time practicing at home, learning old classics and whatever was currently on the radio. It was hard work but so much fun and so worth it. I think it takes about a year for your strumming and chord-changes to feel fluid, so I always tell people to stick with it through that awkward phase. And experimenting with writing your own songs is a great way to stay inspired. 

GGM:  When did you first realize that a musical career was what you wanted to pursue?

EH:  I had only been writing songs for a short amount of time, and I had really only seen N’SYNC in concert (I grew up in a tiny town with not much to do, and concerts were not a typical thing for me and my friends). So I really didn’t know about all the options there were in music. I saw Brandi Carlile for the first time in college and absolutely fell in love with her songs and the way that she performed. Her stories and her music were personal rather than so polished and pop, and that was something that I wanted to do. I try to create a balance between pop, catchy melodies and folksy, relatable songs. 

GGM:  Who were some of your early musical influences?

EH:  John Denver, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and several other classic songwriters, plus when I was growing up we listened to a lot of the Dixie Chicks in my house. So harmonies and country music will always have a piece of my heart.

GGM:  When writing new material, how do you approach the writing process?  Is it spontaneous or do you have a planned schedule, and do you prefer to write with your guitar or the piano?

EH:  I do a little bit of everything. Every different setting, room, instrument, and time of day affects the type of song that comes out. So I try to mix it up, take different writing trips, and the goal is to get a well-rounded group of songs. Sometimes I start with the melody and other times I start with the chords or the lyrics. It just depends on my mood and the day.

GGM:  So how did you get the opportunity to have Bill Murray appear in your Official Music Video for “Rooftop” and what was it like working with the legendary comedian/actor?

EH:  My friend Mark Bryan knows him and asked if he wanted to come join us for the music video and he said yes! I was blown away. It was one of the craziest and most exciting days of my life. He brought me coffee and told me he liked my dress and seemed to have a great time. I was shocked when six months later he showed up to one of my concerts in Charleston, SC and we got to hang out afterwards. I like to think that we’re friends 🙂

GGM:  Now for a few fun questions!

The top 3 songs on my playlist are:
Chandelier” by Sia, “Style” by Taylor Swift & “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars
My dream performance would be:
Playing to a sold out crowd at the Tabernacle in Atlanta
My first gig was:
A small show at Flickr Theatre in Athens, GA the day after Thanksgiving in 2009
My favorite song I’ve performed is:
I love singing “Let Go” by Frou Frou. It’s one of my favorite songs of all time, and I like to play an acoustic cover of it.
In one word, music to me is:

For more on Emily Hearn, visit her site HERE.



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