Hello friends and thanks for tuning into another installment of my friend collaboration series.
Today’s video is special for two reasons
1) It features one of my all-time best friends, Monika Mehan (of constant blue), who is the sweetest, most empathetic human probably in the world.
2) She’ll be playing this song and many others at her EP release show on Saturday January 11th at the Tranzac club in Toronto! And, I’m opening for her with a 6-piece band with all new original material!
Here’s what Monika had to say about writing this song…. “Ruin remains the song I’ve written the fastest, by far – I wasn’t trying to force anything in terms of music. I wanted to follow suit with the lyrics and not overthink them. Of course they have their meaning to me, but I like the idea of an upbeat melody paired with lyrics that are ultimately about leaning into (or fantasizing about leaning into) your petty side for a minute”
Hope you enjoy!
Lauren and I met over the years through mutual friends, but it wasn’t until this year that we actually had a conversation, and MAN this woman is hilarious! Her and I just crack up together.
And because she’s such a fun and talented person, I went to watch her band, the Lauren Barnett Free For All, and MAN ALIVE! Her band is skilled, catchy and fun 🙂
Lauren not only sings, writes, plays percussion and the saxophone but also creates great videos herself – if you’ve been enjoying my collaborations, Lauren has a bunch of similar videos on her channel so please check her out.
This is our version of the song she wrote with Danica Leigh Kotsopoulos, Christmas Night, which Lauren says “is a song that gives space for and speaks about an array of emotions that can arise around the holidays.”
Play a gig. It’s not really a joke, but it is the whole reason this video was shot. I’ll explain more below, but first, welcome back to my cover-collab series!
Today’s cover, of ‘Ketchum, ID’ by the band Boygenius, is the first video where I’ve managed to round up 2 amazing musicians to record with me on the same day. I usually get my collaborators to write a little quote for this blog, but today I’ve transcribed a conversation we had detailing more about the collab, the band Boygenius, and our friendship…. read below >>
Emma: So Chelsea, maybe you could describe why we picked this song and decided to record this together.
Chelsea: Sure! So when you and I did our last video collaboration [of the song Love is a Losing Game], we did a song from a band that we met in. Today’s video formed very naturally after you, Ashley and I had just played a gig together [in a bar] and were like ‘oh we all like each other, and we’re 3 out of the 4 women on this 24-person gig, let’s do a song together…’
There’s a lot of good super-girl groups in the day, but Boygenius is probably the newest example of that, and Ketchum, ID is the obvious song to do from the band – it’s their closer, it’s beautiful, and it features all the 3 part harmonies.
Also, that entire album is produced, written and engineered by women. It’s their project. They locked themselves in a room with no male influence. Its’ glorious.
Emma: Oh really! I didn’t know that at all. Who are the members of Boygenius again?
Chelsea: Yeah, it’s Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus, who are all excellent songwriters in their own right, and have toured together before and are long term collaborators. Their self-titled EP came out in 2018.
Emma: So cool. And Ashley, why were you eager to come and sing with Chelsea and I?
Ashley: Well, hmm, I’m always trying to find other ways to perform because performing is not my main gig, so getting to do little things like this that are not necessarily high pressure, and are fun, are great ways to do.
I’ve never heard this song or Boygenuis before so finding them and going down the rabbit hole has been great.
Chelsea: I also spiritually relate to Lucy Dacus.
Ashley: Yeah her timbre is so you.
Chelsea: Yeah and that’s the split too! I was like you [Ashley] have the high thing going on like Julien Baker, and Emma, where your range and timbre are just fit perfectly with the Pheobe Bridgers part.
Back to Emma, the blogger:
It’s true, Boygenius as a band features 3 powerhouse female musicians and bandleaders, but Chelsea and Ashley also lead bands themselves and are great sax players as well. Definitely check them out if you don’t know their work.
For music, for fun,
Jessica and I got together the other day to record this cover and had an epic discussion, as we’re wont to do.
We talked about how, as freelance female musicians in our 30’s, we deal with a lot in our industry, but also the pros and cons of ageing – being acutely aware of how society views our rolls and lumps and changing selves, but also developing new love for our flaws… Lowering our tolerance for people/situations that don’t serve us while embracing our minds and bodies in new ways.
Perhaps that’s why we picked ‘Landslide’ by Fleetwood Mac to cover together. Jessica loves the simplicity in their songwriting, and I love the sweet sadness and awareness of their lyrics. Things don’t always last but they sure can be profound.
Love as always,
Hello lovely friends,
I’m thrilled to be playing the first original song in my collab series with my new friend, Erik Bleich. His song ‘Worth it/Clementines’ is incredibly beautiful and I just love it and am honoured to play it. Erik is a very talented writer, and to prove it, I’m going to give him the floor —
From Erik: “I first met Emma through a mutual friend via a songwriting group – which has managed to continue every Sunday for the past 8 months (which seems like a monster feat to pull off in a city like Toronto, where scheduling anything is quadratically* difficult). My first impression was general impressment. Her writing was fresh and lucid. Energetically vibrant and mischievous. So when she invited me to play my song “Clementines” with her, I just agreed and asked for the details after.
The song itself is a direct result of the ongoing work going on in the group, which emphasizes vivid, sense-based observation as a form of connecting with other humans. The theory being “the universal is in the specific” and the execution involves writing quickly in short, timed bursts, forging great neural pathways which allow you direct access to your higher brain consciousness, where stores and stocks of lingering sense memory have been collected over a lifetime of hearing and smelling and feeling and dreaming and tasting – which are triggered by an innocuous object allowing them to blossom into instantaneous free verse until the timer goes off and you realize that you need to read it all to a small group of strangers (who are now dear friends). But you also get to peak into other folks’ brains, so it’s all worth it.
Worth it because everything is worth it. The stories that come out are sometimes dark or unkind. Sometimes silly. They come out in strange ways through unexplored avenues. And sometimes in ways you didn’t even realize you were feeling.
Worth it because we all connect over those things. And sometimes we get to share those with all you fine folks who took the time to connect in a small way to Emma, to allow me to jump in and say yes, without worrying about the details. Because it’s all worth it. So thank you.
*I’m not so good at the maths.”
Back to Emma:
Give it a listen and let me know what you think with a comment below, or by sending me an email at emma_hewson983[@]hotmail.com!
For my most recent collaboration video, I asked my lovely friend Julia to come on over for tea and gossip, and of course, to sing! This collab was a no brainer, because not only do we get along famously while performing in her project, The Julia Tynes Band, but she is also such a confident, kind and just plain CLASSY AF woman.
In picking the song, Julia told me that ‘No Scrubs was the perfect song for us because we both are bringing the sass every day; morning noon and night!’
Maybe SASSY and CLASSY should be our new band name?
Usually when I arrange the songs for piano in these videos, I generally stick to the original chord progressions- however, in this song I really played around until I found a funky reharmonization that I loved. See if you can spot my stank face while playing the chorus progression. haha!
Hope you enjoy!
Back at it here with another exciting collaboration video with Chelsea McBride. If you don’t know her, Chelsea is a dynamo in the Toronto and Vancouver music scene, leading three bands and performing in many others.
Talking about this video, Chelsea writes, “My introduction to Amy Winehouse – my real intro, anyways – was in a band called Shrinehouse, and Emma joined shortly after I started playing with them. So Paige Peters (the creator of Shrinehouse) is really the genius that introduced us, and since then I’ve been loving the vibe of playing Amy’s music – especially in a mostly female band. Emma’s a joy to work with on that music and we’ve been working together more lately so it felt right to pay tribute to where we first met!”
It’s true, I’ve met so many amazing musicians through Shrinehouse, and I’m just thrilled to be able to continue doing this series of collabs with my friends. Check out the video, and see if you can spot Trumpet, Chelsea’s adorable elephant companion, hiding out front and centre.
Matti Palonen is a wonderful trad/folk musician whom I’ve met through the songwriter scene here in Toronto. Although we’d met many times before, the filming of this video marked not only our first time playing music together, but also our first conversation lasting more than five minutes! That’s something I love about this friend-cover-collab series (wow, I need a better name) – getting to know friends in my community better. And I really LOVE playing music with my friends! YAY. It’s awesome.
Anyway, Matti suggested we learn this Joni Mitchell song off of her album ‘Ladies of the Canyon,’ and I happily obliged.
Matti said of the song “Ladies of the Canyon was in my parent’s record collection so I have always loved the songwriting of Morning Morgantown. It was an interesting challenge to adapt the guitar chords to the bandura. My main instrument is the Finnish kantele, and I have been taking up the Ukrainian bandura this year because it has a wider range and a different but familiar technique. “
So with that, enjoy our cover of Morning Morgantown!
Kirk is such a stunner. So relaxed. So stylin’
I’ve been doing these little covers lately and I knew Kirk would be such a perfect fit for the vibe I want to set — when we play together Shrinehouse (our Amy Winehouse tribute band), we’re most often found in the corner causing trouble with the other members of the rhythm section.
Kirk showed up to my house for this video with some brownies, some great documentary recommendations and the STRAIGHT CHILLIN acoustic bass you’ll see in the video.
He told me why he picked the song ‘Old Friends’ by Donuts.
[Kirk] “Donuts was a local Toronto band from the mid 2000’s. I first heard this song while my high school ska band was opening for them at the Cathedral. It was my first time seeing live reggae and my first time seeing live music while stoned (sorry mom), I was 16. I picked this song because I play it all the time and it gives me that really good nostalgia.”
Enjoy the vibes and comment if you love Donuts!
I’ve been really loving these collab videos, and one of the first people I asked to join me was my friend Gillian Smith. She’s one of the lovely vocalists in Shrinehouse, the Amy Winehouse Tribute band I’ve been part of for some time now.
Gillian is not only a gifted singer, but she also plays trumpet, and as I learned today, guitar! It was really nice for me to relax and just be a singer on this track while Gillian took care of the chords :p Not to mention, we had a great time just chatting and talking about how we both teach young students. It’s great to connect with other teachers.
Gillian suggested this song by First Aid Kit, the Swedish folk sister duo, and I’m glad she did because the harmonies are BEAUTIFUL. Here’s what Gillian had to say about the song: “I love First Aid Kit because they are sisters, and I learned many of their songs with my own sisters. Their music taught me to harmonize and really listen to those you are making music with. Emma and I chose the song ‘Emmylou’ because of the references to the love stories between musicians that we admire [Emmylou Harris & Gram Parsons, Johnny Cash & June Carter]. Plus the harmonies are beautiful and feel so nice to sing.’
I’ll definitely have Gillian back so I hope you enjoy this pairing!
Love Emma Louise (a.k.a. Emmylou)
BTW, if you’re my friend and want to sing with me, shoot me a message 🙂