Tyler Lavoie ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
After the release of her latest album, Hourglass, singer-songwriter Emily Hearn has embarked on her first national tour. We were fortunate enough to catch up with her before her recent show at Brighton Music Hall. Read about her experiences, her songwriting process, and leaving home.
Would you mind giving a background on how you started as a musician and songwriter?
Yeah, of course! I am from Athens, Georgia. So, I’ve lived there for seven years now. I was actually born in a really small town called Griffin, Georgia, but I moved to Athens in 2008 to go to the University of Georgia. And, at that time, I really…I mean I had just taught myself how to play guitar, and I really wasn’t a musician. I was actually attending school to be a journalism major…and kind of fell in love with songs and writing songs rather than books or articles along the way. And I wrote my first five songs kind of over a breakup and they were not intended to be heard in public! But I played em for a few people and they really kind of identified with them, and so I decided to try it out in venues. And there happen to be a lot of really cool venues in Athens, and so it was just…fate, I guess! Because once I started playing in some venues around Athens, I started getting other people who asked me, “will you come play at this place in Clinton, South Carolina,” or Charleston, South Carolina, or Auburn, Alabama, you know, college towns. And then, eventually, it kind of spread to towns and cities all over the US.
You’ve been supporting your new album in the past couple months. Can you talk about what the songwriting process was like for that album in particular?
This one, this album, it’s called Hourglass, and it was really different than the process that I went through to write my previous three albums. I have two EPs that are five songs each, and one full length album, but at the time when I wrote those albums I actually wasn’t touring. But when I was writing Hourglass I was on a full time tour and there weren’t really any breaks in sight. So, I remember…it was February of 2014, so last year, we were in Michigan. And we had three weeks of shows and one week off. And so we had a friend who was kindly letting us stay in his cabin, and Michael and I sat down to try to write the first songs for this album. And up until that point I had not felt inspired, I had written songs that I thought were total… crap! [laughs] But, I remember…this is the first time that Michael and I have co-written on an album, and so I remember he brought to me this really cool melody idea for a chorus. And, we started singing it and messing around with some different lyrics, and it became the song that kind of drove the meaning behind the whole album. It’s “The Oak Tree”. Song number three on the album. And so after that everything just sort of fell into place. We wrote the album kind of all over the place – some in Michigan, St. Simon’s Island, Georgia – we had some time off. We had some time in Nashville, and Athens where we live, and everywhere in between. So it was mainly different because the locations were so different and we were always trying to squeeze in a songwriting session here or there. But I think that that made it turn out extra unique.
About “The Oak Tree” and the themes behind the album in general. I know that that song is kind of about leaving home and growing up. How did you come to write about those ideas and why were those themes in particular important?
Well, like I told you I attended college originally to do journalism, to study journalism. And along the way I changed my major four different times, and in the process I wrote two albums. And so, it was a really big decision for me to drop out of school after my third year and to start pursuing music full time. And I really felt like that was the right thing to do but it was a really scary step, just because it’s very unknown and very unpredictable. And so I wrote “The Oak Tree” about two and a half years into this full time music career. And there are definitely some ups and there’s definitely some downs and there’s definitely questions. I mean, even as we’re growing up and our parents, who we’ve always looked up to, are telling us, you know, “it’s your time to kind of just make the path for your own life”. And so deciding what that path is is a really big deal, I think to everybody, after college in this age window of probably like 21 to 30. Just trying to figure out what path I wanted to be on in my life. So that’s kind of what this album is all about and definitely that song.
So how does that factor in with this tour, which is pretty large?
This is my first nationwide tour and the longest tour that I’ve ever been on. So it spans over about three months, and up until this point my longest tour has been one month. So it’s definitely really different, but it’s also really cool to see so many different places night after night. And…the album is going over really well so it’s been really encourage and fun. And it’s also, we feel like…Michael and I both feel like the themes of the album are feeling like they ring more and more true as we keep traveling to these different places, cause you just have a lot of time in the car to think about life. And to…ponder if you’re doing the right thing or, kind of, your dreams and that kind of thing. So this tour has been good for me because I’ve been able to see, “this is really what I want to do,” you know? But it’s been really cool.
And what about plans after the tour? Do you have anything new coming for fans?
Yes! Well, I really hope to have a new music video soon. I’ve always connected the most with artists and bands that I’m fans with when they release music videos. For some reason I’ve always loved the visual aspect of a song, and kind of what the artist sees as interpretation for their song. And so I haven’t got to do a lot of music videos, but the main thing that I’m hoping for with this album is that I’ll be able to release at least one, if not two or three, more music videos during the cycle.