The very lovely and extremely talented singer/songwriter, Emily Hearn of Athens, GA allowed me to interview her on September 11, 2013 just before her new album "Promises" was released on October 8th. This interview was previously posted on another Blog but since I'm back to PeachPrenni, I wanted to share it here. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Emily’s music, I promise you are missing out. You can find her on iTunes or directly through her website at emilyhearn.com. I hope you enjoy getting to know her; she is an absolute joy!
So Emily, as an ice-breaker, I’m going to tell you a funny story. The first time I ever attended Athens Church, I heard Rudy Vaughn singing on stage and I just thought--this guy is SO amazing; why is he singing at a local church? So I approached him afterwards and said, “Hey--great performance! I have to say that I think you really have something here and you should consider pursuing it.” He was gracious enough to simply say, “thank you.” So on the car-ride home, I Googled him and discovered that he had won the HardRock Battle of the Bands and was on stage in London with Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, The Killers, etc. So I read this out loud to my husband who said, “How embarrassing! No more advice to the singers at our church!” LOL. So fast forward a few months and I hear YOU on stage and I’m completely mesmerized. I just thought--this girl is incredible! So again I walk up to you and say “I really think you’re amazing and that you should pursue singing beyond church.” And once again I Google you on the car-ride home and find your music video for “RoofTop” which features the one and only Bill Murray. I just started laughing. Here’s the thing--my mother has this ability to walk into any store, any thrift-shop and pick up the most expensive item in the store because she just has an eye for it. So I’m gonna pat myself on the back here and say that I clearly have an ear for real vocal talent. ;)
E: Don’t worry because it always makes our day when someone walks up and says that. And yes--Rudy is really talented! His band, "The A-Town A-List" is booked up every weekend the whole year! I think they are doing really well and they have an awesome manager!”
Okay enough about him--let’s talk about YOU… How old were you when you knew that you could really sing?”
E: I didn’t figure out I could sing for a really long time. I would try out for plays and never got an important part. I was so afraid to sing in front of people that when I would sing at church I just stared down at the ground the whole time. I don’t think anyone ever thought--”hey that girl should be a singer!” It was actually later on--I taught myself how to play the guitar when I was a senior in high school and I started writing songs when I was a freshman in college.
But growing up when you were like 10 or 12, wouldn’t you sing in the shower? I mean was there no moment when you were like, hey--I can sing; I’ve got a really great voice. Did you recognize that in yourself?
E: Well I mean I definitely always sang in the shower and annoyed my sisters to death. They can actually sing too, but they’ve never really been into the performing side of music. I’ve always been drawn to music, and I think it started with musicals. I remember weeks at a time running around the house singing ‘Wicked’ or ‘Phantom of the Opera’. I guess it just grew from there.
How many siblings do you have?
E: I have two younger sisters.
I know Athens is your home now but where did you grow up?
E: I grew up in Griffin, Georgia which is an hour and a half away from Athens. I moved here to go to school.
I know we sort of already addressed this, but I think it’s amazing that you taught yourself guitar as a Senior in high school?
E: Yeah, I did. I was sort of musical, but honestly I just dabbled until it clicked. I started taking piano lessons when I was a lot younger so I kind of knew how to play. I would teach myself how to play songs from the radio by ear. After that I started writing my own songs.
And that’s so hard--people don’t realize. My son got a guitar last Christmas and just watching him--his fingers were bleeding as he was trying to learn!
E: Ya--it was so hard!
You went to UGA and you majored in Sociology? It’s funny how so many people major in things that have nothing to do with their current career. Did you know then that you wanted to go into music?
E: To be honest the whole time I was in college, I had a growing desire to play music for a living. At the beginning all I really knew was that I wanted to be a writer. So I started as a Journalism major, but in the back of my mind I really liked writing songs more. I didn’t think it was something I could do as a job, but as the years went on I had opportunities open up and people who wanted to invest in my music career. So college basically turned into a back up plan.
Well but that’s not a bad back up plan. Just get your degree and then do your thing. I admire you because I didn’t finish and it bothers me to this day. And now that I have 3 kids--I dread the conversation down the road, “well you didn’t finish mom…” Anyway, I just think it’s so great you finished! Moving on, would you categorize your music as folk-pop?
E: Ya, I’m definitely Folk Pop. It’s hard to put your music in a category though because I look back over my life and see all of my musical influences as I was growing up. I definitely have a lot of country in my blood. But I also listened to folksy singer/songwriters like James Taylor, John Denver--those were my dad’s favorites. And then we listened to the Dixie Chicks growing up and other country music like that--which is country with a focus on catchy melodies and relatable lyrics. I’m more in the Pop vein but I do have that folksy flare.
Obviously I'm a huge fan of all your music. I have the Paper Heart Album and the Red Balloon Album (we’re gonna talk about that.) I have your Maybe single and I’ve pre-ordered the new album, Promises. But here's what I find amazing Emily--it’s typical when you buy a CD to have what--2 or 3 favorite songs? I’m not exaggerating when I say that I love every one of your songs on both of your previous albums.”
E: Awww...thank you!
No--I’m not just saying that; it’s true. Okay next question….I know you are close with your mom, Robin Hearn. How has she influenced you?
E: Ya--we’re really close. I’ve always been more of a tight-knit type friend--I only have a few friends that know everything about me, but my mom has always been my closest friend.
Aww--I love that! That’s awesome.
E: We’re really different. She’s not the creative type like me--she’s unbelievably steady and reliable, and she has proven to be a great role model. She’s a fan of mine, and she’s gotten way more into music since I chose this career path. It just shows how supportive my family is.
Did you write all of your songs on Paper Heart and Red Balloon?
So you first went into the studio in December of 2009? Was that to record your Paper Heart Album?
E: Yes! It was a great first experience with my producer and friend, Trey Roth.
I want to talk about a few of the songs from your Paper Heart Album:
In the song “Paper Heart” you sing, “We were just in love at 17. These tears I cry are real but they are not for you. I’ve learned that every heart that loves will break in two. It’s the same--every love has felt this pain. You’re a thief--you robbed me while I closed my eyes; I can’t escape the wreckage of my heart’s first fire.” Wow! SO many girls including myself can relate to those lyrics. There’s nothing like that first big love and the mistakes and regrets that can come with it!
E: I had a really serious 3 year relationship in high school, and started to write songs shortly after that relationship ended. I had a lot of pain and a lot of working through emotions to do and so that’s honestly what Paper Heart is about.
And now for that famous track, “Rooftop;” how on EARTH did you get Bill Murray to appear in your video?
E: It was crazy. We actually have a mutual friend. So my friend Mark knows Bill Murray and we had been planning for a couple of months to film this music video in Charleston. We had talked through the concept of the video and then we were meeting up for dinner to de-brief and he just casually mentioned, “hey--just so you know, I talked to my friend and he might come to the music video set tomorrow.” And I was like “Okay cool--who’s your friend?” And he’s like, “Bill Murray.”
NO WAY! Were you a big Bill Murray fan at the time? I know you are younger than me, but did you realize he was this super funny and very famous guy?
E: Well I knew he was hilarious but the kind of unfair thing is that I wasn’t his biggest fan; I hadn’t even seen all of his movies. Of course I’ve seen them since then and I love him so much, but at the time I didn’t even deserve to meet him!
Well but you did because reputation has it that he is extremely selective about what he does. There’s no way he would have done it if he didn’t love your music. I’m a big believer in everything happening for a reason so that’s how I look at that situation!
E: He’s so great. He was unbelievably nice. You expect him to be funny, which he was, but he was also just really, really nice.
I love the end of that video where he kind of pulls you in and gives you a hug and a kiss on the forehead.
E: Ya--he was the greatest. I mean, he brought me a cup of coffee and complimented me on my dress. And then 6 months later I played a show in Charleston and he came to the show! I felt like we were friends.
Oh my Gosh--that just makes me love him even more! Okay, so who sings “Wreck” with you on this album? You guys sound amazing together!
E: Okay, you’re not gonna believe this but that’s James David Carter! He sings at Athens Church all the time.
E: Ya. We didn’t know each other at the time but my producer Trey Roth knew him and knew his voice would be perfect for the song. So he came in to sing on that song and since then we’ve become really great friends.
That’s awesome! And I want to talk about the song “Heaven Help Me.” You sing, “Heaven help me--why do I need you? Why are my knees so weak when I see you there? I know that it might not be smart to offer you my fragile heart but thoughts of you are keeping me awake.” This song SO captures the way I felt when I met my husband. I was scared--so scared. I had been in love before but I had never felt “scared” about it. I guess that’s how I knew it was real because I felt like I had so much to lose. Were you in a similar situation when you wrote this?
E: Interestingly enough I wrote that song before I met my husband. I didn’t even actually write it about one particular guy. I had been through a lot--my heart had been broken a ton--it just felt like nothing was working. I wrote that song about these feelings that you get when brand new feelings start happening in your heart and you know it might not be safe, but you have to go for it.
That makes a lot of sense and I can certainly relate to that. I recognized on the PaperHeart album that there were a lot of songs about love and heartbreak and I figured that that was representative of that period of your life.
E: Oh yeah. But there were also a lot of good feelings and experiences as well.
Then you released the single “Maybe” in September of 2010, which I LOVE. What inspired that song?
E: It was my first real college crush. What’s funny is that it was completely unfounded because it turned out that he wasn’t the person that I dreamed him up to be in my head. I think that’s a problem that a lot of girls have. They imagine that a guy is perfect before they really know him, and they let themselves fall in love with a fictional person. So “Maybe”was about that guy and about the thoughts that kept running circles through my head. I was trying to make myself into what he wanted me to be. But in the end it’s like--hey, maybe I should just be ME.
Yes and I love that. I love that transition in the song! Because in the beginning, you sing, ”Maybe if I was thinner--you would think I was beautiful...so I watch the things I eat and wake up early to exercise and I wonder when I’m with you if I’ve done something to catch your eye.” But by the end of the song, you’re like, “Hey--maybe I should just be me.” It’s beautiful--it’s just a really powerful song! So your next album Red Balloon was released in January of 2012. And you were able to make this album by raising funds through a Kickstarter campaign? How did that work?
E: Oh it was SO cool. For me, to raise that money was so huge! It was before Kickstarter was popular. I just had all these songs that people were begging me to record, so eventually one night I just decided to post a project and see if anybody wanted to support it. We funded it in less than a month. I felt so blessed.
That is truly amazing and you actually went above your goal too!
E: Ya we did!
Why is making music so expensive?
E: Man, I wish I could understand that! It’s like basically the prices in the industry are at an incredibly high standard to make a quality product. You have to rent a studio with expensive gear that sounds great. You have to hire a producer that is skilled and understands your vision. It’s a very time-consuming craft and these people deserve to be paid really well for working so hard at such a high skill level. Then there’s mixing and mastering which both cost money. There's printing the CDs, the artwork for the album, the promotional material for the album (t-shirts, posters, etc). At the end of the day it can really break the bank. So I’m unbelievably thankful for fans, friends, and family who are willing to give money to my dream.
And that’s why it has to be something that you REALLY want because you have to throw everything into it and be so committed. And this is also why I get SO frustrated with people on the radio who I don’t believe have any real talent. I think they can stick anybody in a studio and make them sound good.
E: Well actually to be honest--I don’t think you can make just ANYONE sound good in a studio. They have to sound at least pretty good to begin with.
Really? You really think that? Okay let me give you an example…How about the chick from the Real Housewives of Atlanta who made that one hit wonder, “Don’t Be Tardy for the Party?"
I guess I just recognize the fact that YOU would sound great standing on a street corner singing with nothing other than your guitar and there are a lot of famous singers who couldn’t do that.
E: Well I appreciate that compliment, and I can see what you’re saying.
Okay, so how did you meet your husband?
E: We actually got set up on a blind date on Valentine’s Day at Cali N Titos in Athens! It was an immediate hit. I had been on so many bad or just so-so dates and I was immediately in love with him. I think I’ve seen him pretty much every day since then.
Aww..I love that! I know he’s a Bass Player and when you perform, you perform with him, right?
E: Yes. he’s a Bass player and he sings. It’s really fun; both of us are multi-tasking. We got this BigFoot Stompbox which is a type of percussion and he basically steps on that and it sounds like a kick drum and he plays bass and sings all at the same time. I sing and play my guitar.
So will we get to hear you guys together on the new album?
E: Oh Ya--he’s on a lot of the tracks and he helped write a lot of the songs too.
Oh that’s great--I can’t wait to hear it. October 8th, right?
E: October 8th!
You seem very comfortable on stage--was it always that way?
E: Laughs. No, no, no, no! I have always hated being on stage--it makes me feel so uncomfortable. But I think that somewhere in the middle of doing this full time and playing in a lot of different environments, whether it’s in front of 200 of my friends or 1,000 strangers, I’ve had different experiences that make me more comfortable on stage. For a while I coped with stage fright by preparing extensively, but now I’m comfortable enough just kind of thinking on the fly.
It’s true because I can hear that. You sounded great on ‘Maybe’ and you sounded even better on ‘Paper Heart’ and then on ‘Red Balloon’ you sounded amazing which I’m sure is all part of progressing and maturing as an artist. You were coming into your own and just becoming more comfortable in your own skin.
E: It’s definitely a growing process. I can’t wait for you to hear the new album because while it’s a step in a similar direction, it’s just so much more ME. I’m not saying all the songs are happy but they all have a promise of hope.
When you’re not singing, what else consumes your time?
E: Well I have tons of hobbies and they’re all pretty much creative stuff. I love cooking; I love painting or drawing--I even like graphic design and photography. I also love being active so we hike and ride bikes and go for runs, etc.
If you had a full day to yourself, free of any responsibilities, what would you spend it doing?
E: Hmm...well if I was at home in Athens, I would go over to Animal Control (which is the pound). They have all the dogs in outdoor pens and you can walk around and visit with them. It’s the best thing ever; I go there all the time and just give the dogs treats and take them on walks and play with them. I also love the great food in Athens; it’s one of my favorite hobbies--going to check out new restaurants and cute little bars and dessert spots, etc. One of my favorite restaurants of all time is The Grit.
Oh girl--me too!! The 3 vegetable platter followed by a slice of organic dark chocolate cake. Yum!
E: Yes!! So a perfect day would be going to breakfast at Mama’s Boy and then going to play with the dogs and then maybe going for a run and walking around town and going to dinner somewhere. I just love exploring Athens.
Do you have any advice for other singers that are trying to make a start?
E: Honestly, the more experience you have the better. So any chance you get--just keep playing and keep writing, and keep singing. It’s so true that the more practice you have, the more well rounded and the more amazing you’ll be as a musician. I try to say yes to every opportunity that comes my way. I’ve played at a lot of benefits; I’ve played in a lot of restaurants because you never know who you’ll meet or what experience will come from it and how it might change things. And just keep trying because giving up is the thing that stops most people.
Ketchup or Mustard?
E: (Laughing) Ketchup.
Circle or Square?
I totally thought you would say square!
E: No I love drawing circles--like I doodle all the time and I draw circles on pretty much everything I ever draw.
Pepsi or Coke.
E: Neither; I really don’t like soda.
Coffee or Tea?
Black or White?
E: Oooh--that’s so hard because I love both so much. Like if I had an option, I would paint all of my walls white and I would get all white towels and sheets. I love white. But in terms of clothing--I would wear all black clothing forever.
Morning or Night?
E: I’m a night person, so I do love the night but the mornings when I wake up really early are when I feel the most amazing. I think there’s something really unique about the morning, especially before other people wake up. There’s something special about breakfast versus dinner and the beginning versus the end, so I think morning. Morning!
So your 3rd album, Promises comes out on October 8th. Very exciting! What can we expect from this new album?
E: You can expect the most professional album yet, and also the most true to who I am. It’s still very honest and genuine but maybe in a more mature way. I’m a girl; I have strong emotions and I’ve always been very honest about them because I want other girls to know that it’s normal. But at the same time I think there’s an appropriate way to handle yourself in certain situations. For example there’s a song on the album that’s about getting led on, but at the same time it’s about having a good sense of humor about it. The lyrics go, “If you’re not feeling this you gotta let a girl know!” I think “Promises” has songs that could be a person’s anthem at any stage of life whether they’re falling in love and getting married, in a fight, or needing advice from a friend. It’s short but I think it’s well rounded!
Do you have a favorite song from the new album?
E: Yes. I wrote a song about my wedding. It’s called “Found A Heart”
Do you have a webstore where we can order your CD’s online?
E: Yes; if you go to my website emilyhearn.com, you can click on “store” and it will send you there.
Any Blogs/Websites I should mention?
E: Well I’m on every social media outlet so basically from my website, emilyhearn.com there’s a link to all of those. My personal blog is http://emilyhearnmusic.tumblr.com
Emily, thank you SO much for this interview. I feel so honored that you let me talk to you. You know I’m such a fan and I think you’re so talented and I really see you going far. I truly see you taking off and going places and I just wish you all the best and so many blessings. I think you’re lovely and thank you again for the interview; it just made me like you even more.
E: Awww! Thank you so much!! I appreciate you taking your time out to write this article.