Interview: Hello Emerson

Interview Hello Emerson & Verlosung

Hello Emerson im Interview; Credit: K+FRecords

Mit „How to Cook Everything“ erschien am Freitag die zweite Platte des Songschreibers Hello Emerson. Der leicht hagere Songwriter aus Columbus, Ohio hat sich absurderweise dafür den Titel eines Kochbuchs ausgesucht. Kochen & Musik, das passt natürlich sehr gut zusammen. Und wenn wir so wollen und es darauf übertragen liefert er hier alles: Ein-Gang Menü, Vier-Gang Menü und natürlich ein süßes Dessert. Auf der Platte finden sich Da sind ein 30-stimmiger Chor, ein Streichquartett, Alt- und Tenor-Saxophone, Klarinetten, Pedal Steel Guitar. Wir verlosen außerdem 1×3 Exemplare des Albums auf Vinyl. Kommentiert dazu unseren Beitrag auf Facebook oder Instagram mit dem Hashtag #HelloEmerson und seid der/die glückliche GewinnerIn. Oder schreibt oldschool eine Mail an soundkartell@gmail.com oder kommentiert dieses Interview weiter unten in den Kommentaren. Einsendeschluss ist der 09.02.2020 um 18.00 Uhr. Viel Erfolg!

Your second studio album “How to Cook Everything will be released soon. How excited are you for this release?

Hello Emerson: Very excited! I’m more proud of this than almost anything I’ve done before – but I’m even more excited to get working on the next one. I’ve got a pretty deep back catalog of bedroom EPs and such, but this is still really only my second record – I think we’re just now getting the hang of it. We’ve made enough mistakes along the way that I finally feel really holistically prepared to plan the next one.

What is the biggest difference in your personal songwriting compared to your debut?

Hello Emerson: I think I can write songs that are shorter and more evocative without sacrificing the storytelling. Also, I’m less afraid to write a pop song. I think I’m less afraid in general, more interested in particulars, and understand a bit more about myself and my own perspective. I think I’m more comfortable in my own skin, so I have more energy to be curious about other people around me; I think that shows in the songs.

Each of your ten songs tells a little story. To what extent do they fit together as an overall picture on the album?

Hello Emerson: I have pride in midwestern successes and I have shame in midwestern failures – especially our state falling to Trump. This record is about trying to gracefully move through failures. Whether those disappointments come as personal relationships end or as presidencies begin – I think it’s a midwestern response to gracefully, dutifully, and consistently work through failures so we can do better next time. I think, or at least hope, that’s midwestern culture. The record is named after my favorite cookbook, Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything.” Over the past five years, I’ve been learning to cook a bit better. It’s been a reminder that growth and progress are inelegant, sometimes leaving us with small burns or inedible meals. But, if we can move through those missteps, we can improve day-to-day life in small ways for ourselves and others. Each of the songs is a small story that adds up to this larger whole. I hope this record finds someplace to call home, like Mark’s cookbook found mine. Regardless, I’ll keep writing and I’ll keep cooking.

„If you’re normally quiet, and then you shout, it can be arresting and alarming. I think I try to make pockets of big contrast like that.“

Isn’t there a relatively high risk that you get too involved and design the songs?

Hello Emerson: I’m not sure I understand the question, but I did build a team of over 50 friends and artists to make the record. Maybe this is the risk that you’re talking about? There’s a risk of imbalance in my life. I think I’m still seeking balance when it comes to working on music, other jobs, and maintaining meaningful relationships and hobbies. I think I’m doing ok, but have a lot to learn. Ideally, I’d like to do something well consistently for a long time in a balanced way, instead of doing something extremely well for a short time in an unbalanced way. I think I’m making mistakes on either side, but learning more about how to balance things going forward.

Hello Emerson über das Album „How to Cook Everything“

In “Seat 16b” you sing a hymn to the new beginning in life. What energies do you think will be released when you start over?

Hello Emerson: I’m not sure what you mean by start over – but I think I’m constantly inspired by the woman that I wrote this song about. I was on a plane and started eavesdropping on a woman across the row from me. She had never left her home state of Arkansas, but was flying across the country to meet someone she had been dating online for a few months. They had been high school sweethearts, but were in middle age now – and they hadn’t seen each other since high school. Her seat mates were supportive throughout the flight. It struck me how much strength and bravery she had to fly across the country with this spark of hope for a new beginning. I think, paired with the first song about a relationship ending, it forms a hopeful bookend. If they were swapped, it would be a story about a hopeful start leading to an ending – but the way that we sequenced the tracks, it’s actually about a thoughtful ending making room for a humble new beginning.

„People listen to music differently here than they do back home. Sometimes at home, you have to compete for their attention – really have to shepherd an audience and earn their ears.“

If I don’t pay attention to the stories in the songs, but only to the arrangements and the mood of the album, then I have to say it feels a bit sluggish at first glance. But basically it is also coherent and the overall picture fits together well. Why doesn’t it always have to be musically wild?

Hello Emerson: I think the subdued parts of the record make the “musically wild” parts even wilder. If you’re always shouting – that becomes normal. If you’re normally quiet, and then you shout, it can be arresting and alarming. I think I try to make pockets of big contrast like that – that’s one of the things that I think songs should be able to do. More of this comes through in our live shows – they aren’t musically wild all the time, but we’re a bit more unexpected.

You will go on tour in a few days. What are you most looking forward to?

Hello Emerson: We’re super excited to tour again in Germany. This is my third time. The first time I came solo, then I brought Dan along on drums last year. And now Jack gets to join us on keyboards this year. I think my favorite part of touring is the people – in a few ways. For one, we’re often staying in people’s homes or space rooms. And they’re often making us home cooked meals or having a drink and a chat before bed. I love those conversations after shows the most. We get to learn so much about people who we wouldn’t otherwise meet. Also, people listen to music differently here than they do back home. Sometimes at home, you have to compete for their attention – really have to shepherd an audience and earn their ears. I love that exercise too, for the record. But here, everyone is so immediately open to hearing something different. It’s really a wonderful feeling to be so welcomed by audiences each night.

What can we as spectators expect from your live performance?

Hello Emerson: Expect it to be very quiet, then very loud, and quiet again. The band that I play with is exceptional, and they have a way of heightening the key moments in each song. We’ve been playing together for about five years now – so we’re pretty keyed into each other’s dynamics. Also – expect to laugh! Even about sad things. I know that we’re playing a great show if people laugh at a couple lines, even if the subject area might be sad. I think those are the two most important emotions to bring together – and it’s often something that you can only do when gathered in a room together.

Hello Emerson auf Tour:

27.01.20 Chemnitz – Inspire
28.01.20 Dresden – Blue Note
29.01.20 Wien (AT) – Clash
30.01.20 Nürnberg – MUZClub
31.01.20 Essen – Weststadthalle (mit lilly among clouds)
01.02.20 Braunschweig – Eulenglück (mit lilly among clouds)
02.02.20 Münster – Pension Schmidt (mit lilly among clouds)
04.02.20 Kiel – Die Pumpe (mit lilly among clouds)
05.02.20 Oldenburg – Kulturetage (mit lilly among clouds)
07.02.20 Hamburg – Elbdeich e.V.
08.02.20 Berlin – Ick koof mir Dave Lombardo
09.02.20 Langenberg – KGB (mit Christina Martin)

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