Tag Archive: The Wild Joys of Living

After a four-year hiatus in the electro genre, Emily Zuzik returns with the release of her downtempo single, “The Only Moment in the World”, on Feb. 25, 2014. Zuzik co-produced and mixed the song with Jimmy La Valle (The Album Leaf). The song was created as part of a digital pop-up book project, A Picture is Worth…, published by Proseed Books, which paired musicians and photographers together to create a work based on the imagery provided. Drawing on images of industrial French river towns at the break of day, the song follows a couple as they wind their way along the water and through a history of their affair.

Emily Zuzik with Moby

Emily Zuzik with Moby

In 2011, Emily was a featured singer and cowriter of “The Low Hum” on Moby’s “Destroyed” album. She has worked with a number of other downtempo artists over the years including South London’s Sizzlax and Los Angeles’ Acacia Downs. Additionally, she and bassist/producer Tim Lefebvre released an eclectic electronic pop album, Domestic Blitz, in 2010.

She has toured extensively across the US and UK. Zuzik is an Epiphone/Gibson Guitars Endorsed Artist, a commissioned musical artist for Esopus Magazine and a vocalist in Erie Insurance jingles and the Blue Man Group Production Saturday Morning Puppet Club. Her songs have been licensed for the CW show Smallville, The Nate Berkus Show, BRAVO’s Flipping Out, the National Geographic documentary Slammed: Inside Indie Wrestling, Amsale Girls, the Cuba Gooding Jr. film Ticking Clock and the indie film Fifth Form.

HVUM: Emily, we’re very glad to be back in touch. …..Since the last time we talked, you’ve moved on from “Domestic Blitz” (2010). You’re releasing “The Only Moment in the World” a downtempo track. Tell us what’s behind your affinity with downtempo.

EZ: Well, actually, I released an Americana rock album, The Wild Joys of Living, with my NYC band in 2011 too. I have a tendency to go back and forth between the genres – downtempo and songwriter/Americana. I like downtempo electronica because it allows me to work with a different instrumentation as well as to dive a bit into areas like Classical music, where composing plays a bigger role. I listen to quite a bit of Classical in my car these days. I have to say it’s definitely been an influence on me. The songs grow into more than just songs. They become soundtracks of a sort. I love the possibilities that inspires. There’s also a big amount of electronic music played on stations like KCRW that has caught my ear. I also love (because keys are not my first instrument) that I can be whoever I want to be as a singer. It allows a bit of character play that guitar songs don’t for me.

HVUM: In between “Domestic Blitz” and “The Only Moment in the World”, there was “Motels” (2011), which was plugged in acoustic – rock. Does “Motels” hold a place in your musical progression?

EZ: “Motels” was off the Americana album, The Wild Joys of Living, which was a lively rocking collection of songs. Very guitar-based. Bigger production. It’s a song I love, maybe because it’s a character song in the middle of an album of deeply personal songs. We played with that idea in the video we made for that song. I played several characters who visit a motel to hide in their obsessions. I have always loved playing dress up and that video allowed me to do that and use a ton of my vintage clothing collection at the same time.

HVUM: You co-produced the track with Jimmy La Valle. We remember Jimmy La Valle as guitarist with Tristeza as well as the driving force behind Album Leaf. Tell us about your collaboration with Jimmy.

EZ: Funny thing about meeting Jimmy, I met him and his wife Kate at a restaurant in Highland Park in Northeast Los Angeles a few years back. We turned out to be neighbors. Over time, we’d hung out a few times and shared some family resources. I was working on the single and came to a point where I could no longer work in my studio. I needed additional help with recording and mixing and thought I’d ask Jimmy if he was interested since he’d offered it in the past. Luckily, he said yes and we spent a day in his studio doing some vocal retakes, initial mixes and drum ideas. He then went to town and put some magic in the track and we had the song. He’s such a talented guy and so nice and easy to work with. I’d love to do more collaboration with him and who knows what the future holds.

HVUM: Ok. Let’s take time out to listen to Emily Zuzik and “The Only Moment in the World”.

HVUM: Taking “The Only Moment in the World” as a point of departure, where are you heading with your music?

EZ: There will be more electronic stuff. I’m doing a bunch of collaborating with other artists in this area, as well as writing more downtempo stuff on my own. I mentioned the newness of keys earlier and that foreign terrain of sound really excites me. It feels both incredibly modern and very disconnected at the same time. Maybe that’s the current day conundrum—being plugged in and totally separated from humanity through technology. Whatever the root of it, I like what I’m getting when I sit down to write, whether on my own or with others. For that reason alone, I am looking to continue down this path.

HVUM: Should we be looking for a collaborative album on the horizon?

EZ: There will likely be some kind of collaborative album in the future. I haven’t put deadlines on myself with this. I have another single ready to go later this year. Also downtempo, but it’s different in mood and feel. It’s a Burning Man song, I like to say. I will probably release it before the next Burn and try to get it out to some DJs I know going to the festival. Maybe it will end up in a chill lounge on the playa.

Emily, thanks so much for bringing us an update. You’re always welcome at HorizonVU Music. Everyone should check out “The Only Moment in the World” at https://soundcloud.com/emilyzuzik/the-only-moment-in-the-world-1and you can visit Emily online at at


Emily Zuzik

Emily Zuzik

Emily Zuzik is  prolific singer/songwriter, rocker and sought-after collaborator. We’ve also been following Emily’s work for…well at least two years.  Her career has allowed her to shift fluidly from acoustic folk to electronica and alternative rock. Emily released her  seventh studio album, The Wild Joys of Living, produced with Wes Hutchinson in June 2011.

With Americana-fueled guitars and sexy Sheryl Crow-tinged vocals, Zuzik has been a well-known name in the New York City music scene for nearly a decade and is headed west to Los Angeles. She has toured extensively across the US and UK and is a featured vocalist on “The Low Hum,” off of Moby’s album Destroyed. Zuzik is an Epiphone/Gibson Guitars Endorsed Artist.

Help us get to know you better…where does your story begin?

EZ: I guess the story begins on Feb. 26th in the early to mid 70s. I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the cusp of the midwest, to a budding lawyer and housewife. I was always a singer, a dreamer and a lone wolf. I can remember from an early age locking myself in my bedroom with all my toys spread out, creating entire towns of people with stories, and disappearing for hours. I don’t know how my folks felt about it. I never really connected with a ton of people where I grew up. I knew instinctively that I didn’t belong there and that there must be more in the world that I’d need to see.

I have always been a singer. I guess the musical journey began around 10 or 12 when I discovered a kid’s guitar I was given by my grandmother. I became totally obsessed with playing it and writing songs. I still have cassette tapes around of some of those first attempts. Some aren’t half bad…

Who do you consider to be your first source of inspiration (sneeking in my favorite question)…any musicians stand out in your mind as the one (or ones) that set the Emily story in motion?

EZ: Without a doubt and in chronological order, these are the artists or albums that totally changed me before the age of 13:
1) Elvis Presley
2) The HAIR Soundtrack
3) The Beatles entire catalog

And your development as a musician…take us for a walk along your path so far?

It’s getting harder to tell that story the longer I do this sort of work. I keep forgetting parts of it. I had been writing in the basement of my folks place, borrowing gear from guy friends in junior high and high school to make 4-track albums on cassette. I was briefly part of a recording duo called The Canticles with an older girl, Erin Durban, who was a friend of my close friend. I wrote half the tunes and sang most of the songs. I had a copy, but the other gal, Erin, went to college in Ohio, so from what they tell me, the campus dorm rooms had that tape on repeat for a while. It made sense, the Indigo Girls were kind of the hot group for small liberal arts schools during that time.

I went to university in upstate NY and continued to write, playing a few shows over the next few years. I was never really a live performer until my mid 20s, but I’d been writing for 10 years by that point.

It wasn’t until I had moved to San Francisco and weathered my first adult breakup that I really threw myself into performing. I hit open mics 2-3 days a week and really worked hard. The first few times, I was shaking, barely able to sing and clearly amateur, but the folks at those venues were so supportive. I got my sea legs.

From there, I’d joined a few cover bands (Shitty Shitty Band Band and Funkmobile) as a singer/percussionist, and formed my first band, Sexfresh, with co-songwriter Ben Ratliff. That band recorded 2 albums–The Fainting Room and Vacancy–and Ben and I did an acoustic tour of the Southwest US landing eventually outside Austin, Texas for a few months.

By end of 2001, we were in NYC and continued to peform as a duo and band with the Sexfresh catalog. I started to feel the urge to break out and do my own thing with different musicians. That must have been around 2002. I was booking events for a group called Womanrock.com andplaying shows in NYC. I even recorded an ep of tunes that became the majority of my first record, The Way It’s Got to Be (2003). I also toured the US with LA-based artist Pi, where we played 26 venues in 30 days.

I knew I wanted to make a “real studio” record with pro musicians for my next project, and my friend Meredith DiMenna of the band Saint Bernadette introduced me to Josh Kessler at Bushwick Studios. We hit it off and that’s where I spent the next year off and on recording and mixing, You Had Me At Goodbye (2006). The process of studio recording really schooled me. I had to revisit how I sang, explore new territory vocally and productionwise, met truly amazing players like Keith Carlock, Tim Lefebvre and Dan Mintseris who played on the record and learn how and when to compromise. I’m so proud of that record, and while I think some songs are not as strong as others, I believe the album as a whole really works. It was my attempt to sonically marry Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon with Zero 7. Not your usual songwriter fare…

After that record, I worked with Tim Lefebvre on our 2010 release Domestic Blitz for a few years. I’d also released a digital only ep, The Jagged Life ep, in 2009. There are some stories with those records too, like Jagged Life, was written with Art Hays as a potential theme song for the NBC show Mercy. Tim and I had a song Higher than Me go on Josh Groban’s 2011 Summer Tour Walk-In mix for all venues. They both have a lot of life left in them, and we continue to work on getting songs into TV and film.

That’s actually been a big part of what I do musically these days. I guess I should backtrack a bit and say that between late 2006 and early 2008, I’d toured the US Midwest, Southeast, Northeast and did 4 tours to the UK. One of those tours (August 2007) was with Columbia Records artist Ari Hest, Marwood and later on Ireland’s Michael Brunnock. All were so helpful in teaching me about performing in less optimal conditions, life on the road, returning to your life after touring and expanding your knowledge base. I couldn’t have become who I am today as a person or artist without that time alone, traveling and working in music. So, back to the initial point, I do a lot more studio and commercial work instead of touring these days and that kind of began in 2008.

So, fast forward, to this year. 2011 has been a bit of a roller coaster because a lot of the recording and cowriting I was doing between 2007 to now all got released this year. I have had a bunch of songs that I sang and cowrote released on South London label, XY Records, which deals in electronic down-tempo, dub step and drum and bass. I also cowrote and sang a song called “The Low Hum” which was on Moby’s last record, Destroyed. Then, randomly, a version of the Pretenders’ “Message of Love” that I did with Art Hays was licensed as the theme song to the NBC series, Love Bites, in July 2011. Around the same time, I released a roots rock/songwriter record with my band I’d been playing with for the last few years called The Wild Joys of Living. That album was produced by Wes Hutchinson and me, with great input and mixing by old pal producer Josh Kessler.

People really seem to like Wild Joys, as we got write ups in the LA Examiner, the Huffington Post, AOL Music and it was selected for inclusion in LA’s famed radio station KCRW’s music library. I think that people “get” these songs very easily and so the more folks hear it, the more momentum it has.

Along the road, you’ve no doubt had some really great “ups”, but just about everybody in the business has at least one experience they could have done without…can you share some highs and lows with us?

EZ: Hmm, I’d say most of this year was a high. Honestly, I’m really at ease as a performer. I’m playing when and where I like. I’ve had both critical and commercial attention and respect from recent work. I’m finding more collaborators on different kinds of projects to work on. It feels really effortless.

Lows. Of course there are lows. I wasn’t happy for a number of years, especially during those times when I was touring. I love both environments of home and the road, but the transition to and from is a real bitch. I had a hard time re-acclimating to life at home after tours. Luckily, I was single for most of it so the relationship strains weren’t as big of an issue. But I also didn’t want to be alone forever, so I decided to really “be a NYer” in 2008 and then life had a way of changing me and how I wanted my life to look. There was a lot of drinking and bad behavior in those unhappy years. Sadness and loneliness. Lots of sad songs.

We’ve been listening to “The Wild Joys of Living”. Tell me a little about the album…we’re did it come from?

EZ: The Wild Joys of Living is a collection of mostly newer songs. I feel a real positivity coursing through it, like the mark of a new chapter. Itseem appropriate because it captures that hopefulness I experienced while being a New Yorker and then meeting my husband, getting engaged and married, and settling into my true self. There are a couple older tunes like Feels Like Rain cowritten with Tom Glynn and Step Back, but most of the rest of it, I wrote in the year before recording. Two songs, You Want to Go Out Tonight? and You Know When You Know, I wrote with Wes, and those came so easily. I think the songs cover a wide range of emotions, much like life. I found the title as a quote of Robert Browning on the cover of a magazine while I was recording the songs and thought, “Oh my God, this is totally it!”

I credit the album to Emily Zuzik Band instead of just my name because I feel the songs really grew through the collaboration of my band members Wes Hutchinson, Brian Killeen and Ryan Vaughn. All these guys are immensely talented and play with a ton of other people. I was lucky to grab them for a short period and make this album. They are also amazing people and that is another huge priority for me workwise. I demand good people around me–no diva shit, no attitude, no amateur crap–come in prepared, do the work, and have fun. Everyone’s time is to be respected and then let’s make some ART, man!

You’ve been collaborating with Moby. In fact, you’re worked with Moby on his new album “Destroyed.” You’re the featured vocalist on thesong, “The Low Hum”. Tell us a bit about working on that album.

EZ: It’s funny, because we had been cowriting and working together off and on for a few years. It was never steady, and there was never anyassurance that the tunes would be released. I felt lucky enough to work with a Grammy nominee. When he wanted to release one of our songs, I was thrilled.

He’s a very focused musician. He’d send me tracks. I’d write and record demo versions of tunes. The ones he liked, we’d get together and re-record the vocals. The Low Hum was a very early collaboration and one I’m quite fond of as it’s the story of my last Manhattan apartment, so there’s a bit of nostalgia in it for me. I’m happy it’s the song through which Moby’s fans met me.

Of all the work you’ve done…does any one effort stand out…I mean is there an album or song that you think of as the “ultimate” Emily?

EZ: Which Emily? I believe that people travel through life in chapters and there are definitely songs that best mark some of mine. I think the ones that stand out for me (chronologically) would be:

Try a New Line on Me-Sexfresh
Breaking It Down-EZ
Higher than Me-EZ and Tim Lefebvre
How and Why-Sizzlax feat. Emily Zuzik
Walk Away-EZ and Tim Lefebvre
You Want to Go Out Tonight? -EZB

Okay! “You Want to Go Out Tonight” it is!!! Emily Zuzik Band!!!

On a more personal note…you and your husband are headed west…LA bound. Any specific reason for the move you want to share with us…? After all New York has a lot of buzz.

EZ: New York will always have a lot of buzz. The buzz is sometimes maddening. We’ve both been here a decade and really want to change up our quality of life. California is the place. I lived out there. He’s from there. I want a house with a yard. I don’t like winter. Frankly, most of the folks I work with musically aren’t here anymore anyway. Between losing collaborators to LA and Austin, I’d venture to say, only members of my band are here. I’ll miss my friends, but many of them travel back and forth to California, so I’ll see them soon. I’m ready for a change. I think most artists move around because stagnancy breeds discontent.

Finally, are you an advocate for any causes or issues you’d like to share with us?

EZ: I’ve been involved in the Avon Walk breast cancer benefit, Bands for Boobs, for the last few years. I’ve also donated music for some personal health charities and flood relief for both Japan and Upstate NY. I’ve also worked on benefits for City Harvest in NYC. I try to do as many of these kinds of live performances or compilations as I can to remain active in giving back. I’m lucky to do what I do, and it only makes sense to be philanthropic in my art. Otherwise, it’s a bit selfish.

Emily, Thanks so much for taking time out to talk with us – very much appreciated. We truly look forward to following you and your work and we sure hope that you’ll visit with us in the future. We want to remind all of you on the West Coast that Emily will be performing in LA on 25 October at 8h15 pm…Get out there and give her a warm welcome!

Bar Lubitsch
7702 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046

EZ: Thank you, Phil, for taking interest in my music and career. It’s folks like you who help keep independent music alive. I’m very grateful for that. Besides the move, I’m pretty busy with a few other releases in the next year–music with Art Hays, XY Records, the Bristol-based DJ Tristan D and likely new stuff in LA once I land. If people want to stay in touch, they can visit my site, www.emilyzuzik.com, or keep up to date on my Facebook Music page, http://www.facebook.com/emily.zuzik.music or Twitter @emilyzuzik.

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