Tag Archive: Wes Hutchinson


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
Magic-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.

Article from RocketHub, 16 May 2011 http://blog.rockethub.com/emily-zuzik-discusses-moby-collaboration-in-p

Emily_1

Emily Zuzik is a prolific singer/songwriter, rocker and sought-after collaborator. She has the ability to effortless shift fluidly from acoustic folk to electronica and alternative rock and will be featured on Moby’s new album “Destroyed,” which is set to release May 17, 2011.

Moby

From Moby: “Emily’s vocals brought a unique dark and melodic texture to The Low Hum.  I’ve wanted to work with her ever since she auditioned for a rock project I started. She has remarkable talent and passion for all kinds of music. I’m excited to hear her new record.”

We caught up with Emily as she is about to participate in RocketHub’s Takeoff Tuesday – a weekly music series designed to entertain and support musical artists through networking, workshops and career enhancing showcases. She will talk about the Moby collaboration as well as other trends and adventures in the current music business landscape.

Takeofftuesday

The event takes place at Spike Hill in Williamsburg – May 17th at 7PM. The same date that the record is released.

1. How did the song collaboration with Moby, “The Low Hum,” come about? – We’ve heard you use the theme of a late night in an “empty city” in the lyrics of the tune.

I met him initially when I auditioned to sing for a rock project he was working on. It never ended up seeing the light of day. Later on, he asked me to sing on a song for his next record. I don’t know if that song ever made the cut either, but then we decided to write together. He gave me a bunch of instrumental compositions and asked me to write to ones that struck me. His only request was to steer clear of strict narrative and make the lyrics more introspective and vague. We did a bunch of demos and one of our collaborations was “The Low Hum” which he put on his next record, Destroyed.

The late night in an empty city theme really came from what the song called for. I had just moved into an apartment in Murray Hill and I went over to the place one night on my own. I hadn’t move in any furniture yet. I’d hung a strand of Christmas lights on the window and sat in the middle of the living room floor. Then I was quiet and listened. The song happened that way. I described the scene and what I heard and how I felt in that moment. It wasn’t until later that Moby revealed that empty cities at night were a theme of his book and record. Kind of serendipitous that way…

2.  It is our understanding that the album will be released along with a photo book displaying a collection of photography Moby has shot over the years. Was “Low Hum” written with this idea of a “cross platform” distribution combining music and photgraphy?

No, I had no idea there was a book coming out until much later. I was surprised and excited by the news though. I shoot photography too, especially when I travel or am on the road. I also really like the pairing of sound and vision, as Bowie coined it. So, any opportunity I can be part of a “cross platform” project, I try to sign up for it.

3. What other projects do you have upcoming for the year that excite you the most?

Well, you kind of caught me in a maelstrom these days. Beyond the Moby song, I have some shows on both coasts (May 13 SF’s Makeout Room, May 17 Rockethub’s Featured Performer at Spike Hill, June 6 NY SongCircle Showcase at Bitter End).

I sang the theme song to the new NBC show “Love Bites” which is scheduled to debut on Thursday, June 2 at 10 PM. It was another collaborative project with Art Hays.

Lovebites

I am releasing my new album, The Wild Joys of Living, (which has 3 cowrites on it, 2 with Wes Hutchinson and one with Tom Glynn) at a CD RELEASE Party on Sat. June 25th at The Living Room at 11 PM. That cd release show will also be recorded live for XM Radio’s “From the Living Room to the Loft” program.

I’m working with UK dj team REFIX on another single and trying to keep all this going without losing my happiness or sanity. So far, so good…

Much thanks for taking the time to connect with us and for sharing these insights. We are excited to hear more at Takeoff Tuesday tomorrow!

Moby photo by Sunny Khasla

Emily photos courtesy www.emilyzuzik.com

Powered by WordPress. Theme: Motion by 85ideas.
google-site-verification: google0eca8f6b62d9ec8d.html