Review Fix chats with singer/songwriter Emma Friedman, who discusses the goals, inspiration and creative process behind her Full Circle EP.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
Emma Friedman: Before I ever got into music, I was always a dancer. Dance was a huge part of my life and I loved performing and being able to connect with the music on a physical level. I realized this strong connection with music and asked my parents for a guitar for Christmas when I was about five years old. Soon after, I started guitar lessons and realized I hated them. I remember refusing to play “Jingle Bells” and “Ode to Joy” in favor of playing my latest favorite song off of the radio. From there I decided I was going to quit lessons and I wound up teaching myself how to play by looking at chord charts on the internet. As soon as I quit lessons, I got the guitar bug and was hooked.
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Friedman: This is always a tough one. Although it may be old- fashioned of me, I made sure that everything on this EP was analog. It was all played by real people on real instruments and I think that that sentiment encompasses what I attempt to do with my music. It’s a combination of real instruments with authentic and honest lyrics. If I had to put it in a genre I’d say it’s Folk-Rock.
Review Fix: What makes “Full Circle” a special EP?
Friedman: I think “Full Circle” is special in many ways. Besides it holding a special place in my heart as my first EP, I think it stands out with its honesty. I was falling in love with someone while simultaneously realizing that I was a part of the LGBT community. I was confused, scared, and just wished everything didn’t have to be so complicated. On the EP you hear a lot of that self-doubt and questioning without any sugar-coating. I didn’t hide anything and hope that the listeners appreciate the vulnerability of the tracks.
Review Fix: What’s the standout song on the EP? How was it written?
Friedman: While the other two songs on the EP are about love, “Breathe Again” is a political call to action. I wrote it right after the presidential election because I knew I had to do something to let out all I was feeling. It wasn’t a surprise, but it definitely wasn’t something I was ready for either. I kinda just sat in a room for a while with my guitar trying to find the progression that most accurately expressed what I was feeling at the moment and once I had that, the words just fell out. I knew that a lot of people were feelings a lot of different things and in the chorus of the song I just really stress that I have zero idea where our country is going and while that’s scary, I have a lot of hope that with this rise of activism we’ll be able to move in a direction where people’s’ differences are celebrated not targeted.
Review Fix: What musicians influenced you the most?
Friedman: There are so many musicians and songwriters who I admire, but someone who is definitely an idol for me is Julien Baker. Many people haven’t heard of her, but she is just an incredible songwriter. She talks about such sensitive topics in such an eloquent way while somewhat bluntly telling you how she really feels. Lyrically she is a huge influence. I’m also influenced by artists like Bon Iver, Sara Bareilles, Hozier, and Ben Howard, who are all phenomenal writers and musicians as well. I feel like I could go on forever naming artists who influence me because I am constantly listening to things and getting inspired.
Review Fix: How do you want your music to affect people?
Friedman: The main goal of my music is to connect with people. Growing up there were so many songs that have helped me through tough times or told me something I needed to hear at just the right moment. I want my music to be that for other people. I also want to use my music as a way of normalizing things like mental illness and same-sex relationships. It’s easy to not talk about things because they’re hard, but I often find the most important things to talk about are the ones we avoid.
Review Fix: Why is this EP a must buy?
Friedman: For anyone who has ever found love in a place they weren’t supposed to, anyone who was ever missed someone, or anyone who is still trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into the larger world, this EP is a letter to you from someone going through the same thing.
Review Fix: How do you think your experiences with Alabama Shakes and Steely Dan have influenced you?
Friedman: Getting to open for the Alabama Shakes and Steely Dan was definitely one of my highest points as a musician thus far in my career. It was one of the biggest shows I’ve ever played, and surprisingly, it was definitely one of my best. I thought I would be crazy nervous in front of that number of people, but I wound up feeding off of the energy from the audience and just having a great time onstage.
Review Fix: What are your end goals in music?
Friedman: My end goal is by no means to commercialize my music for fame. That would undermine my whole purpose and reason for making music. As long as I am writing and performing, I’m happy. I would love to tour eventually, and have a dedicated fan following. But besides that I really just want to affect people with my music. Anyway that I can touch people and make music is a win for me. I wouldn’t mind a Grammy either.
Review Fix: What do you think you have to do to accomplish those goals?
Friedman: Work my butt off. I know nothing is going to get handed to me. I have to keep writing, performing, learning and improving in order to get any farther than I am now. The thing is though, even though it can be frustrating at times to force myself to finish a song I don’t like or get turned down by different people for various opportunities, I know that all of this will pay off and make any success I might achieve in the future that much sweeter.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Friedman: Right now I’m doing a lot of performing to promote the EP, but I am also writing a ton of new material. Although there isn’t anything coming out in the near future, I hope to release some self-produced material late next year.