Emma-Lee

Name: Emma-Lee (is my first name)

Birth date: February 7th

High School: Markham District High School, Danforth Tech

College: Wasn’t for me

Where did you grow up? Markham/Toronto (Ontario)

Instrument(s): Guitar, Tambourine

Musical Background (ie. how did you become a musician): I grew up in a really musical family. Everyone can sing or play something. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, but mostly behind closed doors as a kid. I was drawn to women with huge soulful voices like Whitney, Mariah, Aretha and would sing along with them in my bedroom until I could sound (in my mind) pretty close to the way they sang. It wasn’t until I started to listen to women who wrote their own songs and played instruments that I wanted to learn guitar. My Dad taught me when I was 14 or so. I think I wrote my first actual, full song when I was 16. Then I became a rebellious teenager and abandoned my musical ambitions until I was about 20 years old. I was really into the electronic music scene, mostly drum and bass and became friends with different producers and DJ’s who would ask me to sing on their tracks. Hearing my voice professionally recorded for the first time was all it took to light the fire inside me again and since then I haven’t stopped writing and performing.

What were some non-musical jobs you had? Tim Horton’s, a shoe store, a clothing store, tele-surveying, Swiss Chalet hostess for about 2 weeks, bartender, server, movie extra…and to this day I still do photography professionally.

First record/tape/cd you ever bought with your own money? Paula Abdul – Forever Your Girl (on cassette)

Top 5 recording artists/bands: Elliott Smith, The Beatles, M. Ward, Bobbie Gentry, Joni Mitchell

Top 5 records: Ella and Louis (Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong), The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (Lauryn Hill), For Emma, Forever Ago (Bon Iver), Back to Black (Amy Winehouse), Voodoo (D’Angelo)

Top 5 songs: God Only Knows (The Beach Boys), What the World Needs Now is Love (Hal David & Burt Bacharach), Between the Bars (Elliott Smith), Chinese Translation (M. Ward), Janine Stoll (Means To My End)

Favourite Beatles song? I’m Only Sleeping

Favourite Beatles album? Rubber Soul

Best show you’ve played? Why? One of my favourite shows happened at the beginning of 2011. We were touring northern Ontario and had the opportunity to perform in front of a theatre full of students who were around 11-14 years old. We don’t often get in front of such young audiences but it was the most fun I’ve had on stage. It’s the age right before you start to develop a filter that stops you from just yelling things out and holding back your feelings. It was such an honest exchange of energy in a room.

Best show you’ve seen? Why? I think I have a few….Bettye Lavette at Lee’s Palace in Toronto…that woman is a force! Totally inspired me. I hope when I am her age I look that good and am still rocking out. I saw Rilo Kiley play a small club in Nottingham, UK which was an incredible show. I feel really lucky to have seen Amy Winehouse and Lhasa live. First time I saw k.d. lang was a few years ago – definitely the most flawless vocal performance I have ever seen.

Worst on-stage moment? In the middle of singing a really emotional ballad I got my stiletto caught in a crack on the stage we were on. I think Kevin and Dev had to pull it out.

What would you do if you weren’t a musician? I think I would be a Divemaster and in my spare time sell sea shells by the sea shore

If you could collaborate with anyone musically, dead or alive, who would it be? M. Ward

What’s your poison? Red wine, tequila, bourbon

Who would win in an arm wrestle – Karen or Emma-Lee? Sober probably me, but after we’ve had a few probably Karen

What is your most useless skill(s)? Tying a knot in a cherry stem with my tongue