Music will never be perfected. It continues to morph, mixing older and used styles with new ideas. Each artist contributes elements that can never be reproduced but can always be emulated.
In walks Emily Chambers, an up and coming singer/songwriter from Vancouver. She has perfected her art, successfully combining old school jazz and R’n’B stylings with modern vibes. She is a cross between Dusty Springfield and Mary J. Blige with the likes of Aretha Franklin and John Legend.
Graciously, Chambers let me pick her brain on her inspirations, her musical beginnings, and who she would love to be…besides herself of course.
Who are your biggest influences, both personally and musically?
Musically, I was introduced to the likes of Donny Hathaway, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder when I was around eight years old. These artists were introduced to me by this fantastic vocal teacher that I had for a decade, from the time I was eight to 18. She opened up my world to Motown, soul, and jazz with artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. I take a lot of inspiration from the oldies. I was also obsessed with Christina Aguilera when I was a teenager. Of course, I love Adele and Alicia Keys. Moving into my formative years, I was obsessed with the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. This is one of my all-time favorite albums.
I actually don’t have a musical family at all, which is hilarious. Apparently, I had a great aunt that was a famous opera singer, who I never met. That’s where everyone thinks all this came from. So as far as personal influences, my sister is a huge inspiration to me. She’s just such a go-getter, incredibly hard-working, incredibly creative, incredibly smart, and funny. I just want to be like her forever. She’s one of my best friends. I also look to my parents. My mom is such a strong woman. My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about 17 years ago, and that’s been a pretty life-changing journey for our whole family, but especially for my mom and my dad. She’s just such a champion about it all. I’m fortunate to have an outstanding community of family and friends. Since I moved to Nashville, I’ve made some of my best friends and everyone here is a hustler. I’m constantly in a sea of inspiration that’s making me work my butt off, which is awesome.
You plan on releasing new music this year. What can we expect?
My plans for 2019 is to drop singles pretty much. I’ll be releasing another single in July. And then after that, probably in September…
I have been writing like a madman, so I’m excited about the new direction that we’re moving in. I’m pumped to release my next single.
What can we expect from your new singles musically? Will they be along the lines of your single “Left Alabama” and your EP Magnolia?
“Left Alabama” is an excellent gateway between the classicsoul song moving into the neo-soul direction. I love the mix and balance between produced sounds, produced drums, 808s, and elements mixed in with live drums, acoustic piano, electric guitar, and horns. I love the balance between that kind of production so you can expect more of that…I still have a heavy jazz influence in my new material.
I’m gearing towards higher energy material that’s more fun, more geared towards getting a younger fan base, and getting into the accessible circuit. The new music will really reflect where I’m at right now at this point in my life.
What does a day in the studio look like for Emily Chambers? What do you need for your creativity to thrive?
I’m all about the ambiance. I like low lighting. My producer that I worked with on “Real Talk” and “Left Alabama” and that I’m continuing to work with, he’s all about that too. You know, the incense, the sort of high vibe sprays, and setting everything right because you’re in there for 10 hours.
It’s a lot of talking about how my producer and I want things to feel musically and what we are saying with the lyrics. We go through a million different sounds, and I’m singing parts to him. It’s super fun. It’s my favorite place to be, other than the stage, especially when we’re tracking vocals.
Bringing ideas to life is just pretty magical. It’s productive, and I feel like I’m in my element, where I’m supposed to be.
How did your journey in music begin?
When I was eight years old, my mom asked me if I wanted to take singing lessons. We lived across the street from an amazing Canadian jazz singer named Joani Taylor. I trained with her once a week for a decade. I sang my first performance in grade five in front of the talent show and then kind of went from there. Through high school, I won the Idol competition and then started singing all of our national anthems. That led to singing for a local hockey team and then singing for our CFL football league.
My sister was the one that suggested I go to Berklee College of Music…I applied, and I got into Berklee on a vocal scholarship. I didn’t apply anywhere else. I did a year at Berklee and was so fortunate to have that year given to me by my parents. And then they were like, “Okay. That’s your entire education fund in one year, so you’re on your own.”
I made the decision that I didn’t want to take out a hundred thousand dollars worth of student loans to get a performance degree. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing that, but it just wasn’t the route for me. So I decided to leave after that year, and I went to Europe with some, buddies for what was supposed to be three weeks. I ended up singing at an open mic, and some older man said, “You need to come out and busk with me on the street.”
I ended up meeting up with him with my buddies. We played guitar, and we learned a couple of songs. I ended up staying in Europe for four and a half months, busking the south of France and Italy, and into Greece. For me, it was like, “Okay, you tell the world you’re not going to make music anymore and it kind of gets thrown right back in your face.” Europe was the first time where people (I was 19) would just stop on the street and be like, “You’re amazing.”
Then I came back to Vancouver, had some career ups and downs, and started the band, Champaign Republic. We were a five-piece soul, pop, funk group, and we ran together for six years. We signed with a management company, and we got a lost in trying to write something for radio. I just lost all inspiration for the project. I think a lot of us did, and so, right as our band agreement ended and our PR plan was going to roll out, I left. I went solo in 2015, released “Magnolia” in 2016, and then I took off in my van to tour the U.S. Now, I am in Nashville.
Now for a little light conversation…
What is your favorite song to cover?
Well, this changes. Right now I love covering “Just the Two of Us” by Grover Washington, Jr. I also love covering Bruno Mars.
If you could collaborate with anybody musically, dead or alive, who would you choose?
Oh, god. Do I just get one? I would love to collaborate with Quincy Jones, but I could name 50 more. That’s the first one that came to my mind.
If you could be anybody for a day, who would it be?
Oprah. I’d love to wake up to this beautiful estate, with a lovely breakfast made for my dogs and me, and then I’d got out and have a super soul conversation with some spiritual leader in the world. I love Oprah.
On April 26th Chambers released her latest single, “Real Talk.” A hard-hitting soul power ballad with elements of classic rock and roll, jazz, and candid honesty.
Chambers artistry is bound for impact. Whether she goes on to sell out Radio City or win a few Grammys, she has made her mark on music using her straightforward lyrics to her evanescent vocals. Keep an eye open, she’s on her way.
Connect with Emily Chambers: