Our Artist Spotlight feature is on hold while Tracy, Luke and Olive get some time to chill as a new family. Stay tuned for Artist Spotlight Features in the new year!
The band is made up of front man Brett Wagner on the keys, trumpet and vocals, Daniel Crawford on guitar and vocals, Greg Manchester on drums and vocals, and Andrew Mauldin on bass and vocals. Hm, come to think of it, they are all on vocals.
Emersen was formed after Brett started making some recordings at his church’s studio many moons ago, laying down tracks of different instruments to make a truly unique sound. Brett would write his middle name “Emersen” on the cds he recorded and it sort of stuck around. He added band members until they had the perfect mix for the jazz/indie/pop genre that best describes them.
The band uses lots of ways to connect with fans, including a blog where they can post quick pictures and videos of shows, or funny stories that happen during practice or recordings. And who is this sweet little roadie with the rockin' pink headphones? Read on to find out what my interview with Brett uncovered...
“I was raised in a very musical family. My Dad and Mom were both music majors from SDSU, and they own a music school in La Mesa. I learned piano there, and I decided to try out Trumpet when I was 9 years old, and I took private lessons for a few years and played in my high school's jazz band. I played bass from the age of 13 and really developed that when I played for my church's worship team for 4 years straight.
Any cravings to learn any other instruments?
“I'd still love to learn to play accordion, and clarinet. Those two instruments seem to be capable of playing so many kinds of music.”
Seems like nobody wants to be compared to anybody these days or be affiliated with a genre, but we all have people we look up to or are inspired by from time to time.
“Haha. Yeah, I know how that is. I started writing and recording over 10 years ago, and the 5 years before that I was listening to Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Jamiroquai, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, the Police, The Beatles, and trumpeter Lee Morgan. If anyone compares me to any of those guys, of course I'd be flattered. Since then I listen to even more big band and jazz including Harry Connick Jr., Cab Calloway, Louis Prima, and some modern rock n' roll like Delta Spirit and Switchfoot. I don't know where this soul and pop sound that I play came from, I guess it's just in my blood.
I do hate being compared to people like Jason Mraz and Micheal Buble, not because I think they're bad, but because I'm pretty sure the only thing we have in common is that we're white and we sing.”
That’s hilarious. So, I love blogs. Is that your baby girl in your blog pictures?
“That is... She just turned 8 months. Her name is Neely, and my wife, Sarah, has brought her to every Emersen show since she was 4 weeks old.”
Wow that is commitment, every show? What are some of the challenges of starting a family while you are also pursuing music?
“It definitely takes strategic effort to pursue music while starting a family. My wife supports me 100% in my passion to make music, as I support her in passion to make art. If you don't make plans, mark things on the calender, communicate about things you want to work on that week, months and even years can go by and you'll realize you haven't gotten anywhere."
So what does it take to get it done?
“Once I decided to make a full-length album at the start of last year, I began waking up at 5am to record ideas, and just spend an hour or so everyday recording the music.
You can make excuses all you want, but excuses don't sound as good as a mixed and mastered album. I had to wake up before the sun, lose sleep, skip parties... My friends understood, and for that year my priorities were simply my family and making an album. In the song "Waste" I sang "I don't want to wait, thinking something might change, I don't want to end up full of regrets 'cause I just sat here." Everything I did last year was a part of making sure that didn't happen.”
Well the album is great... I like the cover, where did that image come from?
"I talk to my wife, Sarah, about everything. I was talking to her about how I want the album cover to be directly related to the music, and not be something obscure. I suggested we make a pile of all of the random instruments we used on the record, and then she said, "Why don't you just hang them on a clothes line?" I liked it immediately and it was just a matter of making that happen. It was a lot of fun."
Emersen's playing this Tuesday night, 11/30 at the House of Blues' LBLG. Check them out or else you are lazy. Just kidding, but really. Emersenmusic.com
By Tracy Kinnaman Petrucci