Emmaline is the modern day version of your favorite old Jazz singers
Meet Emmaline – the modern-day equivalent to your favorite Jazz musicians and singers of the past, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Blossom Dearie.
The singer and violin player first got hooked on Jazz because of her father’s love of it. Now, she has made a full blown career of her own passion for the smooth sound. Emmaline has recently released two new singles, and is about to release something else in collaboration with Bootsy Collins and Phill Lassiter.
She’s a mix of old Hollywood and her modern self, with a little bit of glam and a cool tempo. We are obsessed with this song bird, and know you will be, too. We sat down with Emmaline to discuss her unique choice of music to pursue, her fashion sense, and who she is inspired by the most.
You are obviously heavily inspired by Jazz music. Who are your top 3 favorite Jazz musicians and why?
My dad is a Jazz pianist, so I grew up on Jazz. I’d say my favorite musicians are Ella Fitzgerald, Bill Evans, and Chet Baker. These three stand out the most to me, because I feel that all of them possess an element of longing and sometimes even sadness in their interpretation of the music. I feel the emotion really heavily amongst them, and I connect with it.
How have these musicians inspired you?
I think I’m really inspired by Ella Fitzgerald mostly, because I know it’s not always easy being a woman in the Jazz world – it’s a very male-saturated industry. Yet, despite that, she managed to keep such a good, positive attitude and really proved her worth as a truly brilliant musician.
Now, some people say Jazz is dead. So for you, why Jazz?
Because I connect with it. For me, being a musician not about “playing what’s popular” or “writing music that people will like.” I mostly perform and write the music that moves me, and if others connect with it, then great! But, if not, oh well!
What do you wish more people would understand about Jazz music?
I feel like people don’t quite understand that Jazz has influenced so many other genres of music, such as soul and R&B, so odds are, if you like those genres of music, you will probably like Jazz, too.
You’re a singer, songwriter, and a musician (you play the violin). How did you first get into music, and what has pushed you to stick with it?
Yes! I started playing violin at the age of 4 and took lessons all throughout high school. I then went to University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music to study violin performance on a full-ride scholarship. Throughout my whole life, I also sang and wrote songs but I was mostly self taught.
I had a bit of a rough freshman year as a violin performance major and truly felt like I was beginning to hate music so it was then that I kind of discovered Jazz and became pursuing what I feel my true passion is.
Especially being more of a Jazz musician, what has helped you keep going in this crazy industry?
I think my passion for music keeps me going honestly. If I didn’t like music, I wouldn’t keep choosing it over everything else on a daily basis. Especially as I’m gaining more traction on my social media, I’m learning that being a “mainstream” artist is not for the faint of heart.
There are so many people who want to trash what you do simply because you are in the “spotlight” or the “public eye” and it really leaves you questioning yourself and your worth sometimes. My love for the music keeps me going through it all.
Tell us about your original songs you recently released, “Shy” and “Pick You Up.”
They are inspired by Jazz, of course, but they are also super modern, with modern lyrics.
What are they about, and what was the process during writing these songs?
“Shy” is definitely more Jazz-inspired than “Pick You Up,” because the chord changes for it are actually based off of an old Jazz Standard called “Misty,” written by Erroll Garner and Johnny Burke in 1954.
My goal with that song was to rewrite the melody and lyrics to create a very fresh, modern-sounding tune! “Shy” is about being myself and my introverted personality. Even though it isn’t always noticeable, I am quite introverted really, which shocks a lot of people.
“Pick You Up” was a cute, simple song I wrote in an hour while I was waiting to pick my boyfriend, Ryan, up from his Tuesday night class at the University. The lyrics to that tune were literally just describing my exact feelings in that moment – it’s very raw and organic lyrically and musically. It’s no frills, which I think is a very beautiful and refreshing sound sometimes in this age of highly produced music.
You’re about to release a new single that you are currently working on, featuring the legendary bass player, Bootsy Collins, and 8 time Grammy award winning horn arranger, Phill Lassiter. That’s super impressive. How did you get to collab with them on this project, and what can you tell us about this new song?
Well, I have a couple mutual friends with Mr. Bootsy, so we sent him the demo to the tune and asked if he would be interested in collaborating on the project, he agreed. Then, not long after, Phillip Lassiter reached out to me via Instagram (@emmalineofficial) and asked if I had any tunes he could write on.
I felt that both artists would do incredible work on this single, so the rest is history! We are in the final stages of recording and hope to release this tune by the end of the summer.
Your look is very old Hollywood, mixed with a bit of you (flapper dresses with your sleeve tattoo). How did this style of yours come about?
My obsession with vintage style has been present throughout my whole life, honestly. I grew up watching old movies from the 40’s and 50’s with my dad, and I think that is why I am so drawn to the classic, vintage fashion. On the flip side, I am also mildly obsessed with body mods, such as piercings and tattoos! So my style is kind of “edgy, pin-up girl!”
What do you love about old Hollywood?
The glamour of it all. The women were always in pretty dresses and fur coats, the men, dressed in suits and wore nice hats and everyone smoked cigarettes. It’s nothing like how movies and music are today, it seemed more glamorous and over the top back then.
Favorite Hollywood icon?
So hard to choose, but I love Ginger Rogers and Audrey Hepburn.
What era do you love buying clothes from?
I love 1950’s style swing dresses, playsuits, high-waisted pants and even vintage-style swimwear. It’s all so cute!
Favorite black and white film?
I love “Sun Valley Serenade,” with Sonja Henie and John Payne. But, it’s so hard to choose just one! I love so many!
Cary Grant or Gene Kelly?
Cary Grant, I think. He did an amazing job in the film,”Bringing Up Baby,” with Katharine Hepburn! That’s a good one.
Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn?
Audrey all the way. Which is funny because so many people say I look like a “modern day, dark-haired Marilyn Monroe,” but I’ve never even seen one of her movies! I should do that at some point soon, though!
Favorite place to vintage shop?
Honestly I find a lot of my “vintage” looking pieces at completely normal stores such as Urban Outfitters or Forever 21! I don’t have a huge budget, so I always keep an eye out for vintage-inspired clothing that is affordable. I currently live in Cincinnati, so there are also some local boutiques that I like, as well.
Photos by Simion Collins