Tone Talk with Emily Zuzik

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Photo by Shots by Morrison
       

My name is Emily Zuzik, and as my biz card says, I’m a Singer-Writer-Rocker Mom! I’ve been playing music professionally for over 20 years as an original touring musician, commercial music producer, singer of jingles, wedding band front lady, and songwriter for film and TV. I finished a record, Torch & Trouble, with producer Ted Russell Kamp (Shooter Jennings/Tanya Tucker) that I am releasing in August. On a completely different note, I’m part of an electronic combo called WOVES that recently released a cover of The Police’s “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.”

My biggest musical influence is The Beatles. I learned everything I know about songwriting from their catalog and hold them as the gold standard. Others in the running are David Bowie, Liz Phair, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd.

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?

Tone is funny. It’s different things in different settings. When I play acoustic guitar, I like a warm harmonic sound. I like for harmonies to sit well in the mix of the live performance or recording. When you take things up a notch to a full electric band or electronic settings, I love dissonance and notes that rub because I believe they challenge you sonically. I don’t know that I always felt this way about music, but the older I get and the more my ear is open to new music, I find I like different things.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?

Acoustic guitars:

Gibson Southern Jumbo Deluxe, Epiphone Masterbilt Century Olympic, Epiphone Masterbilt DR500 MCE.

Electric guitars:

Epiphone Jorma Kaukonen Riviera Deluxe Archtop Electric, Mulhauser Echo #3 (Dragonfly).

Pedals are not something I’ve really explored much. I have a Fulltone OCD overdrive pedal and an Electro-Harmonix Memory Toy analog delay that I run through whatever is available amp-wise as I’m between amps right now.

What about strings?

I like phosphor bronze acoustic strings, but am not partial to any brand right now. Light gauge.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?

I think it’s important to play altogether when recording. It’s as close to the live show as you will get. I also think the songs should be rehearsed to death. Don’t come in with new tracks (though I’ve had success once or twice). I’m kind of a stickler on vocals, so I tend to overdub a TON. I also tend to record more, like I’m building a Brian Wilson or George Martin track, and often need someone to tell me to stop.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?

Consistency is likely my biggest challenge, mainly because my set up varies depending on the venue, as well as who I am playing with. I don’t have the budget to keep musicians on retainer, so often the lineup changes and with that, the tone/sound/vibe of the band. I tend to think it’s a good thing as long as you know the songs. Some folks like the band to sound the same each time, so if you want that, you may not find it in my show. Every player brings something special to music and so it’s interesting to me to explore how a song can morph each time.

What does your practice consist of?

I usually run songs by myself or with the players before the show once or twice. Obviously, the bigger the show, the more one rehearses. Then, there’s the issue of memory. I’ve begun live streaming each Saturday night and taking requests. Many old friends have asked for songs that I haven’t played regularly in over 10-15 years, so I have to crash course myself on the lyrics and chord changes. It has been fun to replay old songs and bring a new perspective to older chapters of my life.

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?

My advice would be to know what you want to do. The music industry takes many forms — live touring, music production, session work, catalog building/songwriting for hire. Each form requires different personalities and skillsets. Some people can do it all, but it is rare. I say, find what you love and go for it. Do it as much as you possibly can and see what feels best.

Singer * Writer * Rocker Mom
http://www.emilyzuzik.com
http://www.wovesmusic.com/
IG: @emilyzuzik / @wovesmusic

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