As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 10 – Winter Edition
While many songwriters are conscious of the issues we face today, not many of them can put them into songs as eloquently as EmiSunshine. Born and raised in a musical household, Emi knew early on that she had a lot to say, and she knew how she wanted to say it. Her new album, “Family Wars,” touches on the difficult reality that some of us are faced with: mass murder, political corruption, domestic violence – hardly the subject matter for teenagers. Although the context may be heavy, the album still has an optimistic tone. Her voice is both powerful and sweet as it soars over the various plucked strings from the band. In a world filled with darkness, EmiSunshine is here to be the light.
Your music has been in the spotlight since you were very young. How do you think your sound has evolved over the years?
Well, I think finding new artists who inspire me has altered my course. Each time I find someone I love, I see a new piece of the puzzle come to life. The songs I wrote early on are more simplistic than the ones on my new album because of all the artists who I’ve grown from.
Apart from your musical family, did you have any major influences growing up?
Sure, for me, it was watching other artists perform and believing I could do that. I went to lots of live concerts and watched documentaries about music. There was constantly music in the house. Artists like Marty Stuart, Dolly Parton, and Buddy Miller really were my go-to artists early on.
Is there a specific songwriting process that you follow?
Each write is different. If I’m writing with just me and Mom, it’s laid back and easy. Nashville writes are fast and furious, and depending on the writers, it can be spot-on or hit-or-miss. For instance, writing with Jim Lauderdale for my new album was way different than writing with Fish Fisher. Jim is polished and shiny and the song we wrote together, “There’s Got To Be More,” came out smooth and uplifting. Fish is a little more chaotic, and the process of writing with him is filled with mayhem. So, yeah, it’s different depending on the company you keep.
The lyrical content of your music taps into some important issues. Where do you get your inspiration from?
The world around me, the media, people-watching, eavesdropping. I’m a pretty serious person, so my songs reflect that. For example, the song “Family Wars” was inspired by listening to a few conversations in the mall. I overheard one conversation in a restaurant where somebody was talking about a child they were worried about, who was on drugs. Another song on my album, “Oh, Caroline,” came from an idea I got while riding in the car down a dark, lonesome road.
What gear (guitars, amps, accessories, etc.) are you currently using right now, and why?
I got a new Fender Mustang I’m really excited about! It’s tobacco-burst. I am in love with it. I use a Fishman amp, and I use a Canyon and a Blues pedal. I play both a Fender Paramount Acoustic and a Wayne Henderson acoustic, both of which I adore. I’m a guitar and ukulele fanatic. I love gear.
What was the most exciting part of writing and recording your new album?
Writing, in general, was just a blast. Kyle Jacobs, Vicky McGehee, and Autumn McEntire all brought new sounds to my music. I’ve written with Fish Fisher and Mama (Alisha Hamilton) forever, so we have a particular groove we go for, but for this round, we expanded that pretty far! Recording with the legendary Tony Brown producing, I just learned so much. Now I really want to explore producing more! He’s just the gold standard to learn from! Plus, my engineer, Troy Dixon, is so perceptive and by now, knows exactly what I want. I love recording!
What was the most challenging part of writing and recording your new album?
I guess it all boils down to money. We recorded “Family Wars” in three days, mixed it in three days, and mastered it in less than that. We are always trying to conserve money and live in a budget; not be wasteful, you know. That was a major challenge, but the lack of free time during the writing was the kicker, too. You can only take so many days off the road as an independent band. So, I write when I can, as much as I can. It’s not like working though, it’s like living, and I love every aspect of it.
Is there a specific sound or tone that you try to achieve while onstage? While recording?
Sure, I know what I like and what my ears want to hear. I have what they say is perfect pitch, and with that comes a bit of a challenge. I know what I want, and if there is a day when things don’t line up, sound crews that don’t understand or amps that don’t cooperate or pedals and cables that fail, then I’m all distracted in what I need to produce and what I can produce at that time. I’m a little OCD, so my band knows to stick to the program! (lol) Still, I’m a sucker for a fiddle, and if we have a fiddle player for the night, I might lose myself in his tone and have to really concentrate on my guitar playing. I’m a finger picker, so I want a clean tone. Sometimes it’s there, and when it is, I’m super happy.
Label: Little Blackbird Records
Released: October 18, 2019
Artist: EmiSunshine and The Rain
- Family Wars
- There’s Got to Be More
- Oh, Caroline
- Crimson Moon
- Jonas Black
- Politicians Dance
- Same Boat
- The Ghost of Hank Williams
- Meanwhile In America
- Jonas Black, feat. The McCrary Sisters (bonus track)