UTG INTERVIEW: Emily Hearn Discusses ‘Hourglass’

emily hearn

Singer-songwriter Emily Hearn hails from Athens, Georgia, otherwise known as a town with high expectations for its musical inhabitants. After years of performing at local venues while doubling as a student at the University of Georgia, Hearn is positioned to take her country-tinged pop music to the masses as her songs continue to find success online, on the road, and even on television in 2015.

With her fall tour quickly approaching, we had the chance to sit down and chat about everything from Hearn’s authentic country roots to her plans for recording a handful of jazzy Christmas tunes this winter.

UTG: Your fall tour is quickly approaching! Any pre-tour jitters, or are you ready to get out on the road?

EH: I’m definitely anxious to get out there, and SUPER excited to play the new songs, so I guess you could call them butterflies more than jitters. I’m just so ready to be on the road again. Looking forward to all of these cities so much.

What city are you looking forward to performing in most next month (besides Athens, of course)?

Probably mostly Columbus, Ohio. I haven’t actually played many times in Ohio, and this will be our first time to Columbus. But I opened a show for Nick Jonas in Bowling Green this year, so I think I got some new fans that night who have been excited (via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) for me to come back to Ohio. It’s so fun to hear that people in a city that you’ve never played in are excited for you to be there and already buying tickets! I love it.

Speaking of Athens, I know you’ve mentioned previously that it’s difficult to gain traction as a singer-songwriter there. Were there any specific moments that made you realize you had made it as a solo artist in Athens? 

Well I’ve lived in Athens for 8 years now (it’s hard to believe it’s been that long), and have always loved playing here. But when I first started playing shows, I was attending the University of Georgia, and most of the people in the crowd were my friends from school. I guess I realized that I really had fans in Athens when all of my friends moved away, and people kept packing out the shows.

Your lyrics have a detailed style of storytelling that reminds me of traditional country and folk artists. Are there any southern artists who have particularly influenced your writing style?

Yes, so many. I love traditional country music and folk singer-songwriters. Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, John Denver, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, James Taylor. I could go on and on; I love them all and could listen to easy-listening music all day, every day. The storytelling, the melodies — it’s all so captivating.

You also have songs like “Volcano” whose choruses really tap into pure pop music. Is that a side of your sound that you want to expand on more in the future? 

To be honest, I’ve always appreciated a catchy melody and pop music is fascinating to me. I think that will be a facet of my music as long as I write. But I’m heading more in a direction of writing whatever comes to me and accepting it. I’ve been striving for years to avoid the “country” label, mostly because I don’t think that I fit into modern country music. But when I listen back to my favorites (that I listed above) I realize that, really, that’s the type of music that’s in my soul, and I want to combine that with my current influences and just see what happens.

Hourglass manages to be really cohesive while still giving each song its own personality. Did the bulk of the record come together in a studio or was it a collection of songs you wrote over time?  

Hourglass actually came together over a busy year of touring. I wrote the whole album about what it has felt like for me to grow up — the questions, the worries, the hopes, the dreams, even the loss and the lessons learned. It’s interesting to me to see how all the songs came out, because where I wrote them had a huge impact on their subjects and how they feel. I wrote several introspective, sad songs in snowy Michigan, and the sunny, happy love songs at the beach in the spring.

Your music has found some real success on television. Do you see yourself ever writing specifically for shows or films? 

I would absolutely love to do that. I’m so impacted by the music in my favorite films and TV shows. Even the albums that I have played over and over in certain times have felt like a real-life soundtrack that helped me understand how I felt. Even to this day when I hear a Five For Fighting album it reminds me of sophomore year in high school. I love how music can make you cry, or laugh, or feel the happiest you’ve ever felt, or bring a memory flooding back that you didn’t even know you would remember. It’s why I’m a writer.

What’s the rest of 2015 looking like for you after your fall tour wraps up?

I’m always writing, so I’ll be working on new songs and looking towards a new album. But I also hope to record a few jazz-inspired Christmas songs, and acoustic versions of songs on my new album. I’m really looking forward to the rest of this year.

Mike Giegerich

Mike Giegerich is a freelance journalist with an affinity for the hip-hop scene. His top-five favorite records of all time are Future's last five releases. Feel free to blow up his mentions on Twitter.
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