Album Release | Emmeline - Rise

After five years in the making, Dallas musician Emmeline’s new record RISE hits Bandcamp tomorrow for a limited, exclusive local streaming before the album makes its way to streaming platforms nationally in early 2019. The album as a whole is a thoughtful rendering of contemporary life experiences from self-exploration, gun violence, and community inclusion to navigating the support roles that the addiction and recovery process demands.

Brittany Griffiths | 23 November 2018

photo by Courtney Joy, album artwork by Mandy Caulkins


photo by    Courtney Joy   , album artwork by    Mandy Caulkins

photo by Courtney Joy, album artwork by Mandy Caulkins

Album RISE
Artist: Emmeline
Release date: 24 November 2018

     After five years in the making, Dallas musician Emmeline’s new record RISE hits Bandcamp tomorrow for a limited, exclusive local streaming before the album makes its way to streaming platforms nationally in early 2019. The album as a whole is a thoughtful rendering of contemporary life experiences from self-exploration, gun violence, and community inclusion to navigating the support roles that the addiction and recovery process demands.

     The story of RISE began back in 2014 when Emmeline Miles was writing and voicing commercials for Radio Disney in North Dallas. At the time, she had already recorded six songs for RISE, but later that year, life did as life does and took an unexpected turn off the beaten path when Disney axed all of their offices except for their Burbank location. “I’m sure you know, working in arts and entertainment, how radio is doing as a medium across the country,” says Emmeline who suddenly found herself floating in the murky waters of transition. “Everything kind of blew up at once, bit by bit by bit,” and recording on the album came to a grinding halt. From Disney, she moved on to teaching music and writing copy for a company that specialized in the building of interlock devices, but after six months of being immersed in a completely different company culture than the one she was accustomed to at Disney, it became clear that this was not the right fit for her. So she went out on a limb and quit her job without a backup. However, the risk she took proved to be advantageous when the following day a handful of people solicited her to give their kids music lessons. Three days after that, she got accepted into a doctoral program that she had previously applied for. Emmeline reflects on the way things worked out, “The record went from being this fully formed thoughtful process to me trying to parse through life, and just figuring out what happens when everything falls apart and you rebuild it again. Because obviously you’re going to rebuild it – you know? You have to keep pushing forward. So it’s just, how do you do that? How do you do that effectively? What does that look like? And that’s kind of what the record became over the course of those five years.”

     With one semester left in her doctoral program and RISE complete, things have fallen back into place for Emmeline. The album, which consists of 11 tracks accompanied by beautiful, lyric booklet designed by Mandy Caulkins, marks a number of musical firsts for Emmeline; it was her first time co-writing and her first time recording with a full band. Recording an album with a full band is something that she had always wanted to do.

     Her last EP, Beautiful Scars (2013), was originally slated to be a full band project, but when Emmeline grew attached to the stripped down acoustic element captured in the songs on the album, she made the decision to leave it as is. This time around she wanted the collaborative experience of experimenting musically with other artists, so she reached out to a talent development agency that partnered her Ethan Mentzer, a member of the pop group The Click Five. Working with Ethan over Skype, the two wrote “Reasons,” "Empire," and “Orlando” together. “Orlando," a song that was written the day after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida, muses on the idea that we are all responsible for building an environment of openness and inclusion. “We all have a hand,” remarks Emmeline, “all of us… and the motion that you make when you shake somebody’s hand is the same motion that you make when you grip a gun. When you go in, you go in the same way that you would go in to pull a trigger, and the only thing that matters is what’s in your hand.”

     Though the songs on RISE seamlessly flow together both thematically and melodically, “Orlando” carves out a space all of its own and seems to encapsulate all that Emmeline stands for as an artist. “The more I play “Orlando,” the more I feel called upon to play it… because with free speech, I think, comes the responsibility to promote a message of love and acceptance. We’re all made of the same stuff.” This idea of love, acceptance, and community is featured prominently throughout RISE, and that was no accident. Emmeline wanted the album to empower people the way the music she loved and listened to growing up empowered her. “It’s really cool to me that as musicians, and as people who support the music industry, we’re a part of something that really maintains unity in a way that nothing else does right now. You go to a concert and you see people together in a way that they’re not together anywhere else. And they’re together in a way that has nothing to do with who they were when they walked through that door. They’re just there and they’re in the moment and they’re feeling something as one. And I love that and I hope that experience never changes.” In a current climate where safe spaces for expression are rapidly dwindling, Emmeline hopes that RISE can aid in combatting the vitriolic nature of encroaching politics and hate, but her main goal was to maintain a high level of authenticity on the record. “You as a listener need something real on the other side of that microphone that makes you say, “Yes! I’ve felt that before.” And that can’t be what you sacrifice. I wanted the stories to be consistently authentic.”

     Emmeline’s authenticity comes in no shortage on RISE. The album bleeds who she is as a person. With help from a top-notch cast of musician-friends, engineers, and producers (notably Taylor Tatsch, Joe Phillips, John Steen, and Rob Burrell), RISE quickly became a product of musical exploration – an exploration that Emmeline believes is absolutely necessary in creating any piece of art or music. This openness and experimentation can be heard on songs such as "Rapunzel" which includes found sound elements from a live thunderstorm that was captured spontaneously during a late night recording session when John Steen stuck a saran-wrapped microphone out in the storm, and on "Superheroes" after Joe Phillips heard Emmeline whistling in the bathroom in between takes and encouraged her to include it at the end of the song. Emmeline laughs as she recounts these stories from recording, “You learn so much when you’re open, and [because of that] community is so important. Nothing happens in a vacuum… you have to listen to people who want to experiment and go somewhere. I am so hungry for that.”

Emmeline will be performing songs from RISE at her album release party tomorrow night at Opening Bell Coffee in the Cedars at 8pm. You can also stream her new album online at Bandcamp and keep up with her via social media at the links below.

 
 

from left to right: photos by John Grant, Courtney Joy

 
 

Connect With Emmeline

 
 

photo by Amy Miller

Brittany Griffiths is a writer from Dallas, Texas. She is the founder and editor of Spontaneous Afflatus, an independent publishing house that specializes in poetry and short story collections. She is also the editor of Wavelength Magazine. Last year she released her debut poetry collection titled, Ebb & Flow.

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