Toronto Musician Won’t Back Down From Big Dreams

Friday August 30th, 2013

Posted at 1:00pm


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Emma-Lee rehearses before filming the video for her latest single, I Could Live With Dying Tonight.

Taking a break from running down a dream, one Toronto musician came free falling to Windsor.

Saying it’s been a busy year for Emma-Lee is an understatement. After releasing her video for Shadow Of A Ghost last October, she finished off 2012 by going on tour. Opening for Jesse Cook, after singing on two songs from his latest album The Blue Guitar Sessions, both artists visited venues across Canada. Kicking off 2013, she made the rounds in western Canada with Peter Katz.

Finishing those tours, Emma-Lee then turned her attention to something equally important.

“I’ve been writing lots of songs for a number of projects,” she said. “I’m also starting to form ideas for my third record — the new album is being written as we speak. I’m hoping to release it in late-Spring.”

Before moving onto a new album however, the singer came back to Windsor. Reuniting with Gavin Michael Booth, she returned to film a clip for I Could Live With Dying Tonight. this marks the third video in a row he’s filmed for her and will be the last from her latest album, Backseat Heroine.

Although the last video they filmed got a positive reaction, including some rotation on MuchMoereMusic, CMT and online coverage, the two tried a different approach. Instead of escaping zombies, Emma-Lee only had one shot to get things right this time: It was a single take that revolved around a specific visual and emotional performance.

Thanks to Windsor’s easy accessibility, it was the ideal location for her once again.

“Usually getting access to locations to film at in Toronto involves expensive permits and insurance,” she said. “Windsor is a little friendlier to the indie musician budget!”

With the video now completed, Emma-Lee is also focusing on a unique project. “Operation What Would Tom Petty Do?” is her attempt at living out a dream: With the help of her fans through a crowd funding campaign, Emma-Lee wants to get in the studio to record a new single called… you guessed it, What Would Tom Petty Do?

Oh, she also wants to get it to the man himself in hopes of working together someday.

“Musically, lyrically it’s all just so right,” Emma-Lee said about Tom Petty and his music. “It’s simple but profound. Catchy as hell! Always makes you feel like he’s on your team, going through the same things. I also find his recordings have really stood the test of time and always feel relevant. Our careers are very different but I recognize that he is fearless which is a quality I strive for everyday.

Although she dreams big, Emma-Lee is very serious about her admiration and the project. The musician has already enlisted Gavin Brown (Metric, Barenaked Ladies, The Tragically Hip, Billy Talent) to produce the single. There are also plans to hire a publicist and do a media campaign.

With talent such as this, all she needs is the money to pay for it. Luckily, she has experience.

“I raised about 1/3 of the money for Backseat Heroine through my fans,” said Emma-Lee. “It was incredible! It makes complete sense to me. Your fans are the first people who will hear this music so why not get them involved and invite them to help create new music?”

Those who visit the campaign’s website and donate can choose from several rewards. A $25 donation will earn fans a custom CD of rarities, alternate versions of songs and more: The ultimate commitment ($5,00 or more) gets you a matching “WWTPD?” tattoo with Emma-Lee.

For those who aren’t as adventurous, they can pay $5 or more for an mp3 of the song (which is included with all donations,) $35 for a happy birthday song phone call or lullaby for a loved one, $60 or more for a signed lyric sheet of an Emma-Lee song of your choice and a one-hour singing lesson over Skype for $150 or more.

“Some ideas I dreamed up myself, some ideas I got from other peoples campaigns that I thought were cool,” said Emma-Lee. “I’m sure as it goes along I’ll figure out even more fun things to entice people to help me reach my goal.”

At the time this article was written, the campaign had reached 27.3% of its $5,000 goal. More info on the project, donation rewards and artist can be found at the official “Operation WWTPD?” website. An acoustic rough cut of the song can be heard there as well.

Most importantly though, what is Emma-Lee hoping to get out of this meeting if it happens?

“More than anything I feel like I could learn so much from him,” she said. “I would love to experience his process and take it all in. I feel like we share a common goal of writing music that’s both hooky AND genuinely meaningful.”

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