Hailing from a rural area outside of Cleveland, Emily Keener’s music has always been imbued with a distinct sense of place. As you listen to her music, you can almost hear the trees blowing in the wind, the sense of isolation, and the unique character of rural America. Emily grew up watching her dad play guitar, and soon started to play herself, influenced equally by classic songwriters and the world around her. Aged just 12, Emily started to play venues she wasn’t even old enough to go into. We’re just nine years later, yet Emily already has an EP and two well-received albums under her belt. Emily’s third album, I Do Not Have To Be Good, is out next month, and it might just be her most compelling offering to date.
Emily has described, I Do Not Have To Be Good, as a record where she found her voice, finding the confidence to take what she has learnt during previous recording sessions, and making the record entirely on her own terms. Sonically, this means a subtle shift from the rootsy Americana of her earlier works, and into a more authentic sound influenced by atmospheric indie-folk and the desire for honesty. Take Emily’s new single, Boats, out of a distant hum, Emily’s vocal gently rolls in like the ebbing tide, meandering her way through easy melodies, accompanied by the pulse of bass and the lightest of percussive touches. I Do Not Have To Be Good, is the sound of an artist in arguably the most exciting stage, finding their own sound, on their own terms and making a true statement, for Emily Keener, anything is possible.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is Emily Keener?
I’m an indie-folk artist from Cleveland, Ohio.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
I was 12 when I played my first show. It was at a small winery in a suburb outside of the Cleveland, and my entire family came. I’m pretty sure the venue ran out of food because they ordered so many cheese plates. It was an excellent debut.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
I make music because it’s the purest form of expression I’ve ever experienced. From a young age I was deeply touched by lyrics and melodies, and as soon as I figured out that people actually created that stuff, I was sold. I wanted to learn how to write and I wanted to do it all the time. I’ve never had much of a talent for visual art or dance or anything like that. Music really fulfills my creative desires.
FTR: What can people expect from the Emily Keener live show?
My goal with every live show is to express myself authentically and open up the communal energy of the audience. I perform in a way that asks folks to connect with the music, to connect with each other. The stuff I write has a lot to do with emotions and vulnerability, and the live shows are all about creating a space for people to become immersed and truly feel it.
FTR: What’s next for Emily Keener?
I’m working on new projects and collaborations already, while also preparing for the upcoming release in May. I’m very excited for that. My band and I are looking forward to taking the record as far as it can go.
They Listen To…
1. Big Thief – Mythological Beauty
2. Elliot Smith – Ballad Of Big Nothing
3. Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
4. Nico – The Fairest Of The Season
5. Broadcast – Come On Let’s Go
I Don’t Have To Be Good is out May 22nd. Click HERE for more information on Emily Keener.