By Tracy Dietlin
We had the pleasure of hearing Emily perform for the first time during CV Weekly’s first online CVCV Virtual Music Festival last month when the Stay at Home Quarantine first began. We were so impressed that I wanted to let the Coachella Valley Weekly readers know a little more about her.
She moved here in August of 2019 from Colorado but is originally from a small town in Massachusetts called Hatfield. She says it is so small that it doesn’t even have a stop light.
“I moved here on a whim when it was still snowing in June in Colorado. I have a journal from when I was 9 years old that said ‘One day I’ll live in California and be a musician’” I thought it was about time I finally did that. I moved here from Colorado and for years I have lived all over the country in a VW Bus,” shared Emily.
She is a fulltime musician, but does freelance work for music publishing companies and record labels as well.
I asked if she has family here.
“My family is still in Massachusetts, but I have an orange cat and a lovely boyfriend I get to call my housemates here.”
Emily describes her music as “big toe-tapping Americana.”
I asked who her influences are.
“Oh golly, I was raised on a heavy dose of Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt & Joni Mitchell. But, the bands Houndmouth, Lone Bellow & The Lumineers have had a major impact on me as well.”
I asked if she is doing anymore FB live shows since when she did our CV Weekly Virtual Fest?
“Yes!” she replied. “ I’ll be going live at 4 PM PCT every Thursday for the foreseeable future, so thanks CV Weekly for shaking out my jitters and introducing me to online live shows.”
“I’m in the midst of working on an album that will be out this fall, but I’m releasing a new at home recording & video every other week right now. You can find my music at www.heyberthamusic.com or follow me on Instagram/Facebook at @hey_bertha .”
Emily says that she has made a few musician friends since her arrival in the valley.
“The wonderful Will Sturgeon of Brightener and Josiah Gonzalez of Avenida Music thanks to the Academy of Musical Performance in Indio Have become friends.”
She shared how the music scene here compares to that in Colorado.
“I am coming from the Colorado music scene which was saturated with bluegrass and Americana musicians. I’m finding a lot more rock n’ roll and experimental music in the Coachella Valley (which is giving me ideas to expand my folky roots.) Although the scene isn’t as big out here, it feels like a very tight knit community where everyone seems to know everyone and wants to support each other. I absolutely love it!”
She states that her main instrument is her vocals, but she plays piano, harmonica, and is known to whip out a melodica in a jam circle from time to time.
What is her favorite music genre?
“Anything that feels raw, rough and authentic. I’m a big lyrics gal though so I’ve always been drawn to a good songwriter,” she said.
She said that for her songwriting process it generally starts with the lyrics. “I have suitcases full of lyrics. Then I typically sit down at the piano and start humming out the melody with chords. If I’m feeling stuck in writing, I go for a walk and put on some simple acoustic music and it usually gets my brain going; along with tons of meditation and fiction reading.”
She says the person she most admires in the music business is Cathy Heller from the Don’t Keep Your Day Job Podcast.
“After years and years of struggling to make it in the industry, she got creative and figured out how to write for TV and Advertisements. She wasn’t afraid to open herself up to pivoting her dreams and find a way to still have a thriving career in the music business.”
She would most like to open for Otis Redding but while that is not possible she picked Willie Nelson.
“I would love the chance to open for Lukas Nelson & The Promise of Real and maybe get lucky and sit down with Willie.”
Her personal picks for Coachella headliners are Anderson .Paak, Harry Styles (as long as it was with his band from the Tiny Desk Concert), & Lizzo.
I asked what she has been doing during this difficult quarantine time.
“For the first two weeks I just did a lot of binge eating,” she shared. “But now, I’ve found myself spending my days learning new skills (like recording & taking marketing courses) and focusing on what I can control like writing music and booking shows for the fall. I’m also getting outdoors to hike a whole bunch, this valley is just insanely beautiful.”
She said what she is looking forward to the most after quarantine is playing shows, and that she can’t wait to give people big ol’ hugs again, “And sushi, eating all the soosh.”
“I read something recently that really stuck with me. It said that we, as human beings, are rarer than diamonds. There is only one of us that have our unique DNA and experiences…only one! (No pressure) So, what are we going to do with that gift? I believe we owe it to the world to follow that inner whisper and take a chance on ourselves. This time in quarantine is terrifying and that can be debilitating, but what if we took this time to focus on what we can control; to focus on parts of ourselves that we may have been neglecting; to create and grow ourselves… just a little bit each day. Wouldn’t that be pretty neat?
Thank you again CV Weekly, I cannot wait to meet ya’ll and the rest of the music community in my new (hopefully forever) home in the Coachella Valley when this craziness has passed! Stay safe & healthy. – Emily (aka Hey Bertha).”