Moments. That’s singer-songwriter, Emilee Moore‘s magical power, and luckily for us, she doesn’t keep it a secret. The Ontario-born, now LA-based artist has a talent for capturing life’s fleeting moments in flashbacks through song. Echoing a Taylor Swift-like enchantment mixed with the cleverness of lyrics written by Norah Jones or Bon Iver’s, Moore’s music paints images all on its own, and her brand new single, “Red Volkswagen,” is no exception.
Just released today, Moore’s latest single follows in the footsteps of her last releases. The melodic and eerie, “I Need Some Air,” contrasts with the honest-pop fueled “Ask,” yet all three songs have one thing in common – the power to draw listeners in. Moore draws inspiration from her experiences in heartbreak, lingering love, and the haunting of the empty space people leave behind. Layered harmonies and echoed acoustics leave room for wandering minds to envision what it’d be like to drive up and down hometown streets, missing the person in the passenger seat, just like Moore once did. With a voice both captivating and effortless, the artist’s talent for sonic hypnotism makes her music singular, special, and all of her own.
Emilee Moore opened up to The See Through about her journey so far as an indie artist, what it was like to move to Los Angeles in pursuit of her dream, and the stories behind all three of her recently released songs.
How did you discover that you wanted to be a musician?
My family has always been super musical. When I was 6 I started classical piano training and continued that for 11 years. I also played clarinet in band, sang in choirs, and was very involved in music at church growing up. Music was constantly around me, so I think I always knew it would be a huge part of my life whether it was a hobby or a career. The moment I knew I wanted to pursue this as a career for real was when my producer Xander Miller gave me my first opportunity to start making my own music. I was in university at the time and I hated it. And this opportunity felt like a breath of fresh air. The same night we talked, I went home and wrote an entire song start to finish and it was the most invigorating feeling. I hadn’t written in a long time or even really thought about writing songs that might be heard and for the first time I felt like it was something that I could do for myself. After that I couldn’t stop. I was constantly writing in every minute of spare time I had. I knew nothing else would make me feel this way career wise and so I knew I had to give it a chance and see what happened. And here we are.
Who are some artists that influence your sound?
So many artists have influenced my sound but to name a few: John Mayer, Avril Lavigne, Bon Iver, Julia Michaels, Norah Jones, and Adele.
Where did the idea for “Red Volkswagen” come from?
Red Volkswagen was inspired by my first car: a 1989 red Volkswagen Cabriolet convertible. I came home from work one day at 19 and it was sitting in the driveway. My dad told me he bought it for me and that I owe him half. All my brothers had driven a similar model of the car and I was the last kid to drive so he wanted to find one for me too! I had just been broken up with a few months before I got the car and so I would just take the car out for long drives and blast music and cry in peace haha. It was a really therapeutic addition to my life. A few months later, my ex ended up coming back around and didn’t have a car at the time so I would drive us places. And as quickly as things started up between us again, they ended. I remember being so mad that I let him into my car, because it was the one place he hadn’t been before. It was a space where I could think by myself and now every time I got in it I couldn’t help but think that he was just there in the passenger’s seat and now he wasn’t.
The layered harmonies and airy sounds on the track are so unique, especially when music today is dominated so much by pop sounds — Why was this the sound you chose for this song?
We really wanted to make this song feel like you’re driving in your car and the wind is in your hair and the radio is on full. I think with all the layers of revving engines, cars passing, and stacked harmonies it really does feel like an emotional, aimless car ride. We wanted to take an artistic approach with this one and lean more left with the sounds as opposed to making it more “pop.” That’s what that car felt like to me so it was only right to make all the sounds and feelings associated with the car line up with what you hear in the song.
I related a lot to “I Need Some Air.” Hearing the song is very comforting for me, so thank you so much for that. Can you talk about the story behind it? Were you at a party, or is it more of searching for air when you feel that metaphorical kind of drowning by your emotions?
I’m so glad it resonates with you! So my ex and I had broken up, but we were still in the same circles. We had a lot of the same friends so it was tough to socialize and not be around each other after the breakup. There were a bunch of events where I felt like this, but there was one particular party that we were both at that I’m writing about in the song. I remember getting ready to go, knowing he would be there. I checked my makeup so many times before I left and spent hours picking out what I was going to wear – which I did every time I knew I was gonna see him. And then the minute I walked in the door to the party, the sinking feeling in my chest hit and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I think the song pretty clearly lays out how the rest of the night went, but I do remember thinking “I need some air” and “I just need to get out of here” and that’s what I did. I circulated a bit and would step out if I needed to, but I finally just ended up leaving because it was too painful. And of course I showed up at the next thing to do it all over again. It’s hard when you’re so in love and you want to show up just in case things might turn out different if they see you again.
How did you come up with melodies for “I Need Some Air?”
I Need Some Air started out as a track. My producer, Xander Miller made this track and sent it over to me and I fell in love right away. The track was titled “Air” and I had a note from a few days before in my phone that said “I Need Some Air.” I remembered that feeling of being at that party and wanted to write about it so it felt like the perfect coincidence that his track had that idea in the title already. I tend to start with lyrics, so I just started singing melodies that went along with what I was trying to say and it kind of just came together. After I finished writing, Xander had a few melody ideas and we threw them in and the song was written!
Can you talk about your journey about leaving your hometown to move to LA to pursue music? Was it a scary move or did you feel like it was more of your calling?
Leaving my hometown for LA was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I cried every day the week before I left and when I arrived in LA I couldn’t go hours without breaking down for weeks after I got there. It’s so hard to leave things you’re familiar with, especially family and friends. But every time I thought about staying in my hometown and giving up the opportunity to pursue a career that I knew was my calling, that feeling of staying felt worse. I think a lot of people think it’s such a cool thing to uproot your life and move to sunny LA or somewhere else in the world, but it’s also a huge sacrifice. I’ve missed out on a lot of normalcy and have spent my life savings on this dream. And, when I moved to LA, I was moving in with 4 boys in a two bedroom apartment so it wasn’t necessarily the glamorous LA dream situation either haha. But I watched my team living out there for a year before me, having the best time, and it was so inspiring for me. I couldn’t wait to be there with them to work and learn and grow as an artist and songwriter. And I would do it all again, exactly the same way, in a heartbeat. I’m so lucky and grateful to be able to do this.
Why did you want “Ask” to be the first single you introduced yourself to the world with?
Ask was one of the first songs I wrote in LA and one of the first songs that gave me real confidence that I could be a successful artist. Every time I showed my music to anyone at that time, Ask was always the favourite. I think it’s just so light and fun, but still has that emotional depth and people love it for that. It just felt like the right one to go with to get everyone excited for what was coming next!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in your career?
I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is that blind faith and hard work can get you where you want to go. This industry is really tough. But if you work hard on mastering your craft to the point where you believe in your art so much it hurts, others will believe in it too. Every morning I wake up I try to tell myself that my music is going to be successful. I live and breathe it. Because if I don’t believe that, no one else will. It’s so easy to doubt yourself as a creative, especially when music is such a subjective experience. Sometimes people won’t like you or your music. But the ones that do, see the vision and believe in it because you do. If you put the hard work in and remind yourself daily that you have something special to offer the world, you’ll achieve what you want. This sounds extremely corny, but I really believe it works. But maybe check back in a year and see if I’m still out here making music!
As a songwriter writing about heartache, how do you push away the hurt feeling to be stable or creative enough to write a song? What is that process like for you?
I think embracing my emotions is key. I don’t think you necessarily have to be “stable” to make art. I think it’s probably the opposite. Engaging with the emotions you feel makes for a more honest piece of art. For me, it’s a bit easier to separate myself because I’m usually writing about things that have happened in my past and don’t affect me as deeply as they once did. I kind of use songwriting as a way of processing things I haven’t really processed before. I will say though, writing about things that hurt or have hurt me definitely makes me vulnerable to a lot of unwanted thoughts or uncomfortable baggage coming to the surface, but I think those feelings make great art and allow me to grow as a person and understand myself better. All I want to do is be honest and make honest music, and it’s so important to me to make things that resonate with others so they feel understood in their heartbreak. If I cry, you cry – and then we pick ourselves up and get through it together.
“Red Volkswagen” is available now for streaming on all music platforms.
Photography by Zuleyma Prado