Emily Clibourn: “Art isn’t perfect. It is messy.”

Last year LA-based singer/songwriter Emily Clibourn released her debut album, Blow, an album that boasts a contemporary take on smoky soul lounge that could be a perfect fit for...

Last year LA-based singer/songwriter Emily Clibourn released her debut album, Blow, an album that boasts a contemporary take on smoky soul lounge that could be a perfect fit for supporting Lana Del Rey or the soundtrack of a David Lynch film.  And while Emily has played around the LA area with her band quite a bit now, she’s yet to do a proper tour.  However, that will all change next month, when she brings her live show to the East Coast (venues are still being confirmed).  She recently took some time to tell me about her musical career, which has apparently been well in the works for quite some time, and just what inspires her.

Izzy Cihak: I know you’ve been doing this for much of your life but, I must admit that, out here on the East Coast, we’re not super duper familiar with you just yet.  Is there anything you think is particularly important for potential fans to know about your process of creating music, or even just your aim as an artist?

Emily Clibourn: I wouldn’t necessarily say that my process or catalyst for writing music is very important. What is important to me is that it connects with people, and charges them to the extent that I was charged when I created it. That aside, I write as a way to release tension in my inner world. For me, life is spiritual and life is about growing and changing and getting to know myself better. My art is a reflection of that journey. It’s also a reflection of the perfection I demand on my life and from myself. Perfection in this way isn’t that healthy, but it sticks me to a pretty strong moral compass and steep expectations for people and society. Maybe I create art as a way to escape the perfectionism, or to share my idealism. But art isn’t perfect. It is messy. It is chaotic. It is feeling.

Izzy: What would you consider to be your most significant influences, both musical and otherwise?

Emily: I like to see women who are in their power. Who are fearless in their expression, focused, and aggressive in their drive, free from societal expectations, stronger and more beautiful in their older age, and connected to their inner truth and their desires. Frida Kahlo, Florence Welch, FKA Twigs, Marina Abramović, Eleanor Ambos, my old roommate, filmmaker Nadia Szold. I am also very inspired by nature, I find nature to be sacred and magical.


Izzy: And what have been some of the highlights of your musical career so far? I’m assuming releasing Blow was a pretty big one.

Emily: I’ve been pursuing a musical career for 13 years now, and Blow is by far my biggest accomplishment. It represents me more as an artist than any other project I have worked on. A huge part of this was my partnership with my producer, Brett Cookingham. I have a month long tour coming up this August. That will be another major highlight.

Izzy: Have you had any favorite reactions to your work?  Is there anyone or any group of people that you feel like best “gets” you?

Emily: I think that a lot of women relate to my love songs, such as “For The Love” or “Fly.” I have a lot of girlfriends that have told me they have been brought to tears when listening to the record. This means a lot to me because it means that I was able to really thoroughly express myself. When I sit down to write a song, I have something very important I am getting out of my system. And to know that somebody else feels the same way on the other end, it means that expression has been accomplished.

Izzy: I especially love the song “Fly,” which reminds me of some amalgam of early Kate Nash and early Lenka.  How did that particular track come about?

Emily: “Fly” is simultaneously a song about love and about personal transformation, which were both happening to me at the same time when I wrote this song. I was feeling the need to express myself vulnerably in my relationship, as well as feeling like I had a lot of layers to let go of in my personality and in my perceptions of the world. This song is about the fear of opening up and the vulnerability in letting go. The ironic part is that shortly after I finished the song, and confessed my love, I found out my love was totally unrequited. Maybe he just existed in my life so that this song would come about, who knows!

Izzy: So I’ve looked through your blog and realize you’re super into fashion, in addition to having amazing personal fashion, so I’m curious who you consider to be your most significant “style icons”?

Emily: I’d have to go with Erin Wasson, most definitely.

Izzy: I also really like your music videos for “Fools Gold” and “Black Velvet,” so I’m curious what it is that inspires that element of your work?

Emily: I am a media artist as well. I love to edit video and photos. To me, the process of editing video is similar to that of writing a song. It is a long process of honing in and tapering down, and it is so rewarding. Both of these videos are compilations of footage I found online that I loved. I wanted to express visually what was happening sonically. What images represent me? My visions? My ideals? My journey? This song?

Izzy: Finally, what’s next for you?  How do you hope and plan to spend the remainder of 2016? Any new music in the works?

Emily: I actually will be on the East Coast this summer, on tour! The dates are still to come, but should be finalized soon. You can catch the tour locations on my Facebook or website. After the tour, I am going to take a little time off and re-calibrate. I’ve been working on this project for two and a half years now, and need to clear my head to start fresh and to allow next project to grow. I have begun conceptualizing and writing my second album and I would really like to start recording by the start of 2017.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.