In the middle of 2012, Emily Simonian was at a crossroads. Though she had released her first EP, Pale Green, the year before, she was already unhappy with the direction her career was headed. Her delicate, jazzy piano-laden songs were technically proficient and appealed to her personal tastes, but they were missing the extra element that would nab a wider audience. She took a year off to write and reboot, and now the Yorba Linda-born, Huntington Beach-based singer/songwriter is ready to unleash her brand of spunky pop music to the masses.
Classically trained on the piano, Simonian's influences range from classic jazz music to soul and R&B. When you look at the petite musician, you wouldn't expect to hear a voice with such a vibrant knowledge and understanding of how to fuse these genres, yet that's what she does.
After she graduated from high school, Simonian spent one year at the Berklee College of Music in Boston before returning to OC to polish her craft. In that time, she became a fixture at piano bars throughout Southern California, but deep down, she knew she could write more accessible songs than the jazzy numbers she had in her catalog.
After changing management following Pale Green and working with her longtime friend Golda McCormack, Simonian was ready to emerge from her hiatus, refreshed and excited about her new prospects. The songs she took time to dissect over the past year were finally ready to be shared with the world. But unlike her earlier material, they took a decidedly more poppy approach than the intricate piano-driven songs on her debut.
"It was just my personal taste, and I wanted to [make] something that I'd put on and listen to every day," she explains between sips of coffee at a local restaurant. "This time, I knew what type of sound I was going for and what my goals for it were."
Reborn and rebranded as EMMY, Simonian is using her fun, new alter ego to convey herself in a less serious fashion, as expressed by the EP's title, Great Escape (set for release next Tuesday). Recorded in Fullerton with Barrett Slagle, the four-song effort sees a more upbeat, happier singer. "I wanted something more mainstream, as opposed to my personal tastes," she says. "While the songs are organic and still me, it's a different side of me."
Simonian is mostly showing us her wild side in the music video for her single "Shots for Me and You." If the title doesn't quite spell it out enough, it's a song about getting hammered–preferably at a pool party with friends and family. Though definitely designed for a summertime weekend of shot glasses and Solo cups, her ultra-catchy pop track showcases some deft vocal chops between all the references to chug-a-lugging.
For the newly minted EMMY, the biggest difference outside of the music has been the enthusiastic reaction to the songs in a live setting. She has won over new fans, and she's sometimes surprised just who those fans are.
"Whenever I play live in Temecula, older women come up to me after my shows now and try to set me up with their sons," she confesses. "It's just me and my piano, and I'm reeling them in. They recognize me from my video, and hopefully, that's just the start."
You can download EMMY's music at www.emmymusic.net.