Soulful Singer/Songwriter, Emilie Brandt, embraces the essence of who she is at her core throughout her new album, ‘Freeform’. As bold and gutsy as they come, Emilie has cultivated a life-long, loving relationship with herself and has spread her wings through accepting each and every piece of her life’s puzzle unconditionally. I caught up with the embodied songstress to discuss the new album, her incredibly detailed and beautiful tattoos, keeping her chops up to par while on the road and more.
Congrats on the release of your new album, ‘Freeform’. Tell us about the message that you are conveying within this release.
The message I’m trying to convey as an artist and just as a person in general, is to not be afraid to be yourself. Be weird, be open, be kind. I’ve spent most of my life being an outcast; I remember coming home from school as a child with tears in my eyes telling my mother that no one wanted to play with me on the playground. She instilled in me at a young age to always be myself, even if that meant sometimes not fitting in with the cool kids. She said the right people will be drawn to you if you’re being yourself, and that if I tried to change who I was for other people, I’d soon be surrounded by people who didn’t know the real me and only liked me for the wrong reasons. I think a lot of us have anxiety about fitting in with others, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve stopped putting my energy into trying to do that.
Colorado is abounding with beauty. How has the landscape in Denver and being surrounded amongst the natural world aided in your creative process?
When I moved from Wisconsin to Colorado last August, I was in a really weird place in my life. I was dating someone who decided to wait until I had sold all of my belongings and was halfway to Colorado to tell me they had been cheating on me. I’ve always been an optimist, so I figured there was something more than that person pushing me to move away. I fell into a depression with all my friends and family being so far from me, but found myself in a place where I could use the isolation to my advantage— i.e. lots of hiking, exploring, and a whole new world of inspiration. The most beautiful things I’ve experienced in my life have grown from the ugliest situations. I wrote nearly half of my album during that period of my life and wouldn’t have been so motivated and inspired if it hadn’t been for all the bullshit.
Let’s talk tattoos. Tell us about some of your favorite personal pieces and the tattoo artists that you have worked with to bring them to life.
Thank you! My chest piece is my favorite tattoo that I have. It was drawn and tattooed by Billy ‘Flip’ McCoy in Madison, WI. The tattoo is a moth and a mandala and the story behind me getting such a big piece on such a prominent part of my body is that mandalas are a symbol for the universe and moths are a symbol of transformation. I’ve always believe my spirit animal is a moth, I see them everywhere and they show up in my dreams a lot. They remind me that we are always transforming as human beings, physically as well as mentally. When I get down on myself, I remember how much I’ve grown from the person I was, and how much more time I have to grow into the person I want to be.
If you could sit down with either yourself as a child or yourself as a wizened senior citizen, which would you choose and why?
I’d be curious to know my future self, but I don’t like to ruin surprises— that’s like opening a book and reading the end before you’ve read the beginning. I’d definitely choose to sit down with myself as a child. I think even at this point in my life, I have accumulated a handful of great life advice that would have been helpful to me when I was younger.
Broad question: what is your idea of a life of happiness?
My idea of a life of happiness is to be able to wake up every day and just do what I love to do. I have a lot of friends that just graduated from college with degrees in things they aren’t even passionate about. I am a passion-filled person, from work to relationships, and in my opinion that’s how everyone should live their lives. What are you doing here on earth if you aren’t even happy with how you spend the majority of your time? When I was a senior in high school, I got accepted into a few colleges for graphic design. It was something I liked to do, but I wasn’t passionate about it. My grandfather was always hellbent on all his grandkids going to college. He got really sick just as I was graduating high school, and he sat me down one day and said, “Emilie, I know you’re passionate about music. I want you to know that school will always be there. Maybe try to do your music for a few years and if it doesn’t work out, you can go back to school if you want to.” He passed away a few weeks after we had that conversation and I decided it was a huge sign that I needed to put off going to school. It’s been about six years since then, and I’m still putting everything I have into my music career. I’ve definitely chosen a risky career without the safety of having a degree, but I don’t care. I’d rather be a struggling artist for the rest of my life than to spend my life doing something I’m not passionate about.
Photo Credit: Eric Tadsen
You have quite the chops! Any tips for up and coming vocalists to keep your voice going strong while out on the road?
It sounds like common sense, but it’s not something I ever thought about so maybe it’ll help someone somewhere— when you’re mingling with people before shows, be aware of how loud the room is and how loud you have to strain your voice to hold a conversation. I like to spend time alone before my sets, get in my zone mentally, and do some vocal warm ups. Do not underestimate the value in warming up your vocal chords!!! It’ll help you perform better and it’s basically the equivalent to stretching your muscles before working out.
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?!
Just fucking be yourself. It’s probably something you’ve heard before but I literally live my life by that mantra and I will spread that until the day I die. When I learned how to love myself for who I am instead of shaming myself for who I wasn’t, it changed my life in the most beautiful way. As long as you’re kind to others and you’re making a conscious effort to be open to new ideas and new ways of thinking, you fucking rule. You can’t please them all, but who wants to do that anyway? Not everyone is worth pleasing, but if you’re pleased with who you are, there is no better feeling.
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