A wave of gray matter clears her mind. She’s intense, but also disengaged. If the time is right, a song will flow from Belmont singer/songwriter Emily Reid in a matter of 60 minutes, or even less. The senior music business major has traveled more than 2,500 miles from her home in British Columbia, Canada, and she believes she has a “golden opportunity” at Belmont, in Nashville, in America. And she’s using it. With an album slated for May release and even more show bookings soon to be set, Reid is nothing if not focused. Still, she said it was only her inner 6-year-old self who thought a music career might be a reality. That has changed since her honest songs that point to what really matters in life pointed her to Belmont. And the musical journey since then has been harmonious. But what’s next for the lover of the outdoors and the Biebs? Vision senior A&E writer Dustin Stout found that she’s discovered the possibilities are endless.
How would you describe your music and your style?
The music I make fits in the eclectic singer/songwriter category. It errs on the side of positive and is a direct translation of my personality. I sometimes like to describe it as life music—the type of music that accompanies you as you are doing “life.” I mean, that’s just how I feel, and I sure hope that others feel the same way.
You’re from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. How did your upbringing there inspire the kind of music you create today?
I am very moved by nature and by people. Growing up, I was always surrounded by nature—whether that be the mountains or the ocean, and it shaped me to be very reverent and conscious of the place in which we live. That has impacted my songwriting, as I do like to write about stripping complications away and focusing on what really matters. It has also influenced my sound through the upbeat lifestyle and carefree vibe of the West.
What did you grow up listening to? How did those influences create the artist you are today?
My dad listened to every song he ever loved on repeat, and when I say repeat, I mean he repeated it six or seven times—over and over again. So I grew up with an earful of John Denver, James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot, the Bee Gees and Annie Lennox—but I’m definitely not complaining about that. When I became independent of my parents’ music choices, I really started listening to Ingrid Michaelson, Annie DiFranco and Feist. I think, through these influences, I really found value and truth in honest, tasteful, moving songs, and I try my absolute best to translate that in my own writing.
What’s the most regularly played music on your playlists these days and why?
I have the most random taste in music. I love a nice top 40 jam. I appreciate a great singer/songwriter. I like pretending I can rap. I secretly wish I was a country artist. So my most regularly played music these days includes The Civil Wars’ album, the new Augustana album, some Ryan Adams, some Biebs and some others that are better left unmentioned.
You were part of Belmont’s “God Gave Me You” video tribute to the troops. The video has nearly 15,000 views on YouTube. How did you get involved with that, how important is it for something like that at Belmont and what did it mean to you?
My sweet friend, Clark Buckner, whom I met as a freshman in ELP [Executive Leadership Program], asked me to help find some people to pull the video together. I was so humbled by his request and so excited to help him with his incredible plan and vision for the troops. It was such an incredible experience to be a part of! I just got to do what I love, and the video team and music producer—Kirk Slawek, Matthew Shaw, Kevin Grosch—along with the Belmont community, made it into something really special. If we made even the smallest difference in the day of any troop, then we did what we had intended to do. Clark Buckner is an incredible guy, and I’m very lucky to have him as a friend.
I took a listen to some of your music, and a standout tune is “West Coast Waters.” Now, I initially noticed the interesting beat behind the song. Talk about the song’s beat and what you like about this particular one?
I’m so glad you think it’s a standout! That means so much to me. The intention, as I perceive it, is to be very West Coast vibe-y—very earthy, very fun. If you were a native of the West Coast, I hope it makes you feel like you want to return. I like this song because this is what I want most of my songs to sound like—honest and fun.
Another song of yours is called “Let’s Play.” The last line is “I exhale, breath freezes in the air. It’s morning and you’re still not here.” What do you hear when you listen to that lyric? Talk about why you wrote “Let’s Play.”
When you first hear the song, you might think that I wrote it about a prospective love. But it’s actually about the beginnings of my relationship with God and the feeling of being very disconnected. I wrote it in something like 15 minutes. So honestly, the meaning wasn’t very well planned out or very well executed. It just sort of is what it is.
There’s plenty more music available for fans, right? Where can they get it?
My goodness. I could not be more excited. I’m in the midst of recording my first record, and it will be available in early May. Until that time, if you want to hear me, you might just have to leave your room and come to a show!
For you, how long does it take to write a song? Where do those ideas come from?
I’ve written the frame or majority of all my favorite songs in no more than an hour. People and nature are the most important inspirations in my life.
Talk about the moment when an idea for a song first pops into your head. What do you do?
I am enveloped by the same feeling every time. It’s like a wave of gray matter that clears my mind entirely and makes me oddly concentrated, but at the same time, very disengaged. Then, I just sit down, and if it’s the right time, I write a song.
I was in the audience when you performed at both Fall Follies and the Rock Showcase with Ben Eggebrecht’s My Red & Blue. Talk about those experiences and how fellow student musicians at Belmont inspire you.
Ben Eggebrecht is one of my best friends and a very talented musician. I love him so much. It’s such a privilege to be a part of Ben’s journey, as I think he will have tremendous success in whatever he does in life. I love that Belmont has so many different kinds of musicians, and everyone has something unique to offer. The amount of talent in this school is almost absurd, and it makes you want to work exponentially harder to make sure you are keeping up! I’m moved by people, so it gets me very jazzed to see others thriving by doing something they love.
Talk about how Belmont has impacted you as a musician, if at all. Are you still the same musician that entered the university as a freshman? How has this school changed you for the better?
If I hadn’t have come to Belmont, I wouldn’t have pursued music. It was always a secret desire buried somewhere deep down in my 6-year-old self but only became a prospective reality when I came to college. Through all of the incredible people I have met and experiences I’ve had, not specifically at Belmont but during my time at college, I have definitely come closer to figuring out who I am as a singer/songwriter.
Do you enjoy performing live? Why do you do it? What do you like most about it?
I love it. I love it. It’s just so fun to play with other people and share those hilarious and invigorating moments together. I love it when it’s carefree, not complicated, and I can just be myself.
Do you have any shows coming up?
Booked? No. In the process of booking? Absolutely! I’ve been hibernating a little bit, as I’ve been working on graduating and figuring out what I want to do with my life. But in the near future, you bet I’ll be playing my butt off!
What’s the game plan five years down the road?
Well… funny you should ask. Since I’m graduating in three years, I’ve bought myself a year of time on my student visa. With that year, I have this golden opportunity to really push this and try to just do it. I will forever regret it if I don’t, and I don’t want to wake up at 30 and feel like I never gave my dreams a fighting chance. So we’ll see what happens in the next year, and I will see where life happens to take me. It’s quite frightening, but it’s a huge privilege to be able to pursue something you love.
What’s in the near future for Emily Reid?
The album will be ready in May, and then in terms of after … there are no concrete plans. Canada is definitely somewhere I want to take my music, so we’ll see what that looks like. I will be playing live a lot and really enjoying the process of creating this album and then releasing it. I am so grateful for all of the support I have received and am truly humbled at the opportunity to pursue this as a potential career. The Belmont community has really rallied for me, and I am so incredibly thankful for all of their support.