Despite the cautionary name, Emily Danger should be seen as a gift from the musical gods.  The Brooklyn band’s upcoming EP, “War Torn” is all about substance over flash, truth instead of cock & bull.  Emily’s lead vocals have a soul-wrenching cry in them echoing the prowess of the late Jeff Buckley and the melodic storytelling of Dolly Parton.  As a front-woman, she is a unique voice in our musical landscape and the band’s songs carry a message that is both thought-provoking and filled with realism.


Pancakes & Whiskey sat down with the golden vocal chords of Emily Danger before the band’s upcoming show at the Mercury Lounge on February 8.


P&W:  What made you decide to transition from opera to rock?  That’s not a typical move.

ED:  It wasn’t easy at the time to pursue opera.  It’s a very demanding art.  A lot of my teachers didn’t like what I did.  I would try different artistic interpretations but you kind of have to fit into a mold.  And now I can sing and write in higher registers because of it but the mental toll wasn’t that great.  It’s definitely not the normal path that people take.  I was really kind of miserable and I had really bad stage fright when I was doing opera. I never felt connected even though the music is beautiful.  I was telling my husband one day how much I loved every second of singing along with Led Zeppelin in my car and he was like, “Why don’t you start writing rock music then?”  And so I did.

P&W:  You call your type of music “dark cabaret rock.” What exactly is that?

ED:  (laughing) It’s a way to not say indie rock!  No, we started calling it that because cabaret is some of my favorite music, like Edith Piaf and Judy Garland, very theatrical, female, giving her guts on the stage with one spotlight and it can be loud with an orchestra or it can be one singer and a piano.  The diversity of that type of music from the 40s, I really love it and I put the rock in there, too.  And the darkness I think comes from our unique arrangements. We like to think of ourselves as influenced by Radiohead and the kind of bands that use electronics as well as darker string instruments like the violin.  I think the three words just smoosh together really well.

P&W:  Tell me about the musical journey you want to take your audience on with your latest EP?

ED:  The EP we have out now is called “Peace Arch” and the one that’s coming out is called “War Torn.”  They kind of juxtapose each other.  The idea of the journey between the two as well as the live show is to show the struggle with our music that we’ve been going through as individuals, as a band, as people living in NY with all the different political issues going on, and as a woman in music.  We are all very involved in social activism and things going in our community, and this year, especially with everything that’s been going on with Ferguson and the GOP taking over again, we were just kind of inspired and our writing is meant to reflect all of that.  We’ve added projections and lighting into our live shows to spotlight certain lyrics and to give the audience a really interactive experience.

P&W:  Would you say that your band has a socially conscious message with your music?

ED:  I think so.  We never set out to write like that. I never sit down with a newspaper and point to something and say, “This is it!”  But we definitely follow different female activists and things going on here and in India and things going on with women all over the world as well as gay rights and anytime something happens or someone says something really stupid, I just get set on fire and I have to write about it.  I do think people leave our shows thinking and that’s really the point of it.  It has to mean something more.

P&W:  Absolutely.  There’s a whole generation of women growing up now that are just buying into stupidity and white noise.  Their role models are not the kind of women we were able to look up to.  Who were some of your musical role models growing up?

ED:  I know exactly what you mean.  I teach a lot of teenage girls and I’m reminded of what I went through as a teenager and it breaks my heart when I hear of girls being bullied or called a “slut” because they kissed a boy.  I ask them who they listen to and I don’t hear them reference any of the amazing female artists I grew up with like Stevie Nicks who were so inspiring and so outspoken.  With pop music in general there has to be some fluff because otherwise it’s not accessible.  I think it’s going to take a wide 180 for people to say, “Oh, this music is really great and is fun to dance to at parties but…” I mean, what is it that can really affect someone?  Like Joni Mitchell is a perfect example.  She was popular and she wasn’t making mainstream hits but she really affected that generation because of what was happening in our country and I think there has to be a resurgence of that.  Especially in Brooklyn I think that’s happening, but it’s going to take a lot of people and a lot of bands with outspoken women to really make a difference and to bring that kind of message to light.

P&W: Well, you made a believer out of me.

Catch Emily Danger live at the Mercury Lounge NYC on February 8, 7pm.


Article by: Hannah Soule





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