Emilie & Ogden

BIO

The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.―Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet It seems the young harpist, distinguishable by her brown bangs, has little in common with the 20th century Portuguese controversialist. And yet Pessoa’s words could not have more accurately described the vivid sentiment embodied in Emilie’s work, ringing especially true in the Montreal-based singer-songwriter’s first LP record, entitled 10 000. Longing, anguish and love emerge from its sound and travel through the trembling flesh of those listening. Emilie began playing music as a child by mere chance when she was handed down a flute by a family friend. She studied the instrument up until college, without ever forming a lasting bond with it. No one could have guessed that she would one day find herself entranced by the Mesopotamian beauty of the harp. In the meantime, she lent her voice to short-lived bands and through them felt the thrill of performing to small crowds: “I went onstage a few times at the school theatre,” she recalls, “and the feeling was incredible.” Still, none of these experiences could have predicted she would one day play the strange instrument to an audience. No—what changed the wispy brunette’s destiny was a moment seemingly of grace, as she gazed upon the magnificent harpist Sarah Pagé playing along with her school’s choir, mingled with the faint memory of a tortured chorus from the song Emily, by Joanna Newsom. “I had never felt this way toward an instrument,” she said. She found a teacher on Craigslist the next day. A few months later, Ogden entered her world in all its 38-stringed majesty. Together, they became Emilie & Ogden. Her songs are written with a vibrant, sensitive intellect; each is a world populated by the faces of fleeting passions. The extraordinary musical quality of these finely crafted pieces stems from another brilliant mind: Jesse Mac Cormack, Emilie’s accomplice and producer since her late teens. Their collaboration began with her first self-titled EP, three tracks which emerged from a grey winter in a makeshift apartment-studio. They continued to work together, her, a studious instrumentalist and extracurricular songwriter and him, a melodic genius and whimsical arranger. This very human and subjective formula yielded the desired results ; in the months that followed, Emilie lined up performances at POP Montréal, Osheaga’s official pre-party, the Montreal Jazz Fest, MEG Montreal, NXNE, M for Montreal, Canadian Music Week, as well as support acts for the likes of Half Moon Run, Patrick Watson, Ibeyi, Tigran, Les Soeurs Boulay, Groenland, Klô Pelgag, The Franklin Electric, Folly & The Hunter, Elliot Maginot and Jimmy Hunt, to name a few. For her LP, 10 000, Emilie wrote the lyrics and music, then fully constructed the songs with Jesse and her drummer Francis Ledoux. The record came into being upon a frigid February, in the sprawling house where Studio B-12 resides nestled in the woods of Valcourt. The 1969 dwelling by architect Jacques de Blois stands suspended in time. Sunlight pours through its enormous windows, onto the retro-futuristic furnishings of rooms too numerous to count. In this eccentric venue, succumbing to one’s vision becomes inevitable. “We went to pick up our sound-engineer, Jean-Bruno in Montreal in the middle of the night. He and Jesse got to work as soon as they arrived. It must have been one in the morning. When I woke up at eight, the two were still there, working on the same song […]. We would willingly work fifteen hours a day.” Ogden sat in the basement, the drums and other instruments were set up in various other spaces, and meters upon meters of wiring snaked across the floors of uniquely shaped rooms. As with the Valcourt home, Emilie’s immersive universe is made up of countless rooms, dissimilar yet housed under the same roof. Here, a folk‑Art Nouveau ballad (Blame) beckons; there, a pop song pays tribute to the inaccessible (Ten Thousand, the deftly altered recollection of a biblical passage: “ten thousand talents that you’ll never see”); elsewhere, a musical novel dwells on end of an imaginary romance (White Lies). The musician also deconstructed and reconstructed two tracks from her previous EP, Babel and Long Gone, and added six more original songs. We enter fascinated and emerge wholly enamored, feeling as though the female voice and beguiling harp had somehow spirited us away for space of 10 000 lifetimes.

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