A Conversation With: Emily Mover
Emilie Mover is no stranger to the indie music scene here in Toronto. Chances are, if you’ve ever been to Tranzac in the Annex you’ve been lucky enough to cross paths with her; either while she was behind the bar or playing a set.
Emily was conceived in Miami, born in Montreal, and raised in Toronto and New York simultaneously. Although she will always feel at home here in Toronto, she is relocating to New York City in February.
I was lucky enough to sit down with her recently before her “Surprise Valentine’s Day” themed show at Tranzac last week. We talked about her music, her thoughts on hipsters and her encounter with David Miller on the subway.
How long have you been working here?
I’d say, on and off for about five years or so. Yeah, I started coming here when I was about 17. I walked past and I heard Gypsy Jazz or something coming out of the window. And I was like “What is that?” and went in. Back then it was really different; it wasn’t so much considered a venue, but they had Wednesday night Gypsy Jazz and Tuesday night blue grass. So I just started coming in and hanging out. I worked at the Green Room and I really wanted to quit. I ran into Cassandra Rutherford who used to book here, and she offered me a job, which was so sweet of her. Now it’s like a second home – I literally keep my yoga stuff upstairs, and have closet up there too full of clothes.
So you started working here before you started playing here?
I can’t remember which it was. I have such a terrible memory; I have to eat more blueberries or something. It was either when I just started, or I was about to start working here, that I had my first show ever. I had written all these songs and I figured if I’m going to do this, why don’t I do it here.
No wonder it feels like home.
Oh yeah. All my friends came, it was great. All my favourite shows, except for my CD release party that was at Skyline a couple of months ago, have been here.
So do you live in this area, then? The Annex I mean.
I did for a long time, but now I live in the College and Dovercourt area. I love so many neighborhoods in Toronto. I think it’s because I’m about to leave, so I’m starting to get nostalgic. My boyfriend and I ran into David Miller on the Subway today! I love Toronto! I mean, in what other city can you run into the ex-mayor on the subway? We asked him if he could please come back now, and he was all “thank you, thank you.” We told him he was the coolest guy.
So you’re leaving here for New York?
Yeah, I’m going to New York. Not for forever, but you know, for a long time.
I read in your bio that you used to sing in Jazz shows with your dad in New York?
Yeah. He lives there now. He used to live here, and we would play shows here too. But he loves New York, it’s like his home, he moved there from Boston. He met my mom in Canada. They lived here, but then he moved back and so I’ve been going back and forth since I was 13. I think we’re going to do more jazz stuff actually.
Would you say that’s when you first started performing? Years ago in jazz bars in New York?
Definitely. Yeah totally.
What was that like?
I remember just being really nervous the first time he asked me to sing in front of people. But even before it was in a club atmosphere, you know how when you’re a kid you watch all these female singers and think “Wow! I could never do that!” I remember being in his apartment in Brooklyn which he shared with three other musicians, and I had just gotten my hands on a Billy Holiday record, and learned all the songs and loved them, so I sang it to my dad and he was like “Emilie you should come up and sing at a show sometime.” Although, I do remember singing at The Rex when I was like seven. I remember singing “L is for the way you look at me…” and “Tomorrow” from Annie! But then he started getting me to do it for a few songs just sitting in here and there. He was really nice; he took me seriously enough, which made me take myself seriously enough to make this something I could actually do. Although, I wanted to be an actress, I didn’t want to be a singer.
Yeah, that’s why I moved to New York in the first place. I went to acting school, to the Fame school – LaGuardia, but I hated it. I really hated it. Acting kids in New York are 15 and try to act like they’re 30. I remember taking people aside and asking “Don’t you find it kind of phony that we’re acting like we’re 30, when we’re lucky enough to be 15?” and they looked at me like I was nuts. That’s why I came back to Toronto, because I wanted to be 15. I wanted to go to Oakwood. You know?
What’s your favourite part of New York?
To be completely honest, I love Manhattan. It’s a great walking city, though I’m not going to lie I like the Upper West Side because I do like it to be quiet. All the neighborhoods are great, but this time when I go I’m going to try to live in Brooklyn, maybe Park Slope or Fort Green. Or Williamsburg. Williamsburg is great– once you put up with the Hipster quota, I’m enough of a Hipster that I can fit in though.
Self Pro-claimed hipster? Very nice.
I think that that’s just what our generation is. We’re all hipsters. So I just say, why so much self-hatred? There are good hipsters, and there are bad hipsters. There are the people who are artistic who are young and just want to share with other people, they’re creative, and then there are people that aren’t, and they sit back and try to look like they are because they want to be. I think it’s probably been like that throughout time. There are always assholes, you know?
That’s true. Great way to put it.
What’s one thing you feel that your listeners should know about you?
Oh geez. That’s a tough one. I would like them to know that I’m not trying to write any particular kind of music, I just really like singing. All different kinds. I think it’s important to not limit yourself.
I was reading comments on your You Tube Channel, and somebody commented that they heard “Ordinary Day” on an episode of Ghost Whisperer…How did that come to be?
I’m signed with a music licensing company that is based in L.A. and N.Y. called Zync Music and they just send out samplers or something? I’m not really good at the whole business side of things. I’ve thankfully got a great manager who tells me to just go and write the songs, and he’ll take care of everything. Which is great because my dad and I are both musicians, and maybe he’s better now, but we’re both not strong on the business side of things.
How does it feel when a random person just gushes about hearing one of your songs on a TV. show or on the radio or something?
I didn’t really think about it. When that started happening it wasn’t a big deal at first because I was like, “Yeah, I did it.” I don’t have a television, but when I have seen something my song is on, I’m like “Whoa! That’s awesome!” but when somebody just tells me it doesn’t quite click that it’s real. I’m just like, “oh, that’s great! That’s great!” But I don’t really think about it. I’m really grateful though that I’m in a position for that to happen.
Last general question: if you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Oh Jeez! I think it would have to be a toss up between two: The first is Luiz Bonfa Solo in Rio 1959. It’s the best guitar music to me. The whole album is just…Oy. But for music that has lyrics it would have to be Paul Simon’s first album. The Self titled one.
When do you go to New York?
Whoa, that’s coming up quick! Does one city feel more like home than the other?
I’m more comfortable here. My social life here is fantastic. I have so many people that I love here. In New York it’s a different kind of scene. I feel like there’s a bit more of a hustle; you don’t make friends you make connections. Though I’m sure it’s possible to make friends there…Both cities are home, but I feel like New York is my alone place, my work place. Toronto is my relax, play music, get drunk place.
That’s all my questions. And well, many others. Thanks so much.
You’re very welcome, anytime.