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What I Learned at Bandcamp: Ember Isles

Ember Isles, interview, Bandcamp

Hannah Read from Scotland, Tamsin Wilson from England and Canada, and Megan Lui from California met and became friends during college in Boston. The three moved to New York together five years ago. Confined to a 600-square-foot apartment, they began making folk music as a trio and played a show together four years ago.

The group is currently working on its debut album, Embers, due out this fall. The first two singles from the EP can be streamed on Bandcamp.

Below, read The Spec‘s interview with Ember Isles…

How long have you been making music?
In terms of writing, I think we all started pretty young. Hannah has definitely been playing the longest, she grew up on the Isle of Eigg playing traditional Scottish music and has been playing fiddle since she was 6 years old. Tamsin and I probably don’t have nearly as cool stories, but somewhere in our early teen years we started jotting down songs. For Tamsin, it was when Carol King and Cat Stevens records slipped into her catalog of pop-rock records. For me, it was very similar, but it happened to be a Tracy Chapman and Joni Mitchell record and then I sort of happened into a band in high school that pretty strictly covered Cream, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple.

Who/what are your influences?
The best thing about having three songwriters in the band is that we all have our own influences, a lot of the time they overlap of course, but I think we each search out something slightly different. Right now, the records/artists that have been on repeat for us are: Blake Mills, Alabama Shakes, Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, and The Dave Rawlings Machine. Some older influences would definitely be Carol King, Harry Nilsson, Cat Stevens, Fleetwood Mac, and Joni Mitchell.

What is your favorite song you’ve released and why?
I think we’d say “Love Song.” One we’ve played live for ages and was SO nice to capture on recording.

Upcoming projects, where do you want to go from here?
We are releasing our seven-song EP Embers in the fall, and from there the goal is just to keep writing and tour. I suppose it’s the musicians idyllic dream, but there’s lots of moving parts that go into making that happen.

If you could no longer be a musician, what would you be or do for a living?
Megan: Most likely a teacher, but my pipe dream would be to somehow work for Neil Degrasse Tyson.
Hannah: Definitely a gardener.
Tamsin: Architectural conservator.

What musicians or bands do you look up to?
We feel lucky to know so many amazing musicians, and be involved in our community of artists. Close friends, some known and some unknown, that have been huge influences on our development as writers and performers. But just to list off a few we admire from afar: Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, Blake Mills and Lianne La Havas.

Why do you make music?
There are days where making music has its different uses or feelings, sometimes you’re having a shit day and all you want to do is get home to write or just yell-scream something at the paper. Or you’re having a great day and it feels amazing to sing within the trio, and feel the other voices and instruments around you. I think it just comes down to the feeling, and to say the least, it doesn’t always come easy, but we are all pretty addicted to it.

Anything else you’d like readers to know that we haven’t asked you about?
We’re playing the Deli Mag‘s CMJ showcase on Oct. 14, 9 P.M. at the Rockwood Music Hall, stage 3.

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