Fun fact: Emm Gryner shares her hometown with musicians Thom and Dan Speck, Toronto Star reporter (and number one on Rob Ford’s hitlist) Robyn Doolittle, women’s rights activist Emily Murphy, and author, model and Academic Roslyn Fuller. But this singer-songwriter from Forest, Ontario is unique among them: she has made music with Commander Chris Hadfield.
In addition to helping produce his hit zero-gravity cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, Gryner also features Hadfield on “So Easy” the sixth track off her new album “Torrential”. It was an interesting experience for her, she explains, as she doesn’t often write well with others. But producing the video for Hadfield opened up a new and unique opportunity, something many musicians look for. Speaking of opportunity and “Space Oddity”, when she was 24 and living in New York, Gryner found herself playing keyboard in the backing band for Mr. Space Oddity himself, David Bowie. With Hadfield’s video, her circle of life is complete. Hakkunah Mattata.
“Torrential” almost didn’t happen though. After she released her “best of” album in 2012, which she jokingly refers to as “I Tried My Best”, she felt she was done with the solo thing, and wanted to focus on her band Trent Severn. (Side note: Trent Severn may be the only band named after a waterway). But a lot of things started happening around her, and having two kids she felt she needed that sense of spark again. “Me time” some might call it.
“Torrential” is simple yet varied. “So Easy” which features Hadfield, is a more upbeat, country-folk tune. (Gryner describes it as a retro-anthem). Apparently her and “Chris” traded lyrics and informed me that Hadfield is quite a good lyricist. Tunes like “Sundown on Us” and “Mammoth of Ache” (two of her favourites) are your more traditional, slower singer-sonwgwriter fare. They were also, for Gryner, more difficult to write. While she doesn’t necessarily enjoy listening to them, she was proud that she was able to say some things in her song and get them out of her system. “Mammoth of Ache” in particular shows off her great tonal quality and begins with a big, powerful syllable.
“Torrential” in many ways was a healing process for Gryner, while also a project her (and us) back to her roots. It is simple and pared down, which gives it a more powerful quality. And having a famous astronaut on it can’t hurt either.
“Torrential” was released on April 8th and was produced by Joe Corcoran.
For my full interview with Emm, listen here: http://cjsf.ca/vanilla_archives/2014_April_14_17_00.mp3
A “remix” of Chris Hadfield’s “Space Oddity” featuring Glove and Boots:
And finally, Emm’s new music video for her single “Pioneer”
RIYL: Lauren Mann & The Fairly Odd Folk, Tegan and Sara, First Aid Kit