By: Lauren Jonik
Let me tell you something, this is the life that we're given / Hope
is drug if you're willing / Don't be a afraid to try / Even when
I think it's too hard, I'm breathing as it tears me apart / This
is the life for the living... sings Emily Brooke in Life
for the Living, a song that could easily define both the essence
of who she is and the musical path she has been traveling down.
Growing up in the upper middle class New Jersey suburb of Marlboro,
Brooke's vocal talent was apparent early on, but it was her love
of writing and her desire to overcome personal challenges that brought
forth her abilities as a songwriter and performer. "I've always
felt like I think differently. In NYC, I totally feel like I fit
in because everybody fits in in New York. But, when I was growing
up and I started writing, it helped me to write about what I was
going through with feeling different than everybody else around
me. Of course, every girl says that, but I definitely was the one
who was picked on, so I had a lot to overcome, " Brooke begins.
"I had a lot of trouble getting through some of these things that
had happened in my family and with myself and I found that writing
about them truly was the only thing that got me through it. And
if I didn't have that, I would still be back there. My favorite
thing about songwriting is that when you've finished and you've
gotten down what you want to say just perfectly, it's like you can
breathe out. You can release it now."
Understanding the power
of words for both the giver and the receiver, Brooke carefully chooses
what she says in her songs. "My lyrics are a lot about dealing with
and getting through experiences in life. Life For the Living
is about handling life and steering it the way you want it to work
out for yourself- the power of being in charge of your own life,"
she explains about the song that was co-written with the former
singer of the Getaway People, Boots Ottestad. " I think all of my
songs, even the ones about relationships, are about that."
After testing the waters
of expressing herself through different musical genres, Brooke has
settled on a sound that's her own. "Some people hear a little country
in my voice and in the writing. Some people hear it as straight
pop. It has a lot of different elements because I just love music
for what it is." Currently playing with her band that includes James
Cruz, Anthony Johnson and Ben Poe, Brooke says that, "I really like
the new set up that I've got with the broken down acoustic band
because you can actually hear my words and hear my voice and it
works beautifully for the songs. I've trained for so many years
with my voice and I've put so much care into each word that I want
you to hear it." In May 2008, she is going to be recording an EP
at Electric Lady Studios that will be released this summer.
Also currently writing
with guitarist Kiyanu Kim for a side project, Brooke discovered
the value in collaboration early in her career when her former manager
set her up with the opportunities to write with Billy Steinberg,
who wrote the hits Like A Virgin, and True Colors,
Eric Shermerhorn, Iggy Pop's guitarist, and Brian MacCloud, Sheryl
Crow's drummer. "Brian told great stories about working with Sheryl
and being with her in the very beginning. He gave me a guitar pick
that had her name on it that she had used I have never played with
it and I will not play with it until I'm playing a huge show-like
Madison Square Garden or something. It's a little thing that I'm
keeping and holding on to, " she says with a laugh. But, it was
working with Meredith Brooks that left Emily Brooke with something
that she still draws from. "She had a lot of woman to woman advice
and she is a great inspiration for me to this day. Her words stuck
with me. She said "the ones that make it never stop, the ones that
make it will never give up."
originally appeared in IndieSoundsNY
(Issue #32 May 2008).