This is a part of Artgus Artist Spotlight, an ongoing series presented by the Arts & Culture section, intended to showcase the artistic talents of the wider Wesleyan community. To nominate a student artist for a profile, go to tinyurl.com/3ttmszh4. In this article, editor Jacob Silberman-Baron ’25 spoke with Emily Bloomfield ’22.
Bloomfield writes and records music in his spare time. Last spring she released an album titled “Pay no attention to ghosts” under the name of Emily Bloom. The album is available to stream on Spotify.
Argus: Tell me about your songwriting process.
Emily Bloomfield: Usually if I’m writing on my own I just sit down with my guitar and start playing stuff, then find some chords I like or a little riff. I’m going to start writing the melody on a little bit of music that I’ve written… and then the melody and the chords will work together to figure out the sections and everything. I never wrote all the guitars, then all the words, and I never wrote all the words, then all the guitars. It always happens together. I don’t think I’m particularly good at the guitar; part of it, I hear other melodies in my head, where I’m like, “Okay, how do I understand this? I think I’m a lot stronger at writing lyrics and melody, so that often leads to conducting the guitar, but I need a place to start.
A: Who are your collaborators?
EB: I’m working on it. On the album, it’s great because everyone who played was pretty much my best friend. The person who did all the drums has been a really good friend of mine since high school, and she just killed him. I wrote all the music on my own, however. The whole arrangement was a total collaboration. I didn’t write anyone’s parts. They all wrote their own parts, and I would give them main things like “I don’t like that”, but they’re all so talented that they just make up a million things and say “What are you doing?” like? ” Lately this semester, since I was in senior year, I’m really nostalgic. This is probably the last time that I will be in this small community with so many people that I know and believe to be such amazing and talented musicians. So I write a little with Nic Catalan [’22]. They’re part of a group here called Mother’s Friends, which has been really lovely. In fact, later today at four o’clock, Audrey Mills [’23] come. She’s a junior. She also releases music. And we’re gonna try to write stuff together. And then my other band, Sweetburger, we write all of our stuff together.
A: Do you take music lessons here, or is it entirely next door?
EB: It is entirely next door. I never took music lessons here. I’m afraid that if I learn too much about music, I won’t be able to write it anymore. It’s such a sacred and organic process for me that I’m nervous that if I know what I’m doing, I won’t be able to get over it to do things. I’ll get in my way.
A: Could you tell me about a specific song and then tell me about its process?
EB: I can speak of “Colorado”. It was pretty easy. We were in quarantine, but I really thought I wanted to go and be stuck. And my friend Liam Caplan [’22], who I live with now, is from Colorado, and I was like, “I’m going to go alone, find a farm, work on this farm, so that we can spend time together”, because we all say to each other. two, “We’re so lonely and it’s so fucked up.” So I sat down with my guitar. Whenever I can’t write I change the tuning of the guitar, so I like the instrument to seem foreign to me. It’s really useful, because I’m just looking for sounds that I like. I’m not like, “What chord is this, and where could it go in my brain?” It’s a bit like what I used to talk about with music lessons. So, I found these agreements. I wrote it in open D, which is a tuning that I write a lot in. I started to write these words which, very easily, I realized that it was about driving all the way to “Colorado”. But I wasn’t thinking, “Okay, where could this story go?” He just throws up out of me. And then I’m like, “Oh, that’s what this is about. As soon as I have that awareness, it’s easier to write other words, because that’s what I’m thinking about anyway.
I feel like a lot of things are very image-based. Looking at the lyrics of my songs, I realize that just about every verse is a picture I’m describing or a scene. It’s a very specific cause that’s what I like. In poetry or reading, I like the long, super-specific fluffy details. It’s like my favorite thing. I finished “Colorado”, and I wanted it to be triumphant and this “I need to go” [feeling]. And I ended up going there, because I went to Idaho. It was like the big victory of that song. But once that was over, I looked back at the lyrics and thought, “Oh shit I’m talking to my parents at first”, and it’s that dialogue with my parents, and the chorus speaks. of me in the car and that feeling of not knowing what I’m doing and being alone. And in the end, it was like that proclamation of “I’m fine”, it was really hard but I’m fine. But I never got that during the writing process. I always have that after the fact.
A: Don’t think, feel.
EB: It’s almost hypnosis. And what’s really remarkable is that after releasing this album, I don’t feel that way anymore when I write. It’s so much more laid back. But for my life before, writing music wasn’t that laid back. It was really intense and emotionally draining, and every time I was in the middle of the song and couldn’t finish it, it felt like the worst feeling in the world, and I was obsessed with my brain at that. topic and I could not let go. And now I relax. I’ll write a verse, then get up and walk away. It was such a necessary release. It was as if all my feelings were bubbling inside me and the pot was starting to give way. I needed to let the steam out.
A: What do you think is different between the things you write now and the things you would hypnotize yourself for?
EB: This is an interesting question. I thought about it too. For so long, I wrote music to get to know myself better. It was really so introspective, in a way that sometimes it was actually too much. I was just struggling. Quarantine was particularly difficult. I wrote about what I was thinking and feeling. I was really going through the mud…. And now my life is much more stable, so I was able to have more fun with it…. My songs have been a lot lighter lately, sometimes a little funny, I think, or like totally fictional stories. Which was a really fun change. But I miss the hypnotic and really intimate feeling that I used to have when writing songs, because I just don’t have it anymore, or I haven’t had it for a long time.
A: What are your favorite lyrics?
EB: I think my favorite lyrics on the album, or one of them, the song that I think most closely related to the lyrics is the last song on the album, “Ladybugs in the Spring”. I like the expression “take reasonable precautions”. I like the idea of this song being a warning. I didn’t think about it at all while writing it. It just happened. But I would say, overall, lyrically, this song is my heart and soul. That says exactly what I wanted to say…. I love the lyrics to “It’s Not Your Fault You Were Sleepy”. I did it on purpose live, because the lyrics are so intimate and close to me that I wanted the authenticity of a live performance. I didn’t want to nitpick how I sang it or how I played it, so I recorded it in one take. There were like four mics in the room, and I was just like ‘go on’. And we just played it and that’s what’s on the album. Almost no mixing…. And the last verse of that song where I say, “You went to bed early / You fell asleep on the couch / I was reading other people / And you left the stove on / You forgot to turn off / When your mother said she would call. This very rapid dialogue of which I am proud. Yes, I really like this song.
A: You are an elderly person. Any idea what you are doing?
EB: I’m thinking about it. I think I have two answers. One is like my chimera, that would be, I wanna go on a tour, like a little tour, I got this picture of me and Josh [Markowitz ’22] play in a bunch of those little craft rooms just to play. I miss playing live so much that right now all I can think of once I’m able is to go and play as much as I can. Maybe people are listening, or maybe people hate it, but at least I can say I tried. It was my dream.
I think I actually work in a Middletown cafe that I love. I love my work. I love my colleagues. I work in Perkatory roasters, plug. And I love him there. I love working there. I feel like I need a break from school and from reading for years to come. I’m going to work, and I’m going to find my stuff, and I’ll write a bunch of music and try to play as much music as I can. And I’ll take it from there.
A: And you’re majoring in history.
EB: I am majoring in history.
A: How does that fit into all of this?
EB: This is a great question. I think about it all the time. I do not know. For a while I was like, “Yeah, why am I a history student? »I am writing a thesis and doing my thesis research. I’m like, “This is the best shit ever.” In fact, I am extremely curious and have so many questions about things. And so I did some archival research. I’m doing my research on Middletown. I went to the historical society and looked through old books and things. But it’s music related in the sense that I like to try to figure things out. If I had to try to find a course in all the things I love, it’s problem solving. And with my music, it’s like solving problems with my life. And with history, it is asking questions and trying to find them in the story. Although I think that’s a huge stretch too, and maybe just a working answer for this question. But I’ll stick to it.
A: Do you mean something else?
EB: I love music. It is the greatest thing that has happened in my life. One thing is if you write music, share it with other people who write music and collaborate with people. Because I feel like I got there very late. And now I tell myself that making music doesn’t have to be a lonely thing. It can be so collaborative.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Jacob Silberman-Baron can be contacted at [email protected]