The Varied Life Of A Working Musician

Emily Overstreet pictured third from left

Emily Overstreet pictured third from left

Field Notes Interview #32: Emily Overstreet, Marmoset Artist

In the modern music industry and landscape, the life of a working artist is supported through varied means of income sources. While working toward a sustainable career as a musician, shows and album sales alone are only a part of making a living as a blue collar musician. Marmoset Artist, Emily Overstreet has found a balance of work, creativity and fulfillment: some vital ingredients in the recipe for being a successful musician.

Overstreet writes and performs with her band Great Wilderness. Their epic and beautiful folk-pop ballads stick with you. Their music made an impression on filmmaker, Stone Alvaro and he used their track "Miles of Trees" in his recent film. We got a chance to chat with Emily about her varied life as a musician, composer and promoter.


M: When did you start writing music? 

EO: I started writing original pieces when I was nine. My mom had gotten me into piano lessons, and though I constantly resisted practicing the assigned pieces, I ended up learning enough to start making up my own songs. I remember when I played my first original song, it made my dad cry. And so I knew that it was powerful, even at such a young age.

M: What does a day in the life of a working musician look like for you?

EO: My days differ quite a bit, but my main dedication is to my employer, True West, a concert promoter here in town and in Seattle. That involves waking up and immediately checking emails to make sure there are no ticketing emergencies or demands from east coast affiliates. I will work a couple hours from home, plan out my day, pack a lunch, head into the office and do some more ticketing work. Then I walk from our office over to the Aladdin Theater nearby where I often bartend at the shows. It's a lot of work that graces the perimeters of my heart, which is being a musician myself, but I enjoy the balance. I enjoy the hard work and the constant movement and business. At least once a week I am either practicing or recording with my new band (Bitch'n) or writing a new solo piece for the monthly variety show I'm a cast member in (The New Shit Show). 

M: What role do you feel music has in film?

EO: Can you think of a film without music or some sort of soundscape behind it at least? There probably are a few, but I can't. Have you ever put in headphones and walked across Burnside Bridge as the sun sets and thought you must, in some small way, be part of a movie in that moment? Film and music are married to each other. But it's not the kind of marriage that seems like grueling work. To me it's a dance - the perfect combination of "not being too obvious". When a swell comes up in a movie at a touching moment and my eyes start to well up with tears, I don't think "OH THAT MUSIC", necessarily. I think "This is beautiful." And the music has an essential part to play in that, without stealing the show all together.

M: How do you feel your song complimented the Stone Alvaro's film?

I thought it was great. The song has an organic, earthy feel to it so it nestles in the tree branches and the idea of fruit growing on its own. I also like the fact that the film starts out very quietly with just the birds in the trees. The song has a good path to it and it provides a hopeful, positive feeling of growth and movement which mirrors the simple and beautiful story of someone regaining their life from devastation, without putting too much emphasis on the devastation (because it's in the past!) 

M: What are you excited about for the future?

EO: I look forward to getting my home studio set up, to devoting more time to writing instrumentals for potential films, and to meeting and collaborating with many more beautiful people in this city. Creating music for film has been something that I've wanted to do since I was in the 6th grade, and so I look forward to seeing how it blooms, how it grows naturally.

Posted on March 6, 2015 and filed under Field Notes.