Originally hailing from Colorado, storyteller Emery Adeline continues to be a force for female empowerment and growth in the music industry. Her music is proof of her roots as she has spent most of her life connected to nature, utilizing what the world around her has inspired her with to create beautiful, authentic, and compelling stories in her songs. Artists such as Maren Morris, Lana Del Rey, and Kacey Musgraves have been huge influences in her art, therefore making it her mission to inspire and motivate other women to find their strength and independence in life. The Neon Hive was able to sit down and talk to Emery about her journey as a storyteller and how music has transformed her life for our Storyteller & Songwriting Series.
Neon Hive: How did you get started in music?
Emery Adeline: I started writing when I was about eight years old. I got a guitar for Christmas on my sixth birthday and I started taking lessons when I was eight, I wrote my first song immediately after that. I always performed in talent shows.
Neon Hive: What was your first performance experience like on stage?
Adeline: I was in the second grade and I decided to sing in the talent show. I sang “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac, acapella for the talent show. Fleetwood Mac was one of my favorite bands, and I loved that song.
Neon Hive: So safe to say they were among your musical influences growing up?
Adeline: Yes! I love Fleetwood Mac. Probably my first love musically was Alison Krauss. She was my first concert. I used to fall asleep to her music every night. I love Sheryl Crow, The Dixie Chicks, and I love ‘80s and ‘90s alternative rock. I grew up on a lot of R.E.M., Elvis Costello, and The Police. Also a lot of country so I love old school Willie Nelson. Now, some of my modern influences are Kacey Musgraves and Gregory Alan Isakov.
Neon Hive: You’ve worked on Love Shot Eyes, your album, and your EP, Killin’ Time, in the past. What did you enjoy about the recording process and being intimate with the stories in the studio versus performing them live in front of others?
Adeline: Both of those experiences are great and difficult for different reasons. I love being in the studio because you get to zone in and focus on the vocal and focus on the song. You can give it the best performance and the most emotive performance you can. You get to cry and scream and feel it. You get to really feel the story you’re telling. It can also be very draining and tiring. You don’t get that personal connection, which is my favorite part of performing because you get to share a moment with an audience. You get to share an experience with a group of people and hopefully they relate to what you’re saying and feel the emotion that you are trying to get across. You’re all in this space even if it’s only for three minutes, but you’re all sharing in it and that moment can be very healing, expressive, and human.
Neon Hive: What’s the songwriting process like for you? Are you more internal or external writer?
Adeline: I tend to write very personal songs. When I’m writing by myself, I sit down and pick up a guitar, and I try to let whatever I need to say fall out. Usually, I don’t really know what wants to come out until I’m playing the guitar. When I do that, I usually get about a chorus and a verse out of it and then I will let it sit there until I’m come back to it and put in some work. Sometimes I’ll bring those half songs to a co-write, but I try to be intentional about who I bring them to if it’s a start I really love or if it’s really personal. Occasionally you get something that feels like a little gift from the universe so you don’t want to bring that to someone who isn’t going to connect with it like I do. You could also walk into a co-write and no one knows what we’re going to write about. I love those songs too because those can be the most creative and spontaneous songs to write. When you walk into another room with a writer, it’s your job to be vulnerable and to be very authentic. Yes. I’m going to bare my soul with you today and let’s turn it into some art.
Neon Hive: So you’ve been involved in collaboration and co-writing; what has that been like for you, being vulnerable with other artists and getting to work with creatively different storytellers?
Adeline: At first, I really didn’t love to co-write. It’s a learned process. You have to get used to it because the best co-writes are when you walk into a room and you’re ready to just be vulnerable and authentic so you can get the best song you can. The best way to get a good song is to be honest about what you’re experiencing. It’s scary to be vulnerable with your peers, especially when there’s big egos involved. But writing with my friends helped me get comfortable with it because they already know me, so that really helped me breakthrough that strange feeling of creating songs with other people, because it was a very personal experience for me. I don’t think you would ever meet a songwriter who would say “No. The songwriting process isn’t personal for me at all.”
Neon Hive: Do you think other songwriters should experience collaboration and co-writing?
Adeline: Absolutely! I am such a better writer because of my co-writing experiences. Even if you have a terrible write and don’t get a song out of it, you’re still learning and becoming a better writer. Sometimes I have writes where it’s like pulling teeth, but that’s when I’m pushing myself as a writer. The songs that happen naturally where the song is done in thirty minutes, those are great, but they aren’t really pushing you. Those are the magic songs that you’ve already put in the work and the universe decided to give you a gift that day. Those are the songs you work up to. The beauty of co-writing is you’re forcing yourself to write, getting in a creative mindset, and forming connections. If you get in the room with someone who is way better than you, how lucky are you to get to be in the room with someone you can learn from? I’ve had the privilege of writing with writers who are so much better than me. It’s exciting to be the weakest link in the room, because I get to push myself, I get to grow and I get to learn from these masters of their craft. You’re constantly learning and growing and challenging yourself. If you have the opportunity to go and be the weakest link in the room, always go.
Neon Hive: How do you combat your writer’s block and prevent yourself from being too critical of your work?
Adeline: A lot of times I have writer’s block, it’s because I don’t feel very grounded. Something is out of whack in my life. One way I try to combat that is by taking care of myself. I need to stay in and take a night off. I check in with myself and make sure I’m taking care of myself and being kind to myself. If I don’t feel good, that is one of the first things to prevent me from being creative. I know there is that cliché where you write some of the best songs when you’re feeling sad, and that’s true for me too, but if something doesn’t feel right, it’s about taking care of myself to give myself that space to feel whatever emotion needs to come out, happy or sad. You keep your base in check and leave yourself more space to connect with the process.
Neon Hive: What do you want others to receive from your music?
Adeline: For me, my main goal is to be honest. I try to be vulnerable and put things as simply as I can. Being a 23-year-old woman and experiencing my life, I feel a lot of times we are told we can’t sing about certain things. We can’t feel a certain way. What I’m trying to do right now with my music is give a voice to the experience of being a young woman growing in our society right now. With my last record, that meant being honest about how I got over a breakup. “Kitchen” was about going out too much, drinking, and seeing different guys. I was being honest about where I was at and how I was dealing with that and how so many of my friends deal with it, but we don’t get to talk about it a lot in our art. Now, when I’m writing, I try to be bold and honest. I think that being a woman, we are taught to not be those things. We are taught to be quiet, not take up space, and not to feel our emotions or we are “crazy”. It’s very important to me to tell my experience because I think in doing that, it creates space for other women to tell their stories. I have played “Kitchen” a million times live and it’s still like ripping a page out of my diary. But those are the songs that are important to share. I want to give everyone the space to just be who they are and feel what they need to feel.
Neon Hive: If you were to introduce your music to someone for the first time and you can only show that person one song of yours, which song best represents you right now as a storyteller?
Adeline: The song that I feel best represents me right now is one I wrote this summer called “Mistress”. I came in with this idea that had been floating around in my head and I just got out of a relationship that was really serious. He was a musician too, but I was tired of being treated like a mistress because he was so focused on his career. I love it and it is my favorite song I’ve ever written. I felt very in my power writing it. It’s been fun to explore this different side of my writing and I got to put it all out there. I’m very encompassed by that song and it gave me space to own how I was feeling. It’s the “North Star” song for the next album I’ve been working on.
Emery Adeline’s EP, Killin’ Time is available on Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play.