Interview: Emily Franke
Written by Kiersten Gerard
Emily Franke combines the storytelling of classic folk with bright pop melodies to create music that is, in a word, captivating. Not only that, but she does it all from the comfort of her bedroom! We got the chance to sit down with Emily to discuss the process of a DIY artist as well as her new EP The Summer That Stood Still.
You’ve recently released a two part EP, The Summer That Stood Still. What was that process like? Did you work with anyone to produce and record it?
I’ve released a few EPs in the past but this one definitely felt more official, it had more of a process than the others. I worked with one other person on the music, Sammy Haig. I met him on Quadio, which is a platform for college students to collaborate on music. I went to a songwriting retreat for a weekend that was all through Zoom and we met through that. He plays trumpet and he arranged the trumpet lines for “Mother Nature” which is the single off of the second part of the EP.
My little sister is actually going to school for visual art and illustration so she’s done all of the artwork so I worked with her on the art part Those were my two collaborators. Otherwise I wrote, recorded and produced everything in my room which was a great summer project. Nice to have something fun to do while doing Zoom school.
What genre would you say your music falls under?
I think right now it would be considered folk pop. I tend to write everything on my acoustic guitar and I like playing it more acoustically. The songwriting aspect of it is way more folk but then in the production I end up going full on Taylor Swift.
In terms of lyrics, do you see any recurring themes in your writing? What is your favorite thing to write about?
I think my favorite thing to write about is relationships, and not just romantic ones necessarily, just any kind of relationship. I think it’s interesting to kind of pick that apart, even the relationship you have with yourself. That’s a fun one. This most recent EP, the second part, was definitely about new friendships and how existing friendships can change. The first part was more about romantic relationships but it was also all fictional. It was stuff I made up at the beginning of quarantine that I thought would be fun to write about. The second part was what actually happened this summer instead of what I thought it was going to be.
Which song you’ve released has been the most difficult to write?
The songs on the first part of the EP were definitely difficult to write because they weren’t real. They were stories I made up so I didn’t have much to pull from. The most difficult song to finish might’ve been “Mother Nature” because it was so close to home, so personal. I didn’t know if I wanted anyone else to hear it. Then I played it for my roommates and they were like “yeah you should totally share this.” That one was definitely the most difficult to finish.
What has your relationship with music been like throughout your life?
I’ve always listened to a lot of music. My parents have always played all different kinds of music for us so I think that’s where my love for it stems from. I started to learn guitar because I loved Taylor Swift. It was so cool to hear her talk about how she wrote her own songs when she was so young. I remember hearing “Teardrops on my Guitar” for the first time and thinking “yup this is it.” I learned how to play all of her songs in sixth grade. Then I was like “I wanna be Taylor Swift. I want to write my own stuff.” I started writing my own songs in seventh grade. I didn’t start recording until I was 17 or 18. I started releasing stuff on soundcloud when I was 18. Now I definitely draw inspiration from Taylor Swift. Maggie Rogers and Phoebe Bridgers too, I love their writing styles.
You wrote both parts of this EP over the course of quarantine. How, as a whole, has Covid affected your music?
Covid definitely affected the first part of the EP in the way that I felt completely uninspired because there was nothing going on. That’s why I turned to fictional writing. The pandemic has also given me more time to teach myself how to produce. I’ve got more time to just sit with headphones on and mess around with stuff. I haven’t been able to play live really. Last year, My junior year of college, I had a little band with my friends. We did house shows and they were SO much fun. We were completely looking forward to that this year which obviously hasn’t happened. I think this has all inspired me to write stuff that I can produce myself instead of stuff to play live.
Once the pandemic has ended what are you most excited to do?
I want to go to a concert! I want to go to a concert so bad! The last concert I went to live was Maggie Rogers, and it was also the best concert I’ve ever been to. I want to go see her again so badly. That is definitely what I’m looking forward to.
Before you mentioned a few artists that you admire, who would you say is your biggest musical inspiration?
Currently it would definitely be Maggie Rogers. I love the way she talks about producing and incorporating the sounds around her everyday into her production. I was listening to an interview the other day where she was talking about how she put the sound of a morning dove into the background of a song and it became the countermelody to “Alaska.” That is the coolest idea, taking these sounds from her life and natural surroundings into her music. She’s so creative. I love it.
What song has been stuck in your head lately?
“I Know the End” by Phoebe Bridgers. I love that song. The way that it’s two different songs almost, and they come together. Her screaming at the end. The whole thing. It’s so good.
What is your go-to song to yell-sing in the car?
It might be that one right there. Just let out a good scream at the end there coming home from work. Sometimes you just gotta.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists/writers?
I feel like I’m searching for more advice than I’m able to give. I think just go for it. Try anything and see what happens. I’m a theater major at ISU and I’ve been taking these strictly audio classes where I’ve been making foley art sounds. There are no rules, everything is subjective. I was expecting there to be this rule book on how to do everything but there isn’t one. It’s just whatever you think sounds good, sounds good.
Anything to plug?
The first and second parts of The Summer That Stood Still came out in October and February so those are both available on all streaming platforms!
Follow Emily on tik tok and Instagram @emilyfranke13 !