Emy and Ethan Dean are more than just two people. They are parents, dreamers, Christmas-fanatics, and on top of all that, amazing musicians. If you are in D.C. you are probably already familiar with their alternative band - Emy&Ethan. If you aren’t in D.C., look up their music right now - you won’t be disappointed. With their debut album, “The Ties We’ve Endeavored to Make/The Ties We’ve Endeavored to Sever,” coming to iTunes November 23rd, excitement was in the air when I sat to talk to them over the phone. While we were not able to meet in person, I could hear the happy chaos of their life buzzing around them.
How did you both meet?
Emy: “Well, before we met Ethan was playing his guitar and banging on random objects, and I was singing gospel and soul that I heard my father sing. Capitol Records was interested in working with me, and I went to Ethan and his brother’s recording studio to do some demos. Ethan is a multi-instrumentalist - if he doesn’t know how to play it, he learns quickly, and we started playing together. In 2011, we started the band and started dating.”
What inspires your music?
Ethan: “Life. We are family people. Our songs are based on personal experiences like us being parents. ‘A Mother’s Song,’ which the music video is coming out on the 23rd with our album, shows Emily’s (Emy’s full name) relationship with our son Elisha. Our lives separately and together.
Emy: “Ethan and I write songs when we can’t process our thoughts. It helps make them linear.”
Now that you are a mother, and pregnant with your second child, how does this change your routine?
Emy: “It’s funny you asked that because Ethan was just in the studio and I followed Elisha around. We tag team. I bring in the big bouncing ball for Elisa and sometimes we might have to re-record because he bangs on a drum or keyboard but, we’ve tried splitting up the time and it causes tension.
Ethan: “While Emily is in the vocal booth, I’ll hold Elisha and he will fall asleep asleep to her voice.”
Emy: “It sounds so romantic. But Ethan and I push ourselves so hard everyday to balance both. The baby helps us pause. When you have a baby that falls to the ground in tears, you realize you need to stop and take a break.”
How long has this album been in the works?
Ethan: “Four years. Well the first year we started working as a band and on our album. But then we got married and the album was put aside. Then we had Elisha and it was put aside while we figured out being parents. Finally, we settled into everything and kept writing. Emily said that it (the album) needed to be finished.”
Emy: “We kept saying ‘ah, we could write a better song than this,’ and kept writing. But we were both so impatient for the album to be done. We wanted it to be done so we could move on to the next one!”
What are your favorite songs?
Ethan: “Definitely the last track because I think it is rawer and emotional. It just had to be on the album. I think the words my wife sings just show who she was and who she is becoming. It’s truly amazing.”
Emy: “I’ve actually hadn’t thought of that before, but I would have to say the last track – Afternoon Thoughts - as well. It’s my favorite conceptually. After shows, most always women come up to me and say ‘I feel you,’ and it’s rewarding to hear. It gives words to women who don’t know how to put those feelings into words. It is about comparing yourself. I would compare myself because of an eating disorder I had, but now even as a parent. It is easy to isolate yourself.”
What’s your dream collaboration?
Emy: Our dream collaboration is actually with my brother and sister-in-law. They're these incredible hidden gems living in the Shenandoah Valley. Their artistic inclinations would blow your mind, but like most diamonds in the rough, they're still hiding. We've talked about what a collaboration might look like before and still have grand hopes that it will come to fruition. Hilary, my sister-in-law, has these hauntingly striking tones to her voice, then belts and surprises you with her power. My brother, Daniel, has varying musical influences ranging from U2 to John Coltrane to Alt-J. He has a strange and intellectual musical sensibility about him. He's a crazy good lyricist. We could dream up answers like, "Beck" or "Alicia Keys." But, really, they'd be our dream collab project.
So, what’s to come for Emy&Ethan?
Emy: “Oo, I have a grand ambition for a Christmas album. Not for this Christmas, but the next one. I really want to have a single out for Christmas.”
Ethan: “Playing a bunch of shows after Emily has the next baby. Either festivals or opening up for bands. We would love to travel.”
Emy: “We really want to do an official mini tour. We would need a team with us, but we have great people like my cousin Josie and Jessica Larue of Larue Photography helping us. “
Ethan: “We want to show people we can do this. We want to show people that we don’t have to opt out of our music to be doing an “adult thing.” People think that once you have a family you have to settle down. Even with Elisha screaming, like he is now, this is enjoyable. He loves to travel.”
Emy: “We wouldn’t have it any other way.”
There you have it, folks. Emy&Ethan. Two family-oriented people. Two motivated parents. Two inspirational souls. On November 23rd, sit down with your family, friends, and loved ones and give this soulful band a listen.
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