In the middle of her current tour of the country, award-winning singer-songwriter Emily Edrosa, formerly of Street Chant, found some time to talk us through NCEA, one of if not the strongest song taken from her 2020 release ‘Another Wave Is Coming’.
I first wrote this song way back in 2011 when I started recording solo, with the idea to have an acoustic guitar with drum machines being played on a four-track. I never got around to writing the drum parts for it so at the time it was just played on acoustic guitar with a lot of delay. I was writing songs for the second Street Chant album and it was quite a prolific time for me; the song came very fast and easy for both the lyrics and the music.
The main riff is an open C chord (played with a capo) with the E string (or Eb in my case – I play half a step down with Emily Edrosa) tuned down to C as well, which gave it a sort of droning heaviness to it which I liked. It’s like you can just stay doing that riff for as long as you want to.
Lyrically it is pretty obviously about wondering if I was doing the wrong thing with my life, investing so much into music and a life that isn’t going to have much security. I remember around that time thinking of my high school graduation class and how they were all going to university, and how they had a lot more common sense than I…
You can hear how conflicted I sound but ultimately that I made the right decision, albeit one I am still conflicted about today, as I am sure all (most?) musicians are. But we can’t stop, can we? Even if you have job security, it is still a risk to be putting yourself out there. I often think of “quitting” but you can’t just stop being who you are. It would be like stopping breathing, as cliché as that sounds.
I was getting into home recording at the time and recorded a demo of it (very poorly) which somehow got added to the bFM playlist. One thing I wish I knew when I was a bit younger is that once you put something out, it is there forever. Although since that was so many years ago and not a proper release I am sure once it came out at the end of last year as a proper single it might have helped some people enjoy it, because they would have had faint recollections of hearing it in another life.
When I first moved to LA I played a show solo at a French restaurant and I could hear this guy shouting out “Wow!” “Need a drummer?” etc. Afterwards, he introduced himself to me and offered to play the drums on my recordings. As with all the other tracks from my album, ‘Another Wave Is Coming’, I had recorded the whole thing with midi drums and was going to release it that was.
Meeting Bosh (Rothman) changed all that and he was so supportive about having real drums on the recording. He is a sought after LA session drummer and it felt great to have someone on my team in a big strange new city. While it set me back in time A LOT to scrap a whole album, I am really glad because it sounds so much better and more energetic to have IRL drums (for these songs at least).
Bosh knew of a good engineer (Sean Cook) and studio (Gus Seyffert’s in Echo Park) and we were able to get four of the songs from my record down with me playing bass live onto tape, in an incredible room with great-sounding gear. It was a really exciting time. Then as with the other songs I overdubbed the guitars and vocals in my home studio.
The song ended up a lot faster than the demo and with a totally different vibe. In particular, I am a fan of the percussion Bosh put over the top.
A lot of songwriters throw out songs or have them unreleased. I personally persevere and keep trying to mould songs, change them and improve them until they feel right like I did with this one – even though bare-bones, it stayed pretty much the same. I like how there are two totally different versions. Although the final one is the only “properly” released one it is cool to think that, like humans, songs can a lot of different lives.