Another Angry Woman.
Singer-songwriter Emily Blue, of Tara Terra and BOYCUT fame, is performing the Clark Bar tonight in support of her new album Another Angry Woman, which releases today. With this album, Blue has taken the time to create an intimate, reflective solo work in her own style of “unapologetic” pop. Her latest project offers a myriad of ballads and spoken interviews over eight tracks; a collection of resonant harmonies over various, experimental instrumentation, with anecdotes addressing heavy topics such as gender identity. Noted by her website as “her most powerful release yet,” Another Angry Woman is a deeply personal album for Emily Blue, one that she believes can open up people’s ears and eyes about social justice and womanhood, along with other themes that she has taken a stance on over the years and that she feels should be heard. I got a chance to interview Emily and talk about her new album, music in general, and the local ties she has to causes that she is deeply passionate about.
SP: For those who read Smile Politely yet may not be familiar with the organization, could you tell us a little about RACES?
Blue: RACES stands for Rape Advocacy Counseling and Education Services. It is a 24-hour hotline and, when adequately funded, offers other services such as counseling and other resources for survivors of sexual assault. It is an extremely important resource to the community in Champaign-Urbana, but has been defunded by the state budget crisis. I think they're going to be bringing some of their services back soon, though!
SP: It’s been noted that you have local ties to a lot of causes. What are they and what can we do to learn more about these causes?
Blue: Well, I grew up in Champaign-Urbana, and I care deeply about the music / arts scene here. It has been my home for so many years, and taught me everything I know from writing, collaborating, meeting people, and performing. I highly recommend to anyone in Champaign-Urbana to check out local shows as much as they possibly can, and to get involved. I'm also really passionate about social justice — a couple years ago I helped direct a self-love, confidence-oriented photo project called the Bare Project. We let anyone volunteer to be photographed and held a gallery showing at Indigo Gallery. You can find an article about it in the old SP archives, I believe! And now, of course, I've got this record, all profits from album sales (and some merch, too) going to RACES.
SP: On your Facebook page, you describe Emily Blue as “classic, unapologetic pop.” Why unapologetic?
Blue: I have spent so much of my life apologizing for who I am, especially to myself. What I mean by that is, confidence and self love have been a struggle. But I have such a fondness for pop music. It's vibrant, it's catchy, it's well-produced and versatile as a genre. What I seek to do as an artist is present who I am without hesitation, and pop music helps me do that to some extent. I also aim to make my lyrics as honest and as authentic as possible.
SP: Why is the album titled Another Angry Woman?
Blue: I entitled this Another Angry Woman because this is society's response so often to women who have experienced physical or emotional pain. It is a title that intends to take a critical stance on our culture's lack of empathy towards survivors.
SP: What makes this album different from your past work, including Tara Terra?
Blue: "Another Angry Woman" is very much about my own experiences, especially regarding womanhood. It centers around very specific themes of rape culture and sexual violence. It's also different from my past work in that it contains spoken interviews (tracks "Anastasia," "Christine," and "Gene") so that I could put others' perspectives on gender into this album. It is important to acknowledge that people of different identities are affected differently by oppression.
Blue's emotionally moving video for her first single from Another Angry Woman, entitled "No Pain," features victims of sexual violence and other crises who have come forward to support the cause.
In terms of going solo instead of working with bands, I found it better to work as an individual on this project. It was one of the most important journeys in my life as a writer, and as a human being, because it opened me up to new ways of healing. My bands Tara Terra and BOYCUT were very helpful and supportive, but at the end of the day this record centers around my experiences as a survivor.
SP: Are there any specific tracks that you are most proud of on this project?
Blue: I am extremely proud of "Sidewalk Devil," because I think it touches on some of the feelings that were hardest to pinpoint for me. The lyrics surround my anxiety while walking alone, but also talk about how this anxiety affects my relationships (romantic ones, especially) with other men. I also am proud of "Your Heartbeat Is" because I pushed myself to make it interestingly produced, despite its repetitive nature.
SP: What can we expect from Emily Blue and/or Tara Terra in the near future?
Blue: You can expect a lot of videos, a new Tara Terra album in the near future, and touring. I love to keep busy, and I love to meet fantastic musicians from all over. It will be a wild ride for sure. I'm truly so thankful to have support from this community as well as others.
SP: This is a little bit meta to ask, but in your opinion, what is music?
Blue: Music? Wow, well, to me, music is like food. It is necessary for me to stay alive. It is a fundamental part of being a human being. It is sustenance, full of different flavors, full of culture and beauty. I also just really love food, so, this is my analogy, I guess.
Emily Blue will be playing her album release show with Homme and V.V. Lightbody at the Clark Bar on Friday, November 4th, starting at 7:30. Admission is $10 at the door.