Emm Gryner takes darker, emotive approach

EGrynerCanadian indie-darling and Juno Award nominee Emm Gryner is coming to the East Coast for a tour in November in support of her latest record, Goddess. She’ll be playing four shows in New Brunswick, including gigs in Fredericton, Sackville, Hampton and Saint John.

Gryner has led a storied musical life so far, having played in David Bowie’s band, while also receiving accolades from U2 vocalist Bono, who claimed that her song Almighty Love was one of six songs from the last 20 years that he wished he had written. Goddess is Gryner’s twelfth release in the past 14 years and brought her back to a recording style that she first tried on her 1999 record Science Fair.

“On Goddess, I really wanted to produce, write and perform a whole album pretty much by myself. That being said, I did have help from drummer Charles Dumont, Russ Broom on guitar and some string players,” she says.

As for what sets Goddess apart from any of her preceding records, Gryner says, “Goddess is a darker, more emotive album than The Summer of High Hopes (her 2006 record). There are themes of abuse, rejection, inadequacy and overcoming life challenges.

“And of course, since each of my albums is a drastic reaction to the last, I’m confident that my next album will be a feel-good pop album!” Gryner jokes.

In addition to a burgeoning career in music, Gryner has appeared in the Joshua Jackson film One Week and has also moved into the world of making music for films, leveraging her connection to the Thin White Duke to help get the ball rolling.

“I met Duncan Jones (who has made a name for himself with the movie Moon this year) when I was touring in David Bowie’s band. Duncan (who is Bowie’s son) asked me to put music to a short film of his called Whistle. That was the very first taste of doing any kind of soundtrack stuff. I loved it and would love to do more. I really love orchestral and ambient music, like Brian Eno, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Sigur Ros, so I’d love to learn how to score properly in the future.”

As far as connections go, Gryner appears to be a well-connected individual. Her aforementioned track Almighty Love is picking up steam at radio thanks to a perhaps unlikely song partnership.

Gryner and Joe Elliott, vocalist for Def Leppard have been fast friends since she sent Elliott and his band a recorded version of their hit Pour Some Sugar On Me.

“Since then, we’ve followed each other’s careers and see each other when we can,” Gryner says. “He loved Almighty Love and wanted to work on it in his studio. I thought he was going to ‘Leppard’ it up a little with guitars but instead he sang on it and i think it turned out pretty well!”

Gryner says that had you suggested to her when she was younger that she would be friends with the band, she wouldn’t have believed you.

“I was a big Def Leppard fan when I was 12 years old. I had the posters and jean jacket, the whole deal! And if you had told me then that we would be pals one day, I’d have not believed it. There are some famous people who keep a wall up all the time and never really let you feel comfortable around them. The boys in Def Leppard are just fun people who don’t have inflated egos in the least.”

As Gryner’s career continues to pick up momentum, she admits that life as an independent artist is getting a little easier as time goes on.

“There is more experience upon which to draw and you have less to prove as time goes on,” she says. “It is always up and down though, emotionally and financially, but that’s just how it is to be an artist who wants to do things on her own terms.

“Most people give up doing music around the age I’m at, because life dictates that you should, or you have children or get married, but this is my life’s passion. I’ll be doing it until I die; it is really one of my few gifts and in order to honour it, I’m open to riding the rollercoaster.”

Emm Gryner is playing four shows in New Brunswick: Monday November 2 at Crumbs Café in Fredericton; Wednesday November 4 at Struts Gallery in Sackville; Saturday November 7 at The Vintage Bistro in Hampton; Sunday November 8 at The Blue Olive in Saint John.

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