Emily Mitchell debuts album, hosts release party Saturday
TUPPER LAKE — The first song listed on the back of Emily Mitchell’s album is “At your door.” The second is “No Name,” but you wouldn’t be able to tell because she crossed it out with gold sharpie. The first 150 copies of the CD all have the second song covered by marker.
“My professor [Sean McClowry] said, ‘Wouldn’t you rather have 10 good songs instead of 10 good songs and 1 OK song,'” Mitchell said. “It’s the one song that just kind of got left behind, but I’ll probably release it someday.”
Mitchell, a Tupper Lake resident and member of the band Morning People, debuted her solo album, “Retrospect,” this past Saturday and will have a record release show at 4 p.m. Saturday at Raquette River Brewing in Tupper Lake.
If you had to put Mitchell’s music into a genre, it would fall into the folk-pop category.
“Everybody who listens to it says, ‘I wouldn’t call it pop, but I wouldn’t not call it pop,'” Mitchell said. “The writing is more folky, but the production is very pop.”
Mitchell said Bob Dylan was one of her main influences on “Retrospect,” particularly his songs “It ain’t me babe,” and “Don’t think twice it’s all right,” which she has tattooed on her right bicep.
Two other influences were Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes and Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes.
“‘Counting Sheep’ is a total Dawes rip off,” she said laughing. “‘Tennessee’ too.”
This doesn’t mean these songs don’t have artistic validity though.
“Counting Sheep” chronicles Mitchell’s restless nights after she and her boyfriend of two years broke up.
“When you’re with a person for so long, you get into a routine,” Mitchell said, “and when you break up, you lose that routine and start to feel like, ‘I don’t know what to do with myself.'”
Mitchell created the album in 14 weeks with the help of her old band mates and Ryan Hommel, an established musician who played pedal guitar on the album. Most of the work days involved 12-hour overnight shifts in the music studio at the College of St. Rose in Albany.
“I worked 10 nights from 7 p.m. till 7 a.m. the next morning,” Mitchell said. “I tried to flop my sleep schedule.”
Mitchell said it was great she and the other students were allowed so much time in the studio, but by the end of it “everyone’s like a zombie.”
The songs were all written, but Mitchell didn’t know how she wanted the finished product to sound.
“You don’t know what you want until you get in there,” she said.
Songs such as “Blue” and “Swimming” that started out with only five or so mixing tracks — guitar, drums, bass — wound up turning into complex pieces with 80 different mixes for things like reverb and vocal harmonies.
“It’s funny to see where they start and where they end up,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell finished mastering the album only one day before it’s release.
Tupper Lake isn’t a thriving center for the arts, but that’s both a good and a bad thing, according to Mitchell.
“I wish there was more going on here,” she said, “but that lack of things to do pushed me into music.”
The music scene isn’t crazy big in Tupper Lake; however, that means that Mitchell and a small group of other millennials such as Cody Reandeau and Mark Pratico, also members of Morning People, have made a name for themselves.
“It’s always been the same crew of us, like, the same seven of us that played music,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell’s idea of her home town seem to be mirrored in her approach to song writing.
“One song might suck now, but you can use pieces of it years later,” Mitchell said. “Some things are bad, but nothing’s worth throwing away.”