The next generation of soul-infused indie folk singers is making its way onto the stages of America, and one of the most ambitious of those young voices belongs to Emily Kopp.
Though relatively new on the music scene, Kopp already has released an EP and a full-length album, and has opened for big names such as Eric Lindell, Brandi Carlile and Matchbox 20.
The Florida native will bring her bluesy heartache vocals and pop songwriting smarts to The Parish in New Orleans on May 20.
Kopp’s band is made up of Matt Schneider on guitar, Justin Beckler on guitar, Mason Fox on drums and Nasrulah Rahbari on bass. Kopp’s music is a melting pot, drawing inspiration from Tracy Chapman, Stevie Nicks and Sara Bareilles.
“I describe the music itself as kind of soulful folk. I have this blues element, but my music isn’t necessarily blues music. It’s this indie folk kind of music, but I like to incorporate my soulful voice into things,” Kopp said.
Though she had always played the drums and even taught drum lessons to earn extra money in high school, Kopp didn’t seriously start pursuing a career in music until she took at job at a live music venue in college.
“I was running errands for bands and stocking their tour buses and doing all the hospitality stuff, and during the show I would sit back and watch things from the sidelines. That got me wanting to go ahead and write my own music. College is when I actually started writing music and thinking of it as a potential serious career path,” she said.
Deciding to make music into a day job is one thing, but getting down to the nitty gritty of actual songwriting is another. Kopp said that for her, inspiration often comes out of nowhere.
“For me, it happens really randomly. I’ll be in a car and I’ll start thinking up melodies and record it into my phone,” she said. “Then I’ll bring it home, I’ll listen to it, and I’ll just take off with that melody and try and write something to that melody. For me, the music comes first.”
Though the music comes first, Kopp’s lyrics benefit from an honest, straightforward approach that tells a story instead of hiding behind vague metaphors. Kopp said she spends a lot of time getting her lyrics just right.
“Sometimes when you sing a bunch of gibberish, you end up singing actual words. That ends up being the actual material for your songs,” Kopp said. “Then you come back and tweak things, because you can always put something in a better way. It’s never happened where it’s like one shot and my song is done.”
Many young musicians make sacrifices for their craft, but to help pay for her first EP, “Potential,” Kopp had to go so far as to sell her drum kit. Though she primarily sings and plays guitar now, she still occasionally yearns to play the drums onstage.
“I sold a lot of things for the first one. Luckily it was only a five-song EP, so it was expensive, but not as expensive as a full album. I don’t really have a need for the drums anymore. It was time to say goodbye. But I might play drums at shows for certain songs. I would love to do that,” she said.
For many, college was a time of parties, dorm politics and midterms. For Kopp, it was a turning point that took a lifelong love of music and forged it into a promising career. Now that she’s made up her mind, there seems to be no stopping this young musician.
“I do like weekend warrior tours. So I go outfor Thursday, Friday, Saturday, then drive back on Sunday and have class on Monday,” Kopp said. “I try to get out at least once a month. Considering that I’m in school full time, I’ve been touring as much as humanly possible.”
Emily Kopp and her band will open for Delta Rae at The Parish at the House of Blues on May 20. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8 p.m. More information about Kopp can be found at http://www.emilykoppmusic.com.