Sorrey: Perfect Balance
Emilee Sorrey says she shares a connection with Blundstone – self-expression, adventure, and living your most comfortable life. Doing the things she wants to do, with style and comfort, of course. That balanced approach has proved practical in carving a niche in Canada’s music scene while maintaining her home on PEI and working passionately on more than one career.
Emilee came to PEI from Cape Breton to study at the University of Prince Edward Island, where she earned a B.Sc. in Foods and Nutrition. She also earned an Associates Degree in Marketing and Advertising Management at Holland College. All the while, she continued to work on her music.
For awhile she played in a pop group called Colour Code, which earned attention and Music PEI’s New Artist of the Year award in 2014. When that project broke up, Emilee saw it as an opportunity to work solo on some material she envisioned with a different sound.
“I started out by creating backing tracks on GarageBand and strung them together into one low grade mp3 and would plug into the mains at local venues,” she says. “I would sing and play the guitar parts live over it.”
When she was ready to take the songs into the studio, she planned a solo record. But while Charlottetown is a small city, it’s teeming with talent. She initially started working on the material with Colin Buchanan of Paper Lions, who began adding elements to the songs using some of those early backing tracks. “It was just kind of a no-brainer at some point to start bringing different musicians in to play on the tracks,” she says “It was rather organic. By the end of that summer, we had a band, and we were playing shows.
“Things started getting groovy once I enlisted the band. Going from solo to having the band took away many of the reservations I had about my music – it provided me with security.”
Emilee Sorrey, solo artist, evolved into Sorrey, the band, which includes Buchanan, Andrew Murray (guitar), Thayne Campbell (keys), and Matt Bridges (drums). Having a band also buffered her from the expectations that come with her full name on the bill. “You kind of get pigeon-holed as a singer-songwriter if you go by your own name,” she says.
The “Thick As Thieves” EP was nominated for a variety of awards and received critical acclaim across the country. “Slow Chunk”, the song on Blundstone Playlist 2017, is Sorrey’s latest release, with more to come.
Emilee says the support and the eagerness of her more experienced bandmates to collaborate both surprised her and boosted her confidence. “It blew my mind, because I’d be too scared to ask these people. I look up to them so much,” she says. “I realized you shouldn’t be intimidated by anyone in the scene. They’ll probably be your friend or bandmate in short order.”
With a band made up of musicians juggling various musical projects, it has been tough to schedule off-Island tours. And PEI’s relative isolation makes travel expensive. Fortunately, there’s a thriving music scene on the Island, so the band can pretty much fill up their schedule playing there. Wearing everyone’s favourite pull-on boot, of course.
“Most of the band has been repping Blundstone for years. It seems to be the unofficial official choice of footwear for musicians. I think it’s a combination of the boots providing comfort and ease while also pulling together ‘the uniform’ that makes it the go-to choice. Musicians need gear that holds up over the years, and Blundstones provide something reliable.”
While her music career is one path she’s pursuing eagerly, Emilee’s also passionate about her career in food development/marketing and food writing.
“My day-to-day is quite different from my evenings and weekends,” she says. “The rest of the band are fortunate enough to be full time musicians in various capacities, from gigging and producing to teaching music at our local college. I’m happy with my balance of food, business, and music. That’s where my equilibrium lies.”
That balance keeps things interesting, and music’s taking her places in life few get to experience. “Releasing a set of songs into the world and having total strangers actually like it – not because they’re your friends or your mom’s co-worker – is still a wild experience for me,” she says. “It’s amazing to be playing in other cities and having people show up because they listen to your music in their car.”
It can be a little scary to lay yourself on the line like that, but she’d advise young artists to step out. “Don’t hesitate to put stuff out there, regardless of the small imperfections that you think may exist. Especially the first time. Embrace the challenges, the setbacks and hold ups. Working through those challenges with your first effort brings you that much closer to the project and provides you with real learning opportunities. It’s good to reach out to someone who you’re comfortable talking to and who has experience in the industry, but make sure to do as much of the rudimentary stuff as you can yourself. Learn the fundamentals of a proper release.”
Emilee says she’s looking forward to writing more positive, forward-looking songs for the next album. “I think about relationships all day long, good ones and bad ones, so naturally it’s where the inspiration for the music comes from. That being said, I’m actively trying to focus – musically, and otherwise – on the good ones.” Stay tuned for next album, but in the meantime, enjoy “Slow Chunk”.