Emily Curtis, a Charleston singer/songwriter, is releasing a new version of her very first song, "Battleshade," for our latest Charleston Scene premiere. The track is available now at charlestonscene.com. To mark the occasion, we talked to Curtis about how much she's grown in her career and why she's re-releasing one of her most popular songs.
Q: What made you decide to re-do “Battleshade?” How is this version different from the original version you released?
A: One of the hardest things for a lot of solo artists is defining their "sound." It’s a constant process, and the more I’ve played live, the more I am recognizing how I want that to translate in the produced tracks. I love the first version — the energy, the intensity — but I wanted to explore a totally different vibe that felt a little more like the Emily people see at Kickin' Chicken on a casual Friday night. It’s focused on the vocals and lyrics.
Q: It was the first single you ever released. How far do you feel you’ve come since then?
A: I feel like a different artist. It’s amazing how much I’ve been able to experience and learn since recording it two years ago. I’ve met a lot of incredible mentors and musicians that have helped me grow. I think the main thing is I’m more secure in who I am as a person, which gives me confidence to try things, deliver vocals and write lyrics in a whole new way. I know my strengths, and I know my weaknesses.
Q: What kind of sound are you evolving into? Where is your new stuff falling on the country/pop spectrum?
A: That question is hard. It’s soulful pop with a southern "flare." However, when I’m writing and coming up with melodies, I don’t write for the genre, I write for the message of the song based on what emotions the topic stirs up. To me, music is what souls sound like, so I’m just trying to give it an authentic voice lyrically as well as melodically.
Q: You’ve met and opened for Darius Rucker of Hootie & the Blowfish, and you’re playing a lot of bar gigs around town. What is next for you?
A: He’s a great musician and wonderful person based on the brief encounters that I’ve had with him. I’m playing a lot of cocktail hour gigs and restaurant gigs. They are a major part of what pays for my original music.
In the last year, I’ve also started working with Matt Mackelcan as my manager, an incredible singer/songwriter in his own right. We are currently in the process of writing and recording new music.
Q: What other moves have you been making?
A: I attended the Neverland songwriter retreat in Costa Rica in November, where I was able to build relationships with various industry professionals such as Rick Barker (the original manager of Taylor Swift) and multi-platinum songwriter Lindy Robins (whose credits include Julia Michaels, Dua Lipa and Demi Lovato). I will be traveling to Austin, Texas, to write with the producer and founder of the retreat, Sam Garay, and will be in L.A. in May for the ASCAP Expo.
Q: Those are some major moves, alright! What about locally?
A: I love the idea of incorporating the dance community into my live experience, as dance was my second love throughout my life. Most importantly, I want to build relationships with the people that appreciate my music.