We’re nearing the end of a remarkable year in terms of milestones for the stunning artist Emma Ruth Rundle. With one month of 2018 remaining and more live shows booked before the year ends, we reflect on her year in music. September 14th, Emma released her third LP for Sargent House bringing a wide range of cinematic instrumentals to her sprawling narratives. A perfect collection of 8 new tracks that effortlessly captured the evolution of Rundle as an artist. Expanding and honing her skill set. As previously stated in earlier Circuit Sweet build-ups to the album release, On Dark Horses was written during the rare lulls throughout two years of relentless touring, the songs that comprise On Dark Horses are as disquieting as they are ethereal. Following the release, Emma embarked on a substantial US/UK/EU tour with some live dates with Jaye Jayle.
Your new album On Dark Horses came out recently. How did the creation and recording experience of the album go?
Writing On Dark Horses took place between the summer of 2017 and the winter of early 2018 in weeks between tours, breaks if you will. Recording began in February and was tracked and mixed at Kevin Ratterman’s studio in Louisville, Kentucky called LA LA Land during the 10 we had there.
What has the reaction to the album been like so far?
Sometimes I feel like I live on an island or under a rock and don’t always see or hear the feedback but having just come off of a 5 week tour of Europe and the UK I feel good about how it’s been received. I think it’s still early and that it takes time for people to hear albums and let hem sink in. It’s been very uplifting to see so many people at the shows and supporting the album in press and otherwise.
Is the title of the album in reference to anything in particular?
It’s meant to describe what I feel about growing up in and outliving a childhood rife with struggle both metal and physical- I prefer to not be overly explicit in revealing some of the personal content.
Where do you find the inspiration for your lyrics?
Most of my lyrics for these solo records are personal and draw from real life experiences. I don’t know that I will always write in this way but it’s been an important part of how I’ve been processing my past.
You have been on tour in the U.K. and Europe with Jaye Jayle. How has the tour been?
Err- The tour had been hard work, as tours are, but very rewarding. I’ve been surprised by how many people have come out and how kind the audiences have been. I feel very lucky and humbled by the whole experience.
What have some of the highlights of the tour been?
Getting to swim on the ocean in Basque Country on my birthday was very special. A rare moment not only spent outside the van but in such beautiful nature. Another big highlight for me was playing Manchester and hearing so many people singing along to the encore, Shadows of my Name- it made me want to cry.
With members of Jaye Jayle in your band too, being on the road must have a real family vibe?
Indeed, we’ve done a lot of touring together. Evan is my husband as well as my second guitar and the frontman of Jaye Jayle and I must admit that I really love working with my partner in this way. There’s a lot of love in our crew and I’m feeling sad that this will most likely mark the end of the two band package tours.
Will you ever do another split or indeed an album with Jaye Jayle?
I do love playing and singing in Jaye Jayle as I do when we aren’t doing the two band bill thing, and would gladly play and sing on their next record. I would also love to have another opportunity to play my songs with Todd and Evan but as far as another split or actual collab record, I don’t think so.
Have you been playing much material from the new album and how has it been going down?
Most of the set we’ve been playing on this tour has been from On Dark Horses and it’s been well received. You can definitely tell that there’s more recognition in the audience when we play older songs but that makes sense. It seems people are happy to hear the new but are still becoming aquatinted with it.
How was the show at the Sonic City Fest with Zola Jesus?
It was awesome. She was super sweet in conversation and an incredible performer. I really enjoyed the whole evening. If you’re now hip to Facs, the other band on the bill that night, I highly recommend.
What are your touring plans for the rest of the year?
We are about to take the whole circus on one final tour of the western US that will start on November 30th in Nashville and end December 17th in Kansas City. That will conclude this year’s touring.
Do you find that playing live can act as a cathartic experience?
Absolutely. Both as a solo performance and with the full band. Both have their merits. Despite some amount of lingering stage fright, I do find performing- when the planets alight- to be a magically sublime experience. It’s rare to strike into that mode but makes it all worthwhile.
Whose been some of the most memorable artists you have played with in the past?
I can’t say that I’ve played with any artists who I would describe as forgettable. I have a great love and respect for most of the bands I’ve supported and played with. I really love Alcest both as a band and as people.
Who would you love to tour with in the future?
I’d love to tour with Cloakroom just because I love their music so much. I’ve tried to get them on the road. It hasn’t worked out yet but maybe someday.
How was the experience of working with the great Dylan Carlson and how did that come about?
Working with Dylan was intense and rewarding. He’s a hero of mine so I was extremely nervous. We tracked that record in 2016 and now I count Jolly and Fylan as good friends. I love the way Conquistador turned out and meeting/working with Kurt was also a pleasure.
Will Red Sparrowes and Marriages be doing anything else in the future or are you too busy at the moment?
I hope to do more with both bands but it’s been hard to find the time as of late. Perhaps next year.
What about the possibility of another Headless Prince of Zolpidem album or was that a one-off?
I’d love to do another THPOZ record. I just need some time and a space to work in. I’m very attached to that project and feel deeply connected to it. There is a bleak nihilism and abstract beauty living in that mask that I feel I’m unable to express otherwise.
Who has been some of your biggest musical influences in your career and what was it about them that you found so inspiring?
I think a lot of 90s music, stuff I was exposed to right around the time I started playing guitar- age 12-13- has made the deepest and most lasting impressions and influences. Tori Amos was a big one for me. She communicated such intense feeling with her masterful playing and lyricism. Smashing Pumpkins“Siamese Dream” for the guitar playing and so on.
From the first time I listened to your solo stuff, It definitely reminded me of having a PJ Harvey vibe and this is still relevant with the new album, has she had any influence on your musical output?
PJ was so much of what inspired me as a young girl and her albums continue to blow me away. She’s absolutely influenced and inspired me, though I will always lack her depth and skill, I certainly believe her to be one of the greatest artist of our time.
What has been the proudest moment in your career thus far?
Doing a session in the legendary M studio for the BBC- hands down.
What have been some of your favourite albums if 2018?
Yob’s “Every Raw Heart” has been a big one for me this year. I really love the band and this album has such s powerful backstory and feel.
What albums do you always go back to, no matter what and what is it about them that makes them so special?
Here are three big records for me. I feel that each of these albums has captured some very potent human soul in a way that’s so pure, I’m still moved after years of listening.
40 Watt Sun – The Inside Room
Chris Whitley – Dirt Floor
Nick Drake – Pink Moon