Brisbanite Emma Dean is in her element in New York, where the difficult-to-define performer has flown to chase her dream of making it big in the Big Apple. She hasn’t had to wait long; with the release of her White EP, the first in a trilogy, she’s already turning all the right heads.
ZF: You’ve been in the Big Apple for a few months now. What’s your favourite New York New, York story from your adventures thus far?
EM: My favourite New York story happened when I was opening for the delicious Courtney Act at The Laurie Beechman. You may remember her as being the sexy drag queen with the killer pegs who stole she show during Aussie Idol. Just before our last performance, Cheyenne Jackson tweeted about my new single, “Phoebe (With Her Whole Heart)”. I’m a huge 30 Rock fan so I knew him as the devilishly-good-looking Canadian from the show. He is also a big Broadway star and pop singer. That night we got word that Cheyenne was hopping off a plane and coming straight to see me play! He is just as charming off screen as he is on. Quite surreal.
ZF: What’s the biggest difference and most surprising similarity between performing in Brisbane and New York?
EM: The biggest difference is that I have to give a thorough explanation of my song “Tall Poppy” before playing it. The most surprising similarity is that I still stick out like a sore thumb.
ZF: How has the White EP been received thus far?
EM: We’ll see when the royalty cheque comes through in August, won’t we? Ha ha! In all seriousness, I’ve been amazed at the response. I was a little nervous because this EP was so different to my other bodies of work. But I was pleasantly surprised, especially by the live session youtube clips, which collectively have almost 33,000 views in less than two months.
ZF: What’s the plan with White/Red/Black trilogy?
EM: Red will be coming out some time in July then Black will be towards the end of the year. Both EPs will be released digitally and independently and have been recorded and co-produced by the talented man in the bowler hat, Mr Fronz Arp. Red features epic songs about love, lust and heartbreak performed on a grand piano with lush strings and harmonies. Black features rhythmic, jazz-influenced songs from the underground performed on a klunky upright pianaaa, double bass and pots ‘n’ pans! Guest performers on the EPs are Indigo Keane, Fronz Arp, Tony Dean, Janey Mac and my housemates in Ashgrove who became my impromptu clapping ensemble!
ZF: Will you be touring your new work to Australia in the near future, or workin’ on that New York career for a while yet?
EM: I’m creating a new show called “Imaginarium”, which will be an extension of some of my other work. It will be MD’d by James Dobinson and will also feature physical theatre performer and actor, Kate Lee. We will work as a three-piece chamber-pop ensemble incorporating piano, cello, violin, glockenspiel, drum machines, live drums and physical theatre. It would be an absolute dream to come back to Australia with this work. I’ll keep you posted!
ZF: What’s your advice to up-and-coming performers in Brisbane?
EM: If you are an up-and-coming ANYONE in Brisbane, make sure you give yourself an opportunity to get out and see the world, grow as a performer or artist, support your brothers and sisters and begin to create a community. There is often enough to go around. And when there’s not . . . think outside the box.