Carlile Has A Voice of Her Own, But Her Creativity Thrives With Others

Photos by Michael Salisbury

Photos by Michael Salisbury

Emily Nichols made her debut as a solo artist last August with the release of her EP Strange. What many don’t know is that the songs on the EP were recorded five years ago. During this period Emily, who performs under her middle name Carlile, put her solo work on hold to focus on her role as the lead singer of Woo Park. This experience completely changed her perspective of what music is supposed to sound like and influenced her own sound. Woo Park blossomed many valuable lessons and relationships for Carlile, however she began to feel less connected to her personal style of music. The release of Strange helped Carlile get back into the swing of things, but her solo career has only just begun.

Carlile has an incredible voice. Ambient, glowing, natural and surreal are just a few words that come to mind when listening to her work. When she first started producing her own music it was stacked full of vocals. The ability to use her voice as an instrument has persisted throughout her progression as an artist, forging a very unique sound. Minimal production sheds light on the sheer power of her voice and enables us to pick up on small details like geese squeaking or wind blowing. Her recent exploration in light installation also delivered the perfect aid to her most popular SoundCloud track “Strange.”  Since then Carlile has teamed up with her friend Andrea of Sonidos to build her own installation for future shows.

After a semester at a music school in Germany, Carlile grew to appreciate dance music and hyper produced sounds. Her new music explores a hard-hitting balance of live and produced elements while playing off her love for subby bass and pingy synths. One thing that’s undeniable about Carlile is how strong her voice is. Her cover of Grime’s "Flesh Without Blood" left me itching with the urge to sample her voice-- an impression that she’s left on numerous producers. Carlile has worked with several producers to create songs like “Never Again” and “Let Me Stand”, proving how her talents as a singer can inspire a wide range of strong music.

I didn’t realize how much I loved it. It just kind of happened. Someone hits you up and then all their friends hit you up and all their friends. All the sudden I’m doing all these electronic tracks and it’s not the world I meant to get into but it’s so fun and at the core all of these electronic songs are pop songs. I love writing catchy hooks, I’ve been doing more of that than even focusing on my own music.

In her creative process Carlile will make her own beats, sings, and establishes the arrangement of a track, but she prefers working with other producers and artists to round out the track as a whole. The most difficult transition from Woo Park to her solo career was finding a new band.

I love performing with people. Especially after playing with Woo Park, the live shows were a wild cyclone of energy and we’d feel and feed off one another. It was super intense and I’m drawn to that experience of feeding off of people, especially working with people you’re close to. If the mood of one of these people is off for that day then it changes the entire vibe. That is so interesting to me. Music is such a personal thing, such a personal experience, so I want to toy with that and use individual energy to create this group force. I think that when you can pinpoint it, it can be so powerful. Somebody comes to a show and sees that and feels that, you can’t even describe exactly what you’re experiencing.

After a year of performing with a mix of new members, Carlile has finally formed a new band. The 5-member group synergizes their energy through bass, drums, synthesizer and backup vocals, in addition to Carlile’s lead. With the band now official, they’re able to add crucial elements to Carlile’s new work and even breathe new energy onto stale and old songs --- a process that brought Carlile on the verge of tears while reminiscing on the beauty of her bass player reharmonizing an old track.

The group has already played three shows together, and their set list is mainly composed of unreleased and even unrecorded music. Carlile is currently focused on recording more music and staying busy with new creations. She’s in Chicago for the long run but has a 2-month hiatus in New Orleans planned for the Fall where she will be able to focus solely on music. There’s a lot of things in the works for Carlile, and we’re excited to see her shine. If you’d like to hear some of her new music before it’s released you can watch her at Northcoast September 2nd.