Singer and songwriter Emily Cavanagh is not only known in the States, but also across the pond. She has a loyal following in countries like Ireland, and plays every year at Schuba's in Chicago. Her new single "Coming Home," and it's subsequent video was shot in Ireland. We sat down and poke with the singer who talked about how the Irish countryside and its people are near and dear to her heart. She's very much an activist, using her music to help promote causes that are important to her. Read on to find out what Cavanagh had to say about her new music video for "Coming Home," and how it fits in well with this Christmas season.
AXS: You filmed "Coming Home" on a small Irish farm. What drew you to this location, and why do you think the location fits the song well?
Emily Cavanagh: We filmed "Coming Home" in Kildare, Ireland--myself and the Irish videographer, Dara Munnis - this record was written entirely in Ireland, inspired by travels there along with the stories and the people and the love I found along the way. Initially, I was merely traveling to the places where my ancestors came from, and in time playing in cities like Galway, Cork, and Dublin, on tour with some legendary Irish musicians. Ireland became and has remained a big part of me. All of these songs were written in back rooms of venues and pubs and at friends' kitchen tables, and on bus stops all throughout the country there. I feel lucky to share them with the world. The EP is available now on Irish radio, and worldwide on the major music platforms--iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, YouTube, etc...We had our official record release party at Rockwood 3 in NYC-- and have been doing a bit of touring with this project as well as the others we are set to release. When I play in Ireland, it is mainly in Dublin, but at venues like Whelan's, the International Bar, Grand Social, Monroes, Alice's, The Spirt Store and others.
AXS: What was it like filming in Ireland on the small farm?
EC: The scenes in "Coming Home" are shot on the grounds of an old country house, and then some of the rest shot in a place I have come to love, called Mt. Juliet. Then you'll notice woven into all that is footage from a show we play every year at Schuba's Chicago with scenes of my family mixed in besides the scenes from some of my life across the pond.
AXS: What makes "Coming Home" the perfect Christmas song for the holidays in your opinion?
EC: “Coming Home” is probably the track that best captures the message of this record, in that it speaks to this idea of home and our definition of it, and how it evolves as we do. For me, home will always be my parent’s kitchen on the south side of Chicago and my brothers and my sisters, and yet it’s also the collection of all these places and people I have met and have been shaped through my travels. You know, sitting in other people’s kitchens a half a world away, and learning their stories, and their songs and recognizing how universal so many things really are that always feel so personal to us. I think a lot of this record speaks to that or tries to at least. So especially at Christmas time, what's better than stories and shared meals and laughs and home?
AXS: You're also known for your activism with your music...what makes activism to you so special and what are the most dear causes to your heart?
EC: I am most passionate about using my voice to help people find their own. For about seven years I worked full time as a social worker with homeless young adults, people living with HIV, and refugees. I developed creative arts programs in shelters in the South Bronx and worked on numerous teams in Brooklyn. I performed for many events through the UN and the Rwandan Embassy. I was gigging all the while on the side. I continue to do this work today, and hopefully always will as it is so much of my heart. Just now I do it on a more freelance basis, as music and activism are at the center of all the projects I choose. My favorite arts non-profit I currently freelance for is one called ASTEP--Artists Striving to End Poverty. They do some incredible international work using the arts as their platform.
AXS: Your single "Treehouse" was featured in Woody Harrelson's new movie trailer for "Wilson." Do you want to have more of your music featured in films/trailers?
EC: I would love that. When I first started singing professionally, I was only looking to play the clubs and venues I loved and tour when I could....once that becomes a reality, I began thinking of other ways to use my writing to reach a larger audience.....and when this opportunity came along after being signed to a small publishing deal, I was delighted. Since the trailer, I definitely have started writing with a more commercial lens in mind. I mean, I'm still a folk singer at heart so don't go looking for my tunes on the mainstream radio (smiles), but I would love to write for soundtracks and continue the collaborations I've begun with so many different writers in many different places. I'm just happy for every opportunity that has come my way.