In a first for The What Podcast, Barry talks to an artist not on the Bonnaroo lineup. EmiSunshine is a young up-and-coming star in the country music scene, although her musical style isn't contained by the genre and her songwriting ranges across all subjects. Her newest work is called "Stars", in collaboration with Bootsy Collins (yes THAT Bootsy Collins) and other legendary artists. We hope you enjoy this little detour from Bonnaroo and check out this fun interview with Brad and Barry. EmiSunshine is set to perform this Friday at Songbirds South in Chattanooga.
Hey, hey, hey, hey! How y'all feeling? Journey through the stories that define the artists playing Bonnaroo. Who are they? What are they? What will you see? The What? Which bands? This year? That Matter? With Brad Steiner and Barry Courter. All right. Hey everybody. Welcome back to another edition of the What Podcast, which as you guys know, we primarily do sort of focused on Bonnaroo, but an opportunity came up and I am so excited for a lot of reasons. And I'll just take a quick minute because I want to hear Amy speak more than me. But your manager reached out and said, hey, do you want to talk to Amy Sunshine? She's coming to Songbirds June 19th. And Amy, I don't know if you know this, but first of all, that had me. Yes, I want to talk to you because I know you've had a history here. You played our Riverbend Festival when you were what, nine or were you six? I know you were very young. Yeah. And then I don't know if you know this, but a little girl named Amy Reimer, you gave her a pair of your boots that you wore, I guess, on the Grand Ole Opry and she was a guest on a music show that we used to do for the paper and she wore those boots and she wears them all the time. So that had me too because you were so sweet to do that. And then also as part of this email, your manager says you were asked to co-write a song with Bootsy Collins. And well, I was in. So here we are. So tell me how that happened. Tell me about Bootsy. So my publicist was talking to me about how I was going to go do this festival sort of thing. I mean, my mom told me a lot about it, but I was like, OK, this is kind of cool. I think it's the opening day parade of the Reds and I was like, OK, this is really cool. I'm going to be part of this parade. And I was like, OK, awesome. And then, you know, the whole coronavirus thing happened and we weren't able to do that anymore. It was actually one of the last shows that we had before we were on a tour and it was one of the last shows we had before we were going to get to go home, but it was canceled. And Bootsy was a part of that as well. And he looked at my music and he was researching me and he ended up really loving it and wanting me to be a part of one of his projects. And then, since all the coronavirus thing happened and everything that's been going on, we just decided to get a bunch of musicians and singers together and put together a song. And me and Bootsy co-wrote Stars and I'm very, very happy about it. It's a great song and I'm very honored to get to work with him. So many. So those are words that just don't come out of most people's mouths, right? Bootsy first of all, and he got to write a song. And when you say got some people together, I've got the list in front of me. And we're talking Bela Fleck, Victor Wooten, Brian Culberson, Steve Jordan, and Dr. Cornel West. Yes. If anybody had their TV on over the weekend, got to see Dr. West multiple times. So I mean, the timing, you know, I started to say good, but it's not good, is it? I mean, the reason all this is happening is because of so much terrible stuff that's going on. But what an opportunity to be a part of something like this. I have to thank for you. Oh, yeah. I mean, I'm very honored to get to work with Bootsy and especially the artists to have been a part of this. I mean, there were so many parts of the song where I was hearing different singers sing my song that me and Bootsy wrote. It's just it's something that, you know, doesn't happen very often and getting all these musicians and singers and writers together and like that's that's really, really cool. I mean, I think that's a song that's going to be something I'm going to remember for a very, very long time. Yeah. Tell everybody about the song, right? Because it's a it's a very socially aware, socially conscious, conscious song. What was the process with you? I assume from watching it that you were in different places and probably talking just like you and I are now type of thing. Pretty, pretty much. It was kind of difficult to write the song because like we were going to get together at one point, me and Bootsy and my mother and my family, and we were going to talk and get to know each other and maybe work on a song. We thought that might happen. But quarantine started happening and we were just like, oh, maybe we can get together. You know, we can email back and forth. We can do Skype maybe at some point. We never got to do that, actually. But we just kind of went with emails and gave little pieces of the song to each other and kind of gave ideas back and forth. And I feel like that somehow worked out. I mean, like it was a very odd process. But I mean, like it had its perks. I mean, like getting to work with Bootsy on this. And I was very nervous about it first because I was like, how the heck am I going to write a song without the other person in the room with me? I mean, I can understand Skype because that's a little bit easier. We didn't get to do that. So I was a little bit worried about how what the outcome would be. But eventually I put down the track for this and I sang it. And it was really cool. I mean, like I'm so happy with how the words turned out. I mean, I just sort of took what Bootsy was saying and I just applied it to the song. And I did it in a very simple way, but it just sort of kind of got everything in there in the way that I wanted it to. And I'm very, very happy with it. Did it change from much? I'm sure it changed that any song changes from the process. But I mean, things were happening and still are in the world every five minutes, it seems like. So how did that impact what you guys were doing? Well, I mean, I feel like that song in a way can apply to a lot of things. And I think that it is a way for us to have a very inspirational sort of uplifting song through anything. And I feel like it can be something that people either can relate to or people can listen to and be like, hey, you know, it's going to get better at some point. Things are going to get better and it has gotten better and things have can get better. And that's sort of what that song is just really trying to say. But it's saying it in a way where it's not really kind of going towards, oh, this is all about the pandemic or it's all about everything else. I mean, I feel like this song can apply to a lot, whether it was intended for the pandemic or not, whether it was intended for it. But I feel like it has a broader reach now. That's kind of a tricky wicket right there, isn't it? You want it to be sort of of the moment, but not stuck in the moment, right? That was the hardest part of writing it. I was sort of I was really I really wanted it to talk about what everyone in the world is going through. I mean, like the pandemic. And but I mean, I didn't want it to be too obvious to where like it would only apply to that. You know, I wanted it to be diverse and I wanted it to be something that people could listen to maybe like 15 years down the line and still have it applied to something at least. And I feel like that is we kind of executed that pretty well, I think. How much of a historian would you say you are music historian? I mean, do you do you know all of the people that were involved in this and their histories or I don't know personally, but when I first started the project, I didn't know like all the people who were part. And I started researching them and getting to know the music and I am very, very happy that I got to because you know, I now I'm a fan of all the people who that's what I that's how I'm wondering. I first heard about Bootsy. I didn't know a lot about him before. Like but then I was like, oh, he is a really cool dude. I mean, he's a great producer. He's amazing. And I just got to know all about the people I'm working with. And that is quite an honor. So, you know, just get to look at their history too. So yeah, it's pretty pretty good company. You're in there. There's a there's a lot of history with those guys. That's why I wondered if it was something you knew beforehand or sort of figured out. I wonder if you had known beforehand if you if you'd have done it, you know, or brain locked because yeah, well, I mean, I didn't know much about Bootsy, but I knew like a little bit beforehand. I mean, I knew a tiny bit of some of some of his work. But I mean, like there was a few people that I knew about, but there was a bunch of them that I just didn't know. I didn't know nothing about them. But then, you know, I looked up their career and what they did. And, you know, I feel like that's really what's great about, you know, working with other people is you get to learn more about them and their history and they get to learn about you. So I think it's cool. I want to ask you about other stuff you've got going on, too, obviously. But the process you said was not what you had envisioned or would have ideally, you know, put down. But now that you've done it, does it feel like something you could do again? Are you just ready to get past this and go back to whatever normal is? Actually, I think I could do it again. I can easily adapt to stuff like this. I mean, we've had to do this before. We've had to write with people over text or over emails and Skype before. But I mean, it was sort of different when it was something that was this important, you know? To me, this song was a very big deal and I didn't want to send like Bootsy Collins, you know, to some lyrics that weren't good enough for the song. So to me, it was quite an importance to really get this correct. So it was a little bit of pressure, but I mean, I would definitely do it again because I had a lot of fun doing it. Tell me about the last seven years, I guess, or eight years of your career. I mean, what a career path, right? Yeah. It's something else. I mean, I started singing when I was around five years old and my great grandmother, my grandmother, my dad and uncles and everybody, everybody in between were singers and either singers are musically inclined in some way. And my mom was a writer way before I was born. So I kind of had both of those things that I could learn how to do or either have a little bit of a talent to do. And I think at some point when I was around five, I was singing and I loved it, but I wanted to start writing music too. So I wrote my first song when I was five and then I went on about seven to play ukulele and try and learn guitar at the time, but my fingers were too small for that then. And then I just went on playing different things. I mean, I went to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I was playing there for a long time. Then I got one day I got to play the Grand Opry and then again and again about 15 times I did that. And I've gotten to do all this stuff. I mean, I was on the Today Show and I've got to do so many things that I would have never thought, you know, when I was little that I would really get to do as much. Like, and I never knew that. And I'm really, really happy with how it turned out because, you know, I get to travel, I get to sing, I get to voice, you know, my songs and very cool way to an audience that I'm very, very glad that I get to have. So I mean, it's turned out pretty good. I mean, I've done do all kinds of things. Are you a planner? Sometimes. I mean, my plan when I was younger is that, okay, I'm going to be a singer songwriter musician and this is exactly what I'm going to do and is going to go exactly like this and that's it. It's never going to change. Nothing ever is. And that's about it. And then, you know, I just thought, well, yes, you're still going to do these things, but your direction might change. Some things might change and you have to be able to, you know, take that change and go with it, you know, and that's something that I had to learn over time. But I mean, I'm a planner, but I don't try to plan too much to where I'm, you know, putting myself in a position where I won't be able to fluctuate in ways that I need to. That's a great answer. That's what I was kind of getting at. Second part of it is, are you a sort of a list, a goals setter? Do you have like the grand old opera you've done? Are there people that you want to perform with, write with, work with? Do you have that kind of list? Yes. Especially with writing. I mean, I have so many people that I want to write with and I've talked about that a lot before. I mean, like, I've always wanted to write with Loretta Lynn. I mean, I've wanted to write with Jack White, which was something I'd always want to do. I've always wanted to write with Dolly. I really want to write with Dolly. There's just so many people that I would love to get to work with. And anyway, singing and I think that it would be really cool to, you know, really do those things eventually. I have plans when it comes to that. But I mean, I think a lot of times I forget to plan and then I'll just go on on my way when it comes to my goals. But I mean, I have all kinds of things that I want to do, especially vocally. I want to, you know, really work on my vocals in the best way that I can. I want to take care of myself and I want to make sure that I'm taking care of my voice because it's something that is very important to me. So I mean, like, I think there's a lot of things, you know, just instrument wise. There's so many instruments I want to learn as well. There's so many things. But I mean, yeah, I definitely have goals. The priority is, I mean, Dolly, it's amazing on this podcast. We've asked people who they want to see at Bonnaroo. Dolly, I think, is number one for most of us. Yeah. And you know, it crosses all genres. It doesn't matter. Oh, yeah, it doesn't matter. It's Dolly. She's good. She's phenomenal. Have you met her? I have not met her, but I hope to one day. She was a big influence on my life. I mean, my family introduced me to her music at like a very young age. And I was just enthralled by her voice and her writing, so I hope to meet her. She's a great inspiration. I should say we're talking a couple of weeks before the song comes out. The song is supposed to come out on the 12th. It's called Stars, right? We're going to, if we can't embed it on here, we're going to link to it so people will see it. So whether we have it or not, they'll be able to see it. You're also you've also graciously agreed to sing it. There's Brad. Oh, hi. Hey, guys. There's our there's our co-host, Brad. Brad, hi, Emmy. Lovely to see you. Nice to see you as well. Sorry, I'm late. There's a hurricane coming right for us. And we just now realized it. Oh, I can't blame you for being late. Yeah, no kidding. I see that Barry got a haircut. He looks good. Same to you. Very happy to see that. Yeah, we have just been talking about this song that Emmy co-wrote with Bootsy Collins. It has Bela Flack and Victor Wooten and Dr. Cornell West on it. And we're going to hope to link to it. And she's going to sing a couple of songs for us here in just a little bit before she has to get off. So I'm sure you had a couple of questions that you that you had lined up. Well, I in quarantine life, all of these things sound damn near impossible. So how did how did it all how did everybody do this at once, including Cornell West, which, you know, not really known for his the backing band for Cornell West. He's great in it, though. Yeah. Yeah, it was it was so cool. I mean, like when I first heard his voice and I was like, this is this is something else. Who is that? Like I was so I was so confused. But at the same time, you know, you know, surprise, surprise, something very pleased. And then we we just started looking at all the people who are going to be on this. And I was like, oh, that is very surprisingly cool. I mean, like that's that's that's really amazing. And I just did not realize at first who that was. And I think that it was like looking at all the people who who have worked on this so far. I mean, like, it's just like, it's insane. I mean, like, especially with how many people that have contributed and like have really been a major part of vocals or anything. I mean, like, it's it is it's really cool. It's the it's the power of Bootsy. It is he's he's he's the glue that keeps a nation together in times of turmoil. Agreed. I meant to say at the beginning, Amy, and ever since I used to work at a record store, probably in the late 70s and 80s, my all time favorite album title is What's Bootsy Doing? I just think that's the that just cuts right to everything. Yeah, I love it. It's arrogant. It's it's everything. Yeah. But he delivers, you know, it's got like that. It's got that cool factor to it. I mean, like, it's just the title and everything. Once you just see it, you're like, oh, that's going to be cool. That's that's that's Mike drop right there. That's it. You'll never be a better. Definitely. Go ahead, Brad. What's that? I'm sorry. I lost you. If you got any other questions, I know you. So, yeah, because you how can I put this where it's not offensive, which is damn near impossible for me. How do you how do you manage doing what you do under the umbrella called country where it's so fractured in so many different ways? Can you even call what you do country? I don't really. I don't I used to, but then my music evolved and it became more. And that's just what it did. I mean, like, I consider it more Americana than anything because they write Americana. There's so many things and you can just really just be whatever you want. I mean, like, it doesn't have to have some sort of goal to set, you know, to be more country or to be more. Right. You know, blue. And I'm in the shop. Yeah, because, you know, you can still. And I think and I think the label is the thing that's so confusing, I think, to so many people. I mean, you watch Jason Isbell, Jason Isbell, who has such a problem with the label of country. And then, you know, I read an article the other day where his new album is labeled Alt, Alt, Alt country. You know, there's so now we've gotten to the point where slicing this, you know, ham so thin that you barely can taste it anymore. And, you know, Americana makes a lot of sense. But, you know, it is it is sort of a sound that is kind of all over the place. And, you know, I think that's sort of the point. Right. That is to me. I mean, I just don't like being labeled with my music because I feel like when I do like some like major like, oh, yeah, I'm definitely country or I'm definitely bluegrass. I'm definitely blue. I'm definitely this or else. And it just sort of feels wrong to me because, like, I don't feel like I'm able to put my music under a specific label like that because it doesn't fit perfectly to that. I think we've talked about on here, Brad. It's if you looked at anybody's podcast, their iPad list, their, you know, their playlist, it's all over the place. Right. Yeah. Genre genres really don't exist anymore. They don't exist anymore. So it's and I don't really care about the genre as much as whether it's great lyrics. You know, I feel like the music needs to be really, really cool and I like cool melodies. I mean, like, I just I don't care about the genre as long as it's good music and it has a good message to it. That's all I really that's all I really want. I mean, like, I don't really feel like, you know, just like what goes out on like, you know, you know, pop country radio and everything else is just sort of it's it's it's have a lot of depth to it. And to me, just for me, I don't particularly like that. So are you telling me that you think my tractor sexy doesn't have depth? I hate to tell you, but no, I damn it. It touches you, right? Yeah, it does. That touches you. Yeah. Do you need to get off? You got time to sing for us? I got time to sing for you. All right. All right. Awesome. What are you going to sing? What do you got? What's what's coming up for the band? You and the band? Yeah, I have my recent album out right now called Excuse Me. I have my album out now called Family Wars. And I think I'm going to do a little track from that. Yeah, this is one called Crimson Moon. Oh, this crimson moon in Georgia East is where I lost you. That's where I found me. Now I'm better off all alone. You promised to ring on your hands and still just stood. I don't need to be in my life. I may be young, but I'm warm enough to be happy on my own. Don't you call my bluff. Let the light of this crimson moon shine down on us. Oh, lift me up. Oh, lift me up. Oh, lift me up. A table for one. Now don't bother me. The coffee's still good and strong. The music's still sweet. The lights better than sun. Ain't no chains on me. This room, this place. Hey, that's all I need. Oh, I don't need to be in love. I may be young, but I'm warm enough to be happy on my own. Happy on my own. Don't you call my bluff. Let the light of this crimson moon shine down on us. This crimson moon, in the short-term. It's where I lost you. That's where I found me. Very nice. There you go. Very nice. There you go. I, here's what I want to do. I want to watch that again and practice my hair flip. So expertly done too. So expertly done. The hair flip is so perfectly timed every time. Oh, I appreciate it. And the song's good too. How about that? I've mastered the hair flip. Well, let me ask this. You prepared another one for us, so if you'll take us out with that one. But I wanted to say the song, Stars, the one you co-wrote with Bootsy that has a whole list of stars on it, comes out on the 12th. We should have a link to it if not part of this show. But you're also going to be at Songbirds in Chattanooga on June 19th. So I guess you're getting back out, huh? You're starting to do some shows. Wow, an actual show. Yeah, an actual show. So weird to think already. I'm glad that we are getting back out. But it's been so scary and odd lately that it's just really difficult to get back in that group of just traveling and going. But I mean, I think it's going to go good. We're going to try and see what happens. Where are you right now? We're in Nashville. Yeah, we had a few things to do here, so we left our little town to come here. Okay, so it's not like traveling across the country for a show. You're just staying regional. That's not bad. Okay. Yeah. All right. Well, to me, that's breaking news. There's a show happening. That is sick. And I think that's what we're going to see. I know Songbirds, I know the songbirds has started booking some shows here with some local people, but also some regional acts. Emi's actually up from Madisonville, Brad. So she's not far from, we claim her, as I always say. If somebody does good, we claim them. And it's going to be a good show. It's going to be venues like those small, intimate venues that start opening these things up and being the Petri dish and the test run for the 500 room, the 1000 head room. And seeing the step move, that's a big step. That's a big step that's happening. I did not see that coming. Well, good luck. I hope it goes well. All right. What are you going to take us out with, Emi? And thank you so, so much for doing this. Thank you for having me on. I have a little song here that I started writing about two years ago. This is one that I started writing with some friends of mine here in Nashville, Biki Mikiki and Kyle Jacobs. We started writing this song because, well, I mean, I just don't particularly write a lot of uplifting songs that often, or, you know, love songs in general, because I just don't really like them very much. But I... How was it you described O'Caroline with your brother as a family tragedy? Is that what it... Yeah. Nice. Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you, but that's funny. Oh, no, you were fine. But here you go. But yeah, I mean, who does like... Who likes positive songs? I mean, who wants to listen to Macarena every three hours? I am able. I am strong. I am able. I carry on. Oh, we are able. We are strong. Oh, we are able. We carry on. We learn to stand when battles come. We fight for peace. We never run in spite of all the said and done. Together we will overcome. I am able. I am strong. I am able. I carry on. Oh, we are able. We are strong. We are able. We carry on. We stand tall when battles come. We fight for peace. We never run in spite of all the said and done. Together we will overcome. Oh, I am able. I am strong. I am able. I carry on. Oh, we are able. We are strong. We are able. We carry on. We carry on and on and on and on and on. We carry on and on and on and on and on. We carry on. We carry on. Really nice. Cool. You're doing just fine with the happy sucks. You're doing just fine. Okay. I like it. And you're so kind to give us this much time and to do this. And I hope everybody out there enjoyed it as much as I did. So weird. Any sunshine and I'm Bradley Dark Cloud. So ironic. Thanks for coming on. Yeah. Thank you so much. And enjoy the show. Man, I can't wait to see how this goes. This is a big test. It's a big test for small independent venues like that. I really do hope it goes well for you guys. Thank you so much. And Barry, you better be there. I'll be there. You better be there. I'll be there. Looking forward to it. All right. We'll see ya. See you guys. Yeah. Thank you. Hey, hey, hey, hey. How y'all feeling? Journey through the stories that define the artists playing Bungaroo. Who are they? What are they? What will you see? The what? Which bands? This year, That Matter. Yay. Brad Steiner and Barry Courter.