Interview: Emmy Rossum

Emmy Rossum, best known for her acting roles in Phantom Of The Opera, Mystic River, and The Day After Tomorrow, had her diversity validated when her recorded musical debut, Inside Out, landed at #14 on iTunes’ top album chart.

Inside Out is a three song digital bundle exclusively sold on iTunes. Along with the songs each bundle comes with a free 18 minute documentary about the making of her full length album which is due out this fall.

On top of the #14 ranking across all genres Inside Out was #3 on the iTunes Pop Charts, and is in the digital stores’ “Best of The Stores” section, where the iTunes staff picks 13 songs into an eclectic mix tape.

Despite her being known primary as an actress, music has always played a major role in Emmy Rossum’s life. When she was seven years old, she was singing with the Metropolitan Opera, and by the time she was a teenager, she had auditioned, and won, the part of Christine in the film version of Phantom of the Opera, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination.

You sang with the Metropolitan Opera at a pretty early age as well as numerous operas in different languages, how did you get started doing that?

Emmy: Well my second grade teacher in regular school, my chorus teacher, pulled me out of chorus class one day and said, “You know, I think you have perfect intonation, and I’d love to set up an audition for you at the Metropolitan Opera to go over and see if they might like to train you there.”

I was kind of completely taken back by that, and I didn’t really know what that meant. And she set up the appointment for me, I went and sang for them, they said welcome to the opera, and that was it.

Wow! Was that intimidating at all for you?

Emmy: No, it was really exciting for me. I really felt like the second I walked onto that stage, I really knew that I wanted to be in that kind of world for the rest of my life. I felt immediately at home and excited, and I felt like I was working on something that I really believed in and loved. It was just really exciting for me to find something like that, that I loved, at such an early age when most people spend their whole lives trying to find something that they really love and they’re good at, and I found it really really young. So if it wasn’t for that second grade teacher… I probably wouldn’t have even started.

How did you make the initial transition to acting from singing initially?

Emmy: Well, I got to tall for the children’s costumes. And then I just really loved being on stage, and I wanted to be a part of something like that and thought that I would try acting for a little while until I got old enough to sing the big girl roles at the opera. And then it just kind of snowballed, I started getting roles, and then before I knew I was in Mystic River, Day After Tomorrow, and then Phantom. At that point, my life had kind of come full circle and was back to music again where I feel the most love and the most comfortable. After Phantom, I was approached by different record labels to make a record, and the most obvious one would have kind of been a cross-over popera (pop/opera) record. Geffen was the place that offered me the most freedom in terms of creating the sound, writing my own lyrics, and something that was going to be personal and not just obvious.

Back before you really got into the acting and you were looking at the future, did you really want to continue to sing with the opera or did you want to release a cd?

Emmy: I have always loved music, and I’ve always wanted to be a recording artist, but I never knew how or when or if it would ever be possible. So I guess I didn’t really think about what I wanted, because none of that really seemed possible. I just went with the flow of life and how the opportunities came, and I just went step by step.

I’ve read that you’re heavy on preparation for your acting roles. Were you the same with recording your album?

Emmy: Oh, you know, no one has ever asked me that question. That’s a good question. I think – Yeah I did, but it was different. In acting you have to try to find these memories that are similar to things that the character goes through. And I think that here I had to really struggle to find those, because I was expressing myself. It was just a really personal experience. I think the most interesting process that I really went through was opening myself up in that way lyrically.

The song ‘Inside Out’ is the title track and the name of the album. The reason being, it’s about unzipping yourself, showing people who you really are inside, and wondering if they’ll still like you with your flaws and as human as everyone is.

Did you have any material written down before you started recording the album?

Emmy: Oh of course, I’ve written lyrics for years and years and always kept a journal and a diary. I always knew that someday I’d turn them into songs. I just never really knew how it would be possible until I got to the studio and got to collaborate on the music with different producers.

How would you describe your upcoming album?

Emmy: Lyrically, I would say it’s extremely personal and intimate. Musically, it’s ambient pop. It’s got these layers of vocals that are lush and kind of surround you in a very warm way. But I also think that for women – as a young woman – I think I’d like to show women as they really are in contemporary society. I think that women in the top 40 are a little bit objectified and sexualized, and I think women can be strong, sensual, vulnerable, and real in that way and still beautiful.

Do you have a song that you feel is the most personal for you or that you’re the most pleased with on the album?

Emmy: Um.. I really love ‘Slow Me Down’, because I feel that especially in contemporary society the whole world moves so quickly. We’re so over scheduled, and it’s bigger than just me being over scheduled. I think that whether you’re struggling to study for your GMAT’s, your SAT’s, holding down 3 jobs, or you’re a single mom, you know whatever it is, I think that everyone is moving so quickly that you forget that if you don’t slow down, even for a second, that you’ll miss the things that are beautiful in life.

You’ve written a large number of the songs on the album yourself. What’s the song writing process like for you?

Emmy: Well, I first write down all my conceptual ideas. It all kind of stems from the lyrics, and then I expand on that and write pages and pages of what I call brain vomit. It’s just kind of whatever comes out of my head, sort of stream of consciousness. Some of it’s already in a poetic form just because sometimes I think that way… sometimes it’s already rhyming, because I think that way. I think that then I put those pages aside, and I sit down at the piano with the producer or start to collaborate on music with people – the sound of the song, and the way I start shaping the melody, will touch me and remind me, and the song will feel like a certain idea that I’ve had, and I’ll relate it back to the concept, and then I start to work the lyrics around the melody that we have. So it’s a very organic experience process.

Do you have a certain musician or band that you look up to career wise?

Emmy: I really admire Sinéad O’Conner. I think that whether or not you agree with her beliefs, politically or otherwise, she’s incredibly courageous, opinionated, and unafraid to show who she really is. And I think that’s incredibly commendable especially in this world.

Now you were attending Columbia University, correct? Are you still?

Emmy: I was, but I’m not anymore.

What were you majoring in?

Emmy: Well I was going to major in English and minor in Philosophy, but you know after I kept getting all these opportunities, I had a hard turning them down.

Right. You think that’s something you’ll ever go back to and try to finish?

Emmy: I don’t think I’ll go back there. I think I’ll probably continue my education in other ways.

Do you have plans to tour?

Emmy: Yeah I’m hoping to do as many life performances as I can. I think that there’s no better way to share music than one on one, and having come from live theater that is something that I would love to be part of again.

What’s next for you?

Emmy: Getting the record out, finishing the recording and seeing it through and trying to share it with as many people as possible. I hope that I’ll be able to tour with it, and I’m hopefully going to be doing another film later in the year.

Can you say anything about that film?

Emmy: No, I’m actually not sure what it will be just yet.

So you haven’t started filming yet?

Emmy: No not yet.

Interview By: Emma Loggins

Emmy Rossum Official Site
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