Spotlight of the Week: Emily Zimmer

Emily Zimmer is singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and teacher who has been touring and recording since 2002. Her band The Zimmer Effect amicably dissolved after a seven-year run a few months ago, and she’s been focused on her solo material since. She’s got a Bachelor’s degree in Music Business from Carroll University and an Associate’s degree in Music Occupations from MATC.

ME: To start, I’d love to hear about how you got involved with Wisconsin Music Ventures. Tell me how it happened.

EMILY: Well, I saw some posts from some other artists on Instagram who were doing some amazing shows at some amazing venues. I looked up said artists and I really liked how they sounded; I kind of poked around on the WMV website and found it to be something I might want to get involved with, so I checked it out and have been very happy ever since.

ME: Awesome, that’s great! I was glad to see that you’re involved.

ME: So I know you said before we started recording that The Zimmer Effect is no longer a band. Do you want to talk a little bit about why it dissipated?

EMILY: Well, I had that band for a long time. I’m super, super grateful for the experience I had with everybody involved with The Zimmer Effect. It was a great way for me to branch out a little heavier into a solo career because I’ve played solo on and off through the years. It was a great experience; we made three EPs and I’m really thankful for that. I wanted to do things a little bit differently with my sound and personnel and the types of gigs that we were playing. Managing and doing everything for a band is a very difficult and labor-intensive job, so I just kind of simplified what I was doing. I’ve been playing about half solo gigs and half full-band gigs. Now I’m at the point where I can play the types of full-band gigs that are gonna allow me to compensate my musicians, which opens up a lot more possibilities for everybody with a different set of venues. So it’s just a different experience; it’s not better or worse. It’s just new and different.

ME: Everything comes in waves and phases, so that totally makes sense.

ME: Let’s hear about The Zimmer Effect’s last EP “My Reason For My Reason Why.” What was the concept and recording process like?

EMILY: Sure – I had several new songs that I wanted to get out with The Zimmer Effect, and I think that was the best representation of The Zimmer Effect overall style-wise. I had some wonderful musicians playing on it with me like drummer extraordinaire Mike LaPlant and the amazing Michael Sodnik, who is songwriter, bass player, guitarist, piano player and so much more. It was really a pleasure to work with them. I wanted to get those last few songs out there and give it one last big run with The Zimmer Effect, and I think it worked out quite well as far as the record itself. We recorded it at the MATC recording studio so thank you to them; that’s my alma mater and it was a pleasure going in there and having that experience with them. I think musically that was another step in my development as a songwriter. I feel like from the beginning of the band to that EP I finally learned how to write songs better and to find a style identity with that group, and to write better for my voice and guitar-playing abilities. I’m really proud of that sort of culmination of elements. It was also a step toward doing my current Emily Zimmer Band and solo gigs.

ME: Right on. I really like “Carry You,” that was my favorite song.

EMILY: Thank you!

ME: So, what’s been the most unusual gig you’ve ever played?

EMILY: Oh man, I’ve got to think about that for a minute (pause). I did get to this venue in Chicago once, and there were stages on both ends of the bar facing each other, and they weren’t far away enough from each other to not interrupt each other. It was a band here and our band there, and about halfway through the band’s set ended and they left. The performer who replaced them was a professional solo karaoke singer; she just had a computer playing karaoke backing tracks and that was a little interesting. I felt a little bad playing this loud rock music and interrupting her schtick.

ME: Wow, yeah, I wonder who designed that. It doesn’t really make any sense, yeah that’s whack. Interesting.

ME: Here’s a casual, fun question. Summer or winter?

EMILY: Summer.

ME: Why?

EMILY: Because it’s not painfully cold and messy. At least in Wisconsin – it depends where you are.

ME: Yeah, it just gets so humid. I was in LA this past week and it’s hotter here than it was there. They don’t have the humidity that we do.

EMILY: I hear you.

ME: The winters do get brutal here. We get really sharp seasons here in Wisconsin.

EMILY: We do tend to go to the extremes.

ME: There’s not much of an in-between either.

ME: My last question for you, Emily, is what are you working on now? I know you talked a little bit about it before.

EMILY: Well I’ve got several live gigs now that they’re starting to resurface – most of which I’ve gotten through the amazing Wisconsin Music Ventures. I’ve got several shows on my roster that are on my website and I’ve got the full calendar on there as well. As well as I spent the spring and summer making my next record, and I made it right here in this studio lonesome except I had one contributor, who was the amazing Toby Marshall from the Koch-Marshall Trio. who played Hammond B-3 Organ on two of my songs. That’s gonna be released very soon; I’m hoping to book a date in October – and that is pending – but stay tuned.

ME: Awesome, looking forward to it for sure.

Visit Emily Zimmer’s website here.

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