’America's New Sweetheart'
With a natural talent for acting and looks so sweet she could sell Girl Scout cookies, Emmy Rossum is a rising star for multiple reasons. Born and raised in New York, Emmy displayed a musical talent at a young age when she joined the Metropolitan Opera's Children's Choir, performing with the likes of such musical talents as Placido Domingo and Pavarotti.
Curious about a career in TV, Emmy made her television debut on the daytime soap opera "As the World Turns," garnering plenty of attention and quickly attaining roles on the made-for-TV movie "Genius" and the ABC original movie "The Audrey Hepburn Story," receiving critical praise for both. After guest-starring on several other shows including "Snoops" and "Law & Order," Emmy's most important appearance came as a young client on the hit drama "The Practice." Her role on "The Practice" began a snowball of offers that continued to grow with every year.
Emmy finally broke into film in 2000 in a number of small independent features before snatching a part as the daughter of Sean Penn in the highly praised 2003 drama "Mystic River." With a solid belief from film critics that she was bound for stardom her roles grew before her very eyes. Parts in 'The Day After Tomorrow' (2004), 'The Phantom of The Opera' (2004) and 'Poseidon' (2006) just added to her filmography of award-winning indies and big-budget productions. That said, and as evolution will, Emmy's success has now spread its creative wings into that of music - and the release of her debut CD.
The first single, “Slow Me Down,” about trying to find a respite from all the craziness, is made up of more than 150 different parts and harmonies, every one of them sung by Emmy herself, including, in some cases, the percussion. The self-titled debut is a true showcase for her remarkable vocal range. With a lush, sensual style, Rossum sings every note on the album, seducing her way along, never taking any note for granted.
Incredibly by the age of seven you were not only singing with the Metropolitan Opera, but singing in six different languages! Add to that you songstress moments alongside icons such as Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti and I am just wondering how in the world you ever managed to focus at such a young age!
Emmy Rossum - "People always ask me how I got to love the Opera. Was it my parents? Was I involved in show business? And it was actually not anything like that. It was my second grade music teacher at school who heard me singing in the halls, called me in and made me part of the chorus. And then one day he said I had perfect intonation and thought that I should go over Opera - because he knew the chorus director over there."
"I never really fit in at school and I felt that music was my escape and my happiness. And the way that I gave other people joy too by singing. So, I auditioned and they accepted me and that afternoon I was in rehearsals ... and it was just a whole new world for me. It was like a world outside of school where I could fit in and where I could express myself. I just loved music and it was always something that was just innately part of me."
Wasn't it hard to balance the two growing parts of your life? "I guess for me it didn't feel that hard to focus on it and focus on school at the same time. I used to study during Intermission and do my homework backstage. I was raised pretty much by the hairdressers there and the other choristers. I guess it felt like a show to me - an enormous amount of fun. It never felt like a chore. Even though we were totally expected to perform as adults. We were taught professionalism aside from all the musicality. And also how to physically sing in a classical style. I think that it taught me to always respect the people that I worked with, because I was working with such a high level of professionals there. It was just an amazing experience for me."
Wow, there's nothing like knowing what you want immediately in life! "Yeah, I just realized at a young age that I'd found something that I wanted to do forever. And music was it."
Have you always been a girl that knows what she wants and goes for it every time? "I don't know. I guess that I've always just gone with my gut instinct. I come from a very small family where it's just kinda always been me and my mom. I don't really have a dad. My dad and my mom broke up when she was pregnant. So it's always been just us. And she's always been very passionate about her art. She's a photographer. I guess I learned from her that when you find something you really love you really go for it So, even though I found it when I was seven she emotionally supported me in that decision. She knew that it's pretty rare to find something that you like. She's always supported me as an artist."
Have you since gotten to know your father? "Yes, I've met him twice."
Is it true they also only paid you $5.00 a night to do these incredible nights of Opera?! "Yeah, but some nights we were paid $20.00! It just depended how many acts we were in and how long we were on stage. But it was such a little amount that it pretty much only covered taxi's to and from the Opera or bus transfers ... and some fries! But we were just really there for the fact that we loved it so much. We weren't unionized we were just so happy to be on stage. It was never about the money. And I think it taught me that so long as you can eat and feed your family you should ever have to do anything for money. Because you're just gonna make the wrong decisions."
Being that you first came to people’s attention as an actress, are you already finding it hard to deliver the promise of your self-titled debut album to media? "I think the people that don't know my background maybe they might think that I'm just another actress that wants to try her hand at singing. But, people who know me from 'Phantom of The Opera' and know that I sang the role in that know that I can obviously sing and that I'm trained. A lot of people know that music was always first in my life, if they know my background at the Opera. So, for the most part no, people are pretty accepting and excited for it. And most people only know me from 'Phantom of The Opera' anyway."
Have you found the making of this CD more exhausting that being on a film set and all the acting that comes with that? "Not at all, no. In fact, a little bit more fulfilling in a way. I get to write my own lines. I get to write songs and I'm getting my own opinion out there. As a musician you can really express yourself and be completely fully honest about who you are, what you stand for and believe in. And that should reflect itself in the lyrics. So, it was very important to me to be able to write these lyrics and write these songs and have them really be somewhat autobiographical. Because I write in a very honest yet kinda impressionistic way so I hope that people can relate to them."
"Because I think that everyone kinda goes through a similar human experience in terms of love and being comfortable in their own skin. I think that's what life's all about. So, I try to write about things that are personal to me and hope that because they are personal and because everyone kinda goes through the same human experiences and fears and loves in life that they'll be universal. At least, that's what I hope," she laughs.
So, please tell us more behind the lyrics to the song 'Slow Me Down' "Yeah, the first single is called 'Slow Me Down' and - I'm from New York - I wrote it when I was in the city. I had been traveling so much for work between promoting a film and being in the studio. Just doing so many things at once. I looked at my friends who were all just students and quote-unquote 'normal people' and not entertainers, and they were studying and going from appointment to appointment. I looked at people on the street and they seemed so busy and it seemed like no one was slowing down, including myself even for a second to realize how beautiful life is and just to appreciate being alive. If you don't slow down for even a second you'll miss the things that are beautiful in life. You'll miss the opportunity to fall in love and to appreciate and value being alive."
"So, I guess that encouraged me to write this song and I hope that the song touches people. And that's why I chose it as the first single because being an acappella track with 100 tracks of my vocal it really shows my sound in a very precise way. But I also think that the message of the song is something that is really circulating in our society right now. It's something that people want to hear and need to hear. That it's OK to slow down for just a second."
You’ve said that you didn’t want to make this album in a “Popera” classical style - similar to Sarah Brightman. Please explain this more? "I suppose that even though I started in classical music, and classical music will always be close to my heart; and 'Phantom of the Opera' was an opportunity to sing in kind of the 'Popera' style with some beautiful Andrew Lloyd Webber music, I suppose I've been exposed to lots more kinds of music and influenced by them and yet still wanted to stay true to myself and where I am in my life right now. And I didn't feel like making a 'Popera' record would be doing that. I've been exposed to pop, rock, electronica, new age music and country music and I really felt like musically I really wanted to create a style that would be more personal to me than just making what everyone expected me to make - the Sarah Brightman / Josh Groban record."
"And nothing against them because Josh is actually a good friend of mine and I think he has a beautiful voice and I do really like that kind of music. But I just felt that at this point in my life I really wanted to express myself in a way that was more uniquely me; that was younger and fresher and a little bit more lush and sensual the way I heard my own music in my head."
"And it took me a while to come to the sonic realization of what that sounded like. But, it was worth the challenge and that's why I signed with Geffen 'cause they gave me the most freedom. Because I walked in there and they asked me what my music sounded like. I told them I didn't exactly know but I want to write lyrics that are honest and personal to me and I wanted the music to be sexy in a fresh way. And I wanted to use my voice as a main instrument, but I didn't exactly know what that meant and it would take me second to figure it out. They told me OK, that they were excited by this and go and experiment. And if it took a while that was OK also."
"So that was a wonderful thing to hear because for an artist you usually get the 'Let's just churn this record out and capitalize on the momentum you have' and for someone to really believe in me and that I would find a sound - which I think I eventually did - I really am proud of this record. I think it really reflects me and what I wanted to create. I'm really happy with it."
You said that this album is about ‘figuring out who I am’ … so, now that it’s a done, just who is Emmy Rossum?! "I think I'm a person who is the best person that I can be. I think I write for the contemporary woman who is strong and feminine and sensual and smart. And unafraid to say what she thinks. On the record I wrote about things that I've never spoken about publically. I wrote about growing up with a single mom, not letting the fact that you've been abandoned make you weak and making you stronger. And to not be ashamed of who you are. I think that's really hard on society. You should be 100% completely yourself."
"There's so much prejudice in the world and it's really hard to be comfortable in your own skin. Whether that's body image or whatever I think it is incredibly important. I think the most beautiful thing is somebody who is really comfortable in their own skin. And that's kinda what the message of 'Inside Out' is. It's about turning yourself inside out and listing that to show the world who you are - which I've never gotten to do because I've always kinda played characters and never been open about who I am, how I was raised, or my family and the strength that has given me. I think I'm an incredibly loving, loyal person and I hope that comes across on the record."
Amazingly, IMDB has your last movie listed as 2006’s ‘Poseidon’ and nothing in the can or in production thereafter! Have we truly seen the last of actress Emmy for the foreseeable future?! "No, I've taken a break to do the record. I took about a year off to really focus on the music. It was incredibly important to me. I'm only 21 and when I worked with Clint Eastwood and Sean Penn they said it's not the quantity of films that you do - don't feel that you have to jump from one to another - it's the quality of the films you do. So, I've really taken that into my music too and really wanted to do the best record that I could do. And now promote it and bring the music to people. But I do plan on taking a film and starting a film, it's just a question of scheduling. I signed on to four films this year and had to push them all because of doing the record. So, it's just a question of timing."
"I do intend to still be an actress. I'm still an actress and an entertainer and a singer. I started as a singer but then took six years off and did movies and then 'Phantom of The Opera' got me back to that. I certainly won't take six years off to do music and then go back to films," she laughs. "I intend to do another film in the next few months. But it's a question of timing 'cause some films can take up to six months to film."
So how long did this album take to make from start to finish? "About a year. Finding the sound took a few months. To write the songs took a few months. To really perfect them and then to shoot the video ... it's been a real process. I'm incredibly proud as this is my first record. I really feel like it's the most honest representation of myself and my heart and how I feel about the world. I'm really proud of it."
“Slow Me Down” Streaming Audio Links
“Slow Me Down” Streaming Audio Links
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