Published Oct 14, 2015A Taylor Swift endorsement can be invaluable to a new artist, but it can be equal parts a blessing and a curse. When Montreal artist Emilie & Ogden posted a cover of Swift's 1989 single "Style" online, publications began picking up on the stripped-down harp rendition, and before Emilie Kahn knew it, she received a retweet from Swift herself. While this has helped Kahn — for those wondering, Ogden refers to her harp, not a human bandmate — much of her SEO will forever be tied to the "Style" star.
"It's a little annoying that every article ever written about me has the words 'Joanna Newsom' and 'Taylor Swift' in it," Kahn sighs in a recent Exclaim! interview.
The paranoia of being labelled "a girl from a viral video" even made Kahn contemplate eliminating the cover from her live set, but with the recent release of her debut album 10,000 on Secret City, the dust is beginning to settle and Kahn's fears are being soothed by the positive attention the release is getting.
"Now that the album is well-received, my fears have been calmed," she says. "Things have gone back to normal and I still really love the song."
To those who have given 10,000 a listen, it's quite obvious why Kahn would be drawn to such a beautifully written pop song. While Kahn and Swift don't share much on the surface, both artists tackle the complexities of love in a fine and pointed approach in their lyrics.
"I think most singer-songwriters are mainly interested in writing about love and heartache," Kahn explains. "I think Taylor is appealing because she writes about those things in a super honest, direct way where she doesn't hold anything back and it's just interesting when she explores an aspect that you're not really used to hearing in a pop song."
Joanna Newsom, of course, is another go-to reference as a female harpist who has found immense success with her folkloric tunes. "I think playing an instrument like this works because people are curious about it, so it mostly works to my advantage, but I do always get compared to Joanna Newsom or this girl on The Voice UK who covered 'Get Lucky' on the harp."
While Kahn cites both Swift and Newsom as influences, she does draw from other artists that aren't so literal. Among her teenage obsessions are Canadian artists Feist and Emily Haines of Metric.
"That style of music is ingrained in me now," the 24-year-old admits. "I have those influences, but of course you don't really think about it when you go and write. Sometimes I get compared to Feist and I like that, because I'm a really big Feist fan."
One other band she mentions, one she enthusiastically states as her all-time favourite, is pop-punk band Brand New. While that is light years away from Kahn's graceful harp arrangements, Kahn sees the connection between her music and Brand New. "I can see part of them in what I do now, in lyrical style and the mood."
Emilie & Ogden has a string of worldwide tour dates coming up, including several here in Canada. You can see them all here.