By the time you read this, Chris Emmington will be overseas writing music. The one-time staple of funky, hard-rocking, local cover bands has traded in the Tahoe dive-bar limelight for an actual music career in, of all places, Norway.
LISTEN: to Easy Giant’s new single, “The Deep”
“[Oslo’s] a cool vibe,” says Emmington of Norway’s capital city. “[Norwegians] are really romantic about their mountains and just got voted happiest people on Earth.”
Emmington was granted a one-year, special-skill work permit as a music composer after landing a gig with Norwegian production company Eleven D Studio.
“I’m a bit of a freelancer,” he says, “But it’s kind of cool when you have a project with some pressure on it. I did this mayonnaise commercial with some acoustic jams and another one for the Norwegian recycling movement and climate change. I realized I enjoy the act of combining music and video where you can really create the moment and set a vibe.”
The motivation for writing on deadlines has also inspired Emmington to produce more original music for his ongoing solo recording project, Easy Giant; he is self-releasing his second LP “To the Moon” this month. The album revives the psychedelic surfer vibe of his much-lauded 2015 debut “Holy Wave,” by combining early 1960s classic rock with a lo-fi garage sound. The result is a compilation of catchy melodies within an instantly listenable sound that transports the audience along on a satellite of ambient bliss.
The album revives the psychedelic surfer vibe of his much-lauded 2015 debut “Holy Wave,” by combining early 1960s classic rock with a lo-fi garage sound.
Emmington wrote, played and recorded the album himself in snowboarding legend Danny Davis’ Prosser Heights garage last summer on a single SM57 microphone. He and Davis connected a few years back on their mutual love of music and outdoors, became roommates and have since collaborated on a variety of creative projects.
“Danny wanted me to write some music for his Peace Park event,” says Emmington. “So I wrote him a few songs and the ideas started piling up. I started doing a song a day.”
So far, music from the new album has been used in the Peace Park special on ABC, an Alaska Snowboard Guides video, a Red Bull mountain biking edit, an Absinthe snowboarding film and in a Patagonia documentary about traveling and snowboarding in Turkey. Athletes from the latter endeavor returned with a Middle Eastern lute, called the saz, which Emmington learned to play for two tracks called “Another Sun” and “Sazo,” both of which feature hypnotic conga beats over swirling bass and guitar. It reminds me of Belle and Sebastian’s more psychedelic diversions strummed by a tripped-out cousin of the Beach Boys.
The strength of Emmington’s composition is rooted in his focus on riffs. Each tune contains a marked theme around which he layers evocative vocals, somehow loose yet pocketed drumming and a blend of classic guitar harmonies. Classic rock á la King Crimson fades into an ambient space where a laid-back Life Aquatic vibe joins old school trap beat driven by pure Casio keyboard. The majority of “To the Moon” was recorded on a 1962 Kingston Flying Wedge made in Japan and featured on the album cover.
“I love vintage Japanese guitars and this is my favorite one I’ve ever had,” he says.
Emmington plays and sings with a soulfulness attained through years of studying classic rock, R & B and contemporary indie. It’s great to see him finally making good on his promise of success.
“I think that it’s always been about trying to do music as a job, not as a struggle,” he says. “But [in Tahoe] it’s this crazy thing of playing in four or five bands while teaching music lessons, so I’m excited to be in a bigger city and making music for projects that have some important messages. The goal for the next year is to pump out more music than I ever have before. It just feels right.” | easygiantmusic.com