Interview with
Emarosa

Emarosa

Photo credit: Samantha Marquart

Bradley Scott Walden (vocals) and ER White (guitar) make up the band Eramosa. They have been collaborating for nearly a decade to transform and renew the group’s vision.

In 2019, their album “Peach Club”, not only claimed a top spot on the U.S. Billboard charts upon release, but it also merited them a sold-out nation-wide tour.

Their newest material after “Peach Club” combines the influences of pop, synth-wave, alternative, and the sound of late 80’s, early 90’s hits. You might even find the influences of George Michael, Janet Jackson and even Michael Jackson within their latest singles.

Their newest single, “Attention” is an anthem to all those who love attention and aren’t afraid to admit it.

I had the chance to catch up with Bradley Walden where we discussed previous Emarosa albums, current material, musical influences and what is to come next.

Carly Kutsup: I saw in another interview that your mom was part of the Army and you moved around a lot. Has living in any one of the places you lived help shape you as a musician? If so, which ones and how?

Bradley Walden: That’s an interesting question I’ve never been asked before. I guess my gut wrench answer would be of course moving around so much has an impact. I didn’t get into performing or even know that I had the ability to perform until I was kind of already stationary. I joined the Air Force and then that’s when I started realizing I wanted to pursue music, so it really wasn’t until then. I think moving around a lot gave me a lot of exposure to the world, which I’m thankful for. It gave me a lot of insight into the world, which has inspired a lot of my creativity. I’m also thankful for that. I think it has a huge impact on how I create.

CK: As you already mentioned you were in Air Force, and I also read that you were a firefighter at one point. When did you decide to make the switch to wanting to pursue music as a career? 

BW: Well, once you join the military, you are kind of contracted in. I wanted to do it while I was in the military, but I was limited on what I could so I just kind of had to wait until the military released me. Then, once my service was done, I kind of went gung-ho. That was years ago and probably like 15 to 16 years ago.

CK: Oh wow. That’s quite a while ago.

BW: I know. I don’t like saying it out loud, but yeah, I’ve been grinding for a while.

CK: What was the catalyst to go in a different direction with the sound for Emarosa?

BW: I was thinking about this the other day. To somebody who maybe just listened to this record or listened to that record and didn’t see any change or think that it was a drastic change, I feel as though they weren’t really paying attention. I understand when I joined the band, we made material like what the fans knew. You have to understand that the band was stagnant and not really doing anything except for just writing and growing as musicians for four plus years and things change in that time.

When I joined, I actually felt like I was kind of a heavy hand in saying, “Hey, we need to stay true to what Emarosa is or your fans won’t really like it.” I was the new guy at the time, which was almost 10 years ago. Helpless, which ended up on the 131 record, was probably the funkiest thing that the band has ever done to date, but that song was written while we were also writing Versus. So, if you listen to it, you listen to Versus and you start to dive into, say with Say Hello to the Bad Guy, you can see a small change in evolution. 131 was a great alternative rock record, but then you have Helpless, which was on that record. It had a different production and could have been on Peach Club. Although, there are songs that are on Peach Club that have different production and different instrumentation, which could have been on 131.

I don’t think it’s such, as people say, a genre switch, but more of an evolution. I don’t think we just threw caution to the wind and said, “Okay, we’re different now.” We didn’t go from like a hip jazz band to some metal band or didn’t turn into some country act. There is just a constant evolution.

I have never wanted to make the same record twice so I understand that, to a lot of people, it can feel like it’s a very harsh change, but to the people involved it just feels like a natural progression.

CK: It’s been three years between your last release Peach Club to now. What can your fans expect from your forthcoming record? 

BW: I appreciate that. I think it’s more mature. Peach Club was very extravagant and flamboyant, and I love that about it. I still have to be very careful because I know nothing about the forthcoming record has been announced (like the name of the album or anything), but I think this next record has a much more mature approach to the style that we kind of did with Peach Club. We did not make a crazy change. It’s just the evolution of what we’re doing. It’s very much a pop record, but I also think Peach Club was a pop record as well. So, I think we’ve just fine-tuned a lot of things. Also, three years between making a record and with the pandemic and life, a lot has changed in those three years. There’s a very important, powerful story to be told, and I think the album does that.

CK: For Preach you decided to go towards a more an 80’s inspired alt pop sound. Why was that?

BW: I think Peach Club was 80s inspired for sure, but like I said a more flamboyant side of it. For this forthcoming album, we were listening to a lot of Phil Collins along with a lot of George Michael, which I already know how much flack we’re going to get for, because heaven forbid, we paid homage to a lot of 80s acts on this album. I loved it. Some of it felt very Paula Abdul.

I think the older you get the more you latch on to material that shaped you and you want to create from. I like to create from the happiest place that I have. When I think about the happiest place I have, it brings me back to childhood. For very fortunate people, it’s their most enjoyable time in their life. So, I look back on it fondly. I wanted to make a record that has a lightness to it. All our previous records, despite the instrumentation, were very lyrical and heavy. With this record, I think, there’s a lightness to it, but it also has a little bit of a chip on its shoulder, which is something I loved about the 80s. It was light, but it has a chip on its shoulder, like Janet Jackson. It comes from a place of joy for me, and I wanted to recreate that in something that we’re making.

CK: I agree with you about the 80s, especially regarding Janet Jackson. When I think Janet Jackson, especially of the late 80s, I think, Rhythm Nation, which was very heavy hitting.

BW: Oh yeah, Rhythm Nation is a top 10 album of all time.

CK: I was watching the music video for Preach and it kind of has this, like you said, a George Michael, but also a Bel Biv DeVoe feel to it. How did that come about?

BW: For sure. Some things, I think, just happen organically. I think everybody involved had the appropriate vision. We wanted to create something that was different and something that this band hadn’t done before. I was very nervous about me being the only person in the video, but it’s what ended up being decided. I think it was cool. It was just a very cool performance piece. I think it represents the album wonderfully. It very much leans into that very early 90s pop, like Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation, George Michael and Bel Biv DeVoe. I think that when everybody has the same vision, things like that kind of just creep in because all our influences start to creep in.

CK: Now, other than the influences you’ve already mentioned are there any other influences that help shape this album?

BW: I love doing albums with Courtney Ballard. He did Peach Club with us and E and I went back to him to do this record. We had reservations about Peach Club, like “Oh, maybe people think we’re going too far”, but this time there were no reservations. There was nothing to lose so we we went all in and are making the album we want to make. Courtney was a very positive force in making that album and showing the support along with helping drive the ship in making this record.

CK: Other than E and Courtney [Ballard], has there been anybody else that you co-wrote with?

BW: Yes. Stefano Pigliapoco, who has worked with Courtney. He’s a great songwriter. We brought in a singer from this group Alke. Kelsey is a fantastic songwriter. I have a close friend who I give singing lessons to, and to whom I showed Preach to. I was stuck on the chorus of Preach and we actually rewrote the hook three of four times. I know that’s silly to say because the hook is just repeated a ton of times. People can’t believe it because I do say the same thing over and over, but I’m like, “Wait until you learn about pop music.” I was kind of stuck and one of my students just helped and said, “What if you try this?” It ended up working. There were a couple of hands in the pot. We really enjoyed making this record.

We had this dude, Patrick Taylor, come in and play bass and he is a monster bass player. I have videos that I can’t wait to post of him just slapping bass and shredding on these songs. It’s just so good. My jaw dropped when he came in and started playing. It literally dropped. It was fantastic.   

    

CK: Speaking of other artists, if you could collaborate with anybody who would be on that list?

BW: That’s really such a tough question. The all-time greats. For me, the top of my list… I love Kehlani, I love Janet Jackson, Big Sean, Casey Musgraves. I love the idea of branching out in that way and working with artists. I think any of those artists would blow my mind to be able to work with them.

CK: Since you mentioned all these different artists and branching out, if you could put out something that was totally up to you, what would you put out?

BW: I’m just putting it out for me, but I have an R&B project, which is just my take on some R&B, pop type genre thing. Things that I know won’t fit with the band, but stuff that I can do to have another creative outlet for. That’s on Spotify and Apple Music. It’s called Badley.

CK: When Emarosa is back on tour, will you also be performing any of that material as well?

BW: No. Those are two separate things. I just wouldn’t do that. I’m very appreciative because I do have people who love both, but I love that for myself and just to have that creative outlet. I love being able to make it, but I don’t want to put the pressure on it to have to do anything else besides just to be creative now.

CK: Regarding critics and things of that nature, how do you think social media has shaped regarding, for example, what a band can put out, how what they put out is received and even record sales?

BW: I don’t know that social media has any impact on what a band can put out. A band can put out anything they want.

I think the only thing social media has done is given people a false sense of entitlement. It is, in my opinion, a mostly terrible place where people think that you are entitled to how they feel; that you are entitled to respond to them; that you owe them something, which is not the case; but, for some reason, and unfortunately, it has just bred this insane sense of entitlement. It’s not my favorite thing. I don’t think it has any impact on what bands do.

As far as record sales go, that is, I mean, record sales are just done. Let’s be honest, apart from maybe an older generation who still loves CDs or maybe even vinyl collectors and things like that, which is awesome, but as far as music sales as a whole, that’s not where it is. It’s in touring. It’s in merch. It’s in all the other facets of the industry.

Spotify just had to boost up their sales of 15%, the royalty rate, 15.1%. I think they lost their appeal and that bump in royalties is great news for songwriters.

Regarding social media though, since I joined this band, it has been the bane of my existence. It mostly feels like a chore. It mostly feels like an obligation, and I root for the day where it is no longer necessary to be an artist.

CK: I feel you on that, because as an artist myself, it’s like if you don’t have a specific look or specific reach, it’s so hard to even get a platform to share your art. In my opinion, it kind of feels like in order to be successful now, you constantly have to have something there.

BW: Yeah, it’s a business. Social media makes artistry feel more like a business than being an artist.

CK: Now, let’s talk about the new single Attention. Tell me more about it.

BW: So, this is where I am well aware that we’re going to get some flack. The snippet I posted, it’s very George Michael. I had George Michael in mind. Courtney and I sat down, and we worked this song out even before we put out Ready to Love. And we had an old manager who didn’t know what he was talking about, and he didn’t like the song, so it really took the wind out of our sails. We ended up putting out a different song, which is a great song, but I’ve always held on to this song Attention, and I’ve loved it. I’ve ALWAYS wanted a real powerful choir moment in a song. We finally got it with this song. We built a choir and I got emotional the first time I listened to this song when everything was put together.

I sent it to my friend, Crystal, who has known me since before I joined this band. She said, “This is the music that you have always wanted to make.” I said, “Yeah, absolutely.” It is a pop song, but I think it is a great song. I remember posting the clip and somebody said that they thought they heard a Moana part in there. Who knows? Maybe. Maybe they did. Unintentional. It is either number one or number two my favorite song on this album. This forthcoming album.

CK: What’s the other song, that’s if you can mention it?

BW: I can. It’s called Danger. It’s not going to be a single though. I love this song. It’s a very much a Phil Collins song. I feel like it could have been on the Tarzan soundtrack. I love the song so much. It’s definitely number one or two. I go back and forth because they are two very different songs and people will know once they hear the other.

CK: Now, can we expect a music video for it?

BW: I think that we have not like an official music video, but I do think that we’re going to put together a ton of studio footage and probably release a video of us showing the making of the song. We are shooting a video for another song later this month. E is flying out from Kentucky. So, there’s definitely more coming. We’ve got another music video in us.

CK: You mentioned having a choir for Attention. What was that like?

BW: The choir was amazing. We built it with friends. We taught everybody the part and then recorded, recorded, recorded and just stacked and stacked. Just hearing it all put together, it feels so full.

CK: Gives you goose bumps?

BW: It really did. It gave me chills when I heard it. I was so excited. I mean, there’s so many memories that I have of making this record where I got chills and it was just the next level. It felt so good. I do hope that people get the same feeling that I had when the first time I heard these songs.

CK: Now, out of all the albums that you’ve put out with Emarosa, what are your favorites?

BW: My favorite albums? It’s always going to be the newest album. I mean, I have grown to respect each album individually for what it’s done.

Versus brought me into a whole new world. I had some amazing times because of it. Some amazing tours. I met idols of mine through that record and I had chances to do amazing things.

131 I love how powerful that record is and how it resonated with so many people. To this day, 131 has a song called Sure and that is the most successful song out of any of the records on Spotify. Albeit, it is going to lose its place to Peach Club because the streaming numbers of Peach Club are insane. Cautious will eventually be the number one streamed song by the band. 131 got us to do Warped Tour, which I had always wanted to do when I was younger. It definitely resonated with a lot of people. It was a very heavy record and so I loved the relationship that the fans had with it.

Peach Club was so fun and gave us our first sold out tour. It let us kind of experiment and jump into the world that we jumped into. It was much more lighthearted than 131 was. After being so heavy I think I needed to do something that was… not. The show for Peach Club was flashier and the suit with the headband and the lights and everything was very much happier. I loved that change.

Now, with this next record, I love everything about it. I love the perseverance that I needed to have to make this record. I love the journey through the record. I think the songs are amazing. I mean, it’s tough because I’ll need time after it’s done though, you know? I’ll need to listen to the entirety of our discography and say, “Okay, this is my favorite… this is my favorite.”

So, I have respect for all of the records, and I used to really not like Versus because I had a bad taste in my mouth, but I have learned to love that record and have respect for all of the records. This next one, I can’t say yet since it’s not out yet. Obviously, I wish it weren’t true, but it does have an impact on me on how it’s perceived once it’s out. So, time will tell on how that goes.

CK: Now, if you had to choose any song out of all the records, what is your favorite thus far?

BW: You know, that’s such an impossible question.

CK: Well, is there one that you think speaks the most to you?

BW: I mean, I’ve written about such intimate things that I have since grown away from. So, I think throughout time, different songs will resonate as the most important songs. Right now, obviously, it would be something on the new record because that’s what’s resonating the most with me. With Versus I would say it’s probably I’ll Just Wait. With 131, I think Hurt is a great song. It’s one of my favorite openers that we’ve ever had. That’s such a tough one. On Peach Club, maybe Help You Out. I love that song, too.

CK: You do have quite a large catalog.

BW: It’s crazy to think about, too, that we’ve made that many.

Say Hello to the Bad Guy. I love that song. It’s such a cool attitude song.

I really don’t know though. I wish I could give you a better answer.

I will say that I really, really love One Car Garage.

You stumped me. I really don’t know. That’s too tough. I can’t think of just one song.

What about you? Are you familiar enough to have a thought?

CK: Well, I’ll be honest and say that I’ve just started listening to the more recent stuff, but like you, I grew up in the eighties and nineties. Songs from those decades always bring me back to my childhood and back to the good times. I will say though that I really do like Preach because it really does speak to me the most, especially with the things I’ve been through in the last decade. The line of “Just try to walk a mile in my shoes that I’ve been living in, you wouldn’t last a minute” is something I really do say all the time.

BW: Oh yeah.

CK: What does the typical writing and recording process look like to you?

BW: It changes. A lot of times E will send me an idea and I’ll kind of just riff over it, or I’ll send him an idea and he’ll kind of build it out. There have also been times where we’ll go into the studio with Courtney and we’ll kind of hash out an idea from scratch or he’ll have something. We also work with a buddy of ours, Allen Lewis, who also worked on this new record, and he worked on Peach Club. He’ll bring some great ideas. But there’s no one way. There’s no formula. I think Giving Up was written just in the garage, like full band. Then Cautious was, I think, Courtney and I did that. Whereas Get Back Up, I wrote with this producer, Alex Hitchens, who I do all my solo stuff with. So, it just varies, but this this record was all Courtney.

CK: Now, what has been the best advice that has been given to you regarding being an artist and working in this industry?

BW: I think, just have fun. I took this way too seriously for a very long time. Not that I shouldn’t take it seriously, but it’s not life or death. I couldn’t enjoy myself because I was so stressed, and I had such a chip on my shoulder for the longest time. I look back and I have a lot of great memories, but I have a lot of memories that I wish were different because I wasn’t enjoying it. I wasn’t enjoying it in the moment, and I should have been, instead of stressing about what’s the next thing, what’s the next thing. Just be where you are, enjoy where you are, and go from there. You spend a lot of time worrying instead of just enjoying that you’re doing what you get to do.

CK: Now, if you were to offer somebody advice that wants to get into this industry, what would you say to them?

BW: There’s no right way to get into this industry. If you want to make music, make music. You don’t need anything, but yourself, your creativity in a way to record your creativity from an artist standpoint. Perfect your craft. I took lessons for a long time, and now I teach singing and songwriting because I feel over the last 15 or so years that I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I can’t stress this enough: learn your craft. You don’t need anybody. Just believe in yourself. You don’t need a manager right away. You don’t need an agent right away. If you truly want to get into this, learn your craft first and then start making music.

CK: Speaking of doing lessons, is it just local to the L.A. area?

BW: No, I have students in the U.K., Australia, Canada. I teach all over the U.S. I do it all through Zoom on my website.

CK: Is there any tour in the works?

BW: There is. We’re trying to figure something out that makes sense, that is safe. I am hesitant to jump out there because I’m seeing stuff get canceled every day. Every single day I’m seeing stuff get canceled. When you’re in a position and you’re out there and you’re seeing these monster tours getting canceled, that’s millions of dollars. We’re not a millions of dollars band, but it is a lot of money when you lose a show because of COVID or whatever. So, it’s a huge risk to tour right now. By all means, props to the bands that can do it safely if anyone is doing it safely. But I’m hoping that we make something happen.

CK: Yeah, I’ve been seeing a lot of that. I bought tickets to a lot of shows this summer, but a lot of them are still taking place only outdoors, so they’re trying to be safer that way. The ones that have been indoors, I’ve seen that they are either taking temperatures, requiring masks or even vaccines. Rightfully so, but it’s just so weird from where we just were a few years ago.

BW: Yeah. You just have to be careful because I don’t want to put our fans in that predicament or in that situation of not knowing if they want to even go to a show. Trust me, I want to be out there as much as the fans want us to tour, but I want to do it safely.

CK: My last question for you. Where do you see Emarosa going for the next five, maybe ten years?

BW: This is where I don’t know. This is where I’m just enjoying right now. I’m not stressing about what’s next. Maybe 5 years ago I would say, “Oh, this, I want this, I’m going to do this and this.” Right now, I say I’m really excited for Attention’s release, and I don’t even know what tomorrow looks like. I just know that I’m in it. I’m really proud of this song. I’m really proud of what’s next. Five, ten years is not something that I need to stress about, because if it’s going, it’s going. If it’s not, it’s not. But right now, right now, it’s going.

More on Emarosa: 
Spotify / Apple Music / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Official Band Merchandise

More on Bradley Walden: 
Spotify / Badley Website / Instagram