Raised in the Bay Area, 17-year-old singer/songwriter Em Rossi‘s soul-based sound and storytelling abilities are a rarity at her age. Combining her Motown, blues and jazz inspirations with the contemporary likes of Adele, Fiona Apple and The Fray, makes Rossi’s music current, while channeling the ageless passions behind it.
Em Rossi: It’s been great growing up in the Bay Area. It’s really cold right now — we’re getting hit with rain, so going to school in the morning with multiple layers on. But yeah, it’s usually always beautiful out.
MO: I was able to get to San Francisco for a couple days and I loved the city, it was awesome. What would you suggest a first-time visitor to see?
ER: I would definitely say we have beautiful coasts and I’m personally a huge fan of the sea. I live in the Bay Area so I’ll go out to Dillon Beach and there’s this long stretch from Dillon Beach to Point Reyes [with] marsh lands in between. It’s just beautiful. It has such great sunsets. I used to go out early in the morning with my dad for walks on the beach with my dog. It was just amazing.
MO: Was being involved in music something you always wanted to do?
ER: Music just came naturally to me. It was always around my house — my dad sang, wrote and played guitar. I really just found this enjoyment in music. I would sing in my dad’s office and I took music lessons when I was eight. It kind of just expanded from there. As I started getting older, I started performing and sharing my craft with people. I was really kind of nervous getting out to others and sharing this personal side of me.
As I started getting older I thought I would love to do this as a career. My freshman year was when I got the opportunity. I met Jay King from the group Club Nouveau and he took me on. Samuelle Prater, one of the lead singers in the group, took me on to record and make music as well. From there I was just continuing to grow as an artist. This last year I’ve really gone at it professionally. I really enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun as scary as it is.
MO: What is the first thing you try to do when visiting a new location?
ER: I would say when visiting a new location, take your time to look around. Sometimes you could be lost — you know looking at a map, or worrying about the next right and next left. If you can take the time to stop, look around the scenery. I always think if you can go and see local places, where everyday people are then you can really feel the vibe and environment. I think that’s where you find the little hints and magic in cities and exploration.
MO: If you were to perform anywhere in the world, where would you choose? An iconic venue or somewhere that just means something to you?
ER: Whew. That’s a hard one actually, because being so young I haven’t gone out of the country yet. So, I would love to go anywhere in Europe. Here in the US I mean major goals — Madison Square Garden or something. There’s iconic thoughts about when an artist finally performs there they can just say that they made it. You see massive amounts of fans and people that love you and people who enjoy what you’re doing and the music that you make. If I could be in front of a huge crowd anywhere I think that’s where it would be.
MO: Everyone has a list of places they haven’t been to, but must see. What are three destinations that you have to hit?
ER: Really anywhere abroad. The basics like Italy and Spain — exploring Bali too. I dream of all these places and see all these amazing photos and hear all these amazing travels. There’s this route the Camino de Santiago in Spain — the walk in Spain. My dad unfortunately passed away two years ago with a heart defect he was born with. He was huge on traveling and seeing the world. I remember we found this walk you do across Spain and looked so beautiful. We wanted to go walk it together so bad. I just think that would be so amazing to go out and see.
MO: Describe an amazing travel experience you had, where was it and what stood out to you?
ER: I would say an amazing travel experience I had was actually last year when I went out Charlottesville, Virginia. It was my first time there and it was so beautiful, so green. I performed and filmed for the Sessions On Demand. I filmed five of my songs — an acoustic set. It airs nationwide. The next day I did my own show there. I did a music video that is going to air hopefully [soon] for my new single Earthquake. Amazing experiences. I was so fortunate for the opportunity to go out and meet such incredible people and make all these amazing memories through music. You can see the live performance video of Earthquake. It was in this beautiful barn. We took three songs, and put them into a mini EP so they are available on iTunes.
MO: What’s a musical inspiration that’s influenced your career?
ER: I would say the main one would actually be Adele. I grew up loving Adele, because I was a very shy and self-conscious kid growing up. When I was in junior high literally no one knew I sang and I was scared to sing in front of people. My dad had this office in a cottage in our backyard, I would go in there and just sing for hours. That was when Adele was making it big and I just saw this big, powerful woman up on stage singing these incredibly powerful, soulful songs. It really got me into soul music and jazz. As amazing as her personality is, she’s just sassy and confident in herself. It’s really awesome to see a humble artist like that. I look at her as the main influence in my music.
MO: Every country has a festival or celebration that stands out, what is one that you would like to travel to?
ER: I have never been to Coachella and that would be very interesting to go to.
MO: Lastly, do you have any shows or trips planned?
ER: Since the sessions is going to be airing nationwide we are in the early works right now to planning a spring tour — going out playing acoustic sets and singing my songs, really getting myself out there for the people. There are a lot of exciting new things coming up and I am just really happy to share them.