Thursday, May 12, 2005

Emm Gryner is a fine singer-songwriter, and is also one degree away from David Bowie

Emm GrynerI've been remiss in my blogging duties, so I've forgotten to mention that Emm Gryner is in the Philippines, YAY!

Who is Emm Gryner, you may ask. Emm is not to be confused with Emmily, Luis and K2's friend who married writer Dan Rhodes, visited the Philippines, and promptly hurled my cellphone to the ground. No, not that Emm. This Emm, I first heard of from...actually, I don't remember now. It might have been from Jesse, back when he was obsessed with Sarah McLachlan and trawling cyberspace for news. There were a bunch of folks online who kept recommending Emm's Original Leap Year and Public, saying that they were in the same vein as her compatriot's. I don't know if that came first, or if it was my then-just-online friend Gaye Lim, who I met on an Edie Brickell mailing list. In any case, it wasn't some time later that I found out that Emm was (gasp!) half-Filipina, resulting in this conversation:

Kristine: Hey! Remember Emm Gryner? I just found out that she's partly Filipino.
Unidentified Friend: (guffawing) Yeah, everyone's partly Filipino, right. Next thing you know you'll be telling me she lives in Las Piñas.

Well, fast forward to 2005, when Gaye's little sister Sharlene decides to start distributing Emm's records locally, and bring over the lovely half-German/ half-Filipino Canadian for a few small shows that will introduce her to the Philippine audience. Which is why we had Emm Gryner on stage at Gweilo's in Libis last Friday, telling the audience:

Emm Gryner: My mom's from Bulacan which, I have learned from this tour, is 'The Plant and Flower Capital of the Philippines.'"

So there, Unidentified Friend. Never doubt any information that I give you, ever. It'll just result in humiliation.

Aherm. Now what was I saying? It'd be a disservice not to mention that Emm is a fine singer and songwriter, and is, besides, an indie inspiration for putting up her own label, Dead Daisy Records, after being dropped by Mercury in the great purge that followed the recording companies' merging frenzy in the late 90s. I wrote a glowing review in an early issue of Pulp for Science Fair, her third album, and first under Dead Daisy. (Interesting factoid #45346: Nelly Furtado lists Science Fair as one of her all-time favorite albums.)

Part Asian, part blue Emm's been here for a few days now, actively promoting her album, Asianblue (out now, at Tower Records and Music One outlets in the Philippines), giving interviews everywhere, doing shows in the evening. If I were better at this blog updating thing, I would have invited everyone to the Manila shows (Capone's last Saturday, and then again at SaGuijo last night), instead of just recapping. It's been hot, and I'm told I missed the dancing hooker/s at Capone's, but the gig at SaGuijo was pretty good. Kate Torralba was there, offering me a seat right in front of the stage even though I waltzed in halfway through Menaya's set. (She's nice, that Kate. Once she bought us all beers!) Turns out Piano Girl Kate also knows Emm from her previous albums, and was already a big fan. Enough of a fan to sing along with every other song, even. And enough of a fan to nearly faint in joy when she was invited to jam onstage with Emm.

Their duet on "Landslide" notwithstanding, the highlight of the evening was Emm's performance of "Acid," off Public. Sharlene, to whom the song was dedicated that evening, tells me that Emm was reluctant to perform the song because she was afraid that audiences wouldn't like it because of it was so slow. But the SaGuijo audience was made up of music lovers that night who sat in rapt attention as Emm went through the song's elegantly lurching melody and these lyrics: "Now I think I might get myself all 1967 on you/ Run screaming to the balcony/ But I can't do that can't do that/ I gotta keep my good composure/ And swallow everything I want to say." The audience was near stunned all throughout the number--no mean feat, considering that most of them were hearing it for the first time.

I won't preempt the pleasure of hearing Emm Gryner sing (Interesting factoid #45347: Emm Gryner sang backup for David Bowie on tour for a year and a half.) (Interesting factoid #45348: I am now two degrees away from David Bowie. WOO-HOO!), so do get a copy of Asianblue if you can, or better yet, go to Conspiracy Café on Monday, May 16, to catch Emm's farewell gig before she heads on back to Canada the next day. I also had a really good chat with Emm a couple of days ago, and the result of that will be a very accurately quoted article in PULP's June issue. Man, you'd be a fool--A FOOL!--to miss any of this.

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