[on the ranch]. Both of my parents are animal people, and indulged (almost) whatever curiosities my brother and I had about animals and pet ownership. To this day, it’s one of the privileges I had growing up that I’m most grateful for. I wouldn’t feel right having even a small dog where I live now (unless it’s like, eensy weensy designer dog small), without a backyard, and can’t commit to a reliable walking schedule. Cats and rabbits are relatively independent, so that’s it for me until I move out of state, one day. Which I will do, eventually, if for no other reason than for room to accommodate the pets I plan on having in the future: a pot-belly pig named Pjörk, a pair of black velvet Rex rabbits named Merricat and Constance Blackwood (after the sisters in We Have Always Lived in the Castle
, by Shirley Jackson), and a silkie-breed chicken I’ll call Brenda.
AF: What was the first song you remember hearing that referenced (non-human) animals?
EJO: Probably the soundtrack to The Jungle Book. It was my first favorite movie. I think my first word was “book”, and not because I loved to read (though I did love to read).
AF: Would you say your personality is most like a cat, bunny, or dog or a combination of the above?
EJO: In reference to prevailing stereotypes about the nature of each, I share qualities with all of them; I’m loyal like a dog, independent like a cat, and scatter-brained like a bunny.
AF: How have your pets inspired your creative side?
EJO: I attribute a lot of my intuitive, emotional, and cooperative strengths – skills that I think are essential for musical collaboration – to the practice of silent communion with animals. They’ve taught me how to listen in a way that requires all of my senses and attention, and to respond instinctively without overthinking or having to rationalize my response.
AF: I noticed you are in a feminist book club. Do you have any recommendations for our readers?
EJO: Yes, I’m full of them! My favorite book club reads from this year were The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson; Hunger: A Memoir of My Body, by Roxane Gay; and The Fire This Time, edited by Jesmyn Ward. I’d also recommend Her Body and Other Parties: Stories, by Carmen Maria Machado; Chemistry, by Weike Wang; Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story, by Angela Saini; When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele; and Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women’s Pain, by Abby Norman.
AF: Who are the top three female musicians who have inspired your songwriting?
EJO: Brody Dalle (The Distillers), Kim Deal (The Breeders), and Joan Jett.
AF: If these women were any animals other than humans, what do you think they would be?
EJO: Brody: hyena. Kim: red panda. Joan: raven.
Emily playing in Nicole Mercedes Band (Photo Credit: Stan Killan).
AF: Can you tell us more about your current band?
EJO: It’s Nicole Mercedes’ project; she writes all the songs. They are very beautiful hook-filled dream pop songs, but still commanding, not just background music. It’s nice to step away, a little, from the more straight-ahead rock music I’ve played to this point to something slightly more dynamic.
AF: Do you have any upcoming shows where we can catch you in action?
EJO: Catch me playing with Nicole Mercedes at Our Wicked Lady on April 26th and El Cortez on June 1st.