It’s just past 10 am, and Emily Katz walks into Albina Press looking a little disheveled. “I’m trying to wake up earlier,” she says. “But luckily I don’t always have to.” In a city where most artists support their creativity with a service job, Katz is a self-sufficient rarity.
For the past few years, she’s run her own organic-and-sustainable clothing line, first under the moniker Bonnie Heart Clyde and recently under her own name. And though her design life is flourishing, with recent shows in Las Vegas and Seattle, it’s the possibilities that life creates for her first love—music—that’s got the 25-year-old singer-songwriter so excited. “The thing that’s been really great about doing the music and traveling with it,” she explains, “is that I can do my clothing sales at the same time.”
Katz—named after Simon & Garfunkel’s “For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her”—fronts local folk ensemble Love Menu, a group built around her lyrical songwriting and stunningly rich voice. Playing both finger-picked guitar and an old, 12-chord autoharp, Katz produces delicate compositions that recall Cat Power before she became a Chanel model. When she sings of a tumultuous relationship or chance encounter, you can feel the weight in her voice.
Though she’s performed around town for a few years and began writing and recording songs as a Portland high-schooler, Katz just recently began playing with a band—and what a difference a few friends can make. “They’re all really great musicians,” Katz says of Love Menu bandmates Bobby Smith (guitar/glockenspiel), Stephen Kierniesky (banjo/guitar), Emily Baker (drums) and Jeevan Singh (backing vocals). “And I’m like, ‘I can play the autoharp!’’’
Modesty aside, Katz’s music reeks of confidence—a notion confirmed when she mentions “waking up the other day with a complete song coming out.” And though her warm songs seem almost effortless, they’re no doubt enlivened by the subtle and stately instrumentation Love Menu brings to each track; the band just finished an eight-song debut EP, recorded live in one weekend at K Records founder Calvin Johnson’s infamous Dub Narcotic studio.
Set to take off on Love Menu’s first full-band regional tour, Katz feels confident her two artistic endeavors can coexist: “At the end of the day, even though the music isn’t really making any kind of money, it’s feeding all the other parts,” she says coyly. “I just want to get it out there into the world.”
By Michael Mannheimer
Local Cut published in the Willamette Week 4/9/08
At first listen, Love Menu sound just how they look: like yet another set of whispy flowing white-dressed, brown bowler-hatted, neuvo-folkies. But with a little patient listening they turn out to be something more interesting altogether. Their solid rhythm section turns out to include slinky organ bassliines and solid backbeat bass drums in addition to its feathery brushed snare and cymbals — a combination that leans their sound a little away from the mainline of Joni Mitchell- (and more recently, Joanna Newsom-) inspired feathery female folk and towards the grittier more contemporary area newly discovered by Portland hometown heroes Talkdemonic
Northwest Music Blog www.nwmusicblog.com
Love is on the menu- Most of you have probably already forgotten about my Portland-promise from earlier this year to try and highlight more music from our sister city to the south. I almost did myself, so I can’t say I blame you. Luckily, however, I’m here to back it up and expose a bright spot in the Rose City’s art scene.
In what seems like an increasing (but by no means recent) trend in the world of music, musicians these days are more than just simply musicians; they design stylish clothing, they fashion sustainable jewelry, they create visuals for a local concert, or they manipulate photographs for a friend’s gallery. In short, they’re multitalented, versatile and resourceful. At least, many of them are. One such example is Portland folk outfit Love Menu, featuring a crop of designers and musicians working together to bring their innovative ideas to the world. More specifically, the band will be bringing said visions to a trunk show and par-tay at the Last Waltz Boutique in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood on Saturday, April 26th.
Originally the solo project of organic clothing designer Emily Katz, the band has now progressed—and taken off—to include a slew of additional collaborators such as Bobby Smith on guitar and glockenspiel, Steve Kierniesky on the banjo and guitar, vocalist Jeevan Singh, and drummer/designer Emily Baker. Baker, who cloaks herself under the veil of Clever Castle, is a bonafide veteran of the Seattle music scene, sitting behind the drum kit for such bands as Sinestro, Enemy Kite, Via, Panda & Angel, and Touchdown Eagle, among others. Recently transported to Portland in the hopes of improving her chances as a jewelry designer, her body ornaments have garnered much acclaim for their uniqueness, their sustainability, and, of course, their magnetic charm. Now teamed with Katz, she and the rest of the Love Menu gang are taking the west coast by storm with a soothing catalogue of flourishing acoustic folk tunes. Katz’s hauntingly beautiful voice wafts through each of their songs as the players embellish with a flock of instruments, including melodica, autoharp, concertina, and, oh yes, handclaps.
The band will be embarking shortly on a tour through California, Oregon, and Washington in the wake of a successful recording session at the legendary Dub Narcotic Studios (that of K Records founder Calvin Johnson) in Olympia, WA. The party in Seattle will be the final stop. Come out and support local artisans as they weave their homegrown magic.
Post Script: Proceeds to benefit Baahaus, a Vashon Island animal shelter!
by LB, Northwest Music Blog