by Nilabjo Banerjee

Emm Gryner has earned cred from people in high places

–          Bono wishes he wrote one of her songs “Almighty Love”

–          David Bowie has deemed her as one of 2 Canadian acts that you must know

–          Nelly Furtado has called her album Science Fair her ‘desert island’ disc

Does she still feel that she has to prove herself?

“I have always felt like an outsider”, Gryner admits, “when it comes to the music industry”. That is hard to believe, coming from someone who recently played piano on Chris Hadfield’s “Space Oddity” cover during his ISS mission. She also has a duet, on her new album, Torrential, with the Canadian astronaut. You impressed yet?

Give the album a listen, and you will be a fan of the strong pop melodies (“Excess Baggage”), resonating lyrics (“So Easy”) and subtle country vibes served with words of social commentary (“Pioneer”). The fiercely independent Gryner may have saved the best for her 14th one. And doubt it will be her last.

Have to ask, how was it flying in a private jet with Chris Hadfield to the JUNOS?
Yeah, that was cool, even though I do have a fear of flying. But, Chris has flown fighter jets before, and he is an astronaut after all, so it was reassuring to know that he was in the cockpit at least. A lot more comforting than flying commercial.

Among your list of accolades, (and it’s a celebrated list), my favourite is you were in a movie with Pacey from Dawson Creek!
Haha thanks. I do wish I could act more, but no one has offered me any roles yet. After doing that movie (One Week), I did develop a new level of respect for actors. Being an actor is a lot more difficult than doing shows. All those long hours and doing the scenes over and over again.

 In your recent tweets, you were excited about getting some love for Torrential. You have said before that you don’t write music for reviews, but that has to feel validating?
I recently moved to Toronto. And my previous albums haven’t gotten the best reviews from ‘critics’. So when NOW Magazine gives you a high praise, it is exciting. Even though I don’t write music for reviews, but it’s a good feeling for sure when you get praised in public.

Motherhood must have had a big influence on the album. Did you have to compartmentalize both, being a mother and an songwriter, or are you able to successfully integrate both together?
It was a lot harder in the first year when my son needed more from me, physically and time wise. It was a challenge to do shows because you can’t just take a newborn to a venue, and leave him in the greenroom or at the back of the bar. Now, it is a bit easier

In the song “Pioneer”, you talk about chucking your phone in the river. Does that mean your son will not get a cellphone for a long while?
Haha, he is pretty well versed with technology already. He plays games on iPad. But, he does have self-control, so he will shut it off when he has been on it for a while, and same with TV. He is more of a science lover.

You have been a DIY artist for a while now, The creative freedom and fans directly be involved with the album are the perks. What has experience taught you over the years?
To be honest, people deem me as being one of the first independent artists. But, I was signed by a label and then dropped. So, I had no other choice but to find my own ways of making music and getting it to people. And it has worked so far! Internet has facilitated the process a lot better.  I would say experience has taught me that doing this is possible and would encourage anyone who is considering it.

Can you share any funny/interesting/heartwarming stories from these perks?
One of my fans pledged to open my show and wondered if we could do a Gowan song together. I looked on my schedule and saw I was doing a songwriter circle with Gowan so I invited this fan – Jefrey Danger is his name to come and play a Gowan song in front of him. Gowan ended up playing along and Jefrey did such a great job under pressure that I invited him to join my band for a recent performance on Canada AM

That is super cool! Like a dream come true for him! You covered “Space Oddity”, a song from the 70’s, “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”, a song from the 80s. Now, you get to cover a song from the 90s, what do you choose?
Remember the Canadian band The Gandharvas? I would love to cover their song “Downtime”.

Emm Gryner plays The Rivoli April 17.