Whether she’s singing and playing as part of her band Emerita with Brett Neuman, or selling tickets as box office manager of the Sheridan Opera House, or in the crowd at Town Park for a music festival, it’s clear to see what sparks joy in Emma Gross’ life. Music.
As the offseason wraps up and the opera house announces its summer offerings, now was the perfect time to talk with Gross and see what makes her tick as a musician.
Kathrine Warren: What first brought you to the area?
Emma Gross: I was conceived at the KOTO Halloween Party in 1990.
KW: What made you decide to stay?
EG: Well, I was born and raised here, but left for about eight years after high school. I came back for a quick Bluegrass Festival, and then was offered a chance to make an album so I decided to stay. Now, I’m attached to my family and the mountains.
KW: What is one of your earliest musical memories?
EG: I have a memory of singing in my car seat and my older sister thought it was the radio, so I tricked her.
KW: What is your instrument of choice?
EG: I really like playing my synthesizer, but I’m learning the drums and love that also.
KW: What is your day job?
EG: I do box office and ticketing for the Sheridan Opera House and do freelance gardening.
KW: What is your favorite thing about playing music?
EG: Sometimes I just lose track of time and it feels like an ethereal experience. Something about filling yourself with creative energy feels very pure and cathartic
KW: What is your dream gig?
EG: Telluride Town Park main stage y’all! I’d also like to get a van and just tour all South America. When I’m 70, I would be so honored to play the Madison Square Garden.
KW: What is your all-time favorite album?
EG: Oh my gosh. I mean I listened to “Good Kid M.A.A.D. City” by Kendrick Lamar for roughly 12 years straight so I should probably pay homage there. That said every genre of music has served a unique purpose for me at a different time in my life. So I can’t honestly answer that one!
KW: What is your most treasured possession?
EG: My Nord Keyboard or my synth!
KW: What is your motto?
EG: All of the ideas in our head have been fed to us by society, in order to create original ideas we need to draw conclusions from our own experience. ONE LOVE.
KW: What/who inspires you?
EG: I’m very much inspired by the human spirit of perseverance in the face of adversity. I meet people who have been dealt a near impossible hand who are still positive and working hard to improve their lives and let that change filter through our world. If you want a few well-known heroes I’d have to say Bob Marley, Maya Angelo, Thicht Naht Han, Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Waldo Emerson and Beyoncé.
KW: What did you want to be when you grew up?
EG: I wanted to be a musician, activist and healer.
KW: What album are you currently listening to?
EG: Well, Flying Lotus just dropped a really cool album called “Flamagra.” I’m also loving “Chronology” by Chronixx and “Coloring Book” by Vybz Kartel.
KW: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
EG: There’s a feeling you get when your actions are charitable and based from a place of love that’s pretty ecstatic. In my experience, nothing makes me happier than helping others and fostering my relationships with my family. That said I rely on nature, clean eating, physical activity and making art to maintain a foundation for the ecstasy.
KW: What artist do you listen to only in private?
EG: Hmm I’m pretty transparent and shameless when it comes to my music selection and library. I usually reserve chill and depressing jams for solo time. For example, Maribou State’s album “Portrait,” Clozee’s “Evasion” or other Radiohead-type stuff.
KW: What is your ultimate road trip album?
EG: I love to sing in the car, so I love to play Frank Ocean’s album “Channel Orange” since I know all of the words. Otherwise, I’ll play dance hall or hip-hop.
KW: What genre of music do you most enjoy playing?
EG: I play a combination of EDM and R&B/soul with reggae and funk influence.
KW: What artist would you most like to share a stage with?
EG: Probably Kendrick Lamar. I love K.Dot!
KW: What was the first concert you attended?
EG: Hmm let’s think, probably Telluride Bluegrass Festival 1991.
KW: What was the first album you purchased?
EG: When I was 8 I got my first cassette tape which was “One More Time” by Daft Punk and my first CD was All Saints.