Emma Fish Brings Post-Teenage Angst Back Home
Older music fans today are quick to argue that rock ’n’ roll is dead and that millennials killed it. Even though rock may not dominate the radio airwaves like it did many moons ago, young artists give the genre a safe haven on the World Wide Web. Bandcamp provides aspiring musicians a chance to pursue their musical ambitions online with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, songwriting chops and a microphone-wielding laptop.
Cedarburg singer-songwriter Emma Fish found a home for her bedroom recordings on Bandcamp while she was in college. Fish first picked up a guitar when she was in middle school and continued to refine her craft as she got older. A lack of confidence in her playing prevented her from starting a band in high school, but her interest in writing her own music didn’t dissipate. In 2015, Fish released her first album on Bandcamp after being inspired by indie cult figure Frankie Cosmos.
“She has a lot of really sparsely produced albums on Bandcamp and short one-take recordings of songs,” Fish explains. “I realized that I didn’t need to be ‘good’ or have a certain kind of experience to start writing and putting my stuff on the Internet.”
Fish continued to upload short EPs to Bandcamp roughly every six months. Her longest song clocks in at only two minutes and 37 seconds, and not a single EP is longer than 10 minutes long. Her songwriting is often reflective of the lovesickness and longing she felt during a long-distance relationship. “All my songs are pretty personal,” Fish says. “I have a hard time writing lyrics that don’t directly relate to my life or experiences.” Her lo-fi, indie-pop sound acts as a soft blanket, touching on themes of loneliness and desire.
Last month, Fish graduated from UW-Madison. She began playing live shows through the university’s WUD music program, opening for Madison-based acts Advance Base and Gobbinjr. She has since relocated to Milwaukee to continue her studies. Her location change is coupled with a change in her musical ambition.
Fish has recently enlisted her boyfriend, Joey Vitucci, and friend, Eric Petsch, as a backing band. The three met at Cedarburg High School, where Fish and Petsch ran cross country together. “It’s been really cool collaborating with my friends and making the songs sound a lot fuller and more fun,” Fish says. “I’m also really looking forward to sharing the stage with my buds. Being alone on stage can definitely feel isolating.” Fish and her band are planning to continue performing in Madison as well as book more shows in Milwaukee.
The trio’s first gig together will be at the Cedarburg Strawberry Festival. Fish says that changes in her personal life have impacted her relationship with her hometown since she went away for college. “My parents have split and sold our house, so there is a weird feeling of disconnect and nostalgia there,” she says. Despite this recent hometown detachment, Fish and her bandmates are eager to bring her music back to where it all began. “[Strawberry Fest] is always super-chaotic and shows Cedarburg at its best and craziest. I think all three of us are excited to make a triumphant return to our tiny town.”
Emma Fish performs at the Cedarburg Art Museum’s beer garden during the Cedarburg Strawberry Festival on Saturday, June 24 at 11 a.m. Her music is streaming at emmafish.bandcamp.com.