We spoke with Emily Scott Robinson and Alexa Rose about their songwriting origins, friendship, and what it’s like to finally tour together. Check it out in the interview below and don’t forget to grab your tickets to their 10×10 Performance on November 6, where all tickets are just $10!
Hult Center: When did your paths cross? Is this the first time you’ve toured together?
Emily Scott Robinson: I was billed to play a songwriters’ round with Alexa in January 2020 at 30A Songwriters Festival in Florida. There were three of us on stage and I’d heard Alexa’s name before, but never caught any of her music. As we were soundchecking, we started to chat and realized she and I shared lots of things in common– she was living in Asheville at the time and I grew up in North Carolina. Then, the moment she started to sing, I was completely floored and entranced. I immediately fell in love with her lyrics, her storytelling, and her gorgeous voice. We traded numbers and promised to stay in touch! The pandemic hit two months later, so we didn’t connect again until April 2021, more than a year later. I was recording my album American Siren in Asheville, NC and needed an emergency singer to fill in and sing high harmonies on my song “Old Gods.” Alexa immediately came to my mind and I knew she could nail that high soprano part, so I sent her an Instagram message and she was in the studio the next day! We’ve been friends ever since! It’s our first time touring together and I’m so happy we’re doing this.
Alexa Rose: Emily’s answer to this is perfect. Had heard her name and knew we had people in common, but had never heard her music when we sat down to play an “in the round” style set at 30A Songwriters Festival in Santa Rosa Beach, FL. Of course, I was instantly enchanted. This tour is the first time we’re getting to play together since then, and it’s just such a joy to get to tour with a friend whose music I also love.
Hult Center: Do you have a favorite song of each other’s?
Alexa Rose: The first song of Emily’s that hooked me was ‘Overalls.’ She has such an expert way of weaving stories in her songs, and that one is just so endearing and heart-melting. And of course, I love ‘Old Gods’ because I had the honor of singing harmonies on the recording! ‘The Time For Flowers’ is timeless.
Hult Center: Is there a favorite activity, food, or something on tour that you must do in every city? (Ritual donut eating?)
Emily Scott Robinson: I love finding the best coffee in town when I’m on tour and finding a little piece of nature to enjoy, whether it’s a beach, forest, mountains, desert, or a park!
Alexa Rose:I’m an avid knitter so I like to check out the yarn shops. And leaving a little extra time in the day for a nice walk and a good cup of coffee is a must!
Hult Center: You share that Americana spirit but each have a unique sound. What do you attribute to your uniqueness? (Are there picking styles, guitar tones or vocal techniques?)
Alexa Rose: I feel like the songs that come out of me are very much led by my voice. Like any voice, it has its personality and things it can and can’t do, so I try to write songs that feel good to sing. In my late teens, I was obsessed with the voices of Brandi Carlisle and Deb Talan of The Weepies. In college, I discovered Joni Mitchell and Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch and loved the narratives they crafted and the way their voices were so uniquely woven into the songs they wrote. I think I was drawn to acoustic guitar because my voice is pretty quiet, and fingerpicking and strumming without a pick gave me the dynamics I wanted.
Emily Scott Robinson: I love singing with Alexa because each of us have such a unique voice and I don’t think we sound like any other singers. I never took formal vocal lessons as a kid, so I just learned to sing by ear. I was really influenced by older recordings of country and folk singers like Nanci Griffith, Dolly Parton, Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris. Then, I spent a lot of time singing along to Patty Griffin records in my car in college and when I moved out west. I have a pure tone and tight vibrato to my voice, but love harmony singing and blending, too.
Hult Center: When did you start writing music?
Emily Scott Robinson: I wrote my first song when I was 19, but didn’t finish another song until I was 26. I started writing seriously in my late twenties.
Alexa Rose: I remember singing little songs I had made up as a kid, and when I was around 13 or 14 I managed to string together some music and lyrics on the piano in our living room. I took piano lessons for a couple years and wasn’t interested or disciplined enough to formally learn the instrument, but I loved to just explore and discover melodies and make up songs. I picked up a guitar a couple years later and taught myself some basic chords. I still feel like I don’t technically know that much about music, and I just find ways to give the melodies in my head a voice with the tools I have. I’m a firm believer that’s all you need to make good songs – whatever you have – and anyone who feels pulled towards writing or playing absolutely can and should!
Hult Center: Is there a particular album, artist or family member that served motivation to become a singer/songwriter?
Alexa Rose: I can’t recall one particular instance, and I didn’t grow up around anyone else who wrote songs or played instruments. I think I was probably longing for a creative outlet, and I liked to sing and there were instruments around.
Emily Scott Robinson: I was coming of age in the era of Lilith Fair and women artists of the 90s folk scene, which empowered me to want to use my voice and to write. I think when you fall in love with art, you want to make it and you don’t know where to start. I was so moved by the storytelling and the sonic worlds that my idols built with their music, so I just started attempting to do it, myself.
Hult Center:What can people expect from this special concert?
Emily Scott Robinson: Gorgeous harmonies, rich storytelling, laughter, tears, and feeling a little better about the world when you leave.
Alexa Rose: Everything Emily said! Harmonies, laughs, tears, lots of stories. Just come take a load off and let us sing you some songs. We hope it’ll make you feel a little better.