Pushing the Boundaries of Creativity in Music
Exploring the Unique Soundscapes of Emre Cords
Music is at its best when it’s free of restrictions. Unhindered. Unencumbered by considerations like genre or style or categories. Think of your favourite bands, your favourite albums. All the best, most impactful recordings throughout music’s long and storied history have always been those that have brushed aside convention and forged their own path forward. Sure, there are plenty of great tunes that play it safe, but the most memorable music has never been afraid to go its own way (to paraphrase a brilliant case-in-point) – and that’s exactly the sort of music that Emre Cords has dedicated himself to making.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing Emre Cords live – or even simply the good fortune of viewing a video of him onstage – you’re immediately hit with the sense that this is an artist who sees things differently. Cords’ unique approach to music and performance is the first thing I asked him about when I had the chance to sit down and chat with him, and his answer was illuminating.
“I come from a production background,” he told me, his unmistakable timbre resonating thoughtfully. “I’ve been recording people for all my life. When you’re recording someone, you really kind of see what separates them and what makes them unique. So, I’ve kind of tried to bring that out in myself, too.”
This unique circumstance of Cords having had the opportunity to accumulate experience both in the recording booth and behind the mixing board certainly helps to frame his singular approach dedication to music composition and performance. That said, anyone can take some SAIT courses on sound production and plop themselves behind an MPC; Cords, on the other hand, has had some serious, inimitable experience.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work with some very, very talented people,” Cords humbly related to me. “Legends, really. I’ve been in the vicinity of some amazing people as they’ve been making their own music – Jimmy Page, Dave Coverdale, Skinny Puppy, AC/DC, Daniel Lanois – and it’s really informed me to be able to amplify whatever is original and unique about myself and my music.”
That incredible list of names is more than just impressive – it’s inspiring, in the most literal sense of the word. When you get the chance to work alongside people that artistic, that talented, that driven, it changes you. Excites you. Encourages you to push yourself further, to be more creative, to realize your potential. It’s these thoughts that were running through my head when I asked Cords about his penchant for recording and producing live onstage – a feat that even in all my years of concert-going, I’ve only seen a handful of other acts even attempt, much less convincingly pull off.
“What I do is this thing called looping,” Cords began. “I’ll record the chorus as it goes by, as I’m playing it, and I’ll store it. Then, the next time that chorus comes up, I’ll sing other parts, or I’ll play cello, for example, over top of that same recording that was made a few moments ago. Recording live has kind of become part of my musical style.”
With nearly everything I asked Cords, his response left me incredulous and chomping at the bit with ten new questions I couldn’t wait to pick his brain about – like, for example, the casual way he just dropped in the fact that his multi-disciplinary background also included professional experience at the bow and strings of the cello!
“I’ve worked on a lot of film scores,” Cords explained when I followed up about this off-the-cuff detail, “and so I used to hire cellists a lot of the time to augment my tracks. I’d notice that the things they were playing were often very simple, yet very beautiful. One day, I couldn’t get a cellist, so I went out and rented a cello, and after playing it for the first time, I could never take it back! Guitar and cello just go so well together. The cello sounds like an acoustic version of a metal guitar – I use it as regular colouring to my music.”
To be able to just pick up an instrument and start playing it is a rare gift that few possess, and speaks volumes to Cords’ incredibly nuanced connection with music, production, and creativity in general – an understanding that Cords leverages to realize his inspired vision whenever he looks to produce his own material.
“I have my own full production studio now,” he told me, a hint of well-deserved pride in his voice. “Em Records. It’s set up in a really cool band house. We’ve got the old mixing console from the Calgary Philharmonic, lots of mics, tons of guitars, and some of the best tube amplifiers around.” It’s there at Em Records, that Cords has been hard at work with his band, Days Without Names, recording and producing their ambitious upcoming double album.
“We’re releasing a black album and a white album,” Cords shared with me. “The black album is heavy, driving stuff, while the white album is the same music, but done with cellos, acoustic guitars, drum brushes, that sort of thing.” The most exciting part? The Days Without Names CD release will be happening at the Firehouse Bar and Grill on June 22nd – the same night that the incomparable John Corabi will be stopping by for his exclusive, one-night performance. What an event!
At the end of the day, what stuck out most during my conversation with Cords wasn’t his incredible talent, or his storied career, but rather, his humble nature, and his devotion to his craft and to local music. “A lot of people have heard of me, and have heard me play over the years,” he concluded our conversation by saying. “But I’d encourage people to come out to a show and see what I’m doing now. I’m a chameleon, and my art’s always changing and improving. Come out to support live music. There’s so much local talent out there, all you need to do is make an effort to come out and see it, and you’ll be impressed.”
Do just that. Come out and support live music. Stop by the Firehouse to experience Emre Cords live on May 11 – and if you’ve already got tickets to the sold-out Mötley Crüe 94 & More event on June 22, you can look forward to an incredible night of live music starting with the Days Without Names CD release party and culminating in a once-in-a-lifetime intimate performance from the incredible former Crüe frontman, John Corabi himself. We hope to see you there!