When Taylor Swift tweets about you, millions of followers—61.7 million and counting, to be exact—listen. That’s precisely what happened last weekend when Montreal singer and harpist Emilie Khan’s cover of T-Swift’s “Style” went viral. Tay’s tweet set off a wave of buzz, putting the indie artist (and her harp, Ogden) in the worldwide media spotlight.
FLARE chatted with Emilie Kahn between Canadian tour stops about her debut album (to be released on October 2), her reaction to the attention, and why she named her beloved harp Ogden.
What inspired you to do the Taylor Swift cover?
I had been wanting to add a cover to my set and wanted to play something unexpected, but that people would recognize. I’ve been a fan of hers for a while and this song spoke to me in particular—it captures those times after you break up with someone and you keep going back to each other, which really spoke to me. People were reacting so well to it and insisted that I record it so we made a video!
What was your reaction when Taylor tweeted about your cover?
I was sort of stunned. Being a fan, I dreamed about it happening, but didn’t think it actually would. I don’t think it has truly sunken in yet. I’m just so happy she liked it.
What’s the experience been like this past week with all the buzz that came after Taylor’s tweet?
Exciting, overwhelming and sometimes a little scary; I’ve been working on my music for years and have never received so much attention all at once. I’m mostly just incredibly happy to read all the lovely comments from people who were touched by my performance and want to hear more!
Do you do a lot of covers? What are some other songs you’d like to cover?
This is the first cover I’ve really tried out live, but I love messing around trying to learn other people’s songs and put my spin on them. I’ve also been working on a Lianne La Havas song I might like to play soon.
Your debut album is coming out on October 2. Can you tell us what new listeners can expect from the album?
The album is me and the harp with my band and some special extra arrangements. The songs are very introspective, often soft and sweet but full of anguish and longing. Inspired by many genres, but a sound I don’t think you can quite pin down.
What was some of your inspiration for your album?
I’m most inspired to write when I’m going through pain and heartache, which I think you can hear a lot on the album and in my performances.
We read that you call your harp Ogden. How did you come up with this name?
It’s actually just the make of the harp (it has a pretty inscription on it). I wanted a stage name and thought it had a nice ring to it!
You’re playing several shows in Canada this and next month and then onto Iceland in November! What are you looking forward to most about touring?
I haven’t traveled much before, so I’m excited to see new places and to play for all sorts of different people. Being on stage is also just my favourite thing in the world so the prospect of getting to do that almost daily is very exciting.
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