Growing up in a tony Manhattan apartment with her musician parents felt like a privileged, Bohemian existence for R&B stylist Emily King. But she came to a rude awakening recently.
“Do you know that movie ‘Groundhog Day’? My life was like that,” says the 33-year-old, who released two posh albums independently but was having trouble conjuring up a third. “I was stuck, and I was afraid to make a change. So there was a breaking point, fight or flight, where I had to get out of the city and change my whole life,” says King, who appears in Marin this week.
King and her rat terrier Billy moved upstate to a rustic cabin in Woodstock, where a “Walden”-like sense of tranquility overtook her. Reinvigorated by nature, she was inspired to complete the third effort, dubbed “Scenery,” with soulful tunes such as “Remind Me,” “Marigold” and “Look At Me Now.”
The songs have a chugging rhythm because she found herself behind the wheel of a car for the first time, learning how to drive on country roads. “You turn on the radio up there and it’s Tom Petty and Tina Turner and all this driving music,” she says. “So I wanted to make my own driving music.”
In the city, King idled inside all day, sinking deeper into depression. “There were no new experiences no new ideas, so I just couldn’t be creative there,” she says. “I was completely blocked, mentally. It was everything that happens when you stay in one place too long.”
At her new digs, she has plenty of elbow room and a garage she converted to a recording studio.
She had some new rural neighbors, too: crickets.
“I never realized that they go away for the winter,” she says. “So it’s been interesting to see how different animals come out in different seasons. I saw a bear last spring just walk right up to my patio, and I was terrified. But there’s a really cute groundhog who lives right next to my compost bin. I’m pretty sure he’s just sitting down there with his mouth open. But it’s cool — we’re saving the planet together.”
The most dramatic change has been going from big city traffic din to the quietness of crickets.
“I used to love taking walks through the Village,” King says. “But up here, it’s strange to see somebody walking at night. But it is wonderful when the full moon happens, and you go outside and everything is lit up like there’s a big flashlight above you. I’m still getting used to the experience.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Sweetwater Music Hall, 19 Corte Madera Ave., Mill Valley
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 23
Tickets: $37 to $42
Contact: (415) 388-3850, www.ticketfly.com
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