On Art, Existing Creatively, and Being In Love Alone with Emily Ritz
Emily Ritz | Hudson, NY
When Emily Ritz answers my call she’s at home in her studio in Hudson, NY, the place she admittedly spends most of her time.
She’s entered the New Year with her sophomore album, In Love Alone, for company — a shimmering record of aqueous melodies and heartfelt lyricisms that feel fragile and delicate yet very much fully formed.
“I think I originally wanted to release [the record] a lot sooner,” she confesses. “I was led astray a little bit and then, honestly, the pandemic has helped me”. Despite a weird 2020, with many live shows put on hold, Emily seems centred in her creative output. “I feel like the world has slowed down to my speed if anything,” she explains, “I love existing in my internal creative space anyways and often felt like I was missing out on the rest of life”. She gleams of self-assurance, her way of creating resting quite admirably in a trust of her own instincts. To her, the very first day of 2021 felt exactly like the right time to be releasing music.
As an artist with an array of creative talents - from painting and embroidery, to sculpture and songwriting - she admits she’s actively chosen not to study music. “I really like my process. I feel like it keeps me really fresh in a way, or it keeps me having to really explore... I like not knowing what I'm doing, it makes... almost like the instrument has to do part of the work for me, which I like. It tells me what to do, because I can't tell it what to do.”
Despite the softness of her vocals there’s an insistence that at times feels visceral and raw in the record. As she takes note of her emotional state next to her physical body, the melodies around her evolve. Third track Stay Soft sees her voice interwoven with a funk-inspired, electronic bassline, that rises into a consuming shrillness, whilst One Or The Other is permeated by a demanding snare. Singing ‘I’ll grow a child, I’ll grow so wild’, she considers her role as a woman. It’s this awareness of herself that she feels links her visual art to her music, noting “one strong connection between my art and my music is that I explore a lot just about my physical experience being alive in a female body. I use my image a lot in my art with self portraiture and then, you know, I've had, as we all do, complicated relationships with my body between health problems and just being in a society as a woman”. It feels like this is something she’s pondered a lot, as she continues “I don't necessarily feel like I fit into one gender all the time, or traditional roles all the time. I'm very fertile, yet I don't see myself having/giving birth. I can be very motherly and be a really great caretaker, but I also want to be alone and just work and do my own thing. It's like this constant negotiation of the masculine and feminine in my work”.
For Emily, there’s such an importance in sharing with the world, that it almost seems like a compulsion. “What I've come to realise is that by sharing it, it just kind of keeps it alive,” she muses. “After I’ve finished creating the thing I’ve moved on, you know, I move on. So if I don't do anything with it or share it, it kind of feels like it just goes underground or you know, dies, really… It’s definitely a really tender, vulnerable, terrifying experience to put it out there, but in the end it feels better than hiding it.”
In everything she creates, there rests a natural beauty, tapping into textures and sensations already in the world around her and amplifying them. All culminating within In Love Alone, the record walks a fine line between introspection so minimalist it errs on melancholia, and a growing comfort that glistens with celebration - she’s not in love and alone, she’s in love all by herself.