Every Friday from 10 am to noon, PRP’s Jen Emerson (“Fresh Spins with Jen Em“) delights listeners with indie music from all over the globe. Emerson also occasionally hosts interviews with amazing local, national & international musicians and Drop-in sessions.
We thought it was time to give her a round of applause for consistently promoting so many different artists.
PRP: When did you start working with PRP?
Emerson: In the summer of 2016. My wife, Alyssa, found out about the station when she was working downtown. I first got involved with PRP when they were doing “Secret” Shows at Block 17 – I saw Goldfoot there, and that’s also where I met Luke Neill.
Luke got me involved in Sounds of PDX and gave me the opportunity to interview and meet local musicians, which was such a fantastic opportunity.
By February 2017, I was offered my own show, and only 7 weeks in, my show was bumped up to a 2-hour show.
PRP: How did you develop your interest in music and at what age?
Emerson: I have always loved music. One of my mom’s favorite early memories of me was when she was listening to “This Night Won’t Last Forever” and I was maybe 2 years old. She said I was just singing my little heart out (“I nee! A poe!”, instead of “I need some hope” haha) and groovin’ hard in my car seat.
My family reunions were like jam sessions – everyone sings, and my dad, grandfather and uncles all play several instruments.
I was in choir in both church and school, and I was also in a trio my sophomore and junior years called “Diamond Trio”. We sang covers of songs like “Where the Boys Are” at activities around the state, and at the McSwain Theater (which was *the* place to sing where I grew up in Ada – a real showcase of local artists).
When college came around, I received a vocal scholarship and minored in music. When I graduated and moved to Frisco, Texas, I became involved in the Frisco Chorale for a time. A bit later, I began a solo jazz career that lasted 5-6 years in the Dallas area.
I love listening to music and as a kid, I loved to pretend to DJ. My grandmother used to let me “DJ” with her boom box. I would interview her and record songs to play later on the tape deck.
PRP: Favorite music genres?
Emerson: That’s hard – there are so many different types of music I enjoy.
I grew up with the old country (Patsy Cline, Marty Robbins, Merle Haggard) and Big Bands (Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman) – the music my mom listened to – as well as the bluegrass & gospel my dad listened to and played (dad plays 5-string banjo.)
When I was younger, I listened to mainly Christian music, the Top 40 stuff we could pick up on the radio from OKC, and country, (Randy Travis, The Judds, John Michael Montgomery).
Then I branched out: Pearl Jam, Alanis Morrissette, the Cranberries…Alanis Morissette was the first CD I ever bought!
In college, I became friends and eventually was in a relationship with Mandy Qualls. Mandy really opened up my musical world, introducing me to Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday, Bjork, Patty Griffin, Miles Davis – some of the bands and artists that really shaped my early musical development.
These days Jazz is definitely one of my favorite genres – but it’s so varied! I love Modern Psychedelia, Indie Electronic Pop, all the stuff I play on my Friday show.
I still love bluegrass, Big Bands, choral music, opera, symphony, some rock, some country, some hip hop – I really just love MUSIC.
PRP: What process do you use to put an Indie playlist together for your show?
Emerson: I add songs over the course of the week which I’ve heard in the the various cafes and bars and stores I visit, songs others recommend, and tracks Spotify suggests based on my other listening interests. I try to avoid songs that have negative lyrics.
I listen to the playlist in full the morning before I play it on air to make sure it gels with what I hope to convey to my listeners.
PRP: Who were your favorite indie artists this year?
Emerson: Some easy 2017 favorites right off the top of my head would be Von Sell,
Love, love ANIMA! – mainly for their lyrics.
I don’t know if BADBADNOTGOOD is Indie, but those bad boys of Jazz are just great;
HOMESHAKE, also very cool.
Worth mentioning: Cardioid, Pomona Dream, Steady Holiday, and Portland fave Coco Columbia.
PRP: Thanks for bringing all these fresh tracks to the airwaves!
Emerson: Thanks for tuning in!
Jen Em can be heard on the airwaves every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 am – Noon on PRP.