Emm Gryner is in possession of a mightily persistent flame; strong and blazing like she is bathed in gasoline. Igniting out of Toronto in 1998, the Canadian singer/songwriter scored a hit single with “Summerlong,” just one of a number of strong tracks from her major label debut, Public, a re-interpretation of her independent self-produced album, The Original Leap Year, 1996. Soon thereafter, in the wake of a record label merger, the songstress was dropped cold by Mercury Records.
Refusing to allow her talent to be extinguished, Gryner returned to her indie beginnings, resurrected her independent label, Dead Daisy Records, and self-released her next album, Science Fair, in 1999. “Major labels ignore great music, and I’m too impatient to wait for other people to do things for me, so I started the label,” said the ambitious artist.
Since then, Emm Gryner has self-produced four albums, earned herself two Juno nominations for Best Pop Album of the Year in 1999 and 2002, and toured with an impressive cast of characters, including Sarah Mclachlan, Alanis Morissette, The Cardigans, Jann Arden, and the legendary David Bowie. “Insane and wonderful. Inspiring and challenging,” she said, reminiscing on touring with Bowie. “It was great fun running all over Europe and getting to hang with famous people. I am grateful for the time with him. His music will always mean something a little different to me.”
Running or touring all over Europe, across Canada and the United States has not altered this Ontarian’s concept of home. Gryner feels her place will always be where she was raised by her Filipino mother and her German-Irish father in Forest, Ontario. “I love the people in my little town. That’s an ideal society to me; a place where people can have differing views but somehow co-exist, go for beers together and have general, basic human respect for each other,” she said.
This independent young woman also seeks a similar utopia in the workplace. Gryner ensures that she receives respect and avoids discrimination whilst working in production, a position held by a fairly larger number of men than women. “I think we create our own reality sometimes. If you allow oppression, then it’s more likely to happen. I just do what I do, and I don’t deal with people who don’t get it. There’s not a lot of time for disrespect in my 24-hour day,” she declared. “We live in a dude’s world and that’s a shame because if women had more power, and the opportunity to be in positions of power, we’d have a hell of a lot more balance and a lot less men running the universe who accidentally shoot their friends on the quail range!” she concluded.
Pyrophobics beware, this blaze is yet to cease! Emm Gryner has recently extended her fiery talents to encompass a newly formed band, appropriately named, “Hot One.” The band consists of guitarist Jordie Kern, Kevin March, who recently played with Guided by Voices, and Cardigans’ Nina Persson’s husband, former Shudder to Shudder guitarist, Nathan Larson, who is perhaps equally as famous for his film scores, which include Boys Don’t Cry, The Woodsman and Dirty Pretty Things, and Emm herself.
“We just recorded our first record! I love being in a band with people who really embody the rock ‘n’ roll mentality, but also have a secret passion for commenting on the ills of the world,” she said.
Gryner will also release another solo album, her eighth in as many years, this coming June. The Summer of High Hopes, was recorded partly in Sweden and partly at home in her basement, exemplifying her jet-set ambition but still loyal to her indie nature. In addition to Gryner’s already numerous conquests, she has expressed a keen interest in composing film scores and starting a family. “I want to do it all and I’m crazy enough to think I can,” she laughed.