Ember Knight
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Ember Knight

Los Angeles, CA | Established. Jan 01, 2018

Los Angeles, CA
Established on Jan, 2018
Band Alternative Progressive




"Ember Knight's 'The Disappointment Cowboy' Does Anything But Disappoint"

Somewhere in the in-between lies Ember Knight’s debut album, The Disappointment Cowboy. At the intersection of camp and heartbreak, in between comedy and emotional vulnerability, nestled between quirkiness and poignancy. The Disappointment Cowboy blends sophisticated musical composition with lyrical witticism into a record that will make you laugh out loud and bawl your eyes out in the span of 40 minutes.

Using every possible instrument–kazoos, xylophones, pianos, upright basses, and even a cookie sheet– Knight tops it all off with a haunting soprano that will resonate in your ears well after the record has finished playing. The way that Knight weaves monologues and comedy sketches into delicate melodies takes the Disappointment Cowboy from a traditional record, to a musical experience that takes listeners on a journey through the mind of the artist.

The album kicks off with the track “TELEVISION” an uncanny valley TV show intro style tune

“I wanna watch a TV show by you / I wanna watch your television”

Knight intertwines eerily cheery harmonies with carefully crafted sound effects, producing the feeling that the listener is watching a television show unfold in front of them.

What follows in the rest of the record is a bit of roller coaster. Spooky melodies drift over comedy sketches and monologues; emotional turmoil is snuggled under a running bit about an obsession with the movie Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000) and a disparaged redbox employee. In a perfect blend of comedy and musicality, Ember Knight proves that the two don’t have to be separate entities and provides the musical and comedic chops to back it up.

And he calls me back in like a dog at night
Doesn’t ask where I’ve been
Doesn’t tell me the time
Just reels me back in like a fish on the line
And I’ll be your king till you’ll have me no more
I’ll howl at your door: “are you sure?

Vulnerable moments are contrasted with interludes about frogs in the stand out track “Old Yeller”. We are graced with a brief moment where Knight beckons us to peer beyond walls built on deflective humor to reveal insecurities and anxieties coupled with heartbreak in a way that is all too familiar to listeners with similar coping mechanisms.

Shortly after, Knight graces us with a tune about her fingers, a great way to break any residing tension and a friendly reminder not to take anything too seriously.

Got a lot of fingers
But I don’t know why
Got a lot of fingers
But I don’t know why
Sit on the ground
Reach for the sky
Got a lot of fingers
But I don’t know why
These lines are repeated for the duration of the song, creating an utterly ridiculous and entertaining tune that will probably be stuck in your head for all of eternity.

It is exactly the kind of album I adore– one that tugs at every thread of human emotion, exposing the raw nerves of humanity. Something that is so unique to the person who made it that you know there has never been and will never be anything quite like it. It is records like these that remind us to be authentically ourselves. Even at your weirdest and most ridiculous, we all have the potential to make something unapologetically unique and beautiful. - Atwood Magazine

"Ember Knight Exclusive Video Premiere: 'Old Yeller'"

The artistic temperament is one of elation and frustration, mania and depression, glorious fruition and crushing disappointment. It exists in the perpetual tension between these diverse poles of behavior and emotions, each a liminal reminder of their equal and opposite counterpart. Artists, therefore, are forced to walk a continual existential tightrope between the competing elements of their natures, forever performing a circus act in the reality of their own basic survival.

Ember Knight, as an artist, seems to have always gleefully (and very consciously) played this role, showing his audiences both an incredible polish and an equally curated view of an artist in crisis. As a long time fan of her work, it has been one of my favorite elements of both his personal aesthetic, and the subject of her pieces. Ember is an artist that has thrived through and upon madness and adversity, both internal and external; as they once somewhat famously observed, “You kind of have to be unhappy to make great art.”

Thus it is unsurprising that her newest music video for the ethereally beautiful and hauntingly abrasive “Old Yeller” (and indeed, his entire album, “The Disappointment Cowboy”) dives directly into these waters. Knight, wearing her now infamous lion suit, capers almost innocently through a deserted western-styled town, at turns manic, despondent, tender, and caustically mocking. The scene shifts freely between the town, a nearby stand of woods, and the interior of what appears to be a “no-tell motel”, draped in red-faux velvet and bedecked with massive ceiling mirrors. As Knight shifts moods in sync with the non-linear emotional (and musical) progression of the song, first flowers and then showers of $1 bills rain down on her.

As these gifts, wanted or unwanted, continue to accrue, she swings further and further into numbness and frenzied mania to continue, evoking the selling of self that inherently accompanies the life of a working artist and the inevitable self-questioning and turbulence that such self-sale induces. He repeatedly returns to the initial theme of underlying innocence, however, peppering the video with cowboy facts (in the style of a children's PBS show) and a brilliant phone call aside about Darwin's frogs (which further evokes the loneliness of the fiercely original creative); a reminder to the audience that despite it all, the exploring child within every artist is still alive. This contrasts shockingly with the more adult themes throughout, including purposefully uncomfortable moments of full frontal nudity and hyper closeup that serve as a reminder to the audience of their role in the piece (both supporter and exploiter, voyeur and witness), and of the artist's experience within it. It ends with Knight, gently dressed by unseen hands, accepting the role that the world (and herself) has forced him to play, and being buried in a shallow grave, filled with the bills and flowers that have rained on them throughout the video. Like the eponymous dog of the title, Knight has given all of herself, loyal to the end, only to pass away: in the dog's case, with only memories left behind; in Knight's, their art.

Musically, the piece is comprised of tight vocal harmony, emphatic and delicate barroom piano, and hints of classic western aesthetic including spoon-based percussion, all recorded and edited by Knight herself. The audio production, ably accomplished by the inimitable Joel Jerome, oscillates (like much of the piece) between clean, almost sparkling clarity and dense thickets of sound that disorient as much as they please. Thematically, it perfectly matches the beautiful camera work by Matthew Thompson, playing once again into that shifting duality of the artistic (and, essentially, human) condition. Wendy McColm's masterful direction also shows through; the different emotional notes are clear and sharp, each paired with its own set of both visual and auditory ingredients to create sophisticated and potent pairings. Indeed, if the work has a flaw, it is that these pairings can become at times too radical or focused to be pleasant. Much as a meal which makes durian its centerpiece might be gorgeously crafted and plated, but might also strike a particular palette amiss, “Old Yeller” is not always a pleasant watch, or listen. Some of the emotional transitions and visual work are downright jarring, and their progression can be difficult to follow within a single viewing. But the reality and power of its impact and the precision with which it was crafted ceaselessly shine, and clearly paint a diverse and painful portrait of both the artist and all those who follow the artistic path. The complexities, while difficult to digest, only add to the potency of the work. This makes it, in my opinion at least, an important and challenging piece that I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone with a taste for the new, the unique, and the enigmatic. Give it a few watches; it's a little different every time.

Final Review: A perfect 9/6: Would (and Will) Watch Again. - Imaginary News


Still working on that hot first release.



Ember Knight is a Los Angeles-based musician and comic, known for the King of LA campaign. Their work is theatrical, featuring strong melody-lines and traditional boundary-pushing with a playful edge. The live show - billed as 'Ember & His Orchestra' - is a 10-piece rotating lineup delivering experimental rock augmented by dancing, a dark puppet show, and voicemails by Ember's ex lovers played over the PA. 

Band Members