Emily Chambers
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Emily Chambers

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF | AFM

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2015
Solo R&B Soul


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Emily Chambers @ Frankie's Italian Kitchen & Bar

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Emily Chambers @ The Imperial

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Emily Chambers @ Guilt & Company

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada



Pop music is of the moment; soul is timeless. Guess which way Emily Chambers went?

Chambers will release the vinyl version of Magnolia, a five song EP, at Guilt & Co. this week, and it follows in the tradition of impassioned soul records. It has the warmth, intimacy and confessional tone of classic soul. The horns float like an Otis Redding album, her singing sometimes recalls Etta James, the vibe is Motown. It isn’t from the church, nor does it place itself solely in Detroit, Memphis or New York.

If that suggests Magnolia is a culmination of influences, Chambers won’t deny it.

“It was definitely a lot of influences old and new,” she agrees. “I also write really rhythmically. I wanted to release something timeless, something you can enjoy years from now.”

Making Magnolia was not something she chose to do all of a sudden. It had a long gestation. As a kid, her neighbour was jazz/pop singer Joani Taylor, who currently is in cancer remission. At her mother’s suggestion, Chambers got her vocal training from Taylor.

“Joani introduced me to so much great music before I was a teenager,” Chambers says.

Her training got her into Berklee College of Music in Boston and from there to Europe, where she busked for six months. After returning to Vancouver in 2005, she sang in soul band Champagne Nation for five years. After one album, Chambers figured it was time to go out on her own.

More than a year later, Magnolia is the result.

“A lot of thought went into the way things were recorded.” she says. “For what it’s worth, it turned out perfectly. “We rehearsed with a band for a year. Everybody I worked with for a year knew what I wanted to do. All the boys were very comfortable.”

Magnolia benefits from the year that went into it. The keyboards have warmth, the rhythm section shows admirable restraint and allow Chambers’ vocals to be dynamic with a naturalism that that consequently is unforced.

“I’m really happy with the product,” Chambers says. “I just want to get it in people’s hands.”

tharrison@postmedia.com - Vancouver Sun

Emily Chambers, Pastameli Restaurant (5369 Headland Dr., West Vancouver), Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2017. For more information visit emilychambers.ca.

With her recent release Magnolia, Emily Chambers feels like she’s made a bit of a return to her roots – ones that can be traced all the way back to lunch hours at West Vancouver secondary and a well-known neighbour on the North Shore.

“This album is the truest representation of my sound that I want moving forward, and it’s much more soul-based,” the 27-year-old said earlier this month, having just returned from a two-month U.S. tour in support of the five-song EP.

“This was really about taking a step back, starting over and deciding what I really wanted to put out there in the world with my name attached to it.”

The result is a fresh, captivating 21-minute listen that pays homage to Chambers’ classic soul influences and puts her soaring voice at the forefront.

With evocative lyrics, Chambers paints vivid pictures – a sweet-smelling rose or a lazy afternoon spent people-watching are among the images conjured effortlessly – that are coloured in by her compelling vocal delivery.

Teaming up with producer John Raham, who has helmed albums by B.C. acts The Be Good Tanyas and Frazey Ford, Chambers put the tracks to tape at Vancouver’s Afterlife Studios.

“He definitely has these warm tones in his music and this underlying, laid-back soul vibe, an off-the-floor feel, and that’s exactly what I wanted to go for,” said Chambers, who indeed recorded live takes with her backing band, featuring a full horn section, for the EP. Chambers co-wrote each of the songs with Philip Laessoe, her former bandmate in the group Champagne Republic, and new collaborator Benjamin Parker.

With Champagne Republic and on a solo record before that, Chambers said nuances of soul could always be found in her music but fused with elements of pop and funk. Considering the early introduction to the genre she received from a local legend, the seeds had been planted for a true soul release like Magnolia long ago.

When Chambers was born, her parents lived across the street from jazz icon Joani Taylor and she started taking singing lessons from the Juno nominee at eight years old.

“Joani had a huge influence on me, stylistically,” said Chambers, who dedicated the EP to Taylor. “She introduced me to Motown and classic soul music, Stevie Wonder. She used to make me learn how to scat horn lines and read lyrics out loud to hear and decide what they meant to me when I was like 10. So Joani definitely opened up those doors for me in a huge way.”

Her potential as a performer was obvious early on. As a Grade 9 student at West Vancouver secondary, she was the winner of a “West Van Idol” competition that ran during the school’s lunch periods and later earned invites to sing anthems at Vancouver Giants and BC Lions games. After high school, she spent time studying at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

“I’m very happy to have grown up in the place I did, I feel very fortunate to have been raised on the North Shore,” said Chambers.

“It’s interesting to think: if we were born somewhere else or had different circumstances, would we still be following or be anywhere near the same path we’re on now?”

Until recently, Chambers had been travelling her path in a powder-blue Dodge camper van, which she bought earlier this year, named it Bessie and spent part of the summer living out of it and travelling on the U.S. fall tour.

The self-booked tour saw her performing at a number of music hubs across the States, with stops in Los Angeles, Austin, Nashville and New York. A gig opening for Prince protégé Andy Allo in L.A. was among the highlights of the trip, along with plenty of positive feedback on her songs.

“People dug it, which was really cool … It was definitely encouraging to hear that people were into the sound,” she said.

“I’ve never really played – especially not these songs – outside of B.C. I’ve never played in the States except for when I was at school in Boston, which was a long time ago. So this was exciting for me, for sure.” - North Shore News

The overwhelming feeling I get as I talk to Emily Chambers, who I’ve caught on the phone from the road somewhere deep in the heart of Brooklyn, is that she does whatever the fuck she wants.

A Berklee College of Music voice program drop-out (“I didn’t wanna be 150k in debt and have a performance degree.”), she quit her full-time insurance job after three years of employment and has been on the road living out of her van, Bessie, for 66 days on a tour of the US. She booked the tour herself to support her five-song EP, Magnolia, which she independently released in September.

“It’s a sign of feminine beauty and perseverance,” she says of the title, citing the departure from her R&B band project, Champagne Republic, as large reason.

“It was a big thing for me to walk away.” I ask her if it makes an appearance on the album, in the form of a lyric or something. “No actually,” she replies. “It has nothing to do with any of the songs.” Perfect.

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn’t be taken by the flaxen haired bombshell, whose sultry no-bullshit brand of classic soul and R&B reminds me of a cross between Diana Krall and En Vogue. She hits that flirtatious and subtly tongue-in-cheek showmanship reminiscent of Michelle Pfeiffer in the Fabulous Bake Boys on the head, but with real pipes and a real band to back it up.

“For the most part it’s all live-off-the-floor. We did three days of bed tracks and I sang with the boys, I really didn’t overdub any vocals,” Chambers says.

Joined by boyfriend and Washboard Union-er Brendan Krieg on drums, Wynston Minckler on bass, Alexander Flock on guitar and Tyson Naylor on keys, the album has a lovely intimacy and a stunning accuracy to the live performances I’ve seen. This is likely due to having John Raham’s touch on production at Afterlife, now moved into the legendary Mushroom building that was built as a studio during the time that “live-off-the-floor” was the only way to record.

Unsigned and un-managed (though perhaps not for long), Chambers is the real deal for those of you who like your rhythm and blues served straight up. - Beatroute

When the R&B quintet Champagne Republic split up two years ago, its frontwoman, Emily Chambers, was able to accomplish something as a solo singer-songwriter that she never could within what she describes as the “insular” confines of her former band: cultivate a proper relationship with the Vancouver music community at large. “I felt like I’d made enough connections in this city, musically and otherwise, that I could put something together that people would want to be a part of,” she recalls.

Contemplating what that something could be, the North Shore native’s thoughts turned to her father, who had been diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease at the age of 48. In late 2015, she hit upon the idea of a multi-band concert benefitting the Parkinson Society of British Columbia. The result was Shake, Shake, Shake, and it brought 350 through the doors of Chinatown’s Imperial nightclub, raising more than $16,000. It returns Friday (Jan. 27) for its second edition with the aim to raise $25,000.

For Chambers, the greatest accomplish of the inaugural Shake was that it attracted a audience that usually has little involvement with – or interest in – Parkinson’s fundraising. “A lot of the things that the Parkinson Society does caters to an older crowd,” she says. “Obviously, most of the people on their mailing list are people who are affected with Parkinson’s, which is usually diagnosed after 50. Early onset is only 10 per cent of people who have it.” Shake drew in “a demographic they hadn’t reached before. We framed it as a concert in benefit of Parkinson’s – I didn’t want it to be an information session. I wanted young people to come out to see bands coming together, and know that they were doing something for a cause that maybe they didn’t know so much about.”

“I was surprised to see how many people are affected by Parkinson’s in some way,” she continues. “Among the musicians I reached out to, a lot of them were only an arm’s length from a person they know who has the disease – a grandparent or a cousin or a mom’s friend – so everyone was really stoked to be performing on the bill. I got people excited about the night, and then the cause was just the cherry on top.”
This year, Chambers performs backed by an eight-piece band, largely playing tracks from her recently released album, Magnolia. Joining her on the bill are soul/hip-hop trio I M U R, veteran R&B artist (and original Ohio Players member) Dutch Robinson, and Victoria bluesman Jesse Roper.

Chambers comes to this weekend’s Shake having learned that music and Parkinson’s complement one another in ways beyond fundraising. As with other ailments whose victims have experienced a breakthrough from treatment that embraces neuroplasticity (in essence, the belief that the brain can be reprogrammed to restore proper function, without drugs or surgery), many Parkinson’s patients have been found to respond well to therapies that incorporate dancing, singing and timekeeping. Chambers took part last year in SongShine training, which uses singing to help people whose voice has been affected by Parkinson’s, other neurological disorders or aging.

“Parkinson’s doesn’t make you shake; medication does. Parkinson’s makes you freeze up,” Chambers explains. “My dad can get frozen, but if you give him a beat or a pulse or a song – sometimes getting your mind to go somewhere else, you’ll be able to at least take a step.”
Speaking of her dad, it was he who suggested the name for Chambers’s event. “He hasn’t lost his sense of humour,” she says, laughing. - WestEnder

Wannabe musicians are aware that in order to carve out a space for themselves in one of the world’s most cutthroat industries, they have to start by making a series of sacrifices.

Recognizing this early in her pursuit of a career in music, local soul and R&B vocalist Emily Chambers has bitten the bullet, quitting her job and moving into a 1984 B250 Dodge Ram camper van—but not before some serious preparation.

It started out simply: in her private journal, Chambers vowed to tour America in a camper van for one year. She took a job as an insurance broker and began setting aside her paycheques, with the goal of recording and touring at the forefront of her mind.

“Insurance was always just a steppingstone,” Chambers tells the Straight at a Fairview coffee shop.

“While I was working full-time, I was gigging three times a week, with two rehearsals a week, so it was like having two full-time jobs,” she explains. “On top of that, I was managing myself and booking gigs. It was nuts.”

The Berklee College of Music–trained vocalist has been singing since she was just three years old. At age seven, her mother signed her up for singing lessons with renowned Vancouver jazz musician Joani Taylor, who happened to be Chambers’s next-door neighbour.

“She would make me break down songs and make them my own,” Chambers says. “I had to learn how to riff horn lines, and she introduced me to Motown and jazz.”

Equally influenced by legends like Etta James, Donny Hathaway, and Stevie Wonder, and contemporary artists like Lauryn Hill and D’Angelo, Chambers has a smooth, sultry voice that simply oozes soul.

With a financial goal in mind and all the self-made momentum she could muster up, she worked double-time for two years, brokering by day and building her profile as a musician by night.

Chambers keeps it cozy inside her Dodge Campervan.

On April 1, Chambers left her job and bought “Bessie”, the powder-blue camper van that she now calls home.

The van, although delightfully cute and cozy, was never intended to be a living space—but after an attempt to live with her sister and brother-in-law was quashed by their landlord, Chambers was forced to leave in mid-July, and she’s been living in the van ever since, parking on side streets and friends’ driveways throughout the city. Without plumbing or Internet, she showers at her yoga studio and takes advantage of coffee shop Wi-Fi. Her biggest expense? “Bessie practically eats gas.”

“It makes for a lot more stage banter, that’s for sure,” says Chambers of her experience in the van thus far. “There have already been a ton of adventures in it, and I’ve got lots of great stories.”

The musician says living in such confined quarters has certainly tested her patience, but she praises van life for how much it’s pushed her out of her comfort zone.

“I can’t get ready in here, so sometimes I just have to go with the flow, like ‘Maybe you’re wearing a hat tonight,’ ” she says. “It definitely gets me out into the world a lot quicker.”

Chambers admits that, initially, it was strange to be so unsettled, but being without a stationary home base has allowed her to “step away from the business side of things”, and get back to the music.

“I can’t blow-dry my hair or fit all my clothes in the van, but it made me realize I only ever wear the same seven things anyway,” she says with a laugh. “I’ve got a warm bed, a place to brush my teeth and wash my face, and a place to sit and write with a cup of tea. These are things that are important to me at home.”

Chambers in the driver's seat of the van she plans to tour in for the next two years.

With just the finishing touches left on her debut five-track EP, Magnolia, Chambers is excited to embark on her first solo, cross-continent tour to New York following her upcoming EP release party.

To help amp up support, Chambers has started a Pledge campaign where fans can donate by ordering her EP. Five percent of all funds raised will be going to the Parkinson Society British Columbia, an organization close to Chambers because her father suffers from the disease. In January, she’ll headline a fundraiser for the society called Shake, Shake, Shake, aptly named by her dad.

Following the release, she’ll be on the road for 68 days, and she plans to tour on and off for the next two years.

For Chambers, there is simply no better way to do it.

“Getting out there and touring and playing as much as you can is the way to spread your sound, more than anything you can do on the Internet,” she says.

As for van life?

“It hasn’t felt like a sacrifice... I kind of like the idea of being transient. I might not be living the way you are, but I’m making a living doing what I love.” - Georgia Straight

With music readily accessible for free these days, artists and musicians are having to get more and more creative about how they make MONEY doing what they love (myself included).

Today’s guest is artist and musician Emily Chambers. If you know anything about being an artist and building a brand, the hustle is very similar to that of building a business.

I have known Emily for a couple years and had the opportunity to sit down with her last summer while she shared with me her vision for where she wanted to be in 2016. Three months into 2016, and I am excited to share that Emily’s plans of quitting her day job at an insurance company, buying a van to tour in the summer and committing to music full-time have finally come to fruition and I couldn’t be prouder of her. So I invited her on the show, to learn more about her musical journey, a journey that started at the tender age of 3, and her plans for making money doing what she loves and sharing her gift with the world.

In today’s interview, Emily shares how busking in the south of France at 18 was the pivotal moment that taught her she could actually make money singing, how by committing to music full-time this year has gained more opportunities this year than in previous 5 years combined, why she urges other aspiring artists to set goals, plan (and save) to pursue their passion full-time and how she is using her gift to give back to a cause that is very dear to her heart. - She Built That

Inspired by classic soul and R&B, Emily Chambers combines an old school Motown vibe with hints of hip hop and Southern grit to give you a fresh sound that hits you in the gut. In the last year Emily has quit her day job to pursue music full time, finished her first solo EP Magnolia produced by John Raham, and planned and completed a 10 week US tour, performing in LA, Austin, New Orleans, Nashville, New York City and more. With the September 2016 release of her new EP, Emily has received glowing reviews from local and national press. - Global News

On Monday, October 10th, at the Poor David’s Pub open mic hosted by Mr. Troll, we were treated to a dose of Canadian soul. Emily Chambers is a sultry voiced singer from Vancouver. Brendon Krieg, who is playing guitar for Emily on the tour, is also from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Ordinarily, he plays drums in the full band.

Her website says she “combines an old school Motown vibe with hints of hip hop and a little bit of Southern grit.” That hits it pretty close. She is also charming, amiable, and a bubbling personality on stage. With a voice that will lull you into a musical trance, then slap you in the face with sudden vocal intensity, before grooving through the end of the song.

Which is just another example of what you’re missing by not going to an open mic. But check out Emily’s website, listen to some songs, and buy the EP, Magnolia. Then watch for her tour news and let’s hope she comes back through Dallas next year.

I played my set just after Emily . As she was coming off the stage, I said, “sounded good!”

“Cheers,” she said.

Which is something we don’t hear a lot of in Texas. But it’s refreshing in a way. It’s always nice to share the stage with someone from another country and share music across borders. - Chasing After Wind


2016: Magnolia - Emily Chambers (produced by John Raham)

2014: Champagne Republic - Champagne Republic (produced by Paul Shatto)

2011: Feet on the Ground - Emily Chambers (produced by Don Harte)



In the last two years, Emily has quit her day job to pursue music full time, recorded and released her first solo EP, moved into a 1983 Dodge camper van, and completed her first US tour.

Chambers’ 2016 EP Magnolia “follows in the tradition of impassioned soul records. It has the warmth, intimacy and confessional tone of classic soul. The horns float like an Otis Redding album, her singing sometimes recalls Etta James, the vibe is Motown.” – The Montreal Gazette

Produced by John Raham and recorded at Afterlife Studios in Vancouver, Magnolia was released in the Fall and immediately taken on the road. Chambers’ performed in LA, Oklahoma, Dallas, Austin, New Orleans, Nashville, New York City and more. Some shows of note include her performance at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC, sharing a bill with R&B artist Andy Allo at The Mint in LA, and opening up for the New York based soul-pop group Lawrence at Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver last Spring.

Chambers’ has been singing the Sister Act soundtrack since she was 3 years old. She trained with Canadian Jazz singer Joani Taylor from the age of 8 to 18. After attending Berklee College of Music on a vocal scholarship, Emily busked across the South of France and Italy. Returning home to Vancouver she formed a 5 piece soul-pop-funk band called Champagne Republic. The band released their self-titled EP produced by BCMAA Producer of the Year Paul Shatto in 2014. After 5 years together Emily decided it was time to go solo and get back to her roots. Chambers’ is currently writing new material for her next album and planning another US tour for January 2018.

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