Emily Yacina: Do you have any weird recurring dreams?
Emily Cross: I’m not sure I would call them weird, but I do have a recurring dream. They’re slightly different every time, but all revolve around tornadoes or ominous storms. Most of the time I am driving, and slowly multiple tornadoes will form. I’m never sucked up into one… I’m always just trying to get away… and trying to find a safe place to hide. They are very high anxiety dreams. I wake up with my jaw clenched tight. I have had this kind of dream for as long as I can remember. My mom believes that in a past life I was killed by a tornado, and these dreams are sort of regressions.
Is there anything like that following you around?
EY: I’ve had dreams throughout my life where I connect with big animals. I’ve had one where I’m in the ocean and I can see a huge whale in the distance, and at first I’m really scared, but then it comes closer and it’s smiling at me. I’ve had similar ones where I’m in a field and I watch as a giant bear comes closer and I’m crying but when it gets to me it lets me pet it and we are bonded. I’ve had dreams like this with lions and bulls, too. Their size is always prevalent in the dream. I’m not sure what this could mean or if it means anything at all.
What music reminds you most of another time in your life?
EC: Wow, I love those dreams you have. I heard a woman talking on the radio who claimed to be some sort of animal communicator/medium. She said that we can all communicate with animals—any animal—if we relax, and calmly, telepathically talk to them. She told a story about communicating with a rattlesnake in her yard once. She was out with her dog and happened upon the snake. It was in striking ‘mode’ when she explained to it that she didn’t want to hurt it, and that it should just go away… and it did. It could have been a coincidence I guess. Anyway, I think a lot of people believe they can communicate with large animals and unfortunately many of them are actually killed by them. Have you seen the video of that man who is friends with lions? They run up and hug him and lick him all over. It’s really precious to watch.
Anyway, you asked about music that reminds me most of another time in my life.
I would have to say it’s a tie between Fleetwood Mac and Karla Bonoff. They both bring me back to my childhood. My parents played Fleetwood Mac a lot around the house on the weekends when we were all just hanging out. I can hear my mom singing “Home” by Karla doing stuff in the kitchen. I always loved hearing my mother sing.
Here’s a question for you: What aspect of your life do you wish could move slower, or take longer?
EY: I love that video of the man with the lions! I wonder how he developed such trust with them. Maybe he uses telepathy! Also, Fleetwood Mac definitely signifies another time in my life for me, too. My mom got me Rumors for Christmas when I was in 11th grade. Before then I never listened to them, but for that whole winter it was the only thing I played in the car. “Dreams” is still one of my favorite songs ever.
The times in my life where my friends are in the same place are the times I would like to move slower. I don’t realize it when it happens, because I’m having so much fun, but when one friend moves or goes away for whatever reason it shows how fleeting those moments when everyone is together can be.
How about you?
EC: “DREAMS.” One of my all-time favorite songs as well. Whenever it comes on I can’t concentrate on anything else. I’m playing air drums, rolling my head around singing with my eyes closed.
There are certainly lots of moments I wish would move a little slower, but if I had to pick, I’d want playing music on stage with my husband Dan to slow down. He would laugh about that, because a lot of our songs are already pretty slow… but I sometimes wish I could sit and meditate in the seconds between verses of songs. I would like to evaluate how I’m feeling and how we are working together so fluidly. Do you ever wish you could slow down your time on stage to understand it better, or would that ruin some of the magic? It seems to fly by so quickly with the nerves and everything.
EY: There are probably so many feelings and a lot of magic packed into those moments. What a cool thought it is to break that time down to have a better understanding of what’s happening.
I actually just started playing shows again after a year and a half of not performing! Before, I used an acoustic guitar and would get really anxious because some of my songs are so simple, and it was obvious when they were so stripped down. I had a couple bad ones where I just felt so bare. But I’m playing again now with another guitarist and we both play electric with some added effects. It feels fuller and more like the recordings. The last show we had went so well, and I would love to be able to slow it down to analyze some of those magic moments.
Do you remember the first show you played? Where was it and how did it go?
EC: It is so funny to think about my first show. Well I guess I wouldn’t really call it a show…
I was playing in a clarinet trio—mostly improvised—during the breaks between bands. It was in Chicago at a place called Heaven Gallery. I really should not have been so nervous… Hardly anyone was watching or even listening. People were getting beers and going to the bathroom, and I was straight up about to puke my brains out. I actually had to stop playing and walk off. I was sweating and shaking and gagging.
My second show, which I suppose I would call my first ‘real’ show, was also in Chicago at a place called Cole’s. I was singing my own songs on stage in front of all of my friends. My friend Ben Babbitt was playing with me. I insisted on sitting kind of obscured from the audience… hiding. Several times I looked at Ben and mouthed, “I can’t do this.” I was incredibly nauseous and singing very very quietly. It’s a miracle I made it through. After the show, my friend Bob told me that my performance had made him cry. Ha! I think it was emotional for some people to watch me up there because I was obviously a wreck. I don’t know what exactly has made me fight through such intense stage fright, but here I am still performing. I’m curious about your first experience… was it as traumatic as mine?
EY: Woah! Both experiences sound so intense—it’s awesome that you were able to fight through them.
My first show was at a place called the Maggot House in Philadelphia, which is no longer around but is very dear to me. I played with my friend Abi Reimold, who introduced me to that community. I remember being really nervous and kind of looking to her as a leader. I was young, and I wasn’t confident yet with my songs but she liked them a lot which helped. We decided one of us would play guitar and sing their own song while the other person harmonized, and then we would switch. We played in the kitchen and started with one of her songs. I remember that people were talking loudly but as soon as we started singing everyone grew quiet. It felt so good to be heard and everyone was really supportive. Definitely a favorite memory of mine.
Would you rather live in a beach house or a cabin in the woods? Why?
EC: Eya, that’s an almost impossible question to answer. I’m calling you Eya now, by the way… for Emily-Yacina. E.Ya. Plus when you say it out loud it sounds like “ella”—the spanish word for “she” or “her” I think. Does anyone call you that? Mine would be Ecr, which doesn’t work.
I grew up very close to the ocean in southern Florida, so I’d say I feel more at ‘home’ on the beach. The woods, though, offer a different kind of serenity. What appeals to me about the beach is the smell, the sound, and the vastness of the ocean. The woods are a little more cozy, quiet, and creepy. If I absolutely HAD to choose one, I would probably go for a cabin in the woods. Depending on location, the woods provide a bit more shelter and privacy. There are generally more resources in the woods as well… more off-grid potential. Maybe the woods would be close to the beach so I could visit the ocean. Do you agree? Really, I’d be happy in either one!
EY: People at my school actually call me “Emya” for similar reasons! Yours could be “Emcro!”
I think I would choose the beach house. In the past, whenever I’ve traveled to the woods to camp or something, I would always look for a stream nearby or some kind of body of water. I love to swim! Swimming in the ocean is my favorite thing, but even just being close to it feels nice.
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