August 09, 2015 - 4:30 PM
TORONTO - Some musicians would do anything to capitalize on an endorsement from Taylor Swift — but that's simply not Emilie Kahn's style.
The Montrealer has gathered significant attention for her austere cover of Swift's "Style," which she played on the harp. Her intimate take on the song has been posted by Time, Entertainment Weekly and BuzzFeed — not to mention Swift herself, who retweeted Billboard's post on the song.
For the soft-spoken Kahn — who performs as Emilie & Ogden, Ogden being the name of her harp — it's all a little tough to fathom.
"It's become a bit overwhelming," she conceded in a telephone interview this week, noting that she had to stop monitoring the clip's ever-climbing YouTube view count (over 200,000 hits and counting).
"It's getting a lot of attention, which is super exciting, but it's also kind of scary just to be, I guess, famous on the Internet.
"I don't want to be known as the girl who did the Taylor Swift cover," she added. "I think with the Internet and all these clickbait websites, it's kind of easy for you to put out a video and it just becomes a piece of content for people to share.
"People are reacting really well to the video, saying this touched me and this changed my life — so that's amazing to hear. But I'm also worried that next week it'll be onto the next thing."
When in fact, this should just be the beginning for Kahn.
Emilie & Ogden's debut, "10,000," is due out Oct. 2. It's cinematic and wrenching, with lyrics about "pain and heartbreak" — not necessarily autobiographical, she notes — finding an ideal vessel in Kahn's gossamer voice and mournful instrument.
The arrangements on her album are significantly fuller than her stripped Swift cover, although Kahn says her "Style" is an accurate indication of the intimate feel of her live show.
She chose to interpret the song because she wanted a cover in her set and she's "kind of just a big fan" of Swift.
"('Style') has a really unique mood," Kahn observed. "She writes a lot of huge pop hits, but I think they always have a really specific subject matter. This song is about the time after you break up with someone and you keep going back to each other.
"I thought that was a very interesting mood that you don't see a lot in pop music."
Kahn was born in Toronto but spent her formative years in Montreal. She began writing songs as a teen but couldn't commit to an instrument, wandering from flute to piano to guitar.
She went to music school, still trying to locate her passion for piano, when she attended a concert and noticed a harpist accompanying the choir.
"It was love at first sight," recalled Kahn, noting that she's been playing for five years. "When I discovered the harp, it changed my life."
Though a slightly freaked-out Kahn concedes she has stopped absorbing feedback related to her "Style" cover, she might be encouraged by the top-voted comment lurking on YouTube.
"I can't believe I've never heard of you before," wrote a user named Toni C. "I'm definitely buying your album in October. You're absolutely amazing!"
Informed of this, Kahn laughed: "That's nice to hear."
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015