dandyARCHIVE: Mover’s School Of Life

Mover’s School Of Life
Toronto jazz musician now finding cadence in NYC

Story by Heather Reid and photos by Molly Crealock

~ This story first appeared in dandyhorse Issue 9 (Summer 2013) Special Youth and Employment Issue ~

Music was the water she swam in from a young age, and Emilie Mover’s career has been a lot about learning to go with the flow, while at the same time carving out a devoted work ethic. Being a musician isn’t something a lot of people might see as a given, but ask her what she’d do if she couldn’t do music, and Mover has to think about the unique requirements of working in the arts. “It reminds me of a quote from Clint Eastwood,” she says. “Something about it being dangerous when you have a career like this to have a backup plan – if you have a backup plan you’ll probably just do that.”

Mover never planned to be a musician, but she was surrounded by it at a young age. By 13 she was singing jazz on stage in New York City with her father, Toronto jazz saxophonist Bob Mover. Those childhood inspirations have weaved their way into her work as an artist. She describes her process as building up a “school of life” where whatever piques her interest is what she pursues in reading, writing, and music. She lets the flow of her own inspiration lead her career.

Mover has written in a diary every day since she was seven and she still likes to start the day off writing in her journal. “Hopefully, when you’re told you’re a musician you can find a way of making it come out in a musical way – but, you know, sometimes I just write for three months and don’t do any music, or I write music for six months and nothing in the journal. I don’t know if anyone knows what they’re supposed to be, you just be who you are for when you are that thing.”

Jazz seems to seep into all her songs, but she describes it as something more innately ingrained in her. She works within the intertwining of spirituality and musical characteristic of the jazz style she was surrounded by growing up. “It’s really reflected for me in bebop, which is a kind of jazz. You can just hear that pure emotion. It’s really real. There was a period of time that people playing jazz really understood it was a spiritual experience. I think that their direct communication of a search for spirituality was what first attracted me to it a lot. And I just love the saxophone.”

There has to be a balance between inspiration and work when you are a musician and artist. “I think if you’re going to decide not to go to school, you better be prepared to work eight hours a day at whatever it is you are committed to doing. If you go to school it’s a lot easier to develop that work ethic. That’s what I have to do – I wake up to work at nine and keep doing it until five. Even if it feels like you’re not doing anything: reading, writing, that kind of thing.”

So what inspired her to write her first song? “Take a wild guess: heartbreak!”

Mover acknowledges all the ways she can learn about the business of music from the new generation of youth, while at the same time she takes her artistic cues from a musical heritage to express universal values in a simple and pure way. “Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Karen Dalton, an American blues singer and banjo player, and Fred Neil, a folk musician from the 60s who played around the [East] Village [in NYC] with Bob Dylan and those guys.”

But she also believes that some of the most valuable lessons for her career come from young people. “Kids are always inevitably smarter and more experienced than their parents in some ways. With every generation there’s going to be problems, but progression of society and the public consciousness as a whole is always amazing.” She notes how youth of today already have an advantage because they were born with the internet as part of their lives and are constantly adapting along with technology. She’s combined the pursuit of her passions with that school-of-life work ethic she’s learned over years.

Bikes have been a big part of that pursuit. Having grown up in Toronto in a car-free family, she’s always been around bikes. Although she remembers biking downtown while working as a bartender in the Annex, she finds the streets pretty bumpy and a lot more worrisome than bike trails around the Don Valley and Brickworks. One of her favourite places to bike is through Riverdale Park.

It’s easy to see how the bikey summers growing up in the city have brought themselves into her life as an adult. “Toronto is a great city to bike around – suddenly everything is five minutes away. I guess I got started biking because as a kid in Toronto, what are you gonna do? If you want to go somewhere you have to bike!”

Now getting used to a new life in New York, she’s learning about the bike culture around her home in Brooklyn, where cyclists are constantly whipping by. Next up for Emilie Mover: biking to the Williamsburg Bridge and commuting into Manhattan.

~ This story first appeared in dandyhorse Issue 9 (Summer 2013) Special Youth and Employment Issue ~


A big dandy congratulations to Mover, who recently won a Juno for Children's Album Of The Year for her work on The Stella And Sam Album!

Emilie Mover releases her fourth album, Mighty Time, at the Drake Hotel on Friday (May 3). Callan Furlong opens. $10. Doors at 8 p.m.

Related on the dandyBLOG:

Matt Roberts' Amazing DIY Bass Trailer

Toronto Bicycle Music Festival

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