As the sun disappears behind the Rocky Mountains in the idyllic Kootenays, soulful and tender mellow pop sounds emanate from a local mechanic shop.
While driving through the B.C. backwoods, Emily Rowed’s van broke down near Nelson. They had no choice but to bring it in for repairs, and settled on Nelson’s Done Right Moto. Rowed, inspired by the breathtaking scenery and kindness of the locals, sang while the van was in repair.
“It turned into locals playing too, and the shop owner’s family,” Rowed says. “We’re joking we started the Done Right music festival.”
The impromptu gig has been Rowed’s most memorable show to date.
Vancouver’s Rowed is bringing her unique and mellow alternative pop tones through B.C. and Alberta on a 20-stop tour, with a July 2 performance at Record City, to promote the July 7 release of her debut EP Electric Heart.
“The EP started as a bit of an experiment,” Rowed says. “I was writing folk music before and did a 180 to this music that’s more colourful and electric. It excites me.”
Previously a deep-rooted folk musician, Rowed discovered the world of alternative pop when electric powerhouse Tiësto chose her to be the voice on his track Say Something — a deep house reworking of the 2014 release by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera.
Rowed was inspired by the experience and eventually went on to write and perform the style of music she was once against.
“Quite simply, I got bored of myself,” Rowed says. “I really wanted to make the sound bigger. I was really in the folk world of live music, staying away from everything electric.”
With her acoustic roots comes the folk sensibilities of intimate and deeply personal songwriting that highlights Rowed’s warm vocal performance blended with the slow groove inducing alt-pop beats prevalent on her May single Arrows, from her upcoming release.
“I can’t wait for it,” Rowed says of the EP. “This tour was planned before I knew it was coming out.”
Recording the EP at 604 Records in Vancouver, Rowed was able to collaborate with the city’s best-known talent to hone her newfound sound, working alongside cowriters and producers Kevvy Mental (Fake Shark, Carly Rae Jepsen) and Colin Janz (Carly Rae Jepsen). Rowed’s multifaceted signature style is prevalent on Electric Heart.
After the release of Arrows, Rowed teamed up with music producer La+ch to create a summer remix reminiscent of Norwegian DJ Kygo’s popular laidback summer beach anthems.
The tour primarily features smaller, more intimate performances.
“The show involves story telling,” Rowed says of her stage presence. “It’s really all about the music.”
Down the road, Rowed hopes to have more opportunity to play for larger audiences as well.
“I’m gunning for open spots at bigger shows, and plugged in,” Rowed says. “I love connecting and telling stories, but nothing beats the energy of a bigger show.”
But for Rowed, playing smaller shows is not without its benefit.
“We keep falling in love with strangers.”
Vancouver’s Cassidy Waring and Victoria’s Sam Lynch are playing alongside Rowed at Record City July 2. Tickets are available for $10 at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m.