HOW TO BE A ROCKSTAR: LESSONS FROM EMILY KOPP
People will tell you all the time: It’s important to do what you love.
But do you ever wonder how? Or where to even start? How about how the heck you’ll muster up the courage to look yourself in the mirror and say out loud: I’m doing _________ but i really wish i was doing _________ and then actually go off and do it?
Friends, meet Emily Kopp. She’s a 20-something musician with a voice that’ll simultaneously make your heart race and your mind feel at ease. Emily is a recent college grad, turned rockstar, who has achieved everything – from every gig to every new follower -on her very own.
Here’s the story of Emily Kopp. But really, here’s the story of how to do what you love if you just promise yourself to never give up.
1. Let’s start with what your 30 second elevator pitch is (summarize who you are in 3 sentences or less than 30 seconds)
Hi! I’m Emily Kopp. I’m a 24 year old singer, songwriter, (possible) workaholic, and (definite) chocoholic. I’m still trying to “figure it all out”, even though it may seem like I already have. The things in life that are most important to me are family, good health, genuine relationships, strong love, laughter, music, and perfectly ripe avocados.
2. When did you first start playing music and singing?
I don’t remember ever not singing. It’s sort of been this inherent part of me that always existed. From a very young age I was involved in school musicals, and the choir. I also loved rhythms/the ability to make things really groove – and when I turned 13, I wound up laying down some serious dough (taken from my Bat Mitzvah money savings, of course) for my first drum kit. Though, my first “professional” endeavor was at this wine bar near my house back in South Florida. I was a college Freshman on Summer break, and my mom had actually gotten me the gig. I remember being THRILLED to be getting paid $15/hour for a three hour cover song gig.
3. When did you first realize “Hey! This whole music thing can be more than just my side hobby – it can be my job?”
I was mid-way through one of my college internships at a music venue, where I was working as an intern in the office / hospitality runner (aka glorified gopher). My days were spent fetching groceries, running errands, and driving tour bus drivers to and from hotels. I loved the behind the scenes action, and found the whole “production” aspect of live entertainment to be really fascinating and exciting. It was an amazing job. However, the more conversations I had with tour managers, and even artists, the more I began to realize that a career on the other side of the stage was not only very real… but very possible.
4. What’s the hardest job you’ve ever had? Why did you stick with it?
Einsteins Bagels. Hands down. I worked Sat-Sun for three years in high school. I woke up at the crack of dawn (I think I even once strolled in without my shoes on), made bagels and took orders all day long. People are incredibly rude and picky when it comes to bagels. I will never understand. Why I stuck with it? My mom told me not to quit something just because you don’t like it. I listened.
5. What’s the wildest gig or job you’ve landed? What did it take to land that?
Opening for Matchbox 20 was wild for me. The opportunity was presented to me by my friend Kevin Stone, who is a huge champion of mine. He really believes in what I am doing. A series of serendipitous events had led to us meeting. Those events took a lot of hard work. Whats that saying? Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Yeah. Something like that.
6. What’s the most rewarding part of being a musician?
It’s rewarding to see it all start to happen. Sometimes, you think you’re a bit crazy – like, who is hearing this? Is anyone on the receiving end of my newsletters? Facebook posts? Tweets? Youtube videos? But, it’s incredibly rewarding to pull up to a city, and have actual, real life people show up to come see you perform. People who care, and people who are somehow moved by the music. That is really cool, and incredibly rewarding. The most rewarding.
7. Performing on stage must be quite the thrill – but also spark a few nervous jitters here and there. What’s your trick to get calm and in the zone when you’re up in front of people?
1/2 a glass of red wine, and a pow-wow with my band.
8. What’s your lyric writing process like? How do you choose the theme or topic for the songs you write?
Typically, if I’m writing alone (not in a co-writing session), it all comes really organically, and nothing is preconceived. The chord progression is usually established first, and then melodies are hashed out in an odd-let’s blurt out random gibberish-and sounds type of way. Sometimes, actual words will come out. Words or phrases that jive well with the melody. I usually go from there. Wherever the gibberish takes me, I go.
9. In the writing business, there’s constantly road blocks. People are constantly rejecting you – or worse – giving you pure radio silence when you reach out to them with your work. I know you must feel a ton of this in your business as well. How do you handle rejection or the radical idea that can sometimes float through your mind “maybe i should give up?”
You’re absolutely right. There are constantly road blocks. Some days, when you celebrate what I call a “little victory”, all of that work seems worthwhile and promising. However, MOST days aren’t filled with little victories. They’re filled with hours of songwriting, hours on the road, and hours spent in front of a computer screen. They’re full of rejection e-mails and calls, or even worse… unanswered e-mails, or calls. I’m not going to lie. It’s a real hustle, and it takes a lot of something to keep your head above the water. I’m not sure what thatsomething is. However, I think those little in between victories really help to maintain momentum and motivation; And, the way I see it is, I’m lucky to just be in the water… even if I’m treading.
10. What keeps you up at night?
11. Tell me one piece of advice you’d give to someone who is beginning to flirt with their “dreams”
Flirt away! Flirtation is good. Test it out in a totally noncommittal way. Dabble. Try different things. Study up as much as you can. Immerse yourself in that one thing you’re dreaming about – whether it be music, opening up a cupcake shop, becoming a surfer, learning Japanese, etc. Be realistic about what you want in return from that dream. But flirt a lot. Then, if and when you decide to start dating… make sure to commit. Understand that it’s not going to be easy – but love it enough to want to make it work.