INTERVIEW: "Walking With Dogs" Marks a New Beginning for El Mar
A lot can change in just a few years, and El Mar mastermind Joey Primero is walking proof of just that. In the two years since the release of her debut EP, The Road (and even the few months since dropping her full-length, Try To Forget) Primero's world has gone through many transformations, and the result is her incredibly confident and honest forthcoming EP, Walking With Dogs. Filled to the brim with emotionally vulnerable tracks like the brutally honest "Sin Sin" about Primero's estranged father and "The Best One," about her fiance, Walking With Dogs promises to be El Mar's strongest release to date.
Walking With Dogs is out on June 15th. Until then, you can stream "The Best One" below and El Mar's newest single, "Sin Sin" on Spotify. To celebrate the release of the EP, El Mar will perform at Rockwood Stage 2 in New York City on June 23rd.
Interview by Dom Vigil
The last time we caught up with you, you were about to release your debut full-length, Try To Forget and now, you’re getting ready to drop your new EP, Walking With Dogs! What have you been up to since then? What’s new and exciting?
Life has been so wild since the last time we spoke! I got a puppy named Ozzy and he's the best. I started walking dogs to make some cash while focusing on El Mar, and it actually led to my writing this new batch of songs. I am in such a good place mentally, I feel like you can hear the shift in the music. The songs are just brighter overall. A bit more rock, kinda of more of our live vibe. I also got engaged to my guitar player, so that's some big news! Haha. Planning the wedding while also working on the EP has been interesting, but a lot of fun. All good things!
Musically, how do you feel you’ve grown between the release of Try to Forget and the writing and recording of Walking With Dogs?
I think I have opened up more lyrically. I had never been so direct, especially on "Sin Sin," which I wrote about my father. I was so scared to have my mom hear it for the first time. And once she did, she cried, but really loved it. So it was really nice to just be completely honest with my feelings towards him. I also felt like I went into the studio with a much clearer vision. We recorded these songs in two days, and that was amazing. It was so nice to just all get together and play through everything. It was so organic, and everyone just performed everything in a way that felt very natural.
What does Walking With Dogs mean for you and this moment in your life?
This EP feels like a new beginning for me. I'm sorta reevaluating so many things and people in my life, and I really touched on that here. Getting married, strains on friendships, falling outs, daddy issues, it's all there. And actually, these songs were all written while I was walking with dogs, rather than at home in a dark room. I spent a lot of time alone this year, walking in parks, and the silence really cleared my head and got me to think about so many different aspects of my life and things that are changing and adjusting and how they all intertwine.
What would you like listeners to take away from the EP?
I just want people to enjoy some music played by humans. And relate!
You recently released “The Best One” from Walking With Dogs. Can you tell us a little bit about this song?
Honestly, this is probably one of my favorite songs I have ever written. When I finished it, I felt like it was my sort of version of "Linger." It's about my fiance (but honestly, some friends thought it was about my dog LOL), and just how truly lucky I feel finding someone I am so comfortable with. And just not having any doubts. To quote Stevie Nicks, "I have no fear, have only love."
What were some of the challenges you faced when working on Walking With Dogs?
Hmm honestly, I can't think of any off the top of my head! It was our first time working with a producer so I was a little nervous going into it, but he was awesome and I felt completely comfortable once we started.
On the flip side, what were the most memorable or most rewarding moments of writing and recording?
The studio was amazing. It was in East Williamsburg and just had a cool, relaxed vibe that made us all feel at home. They had some vintage instruments laying around and we ended up using a Harmony Rocket on the guitar solo for "Sin Sin" and it had the perfect sound for the track, so that was a happy surprise. And actually, I had a bunch of friends come to the studio to do group vocals at the end of "I Could Use Some Money." It was so fun having them come by cause they are all talented musicians too!
With Walking With Dogs out this month, do you have any other big plans or goals for 2018?
I just want the music to get out there and reach more people. We're going to be having an EP release show in NYC on June 23 at Rockwood Music Hall, so that's something I'm really looking forward to. Hopefully more shows, we want to keep playing Sofar Sounds just cause we have so much fun doing stripped-down sets and sharing stories with everyone, and of course, we want to keep making music.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much!!! And that's all folks! :)